Bradley Cooper is a great singer, Lady Gaga is a great actor, and the music is catchy and tremendous. The true star, however, is alcoholism. In case you hadn’t seen any of the three previous versions, the film follows a fading musician as he crosses paths with a rising star. The narrative intertwines a complicated love story with self-destructive behavior, and carries a cornucopia of emotions ranging the full spectrum.

Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a successful rock/folk/country star who clearly struggles with substance abuse as he reaches the lonely twilight of his youth and the numb complacency that comes with a long bout of success. He meets and is drawn to the younger Ally (Lady Gaga) in a tremendous scene in a drag bar that sparks their mutual curiosity. They form an inseparable and unlikely pair, and as the relationship grows, the music feeds their burgeoning love.

Bradley Cooper is phenomenal. Considering he’s pulling triple duty (acting, writing, directing) it makes you think about Ben Affleck’s triumphant “Argo” and the awards it won. This film is less of an underdog at this point as the reviews from the festivals have all been raving.

Lady Gaga is outstanding as the budding star. She evolves from starry-eyed simpleton to a confident pop-star grappling with fame and a complicated marriage. The film’s remake has been in talks for decades with Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Demi Lovato and others attached at one time or another, but there’s something about Lady Gaga (real name Stephani Germanotta) that nails the role with relatable sincerity and an understated confidence that kind of hits the screen unexpectedly.

Cowriter Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump,” “Munich”), seems to turn most of what he touches into gold, and Lukas Nelson (Willie’s son) is a very strong choice for musical collaboration. Of course, when you have Lady Gaga as well, there is a bit of a recipe for catchiness, but Nelson adds that rough, bluesy edge that makes you reminiscent of “Crazy Heart” and Jeff Bridges’ epic performance.

What drives a film of this nature is truly the music. I can’t overstate how impressive it is what Cooper, Gaga and Nelson created. There is some folksy blues, some hard country, and a couple of tear-jerking love songs mixed with a little bit of the obligatory pop. Some films try too hard, but “A Star Is Born” nails the necessary tone with a sledgehammer, sucking the audience into an emotional whirlwind that unfortunately climaxes a bit too early.

Sharing the stage, they positively shine, but as their romance progresses, both of their lives take on a tragic loneliness that diminishes the enjoyment. But alas, it is beautifully tragic. Masterfully done by Cooper in his debut, it leaves little to want in the end.

The alcoholism could have been portrayed a bit sloppier as Cooper was a clean, happy drunk for the most part. If there were more realistic depression, sickness and withdrawal, I would have definitely fallen harder for the characters, but it was actually downplayed in spite of the massive quantity being consumed.

These small criticisms aside, “A Star Is Born” is a fantastic film that trumps everything else released so far this year. It is the gold standard for 2018 best picture as well as several other awards. I’m curious to see if this is a flash in the pan for Bradley Cooper (Ben Affleck in Argo), or if we are seeing the emergence of the next great actor turned director. Either way, I am excited to see where things go in his career.