bill bodkin looks at the best picture winner…
I know what you’re thinking — The Artist won the Academy Award for Best Picture. In fact it won every major film award possible — hasn’t it received enough ‘consideration?’
And I say to you — no it hasn’t.
The film, just released on DVD yesterday, is a film that I feel needs someone to defend it, to recommend it and to shout from the rooftops that this a film worth a rental.
A lot of people out there feel The Artist was just pure Oscar bait. It’s a movie that’s ‘supposed to win awards.’ Or that since it was such a weak year for solid Oscar quality movies that The Artist was the best of a weak bunch.
Or maybe that it’s a film that relies on one big gimmick. On more than one occasion I’ve heard people say “I don’t want to see that movie because it’s silent;” or “They have sound in movies for a reason — why would I go see a silent movie;” or “Oh, it’s a silent movie, that’s stupid.”
To me I could easily lash out in a rage of film snobbery and say “I bet you’re one of the idiots that thinks Twilight is one of the great modern romances of our time” or “So you’re the people keeping Michael Bay’s career alive.”
But honestly, that’s mean…and I’ve seen a number of Michael Bay movies myself.
And some of these are valid arguments — yes — the film relies on a gimmick and yes — this was a rather weak year for quality Oscar nominated films.
But let’s throw out the critical hoopla and hype — making your decision to watch The Artist based on whether it was deserved of Best Picture shouldn’t be the straw that tips the scales one way or the other.
No, the biggest stumbling block a lot of people have with this movie is the silence. It’s a gimmick for sure, but a gimmick to get you in the door. The same way The Matrix employed bullet time to blow our minds or Jurassic Park had dinosaurs or Christopher Nolan moved buildings in Inception — gimmicks or visual wonders got you in the door but it was the story, the acting, the action that kept you coming back for more.
And that’s where The Artist shines. It’s more than a silent movie — it’s full of wonderfully timed comedic moments, flights of musical fancy and whimsy and real, honest to goodness moments of heartbreak, drama and despair. Basically, all the things we as a film audience can not only engage with but enjoy.
The performances are brilliant and charming. Jean DuJardin is the picture of charisma and charm, he’s just so damn likeable that even in his lowest moments you still care about him. And then there’s Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller, she is just so intoxicatingly adorable and likeable that you can’t help but be mesmerized by her every action.
And when you put these two together and you combine it with the simple yet classic story, the terrific supporting cast, the rousing score, you get something magical, something really special. This movie is something that doesn’t come around that often, it’s something you have to almost see to actually believe that films like this are still made.
So, I say to you renters of movies, forget the hype, forget the hoopla, leave your judgements at the door and give this year’s winner for Best Picture your consideration to entertain you and your family this weekend.