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The Artist Archives - ShowBizCafe.com

The Artist Archives - ShowBizCafe.com

Jack Rico

By

2012/01/13 at 12:00am

‘The Artist’ wins Best Picture at Critics Choice Awards

01.13.2012 | By |

'The Artist' wins Best Picture at Critics Choice Awards

LOS ANGELES, CA. – January 13, 2012 – The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) announced the winners of the 17th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards earlier this evening. Hosted by comedians Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel, the star-studded ceremony was held at the Hollywood Palladium and aired live on VH1. “The Artist” was named the year’s Best Picture and Michael Hazanavicius won Best Director honors for the film.

Other big winners of the night included George Clooney, who took Best Actor for his role in “The Descendants” and Viola Davis, who won Best Actress for her role in “The Help.” Also honored was Christopher Plummer with the Best Supporting Actor award and Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress both for her work in “The Help.”

Additional awards included a tie for Best Cinematography, going to both “The Tree of Life” and “War Horse.” Best Art Direction went to “Hugo” and Best Editing went to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” “The Help” was honored with Best Acting Ensemble and Best Original Screenplay honors went to Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris.” Best Young Actor/Actress went to Thomas Horn for “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” “Rango” won Best Animated Feature and Best Comedy went to “Bridesmaids.”
 
Academy Award winner, film director and humanitarian Sean Penn was honored with the fifth annual Joel Siegel Award, presented by George Clooney.  The BFCA created this award to honor those in the film community whose actions demonstrate that the greatest value of celebrity is the ability to do good work for others.   This award pays homage to beloved “Good Morning America” film critic and BFCA member Joel Siegel, who lost his struggle with cancer in June, 2007.

The 17th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards also included a special nod to “Hugo” director Martin Scorsese, who received the Critics’ Choice Music+Film Award, presented by Leonardo DiCaprio and Olivia Harrison in addition to a special musical tribute from Bob Dylan. The Critics’ Choice Music+Film Award was created to honor a single filmmaker who has not only inspired moviegoers with his cinematic storytelling, but has heightened the impact of film through the brilliant use of source and soundtrack music.

Nominees in attendance included: Berenice Bejo, Kenneth Branagh, Albert Brooks, Asa Butterfield, Jessica Chastain, George Clooney, Stephen Daldry, Viola Davis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jean Dujardin, Elle Fanning, Judy Greer, Michael Hazanavicius, Ellie Kemper, Nick Krause, Thomas Horn, Matthew Lillard, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Penelope Ann Miller, Nick Nolte, Elizabeth Olsen, Patton Oswalt, Alexander Payne, Brad Pitt, Christopher Plummer, Maya Rudolph, Andy Serki, Octavia Spencer, Steven Spielberg, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron, Michelle Williams, Evan Rachel Wood and Shailene Woodley

Presenters at the gala included: Vin Diesel, Kirsten Dunst, Donald Glover, Dustin Hoffman, Mindy Kaling, Ben Kingsley, Diane Kruger, Elizabeth Olsen, Patton Oswalt, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph, Jason Segel, Owen Wilson and Robin Wright.
 
The show featured Fitz and The Tantrums as this year’s house band. Bob Dylan also performed “Blind Willie McTell” during the Critic’s Choice Music+Film Award tribute to Martin Scorsese.

Since its inception in 1995, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards has been a star-studded bellwether event of the movie awards season.  Historically, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations. Last year, for example, all four of the acting category winners at the Oscars – Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo – first accepted their awards in the same categories at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.  In all, 18 of the 20 actors nominated for Oscars were first Critics’ Choice Movie Awards nominees.

About The Broadcast Film Critics Association:
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 250 television, radio and online critics.  BFCA members are the primary source of information for today’s film going public.  The very first opinion a moviegoer hears about new releases at the multiplex or the art house usually comes from one of its members.

