Top 5 Reasons You Should Run to See Oscar Favorite 'The Artist'
After Golden Globe wins for Best Musical or Comedy, Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy (Jean Dujardin), and Best Musical Score for composer Ludovic Bource, “The Artist” garnered a staggering ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture for which it’s a hot favorite. As the February 26th Oscars approach, and the pressure sets in to see all the Best Picture nominees before the ceremony, here’s one moviegoers list of why you should run, dance, mug to see The Artist first.
1. The Celebration. “The Artist” is a no holds barred, irony-free celebration of movies and the remarkable power they have to transfix and transport. It unapologetically applauds and honors the wonder of the moviemaking process and the effect it can, at its best, have on moviegoers. In a time when cynicism and disillusionment can seem omnipresent, a film that does not skirt those issues but is yet so filled with joy is utterly welcome, and perhaps, in these jaded times, fully necessary viewing.
2. The Silence (and the music). It’s one thing to know you’re going to sit through 90-plus minutes of a silent film, it’s quite another to do it. Though “The Artist” is not a completely silent film –there’s a wonderful score by the aforementioned now Golden Globe-winning Ludovic Bource, and a few deftly placed moments of sound—the experience of watching a modern movie with barely any dialogue is unique and intimate. There’s also a moment, before the music starts, in which the screen is filled but there is complete silence. In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, and in her new blockbuster book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain makes quite a case for the multitude benefits of quiet and solitude, pointing out the creativity that flows from silence and freedom from interruption. In a theater, the silence may be partially filled with the chomping of yonder popcorn, but it has an almost spiritual quality in its novelty, and seems to bring viewer and film into closer relation. In a world where solitude and quiet and introspection are hard to come by, the one moment in the beginning of the film is an excellent jumping off point for your own contemplation of how much you might benefit from some more privacy, autonomy, and silence.
3. The Dog. Uggie the Dog, who plays George Valentin’s faithful companion in the film, was not nominated for a Golden Globe or an Oscar, but he deserves one. (An oversight that is perhaps worthy of a controversy?) Not only does this dog steal every scene he’s in with sheer adorableness, he also ultimately saves the day. There’s a long history of dog sidekicks in film –to name a few standouts: Jean, the “Vitagraph Dog” who starred in the very silent films depicted in “The Artist;” the famed Rin Tin Tin; the several Collies who have explored the role of Lassie; Mother Theresa, the Newfoundland who was a major character in the film “Must Love Dogs”; and Cosmo, another stellar Jack Russell Terrier who appears in another of this years Oscar-nominated films, “Beginners. Yet in the many films I’ve seen featuring charming canines, never has a movie so poignantly and in such a spot-on (pun intended) way captured the unique meaning of the human-animal bond, to say nothing of its powers to strengthen, restore and renew.
4 . The Stars. “The Artist” succeeds on so many levels due to the touching story and elegant film making, but also because of the stars of the film, Jean Dujardin as quintessential movie star George Valentin, and Bérénice Bejo as bright-eyed ingénue Pepe Miller. These two shine on screen and do a tremendous job of that which was required of the silent film stars of the past—acting and mugging and emoting enough to get every nuance across without the benefit of any dialogue or in many cases, any sound at all. We have all become accustomed to naturalistic acting styles, but the technique and artistry required of the style of an earlier era are intriguing and compelling.
5. The Comeback. It’s a story about old Hollywood and the advent of “talkies,” yes, but at its heart “The Artist” is also not only a love story but also a moving narrative of a man who –due both to forces out of his control, in his control, and a reluctance to adapt—must travel to the brink of despair before finding his way back through several twists of plot and fate. These twists are at once fanciful but just believable enough to provide a measure of hope to those among us, of which there may be many, in this time of widespread economic distress, who are facing own disappointments, disillusionments, and trying to figure out what to do next, and how. Though it’s likely that most won’t wind up a glittering star of the silver screen, what “The Artist” does so well is point out that there can indeed be, in some form or another, a light at the end of the tunnel. And in many cases, it’s not a train.