I finally went to see The Artist, and I truly recommend it. Michel Hazanavicius’ film might be a prime target for the usual criticism by some — after all, here’s yet another film in which filmmakers as a class pat themselves in the back, or that is a feel good lighthearted romatic comedy that becomes escapism fed to the opressed masses, or etecetera, etecetera —, but what matters is The Artist is really, really good.
So good, that even if you don’t give awards and nominations much authority, consider this: two years after the big Oscar favourite was James Cameron’s Avatar — that is, a 3D high-tech extravaganza (which would ultimately lose to Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, and deservingly so, but still) — the big ‘Best Picture of the Year’ favourite is a silent, 4-by-3 aspect ratio, black and white film. Further in The Future from Avatar, the special effects sequences (possible spoiler alert) of the likely Best Movie consist of the existence of direct sound, and its visual effects don’t go much further than casting a really cute and well trained Terrier.
That such a thing can happen is one of the reasons I love film.
Update (27/02): The Artist and Michel Hazanavicius did win Best Picture and Best Director, as predicted. For once I was happy with the Oscar results. Not that it actually matters that much from the point of view of film historians (just as an example, does anyone care the horrid Shakespeare in Love once won Best Picture?), but these Academy Awards still certify the ascent of a silent film into popular film canon for the first time since sound film became widespread more than 80 years ago. There’s a wonderful sense of closure in that, as if last night’s Oscars gala ended at the beginning, in May 1929.
I would like to think that story is finally over. Now we can move past Hollywood, and end the madness.