###

WINNERS OF THE 17TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE MOVIE AWARDS
 
BEST PICTURE    
“The Artist”
 
BEST ACTOR
George Clooney – “The Descendants”
 
BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis – “The Help”
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
 
BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Thomas Horn – “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
 
BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
“The Help”
 
BEST DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Midnight in Paris” – Woody Allen
 
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“Moneyball” – Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin
 
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (TIE)
“The Tree of Life”
AND
“War Horse”
 
BEST ART DIRECTION
“Hugo”
 
BEST EDITING
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
 
BEST COSTUME DESIGN

“The Artist”
 
BEST MAKE-UP
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
 
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
 
BEST SOUND
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
 
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Rango”
 
BEST ACTION MOVIE
“Drive”
 
BEST COMEDY
“Bridesmaids”
 
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“A Separation”
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“George Harrison: Living in the Material World”
 
BEST SONG
“Life’s a Happy Song” – The Muppets
Performed by Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Walter
Written by Bret McKenzie and The Muppets
 
BEST SCORE
“The Artist”
 
JOEL SIEGEL AWARD
Sean Penn
 
CRITICS’ CHOICE MUSIC+FILM AWARD
Martin Scorsese

Jack Rico

By

2012/01/01 at 12:00am

The Best 11 Movies of 2011

01.1.2012 | By |

Happy 2012! A whole year has gone by and with it all of last year’s memorable and very forgettable movies. But now we enter the televised film award season recognizing the best of the best for your personal viewing enjoyment. But forget the Oscars, the Golden Globes or any other film organization.

I have compiled the Best 11 movies of 2011 (a mix of the finest commercial and independent fare), so that you can buy that movie ticket without having to clutch it to dear life, or, watch that movie on your streaming or DVD player without feeling you wasted your 2 hours of your existence. Why 11? Just to piss off the rest of the people who create Top 10’s and to give a nod to the year that just left us.

So trust me on this. Relax and have some peace of mind that these films will either change you or just remind you why going to the movies can be a soul-satisfying experience.

11. The Help

The Help

And we begin with #11. Authentic, visceral, funny, melancholic, disturbing and powerful is how I would describe Tate Taylor’s ‘The Help’. An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid’s point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis. What you need to know is that a best actress award will come out of this film at the Oscar’s and it’ll be between Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer who bring home the gold. The cast ensemble is the second best of the year and it’s ardent, sensitive subject matter of racism is sure to trigger emotions you didn’t think could rise from you in a movie theater.

10. The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer

Talk about a film that came out of nowhere to leave me dumbfounded at how crazy good it was. This crime thriller, full of twist and turns, brought back Matthew McConaughey to a place of respectability again amongst the garbage he’s been starring in since ‘Fool’s Gold’. The Lincoln Lawyer’s plot which is about Mick Haller (McConaughey), a bad-ass, but sleazy defense lawyer who works out of his Lincoln towncar. When a wealthy Realtor (Ryan Phillippe) is accused of raping a prostitute, Haller is asked to defend him. But his client has a foolproof plan to beat the system. It’s up to our protagonist to get over his crisis of conscience and see if he can see the difference of right and wrong in his profession. The reason this film comes in at number 10 is because compared to most movies this year, you can’t seem to unglue your eyes from this engrossing “did he or didn’t he do it?” storyline. It is so well paced and acted that the flaws are almost non-existent. There’s enough action, tension and mystery here to satisfy even the most stubborn of spectators. PS: Look for one of the best scenes in the film with scene-stealing star Michael Peña who goes toe to toe with McConaughey. It’s a memorable one.

9. The Beaver

The Beaver

I have some major beef with those people who have knocked on this film simply for Mel Gibson’s off-camera deeds. If one would just judge the work, one can see that ‘The Beaver’, is by far, the most underrated movie of 2011. The Beaver is a powerful dark dramedy about a man on a journey to re-discover his family and re-start his life. Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black (Gibson) was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can’t seem to get himself back on track…until a beaver hand puppet enters his life. Gibson delivers what I can only describe as one of the most visceral and compelling performances of his career. It is my belief that his performance was as equivalent, if not better, than Michael Fassbender’s in ‘Shame’. This to me is at least worthy of a nomination. Jodie Foster is also on her directing A game too. Her choice of a story is outside of the box weaving it in with a tragic sense of farce that somehow connects with anyone searching for who they truly are inside. If you like first-rate acting and the antithesis of the banal Hollywood fare, then this film must be placed high on your choices to watch.

