Sean Penn isn’t the only one impressed by Bradley Cooper. In a message shared with IndieWire, Paul Schrader declared the first-time filmmaker the best director of 2018 for his work on “A Star Is Born,” which is all the more notable given that Schrader himself wrote and directed one of the year’s best films with “First Reformed.” At the heart of his praise is the way Cooper transformed co-star Lady Gaga’s “stage and musical personality” into that of a screen actress.
Read his full message:
“Here’s why I believe Bradley Cooper is the best director of 2018. In 1987 I directed ‘Light of Day’ with Joan Jett. Joan and I put long and serious effort into transforming her from a live music performer into a film actress. We had some success but overall I felt we failed. Part of it was due to screen chemistry, part to script problems but as always responsibility falls to the director. I didn’t accomplish what needed to be done.
“I see the opposite journey in Cooper’s direction of Stefani Germanotta. He took Gaga’s stage and musical personality and broke them down to their composite parts. Then rebuilt them into a screen actress. He was gifted in this process by time, patience, insight but also by the benefit of being an actor himself. Being a director isn’t just about framing shots, moving the camera and selecting lenses. Sometimes it’s about looking into the eyes of a performer and seeing who they can be. Who they want to be.”
Cooper received three Oscar nominations for his work on the film, but Best Director was not one of them — he’s up for Best Picture, Actor, and Adapted Screenplay instead. Schrader himself is a long-overdue Academy Award nominee this year, picking up a nod for Best Original Screenplay.