How The Artist won over Hollywood
27 Feb 2012
Some of my friends on Facebook now trash The Artist. The silent movie that crashed the Oscar party is no longer the underdog. If that doesn’t call for celebration, call me Brad.
You didn’t need to know the films to see nostalgia was the thing.
Gwyneth Paltrow in a pure white Tom Ford dress and Angelina Jolie in black velvet Versace were among many female stars who literally embodied the 1920′s and 1930′s inspiration that dominated the 84th Academy Awards show last night.
Martin Scorsese’s marvelous Hugo travels back to Paris of the 1930′s and celebrates legendary filmmaker and magician Georges Méliès. And Woody Allen’s sweet and funny Midnight in Paris explores the French capital at the time of the sexy 1920′s of the avant-garde. But despite the grand old American filmmakers whose movies were nominated for best film alongside Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and Moneyball, which Brad Pitt produced, it was the actual French film that won.
Today, it may not come as a surprise that The Artist won the top prizes. It was rumoured to be the favorite since the nominations were announced.
Still, the fact is rather astonishing, that a silent movie shot in black and white wins the top Oscar prizes, including ‘best actor’ for Jean Dujardin, a prize everyone thought would go to George Clooney for his performance in The Descendants or to Brad Pitt for his ditto in Moneyball. In fact, it was the feeling of many, that this was Brad Pitt’s hour.
Recently, gossip sources speculated that Angelina Jolie was annoyed with his stealing attention from her directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey, when showcasing a bad knee and carrying a cane to the Golden Globes, where her film was nominated. Yesterday she made sure it was her leg the photographers would focus on by sporting a giant vent in her gown. Anyway, back to The Artist.
Set in Hollywood in the 1920′s and 30′s Michel Hazanavicius’ silent movie is in many ways a tribute to the past, channeling the glamour and grace of old school movie-making. But, there’s much more to The Artist than pleasure of nostalgia.
“So, why does a silent, black and white French picture win the Oscar for best film in the year 2012?” I was asked this morning on Danish Radio P1. To me the answer is obvious.
We enjoy advanced technology and 3-D effects that makes it possible to orchestrate great war scenes and digitally construct entire planets authentically. It’s not to much use however, if the script has no charisma.
Michel Hazanavicius wrote The Artist, when James Camerons Avatar was being advertised like a new miracle-drug. Sadly, the visually stunning film had a story, that felt recycled.
One of the secrets to the succes of The Artist is that its producer Thomas Langmann gained access to Hollywood for the film’s shoot, and managed to get an American crew. Let’s not forget who votes at the Oscars. Why the Hollywood crew fell in love with the film, however, has to do with oldfashioned storytelling.
We may have come a long way since the era of silent films. When it comes to technology. But when it comes to telling a story and create filmmaking that speaks to our hearts, we can learn quite a bit from the masters of that era.
A few months ago, I watched Charles Chaplin’s The Kid with my 5 year old son. He is up-to-date and saw Tintin twice, but he was spellbound by Chaplin’s silent classic. Great storytelling was the key to succes at the time of the little tramp, and it is now.
I may celebrate, that the fabulous Lady Streep finally won again. I may mourn that Michael Fassbender was not nominated for his unforgettable sexaddict in Shame. And I may feel a bit sorry for this years double losers George Clooney and Brad Pitt, who each went home with two unused speeches last night. But, I will never forget the year, The Oscar went to The Artist.
Contemporary tv-shows like Sopranos, Mad Men and The Wire has proved how great things can happen when you let the writer be the star. This years’ best movie is The Artist. But the story is king.