8. The Artist

The Artist

Without question, one of the most hyped films of the year is ‘The Artist’. It deserves its label for reviving the obsolete format of silent films with a retro-fresh perspective, and by possessing the most charming performance of any actor this year by Jean Dujardin. But even though a film like this was given the greenlight for cinephiles to indulge in, after the first half hour the novelty begins to wear off exposing the screenplay to a story we’ve seen before. Similarities linger from ‘All About Eve’, ’42nd Street’, ‘Sunset Boulevard’, ‘Veronika Voss’, and most recently, ‘Burlesque’ amongst others – a veteran star sees their success flutter away while the new kid in town embarks their march into stardom. Nevertheless, ‘The Artist’ provides an experience that is unique and unlike anything you’ll pay to see in a theater this year. Will it win Best Picture at the Oscars? Most likely. Does it deserve it? No. Novelty is king this year.

7. War Horse

War Horse

Yeah, maybe Steven Spielberg lost some of that magic touch since he won an Oscar for ‘Saving Private Ryan’ 14 years ago, but that doesn’t mean he forgot how to make an Oscar worthy film. Enter ‘War Horse’, the closest thing to a dramatic masterpiece we’re going to see from a director all year. The story of a horse and his young owner, which has hues of ‘Gone with the Wind’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’, doesn’t possess the most stellar acting or dazzling dialogue, but darnit, it does possess beautiful cinematography and one hell of a feel good, tearjerker story that will squeeze those tear ducts to oblivion. It starts slow, fleshing out the characters, and builds up to an emotionally rousing crescendo, like a Beethoven symphony. I mean even Whoopi Goldberg (an Oscar winner mind you), said: “Someone needs to give that movie an Oscar”, on her way out of the screening in New York I attended. What must be witnessed here is how Spileberg made that horse seem human!

6. The Ides of March

The Ides of March

You’re really going to enjoy ‘The Ides of March’. It’s such a satisfying political thriller, that it will from now on be discussed in the same breath as ‘A Few Good Men’, ‘The Firm’ and ‘All the President’s Men’. You’ll see an all-star cast in George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman giving us first-class performances that will leave a lasting impression on you long after you leave the theater. This is arguably the best ensemble of actors of any movie this year, and boy, do they deliver the goods. The characters they inhabit are placed during the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, when an up-and-coming campaign press secretary (Ryan Gosling) finds himself involved in a political scandal that threatens to upend his candidate’s (Clooney) shot at the presidency. This movie is all about skillful acting, astute plot twists (this one had three!), cerebrally stimulating dialogue and an enthralling story. Clooney, who directs it, is now officially a bonafide helmer with a reputation of creating artistically-crowd-pleasing movies. All in all, you will not be dissapointed with ‘The Ides of March’, a piece of cinema that is a must see for anyone looking to see the best of the best films this year.

5. Hugo

Hugo

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ is probably the sleeper surprise hit of the year because you expect one thing and end up getting something better. How often does that happen for the price of your ticket? It also somehow manages to linger in the crevices of your mind for days. The more you think about it, the more you end up loving it. The catch here is that ‘Hugo’ is a fairytale for adults, but one that doesn’t ignore the kiddies. The 3D experience is absolutely sick and one of the year’s best. You only have to see the opening sequence to understand how masterful Scorsese truly is. If you’re a film fanatic, one who appreciates silent films and the importance of film preservation, then you are in for a treat that you’ll cherish for a long time.

4. Rango

Rango

Just when I thought animated films couldn’t get any better, ‘Rango’ had to go out and prove me wrong. This odd and eccentric project, led by the voice of Johnny Depp, was challenging to be, arguably, the best film of the year upon its release in March. The opening sequence, where Rango performs a brilliant and audacious acting monologue, a la Sanford Meisner, instantly set it apart from any other computer generated movie ever created in its genre. It began to play above the level of any Pixar before it. Here is its plot – after a car accident, the chameleon Rango winds up in an old western town called Dirt. What this town needs the most is water, but they also need a hero and a sheriff. The thirsty Rango instantly takes on the role of both and selfishly agrees to take on the case of their missing water. Also credit to the writers for injecting a Latino flavor that was palpable right from the beginning. ‘Rango’ is not for kids, it is really adult fare with a nod to children. With a script that is cerebral, original, accompanied by highbrow humor, and splendid voice performances from a top notch cast, this movie is one of the best animated films I have ever seen.

3. Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris

And you thought he had lost it. If ‘Matchpoint,’ ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ and the underrated ‘Cassandra’s Dream,’ weren’t enough to get you to believe in him again, then perhaps ‘Midnight in Paris’ will. Allen is in rare form, back to the man that created the seminal films ‘Annie Hall’ and ‘Hannah and her Sisters’. This is one of his finest works, an ode to the most romantic city in the world, Paris, where Allen seems re-inspired. He stupefies us with an ingenious and simple plot full of love, nostalgia, and of course, wit. There are no outstanding performances, or awe-inspiring directing, just actors who are able to breathe life into the words of Allen’s brilliant script. This tale centers around Gil (Owen Wilson), a successful Hollywood writer who is struggling on his first novel. While in Paris with his demanding wife Inez (Rachel McAdams), his obsession of 1920’s Paris comes to life every night at midnight where he befriends the greatest writers, artists and legendary figures of the 20th century. This is a beautiful film that will capture your imagination, seize you in its philosophical message and have you buying a ticket to Paris as soon as possible!

2. Drive

Drive

I have to go back to Louis Malle’s ‘Elevator to the Gallows’ from 1958 to know what it feels like to experience the coolest movie I have ever seen. ‘Drive’ is not just cool, it’s uber-cool. It’s a sophisticated action movie drenched in sexiness and artistic violence. Have you seen a man get sliced up to classical music or a protagonist without a name? The hardcore boys will love it and so will the sassy girls that will beg to go see ‘It’ man of the moment – Ryan Gosling. After a slew of fantastic performances this year (Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Ides of March), this film consecrates him as the new Brad Pitt in Hollywood, and, director Nicolas Winding Refn as the new Quentin Tarantino. Also watch for Albert Brooks’ (Broadcast Network), supporting performance, as it should strongly compete with Nick Nolte for the honors at the Oscars. The plot revolves around a Hollywood stunt performer (Gosling) moonlighting as a wheelman who discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong. I would catalog this film as an instant cult classic you’ll be talking about for years.

1. Warrior

Warrior

Since no one has the balls to say it, then I will. ‘Warrior’ is the best film of 2011, with ‘Drive’ right on its heels. It possesses the best combination of drama, humor, plot intrigue, superb acting and relentless fight action for your movie ticket. I swear I almost broke down in tears THREE times! No other movie has the privilege of boasting that this year. It’s the mounting, rousing crescendo towards the end that gets to you. Nick Nolte should get a nod for Best Supporting actor at the Oscars and win it.  The movie is about the youngest son (Tom Hardy) of an alcoholic former boxer (Nick Nolte) who returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament — a path that puts the fighter on a collision against his older brother (Joel Edgerton). Mark Wahlberg’s ‘The Fighter’ has nothing on this film. Don’t believe other critics who say that this movie isn’t all that. It’s a crowd pleaser. If you’re looking for strong acting, a gritty drama, a good dose of movie violence and desire to shed a tear or two, then get ready to titillate your senses.

Jack Rico

By

2011/12/19 at 12:00am

Complete 2012 Golden Globes nominations

12.19.2011 | By |

Complete 2012 Golden Globes nominations

“The Artist,” Weinstein Co.’s silent, black-and-white film about an actor who deals with the transition to talkies, was nominated for six Golden Globe awards, but in the Comedy or Musical category.

This selection seems erroneous since every other organization including the BFCA included it under it’s Best Picture categories. Did we miss something? Are you really telling us that ‘The Artist’ is competing with Bridesmaids?? Something seems terribly out of whack here.

Nevertheless, go ahead and immerse yourself in what will be a very interesting night hosted by noneother than Ricky Gervais.

