Saturday, February 9, 2013

Oscar Month: The Artist (2011)

NOTE: This is a republication of my earlier review. I recently watched the film again and have decided that it still represents my opinion on the film.

FILM: The Artist
YEAR: 2011
OSCARS: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score

A very dark and depressing Singin' in the Rain. That is how I would describe The Artist. It essentially follows the same plot as that classic musical for a while but it goes off in very grim and bleak directions. The main character loses everything, fires his beloved chauffeur (James Cromwell), destroys all his films and even puts a gun in his mouth. It isn't the most fun movie to watch but it is an interesting and well made homage to silent films.

The Artist follows George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a big-time silent film star who is at the top of his game when the talking films show up. His boss (John Goodman) proposes them to Valentin and he rejects them and it completely derails his career. Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) starts as an extra and rises up to be a talking movie star. She becomes the star of Hollywood and a very famous actress. Miller's rise happens during Valentin's fall and his resistance to talking films results in empty movie houses for his silent film. But eventually they come together and make for a happy ending.

One thing I will say is that I don't understand how this won best picture. 2011 was a strong year in my opinion and the prize should have gone to The Descendants or Moneyball, both very good and very entertaining films. I only found the first hour of The Artist to be entertaining. I liked some of the silent film homages and the overall atmosphere but it gets way too depressing way too fast. I didn't think it was great.

The acting is good. Bejo and Dujardin are quite a duo and I would say that Dujardin was deserving of his best picture Oscar (although Brad Pitt was also very good). The direction is good as well. I really don't have that much to say about this film. It's decent but it is nothing special. I think that even major movie buffs could find this film boring and it doesn't have enough upside for it to be a great film.

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