Oscars 2019: Sean Penn Pens Passionate Message Supporting Bradley Cooper, 'A Star Is Born'

Sean Penne called out the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a powerful new essay about Bradley Cooper and A Star is Born.

Penn, like many movie fans, was shocked when the list of Oscar nominees came out in January. Many expected to see Cooper nominated for directing A Star Is Born, the reboot that took over the film world last fall. While the movie did earn eight nominations in other categories, Penn made the case for Cooper to be nominated in the director category as well, feeling that leaving him out was an insult. His essay was startlingly titled "Bradley Cooper Has a Problem," and it was published by Deadline Hollywood.

"Bradley Cooper has a problem. Sure, it all looks good on the outside. Family, fame, fortune, and with his first film as director, he’s made the most successful contemporary love story of all time. That’s exactly the problem Bradley Cooper has," Penn began ominously.

He went on to detail the impact of A Star Is Born, which he felt was difficult to quantify. He laid out, in eloquent detail, how the movie was specifically a feat of film directing, and Cooper was responsible. Cooper's problem, he felt, was that the people in the academy were overlooking the movie itself, feeling that Cooper would get other chances for recognition.

"'Bradley is a star.' 'He's young.. he'll have plenty of opportunities,'" Penn wrote, paraphrasing what he believes is the Hollywood consensus. "If this, as I suspect, explains outcomes in other awards voting, voters will have certainly missed the point. This isn’t Bradley Cooper’s opportunity, it’s theirs to appreciate the depth and value of this film before its legacy outlasts their chance to participate in it."

Penn described the Oscars as "moviedom's Super Bowl," and he felt that A Star Is Born is actually an unlikely candidate for the award show.

"Its art neither panders to the politics of the day, nor dazzles with the deceptions so many delight in," he wrote. He added that the movie "brings people together" without "salesmanship," and in his view, that is the kind of art a director should be recognized for.

"It is the achievement of one artist who had the courage to stand naked and jump from the edge of a vertical cliff, bringing his whole cast and crew with him, and simultaneously catch their fall," he declared. "It’s a triumph."


Penn went on to address the Oscars in general, and how imprecise award shows can be. He allowed that the decision is subjective, and not everyone can be expected to judge movies on the same merits. However, he made a strong case for Cooper's achievements, and for A Star Is Born in general. Penn is beloved as an actor, though in recent years he has pursued writing more prominently, with his first novel published last March.

The Academy Awards ceremony is will be held on Feb. 24, 2019. It will be broadcast live on ABC starting at 8 p.m. ET.