Movie: The Artist
What it’s up for: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Jean Dujardin), Actress in a Supporting Role (Berenice Bejo), Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Film Editing, Score, Original Screenplay

When I go see independent films in theaters and see all the trailers for the upcoming independent films, I think to myself “Why don’t I just watch independent films?” There’s something about an indie film that just warms the cockles of my heart.

The Artist, as you may or may not know, is a silent film…basically. That aspect of the movie actually is a part of the plot. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent film star and as the 1920s come to an end, he’s forced out of the movie business by the production of “talkies” (the earliest films with vocal audio). He meets a young extra named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) and gives her a boost into show business.

For the most part, the only audio is background music (the type you would’ve heard playing during real silent films) but there are a couple of times when other audio is added in. It’s always added very specifically and intentionally. I’m actually kind of surprised that the movie didn’t get nominated for sound editing. It must’ve been fun to be the foley artist for some of the scenes in this movie.

I honestly don’t know how they made this movie so thoroughly accurate. The art direction was fantastic. It looked like they were actually filming in the Hollywoodland of the 20s and 30s. The attention to detail was spectacular in the scenery, the costumes, the props…everything! Certain things happening in the background also played a role in telling the story. That was my favorite thing about this movie. I’d be interested in seeing it again just to pay more attention to some of the background details. The direction of the film was done very well. It was smooth and thorough.

Both Dujardin and Bejo were perfect for the roles they were playing. They have interesting and expressive faces – which is important when there’s no dialogue. What was interesting is that not every “spoken” line was given a title card on-screen, so you had to infer a lot of what was happening. That was very easy to do because the acting was done so well. I’m not sure how one can accurately measure someone’s acting in a silent film versus a talkie though. The type of acting is very different.

The score was the best I’ve heard yet! It was very distinctive and played a crucial role in the movie, since there was no dialogue. I think that aspect alone makes it stand above the rest. It’s not very often that the score is a character in the film alongside the actors.

The cinematography and screenplay were very unique. The shots were set up really well to capture the feeling that we were actually watching a silent film. The plot…well, the plot was really good but it was a little rough in places. Maybe it was just me, but there were a few times where I was really confused as to why a character was reacting a certain way. The score was the only thing that kept me on track during those times. Along with that, the film editing was very well done and also very unique. They used a lot of old-timey effects for transitions, but other than that there was nothing out-of-this-world about it.

Overall, I really liked this film. It was completely engaging, even in silence. I left smiling and wanting to dance.

Predictions
Best Picture: It’s possible, just because it’s SO different. It’s not quite what I was expecting though. If it comes down to this or Hugo (the two most nominated films this year), it would definitely be this. I can’t imagine why one of the other movies would win above either of them, just for logic’s sake.

Leading actor: Doubtful. Mostly because it’s so hard to compare Dujardin to an actor who had dialogue. I’m still more blown away by Gary Oldman.

Supporting actress: Doubtful. Just because I feel this is a lock for Octavia Spencer.

Cinematography: Maybe…I need to see more of these films though.

Art Direction: I honestly don’t know yet. This is going to be a close category.

Costume design: Mmm…possible. I’m still betting on Anonymous though. (Even though I haven’t seen it yet. My opinion may change.)

Director: Doubtful, honestly.

Film editing: Doubtful.

Score: Unless my beloved John Williams hit it out of the park with something unique in one of his movies, I think The Artist will get this. I think it should get it, regardless of John Williams. (That feels like heresy…)

Original Screenplay: Doubtful. I’m rooting for Midnight.

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