 

 

 

BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
The Descendants, Fox Searchlight
The Help, Walt Disney Co./DreamWorks Pictures
Hugo, Paramount Pictures
The Ides of March, Sony Pictures
Moneyball, Sony Pictures
War Horse, Walt Disney Co./DreamWorks Pictures

BEST MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
50/50, Summit Entertainment
The Artist, Weinstein Co.
Bridesmaids, Universal Pictures
Midnight in Paris, Sony Pictures Classics
My Week With Marilyn, Weinstein Co.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
The Adventures of Tintin, Paramount Pictures
Arthur Christmas, Sony Pictures
Puss in Boots, DreamWorks Animation/Paramount
Cars 2, Walt Disney Co.
Rango, Paramount Pictures

BEST ACTOR – DRAMA
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

BEST ACTOR – COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris

BEST ACTRESS – DRAMA
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

BEST ACTRESS – COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Jodie Foster, Carnage
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Kate Winslet, Carnage

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

BEST DIRECTOR
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
George Clooney, The Ides of March
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Jack Rico

By

2011/12/11 at 12:00am

New York Film Critics Online chooses ‘The Artist’ Best Pic

12.11.2011 | By |

New York Film Critics Online chooses 'The Artist' Best Pic

The digital film organization that I am a member of, the NYFCO (New York Film Critics Online), voted today for the best of the best in film for 2011.

There were some surprises for me, in particular, the animated category. I voted for Rango as the best, but the rest of my collegues felt strongly for Spielberg’s Tintin. I agree that on a visual, Tintin is extraordinary, but as a whole movie, the film dragged to point of boredom. Rango was intellectual, funny, unique, and had very adult themes.

Also interesting was Michael Shannon for ‘Take Shelter’ in the Best Actor category. He wasn’t  a favorite, but nevertheless, I’m happy he took the award as opposed to undeserved Clooney. Shannon is one hell of an actor. He was excellent in Revolutionary Road and was the best part of The Runaways. He should’ve been nominated for Best Supporting actor at the Oscars in 2010.

So many more deserved and surprising moments such as Melissa McCarthy for ‘Bridesmaids’ over Octavia Spencer from ‘The Help’ in the Supporting Actress category. Read on and enjoy the beauty that is film criticism during award season.

BEST FILM
“The Artist”

TOP PICTURES OF 2011 (alphabetical)
“The Artist” (The Weinstein Company)
“The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“Drive” (Film District)
“The Help” (Walt Disney Pictures)
“Hugo” (Paramount Pictures)
“Melancholia” (Magnolia Pictures)
“Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Take Shelter” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“The Tree of Life” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“War Horse” (Dreamworks Pictures)
 
DIRECTOR
Michael Hazanavicius for “The Artist”
 
ACTOR
Michael Shannon for “Take Shelter”
 
ACTRESS
Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady”
 
SUPPORTING ACTOR
Albert Brooks for “Drive”
 
SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Melissa McCarthy for “Bridesmaids”
 
CINEMATOGRAPHY
“The Tree of Life” – Emmanuel Lubezki
 
SCREENPLAY
“The Descendants” – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
 
FOREIGN LANGUAGE PICTURE
“A Separation”
 
DOCUMENTARY
“Cave of Forgotten Dreams”
 
ANIMATED FEATURE
“The Adventures of Tin Tin”
 
USE OF MUSIC
“The Artist” – Ludovic Bource
 
BREAKOUT PERFORMER
Jessica Chastain for “The Tree of Life, “The Help,”The Debt,” “Take Shelter”
 
DEBUT AS DIRECTOR
Joe Cornish for “Attack the Block”
 
ENSEMBLE CAST
“Bridesmaids”

Jack Rico

By

2011/11/28 at 12:00am

The Artist

11.28.2011 | By |

The Artist

Are you sure no one pressed mute on the audio system when the movie was playing? Wait, are you telling me this is a brand new silent film for 2011? So you’re sure this is not a lost film retrieved by some film historian who restored it to its lustrous beauty for a Thanksgiving release? These are questions I’m sure some asked when they saw the trailer to ‘The Artist’, a newly created silent film for the modern era, cooked in the tradition of Douglas Fairbanks’ films. Ironically enough, this homage to yesteryear, could bring home the Oscar for Best Picture. At least it has legs to compete for it. But does it deserve it? No.

