By Brian Bell
The Academy of Motion Pictures ran a film series (here in L.A.) earlier this year, of some of histories best silent films. If the film I saw tonight, The Artist, had been released yet, this film surely would have made the list. It is certainly one of the year's most charming films and a must see drama for any fan of cinema.
Aside from being one of the funniest, sweetest, and most clever movies I have seen in years, everything about this movie just works and is executed to perfection. Due to the fact that I actually watched several silent films on the big screen during the Academy' aforementioned series, I can say that this film looks as if it came straight out of the 1920's. I will go even further to say this film is a solid reminder of why America first fell in love with movies.
The Artist opens in 1927, to a packed movie theater enjoying another silent Hollywood film premiere. As the credits roll, the film's stars George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), who is strikingly similar to Douglas Fairbanks, walks onto the theater stage. Considering the man never udders a word throughout the entire film, it sounds funny to say that I think he will get an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, but I truly do! And yup, I think The Artist's stunning leading lady Bernice Bejo will probably get nominated for her portrayal of Hollywood's favorite 'talkie' star Peppy Miller. In the film, Peppy Miller (Bejo) is an aspiring Hollywood actress who bumps into star George Valentin (Dujardin) while leaving the premiere and their relationship continues to grow over the next several years. As his career fades with the end of the silent film era, her career grows with the new wave of 'talkies'.
There is a delightful cast peppered throughout this movie, including actors James Cromwell, John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Ed Lauter, and Malcolm McDowell. Do not let the fact that this film is both silent and in black & white deter you from seeing it. The music is perfectly matched to every scene, while still being authentic to its era, and adds a layer of communication. In fact, the music is so good...you guessed it, I think it will be nominated for Original Score. And while I am at it with my Oscar predictions for 2012, I expect to see noms for this film for Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Makeup, and Original Screenplay.
This is a film that can't be given justice with description, it must be seen on the big screen. Go see The Artist. You will be transported back in time and enjoy old Hollywood as your probably never have and never will again...in silence.