Despite getting through a slew of movies, I don’t follow the Oscars or any other awards ceremonies. I do know that The Artist won Best Picture though, which is appropriate because I quite liked it.
The Artist is a silent film about silent films, and those in the know will see that this film follows the conventions and restrictions of the genre it mimics (for example, the aspect ratio and the lack of zoom shots). My ignorance on this front leads me to merely appreciate the film as an enjoyable movie rather than a groundbreaking artistic work.
George Valentin is a light-hearted silent movie star, an exaggerated physical performer with a very cute dog. He inspires the young Peppy Miller to ride her own wave to stardom upon the rising popularity of “talkies”, a medium that George (for reasons eventually revealed) has no time for. Hubris, ego, stubbornness, and the events of the time eventually lead to George’s downfall, despite the efforts of his deeply loyal manservant Clifton and the lovestruck Peppy.
I really enjoyed the physical performances of the actors: the expressiveness of the gestures and facial expressions, the slapstick, the dance routines, and charming scenes anchored by the physical actions of the actors (dancing behind the board, the arm in the coat). I remaining sympathetic with Valentin even through his extremely poor decisions, and like Peppy despite her slightly stalkerish tendencies.
I once read that men used to watch and enjoy old romance films, before the genre swerved into chick-flicks aimed solely at the female demographic – I’d count The Artist as one of that number.