Talkies Are So Last Year

Why The Artist will (hopefully) be crowned Best Picture at the Oscars.

By Beth Meroski


Movie theaters are filled to the brim with visually spectacular 3D-IMAX-franchise-blockbuster movies, but the most beloved movie of the year was a black and white silent film from France.  While beloved-ness doesn’t always translate to cold hard cash and ticket sales, I’m predicting The Artist will soon earn something money (arguably) can’t buy: a Best Picture Oscar.

While the nominations have yet to be announced, the majority of film critics and media bloggers have already predicted either The Artist or The Descendants will take home the top prize.  Envisioning the race as being between these two films jibes well with the Golden Globe results, where The Descendants was awarded Best Picture in the Drama category and The Artist in the Comedy or Musical category (A category none of the nominees except Bridesmaids really even fit into. The Golden Globes are fun but absolute bollocks…but that’s for a whole ‘nother blog entry).

I’ve seen both The Descendants and The Artist, and this awards season I am resoundingly putting my support behind the latter.  When I saw The Descendants I was a tiny bit sloshed, and I still thought it was boring as all hell.  In my opinion the film was basically comprised of pretty shots of Hawaii and George Clooney being contemplative and barefoot.  I also have a big problem with George Clooney playing “Regular Joes”.  No one’s buying it, we know you have a villa on Lake Como.  Also, what woman in her right mind would leave George Clooney for Matthew Lillard? Come on! 

Conversely, like everyone (literally almost everyone, The Artist is at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes) I thought The Artist was wildly endearing and wondrous.  There’s an old adage that audiences don’t care about Hollywood, only Hollywood cares about Hollywood.  I think The Artist proves this wrong.  At its core the film is reminscent ofSingin’ In the Rain and Sunset Boulevard, in that it revolves around a silent movie star who finds himself out of work with the advent of the talkies.  While those other films are obviously classics in their own right, The Artist is its own bird.  Its able to suck you into the magical world of film-making by being itself a magical piece of film-making.  Genius. Sidenote: Why isn’t anyone talking about how great John Goodman is in this film?

After I saw The Artist I went on a tad silent-movie-watching frenzy.  If you’re looking to do the same here are some recommendations:

Sally of the Sawdust (1925)
An early prototype of the light rom-com romp.  Poor girl (my favorite silent movie actress, Carol Dempster) falls in love with rich boy.  Chaos ensues.  Also the girl’s father is a circus clown and is played by the great W.C. Fields.

Sunrise: A Song of Two People (1927)
Shout out to my film music professor, as I just saw this film in his class the other day. Here’s the description from IMDB: “A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife.” This film is silent melodrama-comedy at its best.  Guess what else Sunrise is? The recipient of Best Picture (in the retired category of “Unique and Artistic Production”) at the first ever Academy Awards.Sunrise and Wings are the only silent movies that have won Best Picture since 1929. Can’t wait until The Artist is the next.

 

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