Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's performance of "Shallow" at the 2019 Academy Awards was so enthralling it (temporarily) took the sting out of A Star Is Born losing best picture to Green Book, but it's also a surreal -- and unexpected -- reminder of one of the film's most heartbreaking scenes.
Just before things take a tragic turn in A Star Is Born, Ally, Lady Gaga's character, is preparing for her headlining show at The Forum in Los Angeles. It's a huge milestone for her and one she wants to share with her husband, Jackson (played by Cooper), who's been keeping out of the public eye following a humiliating episode at the Grammy Awards and a stint in rehab.
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Ally suggests that Jackson join her at the gig, and that he not only attend the show, but come onstage so that they can perform "Shallow," their collaboration and the song that launched her career. She's eager to give him something to sing and smile about again, and she's insistent -- "We can sing 'Shallow' together, the fans will go crazy to see you!" -- so he agrees. As we now know, Jackson never makes it to The Forum, but instead hangs himself in the garage of their home, as Ally, all decked out in her pop-star finest, sings an explosive version of "Shallow" at the piano alone.
Shades of that rendition of the "Shallow" we saw at The Forum seemed to infuse Gaga's over-the-top presentation of the song at the IRL Grammys on Feb. 10: The aesthetics were similar, as were the lighting and wardrobe choices. But when Gaga and Cooper took the stage at the Oscars on Sunday night, their blush-inducing chemistry, along with their visible admiration and affection for each other, raised another question: Could this be a throw to the happy ending we should've gotten for A Star Is Born had Jackson shown up at The Forum that night?
And even then: What if Ally went on to win an Oscar in this fictional A Star Is Borntimeline -- for, say, best original song, as Lady Gaga and her collaborators did earlier in the Oscars broadcast? It's perfectly feasible that Ally and Jackson could've had a happy reunion onscreen as potent and moving as Gaga and Cooper did when they reprised their duet and sang Ally and Jackson's parts together one more time.
Life imitated art at the Oscars in the most beautiful way, but it also succeeded in proving just how much Gaga and Cooper brought to "Shallow." Ally and Jackson's story didn't have a happy ending, but awards season did for A Star Is Born after all.