How Lady Gaga's A Star Is Born could earn Oscar recognition
Lady Gaga’s still a few weeks away from stepping into shoes previously filled by Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand on the contemporary remake of A Star Is Born, but the film’s Oscar prospects are already taking shape.
According to the film’s sound mixer, Steve Morrow, Bradley Cooper’s upcoming adaptation of the classic Hollywood tale will follow in the Oscar-verified footsteps of films like La La Land and Les Misérables in that its musical numbers will be recorded live as the picture films.
Speaking to Next Best Picture‘s Will Mavity during an interview published Saturday, Morrow, who received his first Academy Award nomination in January for his work on Damien Chazelle’s modern musical, revealed A Star Is Born shoots between April and June in Los Angeles, noting Gaga as a guiding force in pushing for the film’s uniquely challenging method of audio mixing.
“I was hired on the film about two-and-a-half months ago and I’ve been grinding through it,” Morrow said of A Star Is Born, currently set for release on Sept. 28, 2018. “You sit there and you think, ‘Lady Gaga wants all the vocals live. She wants to perform live every single time you see her sing.’ She’s going to be live.”
He also claimed Gaga’s vocals won’t be the only sonic element recorded on set during production on Cooper’s feature directorial debut, which revolves around a young singer (Gaga) whose career is given a jump-start with help from an aging, alcoholic movie star (Cooper).
“She said, ‘Okay, look, here’s what I want: I want all the music to be live as well. I don’t want it to feel like I’m singing to a playback track because it doesn’t feel right to me. I can always tell; it always affects the performance. I want to sing live, I want the band to be live,'” Morrow said of the Grammy winner’s approach to the project, the soundtrack for which she is reportedly writing new tunes — a move that could earn Mother Monster additional recognition from AMPAS following her 2016 loss to Sam Smith in the best original song category (his James Bond track “Writing’s on the Wall” beat out “Til It Happens to You,” her collaboration with Diane Warren).
“The music supervisors kind of look over at me like, ‘Can we do that?’ Yeah, we can do that. It’s my job to go, ‘Okay, how do we do this?'” he continued. “We come up with a plan and, so far I think we have a good plan.”
The art of sound mixing, described by Morrow as the craft of recording a film’s initial round of audio, is often lauded by the Academy when it pertains to movie musicals. Bill Condon’s Dreamgirls nabbed the honor in 2007; Tom Hooper’s 2012 re-envisioning of Les Misérables recorded cast vocals during filming and won the Oscar for best sound mixing the following year.
Shortly after Morrow’s nomination for recording live vocals and instrumentation for La La Land, the awards season juggernaut (and current best picture frontrunner) earned the Cinema Audio Society’s sound mixing award on Saturday night — an honor that has gone to six of the last ten winners in the Academy’s corresponding category.
Listen to Next Best Picture‘s full interview with Morrow above. The A Star Is Born discussion picks up around the 44:40 mark.