I finally saw The Artist this week, and while it’s a wonderfully creative film, I’m just not sure it’s worthy of an Oscar for Best Picture. And yet, it seems poised to bring home that award.
It’s already scored Best Film wins from BAFTA, Golden Globes, Boston Society of Film Critics, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Australian Film Institute, London Critics Circle, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics, Vancouver Film Critics, and many others.
It’s also landed a slew of other nominations and wins, including Golden Globes for Best Original Score and Best Actor. Just what IS it about this silent black-and-white film that people are loving so much?
It makes me wonder if moviegoers find the straightforward plot of The Artist a refreshing change from the more complex movies that grace theater screens these days. Sometimes I like heavy plots, and sometimes, I just want a nice, light-hearted movie that doesn’t weigh me down for days. The plot of The Artist couldn’t get much simpler:
It’s Hollywood in 1927, and silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is wondering if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion. A chance meeting with a young dancer and rising star named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) turns his world upside down. It’s a little bit [amazon_link id=”B00006DEF9″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Singin’ in the Rain[/amazon_link], a little bit Ziegfeld Follies.
In fact, there are some interesting vintage connections in The Artist, including:
- Peppy’s house in the film is Mary Pickford’s house, and the bed where George Valentin wakes up is Mary Pickford’s bed.
- Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo rehearsed the climactic dance sequence for five months, practicing almost every day in the same studio that Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly used to rehearse for Singin’ in the Rain.
Still, let’s be realistic regarding a Best Picture win. There’s no dialogue in The Artist (well, very little). It’s not a complicated plot. And while perhaps it’s more difficult to portray a character without the use of dialogue, the characters in The Artist aren’t complex. One’s a fading star and the other is a rising star.
Does The Artist deserve to win Best Picture? I say no. My vote is for Hugo, a rich film brimming with color, sounds, beautiful dialogue, complex characters you can root for, and a plot that weaves the history of filmmaking into what is essentially a family film.
But if I was in charge of the world (or at least the Academy), I’d have nominated My Week With Marilyn, a film that could have been this year’s The King’s Speech if all the right elements had fallen into place.
What are your thoughts? Do you think The Artist is worthy of Best Picture? If not, which film should take the trophy home? In addition to The Artist, the nominees include Midnight in Paris, Hugo, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, War Horse, The Tree of Life, and Moneyball.