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January 23, 2019 at 09:04 AM EST

From a budding pop star and a curmudgeonly biographer-turned-forger to a domestic worker with an iron will and a tight-knit clan of Wakandan heroes, an eclectic band of characters made a splash on the big screen in the biggest films of 2018. The filmmakers behind them converged Tuesday morning, however, as the 91st Academy Award nominations were announced. And EW has a powerful peek behind the curtain at the inspiration behind the year’s most celebrated films.

“There could be 100 people in the room and 99 don’t believe, but all it takes is one,” A Star is Born‘s Best Actress nominee Lady Gaga — who plays an aspiring singer-songwriter who falls for a fading country crooner — says at the top of the clip (above). “He believed in me,” she continues of director Bradley Cooper. “And I’m very grateful for that.”

Costar Sam Elliott adds: “When I got together with Bradley, one of the things he said to me is: ‘I want to see you do something you’ve never done before.’ What are the odds I’m going to have an encounter with Lady Gaga at 74 years old?”

A surprise nominee for her supporting performance in Alfonso Cuarón’s Best Picture-nominated historical drama Roma, actress Marina de Tavira says playing the matriarch of a 1970s Mexican family who forms a deep bond with its resident domestic work (Best Actress nominee Yalitza Aparicio, who also appears in the video) was “a great challenge, but it was also a beautiful one.”

The women of Black PantherMarvel’s history-making first superhero movie to score a Best Picture nod — also celebrated their film’s treatment of women.

“It was such a breath of fresh air to see men and women living in their power without one dwarfing the other,” Lupita Nyong’o says. “They were not eye candy. Although we do look pretty darn fly.”

The 91st Oscars ceremony will be held Sunday, Feb. 24. ABC will broadcast the event at 8:00 p.m. ET. Watch EW’s 2019 Awardist video above.

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