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Movie Review, Oscars Edition: The Artist

Submitted by on February 25, 2012 – 9:57 am3 Comments

The Academy Awards are this Sunday, and I am still catching up with the top nominees. This week, I saw The Artist, the silent film homage that burst out from the art world to become a front runner for awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Jean Durjardin), and Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius). It is, indeed, a truly magical film; moving and entertaining storytelling, utilizing an art form that has been mostly dormant since the 1930s.

The Artist tells a story familiar to anyone who has seen Sunset Boulevard or Singin’ In The Rain: a silent film idol is on top of the world, until “talking pictures” come along, rob their fame, and elevate a new face to stardom.

And plot may not be the film’s strongest point. I sometimes wondered if Dujardin’s George Valentin was truly an “artist”, or more of a celebrity who refused to accept change. (But maybe the whole film is an argument that we’ve forgotten about the art of silent film acting and production.) Some have criticized the film as too light; and while everything does work out a little too perfectly in the end, I thought the movie had plenty of depth and weight.

The film most notably pays tribute to silent film comedies and musicals, but it beautifully and jarringly evokes moody and impressionistic cinema of the 1920s as well. Certain well-placed segments were frighteningly absurd and dark, and brilliantly set off the smiling luxury of the rest.

Yes, it’s (almost) completely silent, but you won’t miss the sound. Ludovic Bource‘s expressive score is vital to the experience, and the performers and editing make every nuance clear. Another secret weapon is Uggie the Dog; and I wanna know, if Andy Serkis got an Oscar campaign despite not being onscreen, why not Uggie despite not being human?

Have you seen The Artist? What do you think?

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