Sunday, February 5, 2012

“The Artist” sweeps Oscar® nominations

The Artist
Prelude: Although The Artist is just now beginning to catch on with general audiences, the Academy Of Arts & Sciences has bestowed upon the funny little film several Oscar® nominations. The biggest one of all is a nod as Best Picture, competing with such powerhouse films as The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse. Film director Michel Hazanavicius was given the nomination accolade of   Best Director.

Other nominations include Best Actor for French star Jean Dujardin; and Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Berenice Bejo. Production Designer Laurence Bennett and Set Decorator Robert Gould won a nom for Best Production Design, while Guillaume Schiffman was recognized for his black and white Cinematography. Costume Designer Mark Bridges was recognized for his period clothing designs. Finally, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius were singled out in the Best Editing field. A Best Original Score nomination went to Ludovic Bource. Michel Hazanavicius wrote the Original Screenplay and was recognized for his work.

Review: It’s silent and in black and white—egads, you say?! Director Michel Hazanavicius said in a “New York” magazine interview with writer Jada Yuan, that the silent movie is “a universal language. It’s a sensual experience, like music of paintings.” Thus,he shot The Artist both as a silent movie and in crisp black and white. Unusual? For today, yes, but not so unusual in the history of Hollywood. Don’t forget, films began as black and white photoplays that were soundless. Nobody talked.There were titles at the bottom of the screen to get plot points over to the audience.

The story of The Artist is simple. French star Jean Dujardin (OSS 117” Cairo, Nest of Spies) takes on the role of American silent film star  George Valentin—based on Douglas Fairbanks—who enjoys enormous popularity in the early days of movies.(Dujardin did his homework and watched all of Fairbank’s movies). It’s 1927, and Hollywood is about to be shaken to its foundations with the advent of sound—yes, talking pictures! Film star John Goodman, who plays the studio mogul, said in “New York,” “The story was so simple and decent; it’s a throwback to earlier-style movies. There’s just something so innocent about it, and it works.” Indeed it does. Dujardin plays a man who is a top star and one who is not ready to switch over to sound films. He’s becoming a relic before his time.

The new replaces the old, and into Valentin’s life appears new-comer Peppy Miller (the lovely Berenice Bejo). She tries to breathe new life into his fading star, and the two engage in a melodramatic love story. His star falls and hers rises. The film, however, is not gloomy or sad, but it has many funny and gleeful moments. When the two pair up to tap dance across the screen like Astaire and Rogers, memories flood back about how glamorous Hollywood used to be in those days. This sequence, and others, are perfectly delightful.

The film first caught fire in Europe where it picked up a boatload of kudos at the Cannes Film Festival. It received a standing ovtion, and Dujardin won Best Actor. A funny side note is that Uggy, the adorable Jack Russell dog in the film, won the Palm Dog for best performance by a canine. The San Diego Film Critic’s Society picked The Artist as Best Picture.
For more reviews and our magazine, visit us at  artsnfashion


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