I was genuinely surprised by The Artist. You see, going in, I thought I was going to love The Artist, and was surprised to discover that I only liked it. The buzz around it has been so loud, and it's in black and white and old timey, visually rich. I was sure this was going to be my kind of movie.
Director Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist is the story of George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a silent movie star who struggles to continue his career in the face of the onset of the talkie. His fall is contrasted with the rise of Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), a fresh faced star of the sound pictures that George helped launch.
It was good. I liked it. There are lots of good scenes, like when George spends his fortune funding his own silent epic, when nobody is interested in working with him anymore. What he makes winds up being a pretentious piece complete with a metaphor of him being buried alive with quicksand. It fails, of course.
Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, and the rest of the supporting cast are all great. I especially liked Bejo as Peppy Miller, who goes out of her way to help George get back on his feet, if only he would set aside his pride and let her. James Cromwell is also very good as George's loyal chauffeur and best (human) friend.
And speaking of best friends, everybody loves that dog, am I right? Am I the only one that is so used to seeing trained dogs do these exact things in movies dating back to the silent era, that I'm not particularly impressed? Wasn't that dog in the Thin Man movies pretty much doing the same thing? Some people just automatically love something if a dog thinks it's people.
I guess one reason I didn't love The Artist is that I saw two other movies in 2011 with a similar idea behind them, and I liked both of them better. The Muppets and Hugo were both about former celebrities that got lost in the march of time, coming back to earn the love of a new audience, and I thought they were both more fun, more magical, and less, you know, pretentious.
The Artist is probably going to win Best Picture, and maybe it deserves it. Most of my favorite movies of 2011 weren't even nominated, so what do I know? Heck, why does a nomination even matter? Go see The Artist and judge for yourself, but also watch Attack the Block because that movie ruuuuled.