Upon second viewing, it cemented my thought that the first 45 minutes of this film are perfect. The character introductions are outstanding, the directorial choices are great, and Coopers and Gaga's musical intros are perfect. The shot of Gaga looking at Cooper on the bar top (and effectively looking directly at the viewer) knocked me for a loop.
The fact that Gaga took acting lessons, Cooper took musical lessons, and they both end up excellent on screen displaying their new talents leads me to believe they will both be favorites in the upcoming awards season. Throw in directing for Cooper and songs for Gaga, and they're sure to get recognized for their work.
Finally, I found it poignant, and also a real life-lesson, that what we find exciting about the two characters initial meeting is that Jackson Maine's drinking is not only is the catalyst for them finding each other, but that the endearing connection they make is done while Maine is drunk. What is cute and exciting is what ultimately contributes to Maine's fate.