And the Oscar Goes to:
The Artist, 2011
Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman
Set in the style of an old-fashioned silent, black-and-white film, The Artist follows the downfall of George Valentin (Dujardin), a silent movie star who scoffs at the notion of talking movie. George accidentally introduces Peppy Miller (Bejo) to the world of motion pictures and she soon rises through the ranks until she’s a lead in the talking movies.
One of the difficult challenges faced when doing a silent movie is knowing how many title cards to show and how to effectively convey what is happening in the film; and, in terms of acting, Dujardin, John Goodman (Argo) and Bejo were all perfect. With the right facial expressions and demeanour, they easily portrayed the full conversation with very little title cards to fully reveal their exact words. They successfully manage to tell a story of one actress prospering from talkies (talking movies) and one actor being left behind with his silent-film career, as well as the breakdown of George’s marriage and his subsequent feelings for Peppy. All while being a silent film; which, to me, is amazing.
The music in this film is also perfect; with the music being the only sounds throughout the bulk of the film, they needed it to be spot-on, and, luckily for them, Ludovic Bource deservedly earned his Oscar for Best Original Music Score. Everythign about the editing was brilliantly done, right down to the minor details such as showing the film in the 4:3 aspect ratio, to further make it be presented as a film from the 1920s would have appeared. And parts of this film genuinely looked like they were straight out of a 1920s silent film, it was so masterfully executed.
This film has comedic moments (the dog is perhaps one of the best on-screen dogs I’ve seen in a very, very long time), touching moments (such as Valentin’s own directed silent film’s lacklustre reception compared to the latest Miller-talkie) and charm with a beautifully written and well-paced story of one of the most important time periods in film history.
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