The Artist? Really?

Don & Jay:

As our twitter feeds show, we all tuned in to see Jennifer Lawrence and Tom Sherak announce this year’s Oscar nominees, and like you I was also surprised. I think I sounded bipolar in my tweets (YUCK, GLENN CLOSE!  YES, A SEPARATION! NO, WAR HORSE! WOW, TREE OF LIFE!). But that’s reflective of the quality of this year’s nominations – for every inspired choice, there’s an unforgivable snub.

The biggest shock for me is the exclusion of Albert Brooks, who gave a superb performance in Drive, from the Best Supporting Actor category. Really, AMPAS? You exclude the most critically acclaimed supporting role this year to make room for someone in the worst reviewed Best Picture nominee to date? Way to go.  But my annoyance at this unfair oversight is alleviated by his tweets. At least he has a healthy sense of humor.

And yes, Don – Best Pic is The Artist‘s to lose, which is such a disappointment. For the second year in a row, the Academy is going to recognize a safe, unchallenging film. For me, The Artist is a charming, well-made movie. That’s it. it doesn’t have, for example, the emotional depth of The Descendants, nor the ambition of The Tree of Life. Moreover, its a story that we’ve already seen before  – it’s Singin’ in the Rain with less singing and more dog tricks.

My biggest pet peeve is that it relies too much on the charm of being “silent” that it comes at the expense of actually telling a sensible narrative. I did not for the life of me understand why George Valentin refused to make a talkie. What drives his reluctance? His pride? If so, then why am I supposed to sympathize with such an arrogant character? And what exactly did he find shameful in taking part in this new enterprise anyway?

Another subplot concerns his wife and him having a falling out. Again, I found this a bit lacking. It was never explained why he was so disconnected to his wife in the first place, that her (spoiler alert) leaving him had no emotional weight. I would leave my spouse too if he stopped talking to me for no reason.

As for who I want to win out of this year’s crop of Best Picture nominees, I would have to go with The Descendants. But that’s for another entry. Do you guys share my disappointment at this year’s frontrunner?


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