Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Artist (2001)

Seen on January 21st, 2012

Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. [imdb]

Nominated for 10 Oscars:

Best Picture (WINNER)
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin
Best Supporting Actress: Berenice Bejo

Best Original Screenplay
Best Cinematography
Best Original Score (WINNER)
Best Art Direction

Best Costume Design (WINNER)
Best Editing

This is a film I don't feel comfortable talking/writing about; the film itself is a dilemma for me, and also I have no idea how to judge it. If I judge it based on my experience while watching it, then it doesn't sit well at all. If I judge it based on my respect for it, based on my movie-knowledge and stuff like that - then I can easily admit The Artist is an achievement. But what's the right way to look at it?

I don't really like it for one simple reason: it's a silent film and it has all the problems that come with a silent film. Yes, the dog is adorable; Yes, Dujardin gives a wonderful performance, but this doesn't stop the film from looking like it's 60 minutes too long (which is bad for a 100 min film). It really was difficult to watch, and I often hoped it would end sooner; the story is nice, but, by respecting rules & cliches of silent films, it becomes quite predictable.

As I said, the work put into this film is impressive. I liked the direction much more than the film itself, I think Hazanavicius did a fine job, considering the film needed a lot of care for details - and it succeeds. I even liked the ending, which again is to he director's credit. Dujardin is wonderful and I kinda hope he wins on Oscar night. The music is nice and the dog is adorable.

But is it worthy of Best Picture? Probably not. In any other year, I suspect it wouldn't have been a front-runner and The King's Speech (another film I'm not a fan of) would've easily kicked its ass. But this is weak year, and somehow most Academy voters seem to embrace a black-and-white French-produced silent film. How this film got so far in the race is still a mystery to me.

My rating for the film: I have no idea... let's say 7/10*. It would've made a nice SHORT film.

***updated it to a 7, instead of a 6.5


  1. I laughed, I really did, at the idea of The King's Speech (which I liked) kicking ass. HBC would totally be down with whooping Berenice, I'm sure.

    1. The thing is... all the 10 Best Picture nominees from last year got at least a 7/10 from me (The 7 being The King's Speech). So for me, all those 10 are better than most of this year's line-up.

      and based on Oscar chances... yes, I think The Artist would've, maybe, won score... and that's it.

  2. Why the change in grade? =)

    1. Because I might be throwing in some 6/5s and some 7s these days, and I think it's more accurate to say The Artist is a 7 and better than some other 7s, if that makes sense :)