FOOD/DRINK BEFORE SCREENING: coffee

MOOD: stressed

EXPECTATION OF MOVIE: super-high

In an effort to make my review transparent, I’ll start with the usual rundown of where my head was when I watched A Star Is Born.

It was a morning screening so I'd only had a cup of coffee - and I'd gotten stuck in traffic, so I was almost late and a little stressed.

But I was going in with super-high expectations - I'd heard nothing but glowing reviews, and it was going to take a lot for the movie to live up to the hype.

Long story short, I’m here to join in the glow.

I'd never seen any of the three prior A Star Is Born(s), so I was coming in cold to the story about a famous rock star who discovers an unknown but wildly talented singer-songwriter in a small club. They fall in love, begin collaborating, and struggles with fame and substance abuse abound.

It could be a very maudlin, predictable plot.

But virtually nothing in this film feels inauthentic.

Lady Gaga is absolutely luminous as her stripped-down character - who's both vulnerable enough and strong enough to stand by someone who's emotionally tortured. When she sings, anyone with a beating heart will get goose bumps.

But the strength of her performance isn't solely related to her voice - she's utterly compelling and deserves whatever award nominations she receives.

Having said that, no one deserves higher praise than Bradley Cooper.

In addition to starring, he was also the film's co-writer and director. It's a Herculean task, but he managed to not only help Gaga do something really special - he also turned in his best performance to date. And not just because he did his own singing, or took on a grizzled speaking voice, or appears simultaneously world-weary and open to love.

It's because, on every single count, he's believable.

I also want to say this may be one of my favorite soundtracks ever. I’m especially obsessed with the song Maybe It's Time, written by the great Jason Isbell. The music is a stand-alone achievement - like the best icing you've ever tasted, on top of the most delicious cake.

My only tiny criticism of the movie is the very end - I thought it could have been stronger. But I'm nitpicking.

This is as close to a perfect movie as I've seen this year and one of the best love stories I've ever seen, period.

So my honest review for A Star Is Born is: 100% go see it.

Friday is opening night. It’s also my 16th anniversary. And I'm taking my husband, then I'm buying the soundtrack and listening to it all weekend long.

The hype with this one is strong. But it's legitimate.

I hope you love A Star Is Born, too.

WHAT IS “HONEST REVIEW”?

I’m a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. I interview actors and filmmakers. I’ve worked in broadcast television for 20 years.

I’m also a Seattle wife and mom who works full-time and sits in an hour of traffic (minimum) every day.

Sometimes I’m tired when I screen a movie. Sometimes I’m traveling and I miss my kids. Sometimes I’ve had a glass wine when I should have had a glass of water.

All of these things can impact my reaction to a film. Because I’m human.

So in an effort to write an Honest Review, I’ll always list the external factors that might affect my enjoyment of the movie. Then, I’ll give you my review. Then, you can decide if it’s useful or not.

What do you think of Honest Review or A Star Is Born? Let me know at @kimholcomb.