Posts Tagged ‘ Oscars ’

The Artist

«We didn’t need dialogs, we had faces» said the narcissistic Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) in Billy Wilder’ “Sunset Boulevard”, referring to the Silent Era, when she used to be big … before the ‘pictures got small’.

The reason of this introduction is that after watching Michel Hazanavicius’ critically acclaimed: “The Artist”, I strongly felt this was the perfect illustration to Norma Desmond’s iconic eulogy. From beginning to end, my eyes never ceased to be amazed by the communicative smile of Jean Dujardin as George Valentin, the aging silent movie star and the sparkling eyes of Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller, the young and flamboyant starlet. Their faces occupy the screen with such an electrifying magnetism that they don’t just steal the scenes, they steal the dialogs … literally.

I had so high expectations for this film and luckily (because it doesn’t happen very often) it somehow managed to impress me even more! Everything about it is superb. From the story, the screenplay, the direction, the play, the structure of the frames…. everything. It’s just amazing.

The plot is simple. Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin(Jean Dujardin) wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller(Berenice Bejo) , a young dancer set for a big break (IMDB). The play is so impressive. Made me think about my first acting classes when we couldn’t use words and had to express various emotions by letting the feeling rule our bodies. Both Dujardin and Bejo are indeed powerful in an Oscar-worthy level and at that moment, I can’t continue without mentioning the third character of the film, George’s dog. The relationship between George and the dog provides a sort of Chaplinesque feel to the movie, a mix of tenderness and poignancy, so natural and convincing I wonder if the Academy will think of a honorary Oscar. Anyway, I applaud Hazanivicius for not having reduced “The Artist” to a flashy spectacle with no substance, with the word ‘homage’ as the director’s convenient alibi, and make a touching romance about two people who met each other at a pivotal time in the history of film-making, each representing a side of cinema, the old-school silent generation: Chaplin, Keaton, Pickford and the exuberant talkers: Grant, Hepburn, Davis … And I’m glad he found the true note to reconcile between these two universes at the end …

There are so many marvelously beautiful frames in this film. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone reading this so I will just say: Watch it! “The Artist” is incredibly clever and just flatters you. It is funny and witty in the classiest way possible.

It’s like a breath of fresh vintage air in an era when being hi-tech becomes more important than the film-making itself. I mentioned in a previous post how disappointed I was two years ago with the “best movie” competition between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. I had so many argues about how stupid it is to forget ourselves in the special effects. And a lot of people told me: That’s the future. To them I answer: This is the future of vision, may be, but it shouldn’t be more important than the film itself. Cinema is after all, and I don’t care how hipster-ish this sounds, an art. So please respect it.

But let’s get back to the particular topic of this post.

“The Artist” plays like a missing link between “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Sunset Boulevard” and it’s indeed one of the best films of 2011, with the absence of words as an endearing ‘beauty spot’.

p.s. There was another earthquake in Italy while I was writing the post. This time – 5.4 by Richter with epicenter under my city(with 4.9, 5 and 2.6 earlier this week). Awesomeness. I have to admit I got a bit scared this time, hope there aren’t anymore.

Oscar Nominations

I love this part of the year! Time for the Oscars! Here are the nominations which were announced a few minutes ago:

Leading actor:
Damian Bachir for “A Better Life”
George Clooney for “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin for “The Artist”
Brad Pitt for “Moneyball”
Gary Oldman for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Supporting actor:
Kenneth Branagh for “My Week with Marilyn”
Jonah Hill for “Moneyball”
Christopher Plummer for “Beginners”
Nick Nolte for “Warrior”
Max von Sydow for “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Leading actress:
Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams for “My Week with Marilyn”
Rooney Mara for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Viola Davis for “The Help”
Glenn Close for “Albert Nobbs”

Supporting actress:
Berenice Bejo for “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain for “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy for “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer for “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer for “The Help”

Animated film:
“A Cat in Paris” – Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
“Chico & Rita” – Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
“Kung Fu Panda 2” – Jennifer Yuh Nelson
“Puss in Boots” – Chris Miller
“Rango” – Gore Verbinski

Camera work:
“The Artist” – Guillaume Schiffman
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Jeff Cronenweth
“Hugo” – Robert Richardson
“The Tree of Life” – Emmanuel Lubezki
“War Horse” – Janusz Kaminski

Music:
“The Adventures of Tintin” – John Williams
“The Artist” – Ludovic Bource
“Hugo” – Howard Shore
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” – Alberto Iglesias
“War Horse” – John Williams

Director:
“The Artist” – Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” – Alexander Payne
“Hugo” – Martin Scorsese
“Midnight in Paris” – Woody Allen
“The Tree of Life” – Terrence Malick

Foreign film:
“Bullhead” – Belgium
“Footnote” – Israel
“In Darkness” – Poland
“Monsieur Lazhar” – Canada
“A Separation” – Iran

Script:
“The Artist”, Michel Hazanavicius
“Bridesmaids”, Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
“Margin Call”, J.C. Chandor
“Midnight in Paris”, Woody Allen
“A Separation”, Asghar Farhadi

Best film:
“War Horse”
“The Artist”
“Moneyball”
“The Descendants”
“The Tree of Life”
“The Help”
“Hugo”
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Personally I loved Midnight in Paris (this might have something to do with my Woody obsession), The Help and Tree of Life this year. Can’t wait to see Hugo and The Artist though. Some of my friends made comments that the films this year are a bit weak but I disagree. I mean… after the joke competition between Avatar and The Hurt Locker two years ago…. seriously?! I think we saw some good cinema last year. Although I am kind of disappointed that Midnight in Paris is not in the Best film competition I hope Woody will grab the Best Director award. We’ll see. Back to marketing evaluation systems now. Big exam tomorrow.