But before I get into the reasons it won’t win, it’s good to know what this movie is all about. Set during the twilight of Hollywood’s silent era, ‘The Artist’ tells the story of a charismatic movie star unhappily confronting the new world of talking pictures. The year is 1927, Hollywood. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is one of Hollywood’s reigning silent screen idols, instantly recognizable with his slim moustache and signature white tie and tails. Starring in exotic tales of intrigue and derring-do, the actor has turned out hit after hit for Kinograph, the studio run by cigar-chomping mogul Al Zimmer (John Goodman). His success has brought him an elegant mansion and an equally elegant wife, Doris (Penelope Ann Miller). Chauffeured to the studio each day by his devoted driver Clifton (James Cromwell), George is greeted by his own smiling image, emblazoned on the posters prominently placed throughout the Kinograph lot. As he happily mugs for rapturous fans and reporters at his latest film premiere, George is a man indistinguishable from his persona — and a star secure in his future. For young dancer Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), the future will be what she makes of it. Vivacious and good-humored, with an incandescent smile and a flapper’s ease of movement, Peppy first crosses George’s path at his film premiere and then as an extra on his latest film at Kinograph. As they film a brief dance sequence, the leading man and the newcomer fall into a natural rhythm, the machinery of moviemaking fading into the background. But the day must finally end, sending the matinee idol and the eager hopeful back to their respective places on the Hollywood ladder. And Hollywood itself will soon fall under sway of a captivating new starlet: talking pictures. George wants no part of the new technology, scorning the talkie as a vulgar fad destined for the dustbin. By 1929, Kinograph is preparing to cease all silent film production and George faces a choice: embrace sound, like the rising young star Peppy Miller; or risk a slide into obscurity.

I will give credit to French director Michel Hazanavicius, known internationally for the spy spoof comedies ‘OSS 117’ also starring Jean Dujardin, for bringing back an obsolete format and creating an exceptional and refreshing piece of cinema. But ultimately, the principal reason it won’t win Best Picture is because his screenplay wasn’t “mind-blowingly” enthralling. It was a good predictable story without enough pounce to place it in a league of its own. If one were to compare this film against the preeminent work of the era, it will pale in comparison. After the first half hour, the novelty wears off and you’re hoping it won’t be just another silent film, but have a contemporary twist that separates it from the rest. You expect it to delve dramatically deeper than Chaplin’s ‘The Kid’ or funnier than Keaton’s ‘The General’, but it never reaches those heights. Now, compared against today’s Hollywood fare, ‘The Artist’ has a much better chance to stand out and be a heavyweight contender. But can you really give the Best Picture prize to a film just on novelty? I would hate to think the Oscar committee is that easy. The Best Picture of the year has to be a movie that excels in every single aspect of its process. One that is indubitably the preeminent work of the year. Does ‘The Artist’ really stand above the rest? In my opinion, no, but at the time of writing this review, I have yet to see ‘War Horse’, ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’. Those might end up being disappointments, but I expect the best will come out of the aforementioned three. I’ll update this post periodically as I see them.

Where the film has strength is in the acting of its protagonist Jean Dujardin. He is one of the most charming men I’ve seen on screen, period. He is a lock for a Best Actor nomination, and even a win. Regrettably, his co-star Bérenice Bejo has much to be desired. Even Uggie the Dog was wonderful. Hazanavicius, for his part, should be rewarded with a directorial nomination since pulling off a film of this magnitude couldn’t have been easy. Then we must look at Guillaume Schiffman’s cinematographer work which is some of the finest of 2011.

The experience of watching this film begins with frantic curiosity, then a battle of patience as one slowly goes into a period of adjustment due to the lack of dialogue. ‘The Artist’ is a sensorial film; the fact that there is no text brings you back to a basic way of telling a story that only works on the feelings you have created. It can be very rewarding for those in search of something “new” and “unusual”.

‘The Artist’ is a real good mix of comedy, romance and melodrama presented in the composition of a silent film. But come to think of it, could it be that its most distinctive attribute is its subliminal message that the past can still provide better cinema than the rest of today’s best 3D, IMAX offerings? A win will surely leave more than one studio executive lurching in utter silence.

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