On Popcorn Hangover this time, I am revealing my pick for Academy Award’s Best Picture.
After seeing (almost) all of the nominees, I can easily say that my pick is “The Artist” for very clear reasons. To be Best Picture, I feel a movie should provide us with insight, something fresh, and a different way of looking at things, and “The Artist” surprisingly provides all three.
George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) is a big silent movie star, that is until “talking movies” come along. We watch Valentin as his fame and fortune is slowly stripped of him to reveal a man struggling in the middle of the Great Depression without the bitterness and anger many in his position would fall victim to. It is his good nature that causes him to help a young Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) when he was on top – a deed she never forgot even when she reached the heights in popularity that Valentin once enjoyed.
While the story is relatively simple, the acting and cinematography is not. To make an entertaining silent movie in black and white these days is impossible for most directors – dialogue is so ingrained in movies that it is difficult to imagine how anyone would find interest in a movie with dialogue but no sound besides background music. Although there is some dialogue to be “read” by the audience, it is easy to follow along with the story by facial expressions and occasionally reading the lips of the actors. The facial expressions and relationship between Valentin and Miller, while appearing dated, are in actuality timeless and can be related by anyone who has been in love regardless of the time period.
Director Michel Hazanavicius does a great job of balancing a good old fashion love story with a look into a man who slowly loses everything after being “outdated”
Despite a group of really good movies this year (not one “Avatar” in the bunch), “The Artist” stands out for being innovative while showing us a different period in cinema history.