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By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

3 Days To Oscar: Pissing on The Artist

I’m so tired of it.

I get it. A silent, black & white movie that tells a classic tale of the high brought low and then resurrected isn’t “special” enough. Great.

90% of the time, the real issue people have with The Artist – and this is hardly the first Oscar winner to suffer this – is that they liked some other movie better and are sick of the obsessive focus on a movie that is not their personal favorite. So there has to be a pathology behind the choice… something that can be rationalized.

Karina Longworth offered up one of the more complex and one of the more stupid rationalizations. The movie somehow comforts an uncertain Hollywood about its future going into the digital delivery era.

Oy.

Why are journalists invariably 2 years behind the actual temperature of the town?

So what was the rationalization for The King’s Speech last year? “Hollywood” feels like a very powerful stutterer who needs a good bitch slapping to straighten up and lead again?

The success of The Artist with Academy voters is not a trick. It’s not an act of Harvey Weinstein chicanery. They just love this movie more than other movies.

There is plenty of support for The Descendents and Hugo and Moneyball and all the other BP nominees. But not quite as much love.

Year after year, unlike Karina and her ilk, I watch this closely, not down my nose. And I see this year after year. Love.

I’m not going to fight with anybody over their preference. Love what you love. But when others love something else, don’t pretzel yourself trying to figure out some rationalization.

Here is the question I ask people when they make a face after they ask, “What’s going to win?” and I say, “The Artist” (as I have since September). “We all now there are some excellent films that are nominated. Is there any one of the nine this year that you feel desperately needs to win… should win Best Picture?”

In almost every case, I get a blank stare and some mumbling.

It’s not that they don’t prefer some or all of the pictures to The Artist. It’s that they don’t have the passion for the other nominees that some people – many voters – have for The Artist.

And that’s how The Artist wins Best Picture.

89 Responses to “3 Days To Oscar: Pissing on The Artist”

  1. Daniella Isaacs says:

    Are you sure it’s not that they think the film is slight and a “gimmick” and slight, gimmicky films aren’t what usually win? When something like an AMADEUS or a KING’S SPEECH wins, people can say, “well it wasn’t my favorite but I can see why it’s winning.” When something seems destined to win that’s out of that “Prestige Picture” box, people start to wonder.

  2. Kirsty says:

    You pretty much nail it, I think, especially when you talk about The Artist being the film this year that those who see it have the most passion for.

    And it’s a true fact that every year around this time we get a bunch of people complaining about the oscar favourite. In spite of what Danielle says above it was EXACTLY the same sort of thing last year, all that’s changed is the name of the film.

    I just wish that the people who accuse the film of being “slight” and “gimmicky” could be a bit less “slight” and “gimmicky” in their criticisms of the film themselves.

  3. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Sometimes films feel like BPs and the academy members act accordingly. They genuinely like the film (possibly not love) but there’s also a desire to reward the film ‘they feel’ is deserving. And what film doesn’t deserve it more in this cluttered, chaotic, junk-food CG regurgitorium than a beautiful ode to a simpler time.

    A reaction to the Digital Menace? Hey Longworth, wasn’t the Phantom Menace released ages ago? And how about those Avatar noms? A celebration about CG? Is there anything more frustrating than a film critic who sucks up to a distributor for his regular shilling and then spends a long time reaching towards some profound conclusion about the bleeding obvious.

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks

  4. leahnz says:

    damn, i wanna post in the thread with the other girls.

    here’s a thought: nobody who makes movies actually gives a shit what critics and bloggers think, so piss away, you’re just pulling out your willies in front of everybody and splashing it all over your shoes (since male analogies appear to be the order of the day)

  5. David Poland says:

    Daniella… people said exactly the same things about The King’s Speech last year. They didn’t lean on “gimmicky,” but “slight” and “minor” with mockery of the direction as too simple were constant.

    Personally, I think “gimmicky” is a shitty comment about The Artist, love it or not. A filmmaker wants to work in a form not used anymore – two really – and because it’s not sturm & drang, it’s “gimmicky.”

    Scorsese is a true master… but you can’t point to any of his films and not allow for “gimmicky.”

    Blech.

  6. JS Partisan says:

    So that’s stupid rationalizing? Hh. Yeah, you can go on about love, but I like her stupid rationalizing more because it gives some added depth to their decision.

    Also, you want a second pass at that last sentence?

  7. David Poland says:

    JSP… I know I am pissing in the wind here, but…

    False depth is not depth.

    And what sentence do you think I need to reconsider?

  8. Don Kondik says:

    As for being “slight and gimmicky”, “The Artist” was indeed both. However, so was “Midnight In Paris” and I enjoyed that much more. Last year was a lousy year for film and I would just not award a Best Picture oscar. Maybe give two Supporting Actress awards instead to Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain.

  9. anghus says:

    I love the artist. Id be happy if it wins, but im just happy it exists.

    2011 was great year for exploring the past. Midnight in Paris explored it quite literally. Hugo, War Horse, and The Artist were fantastic pieces of classicly styled cinema.

    I don’t know why anyone would root against a movie in an awards show. Seems like such a weird concept.

  10. JS Partisan says:

    David, it is not worth it because I dare to question the wise DAVID POLAND, who knows the TEMPERATURE OF THE TOWN, and UNDERSTANDS THE LOVE! That’s funny shit but not as funny as you believing Scorcese is Gimmicky enough to make a silent film and rape Kim Novak’s career!

    Automation 3000, people pick a side. This blog seems to have people that do not understand, that the OSCARS IS A COMPETITION! Oscar Pools (I believe the Academy even has one on their site) exist for a reason. You pick a side and the inhabitants of this blog lacking a basic understanding of this, does not change the fact that this is indeed like SPORTS. They refer to it as the GAY SUPERBOWL for a reason.

    Seriously, your lack of understanding or comprehending that attitude, does not change the fact that until this blog, I’ve never met people who treated the Oscars so blase. I’ve always known people who rooted and rooted hard for the movies they loved and liked, to win.

    Glad that the Academy are all about the love, but that being the basis to give an award to something is really… hokey. The BEST should win but good to know the Academy didn’t get that memo but they did listen to John Lennon. Bless them.

  11. Peter says:

    I think the Artist is the most agreeable picture and that’s why it wins awards. No one will say they hate The Artist, but you will hear people saying they dislike The Descendants, Moneyball, Hugo and The Tree Of Life. You really can’t hate The Artist, it tries so hard to make you like it. Yes it’s a bit of a gimmick but pretty clever and it’s sentimental. And many people love a movie that can make them cry, while some critics dislike movies trying to get certain emotions out of them.

  12. Milano says:

    “The Artist” is worse than mediocre: it just recycles the plots of “Singin’ in the Rain” and “A Star is Born” without adding anything new. The best Hollywood movie this year was “Moneyball,” which was inspiring without being sloppy.

  13. anghus says:

    I thought moneyball was better than average but it felt sterile to me. I never felt inspired. Well made movie. I cant begrudge anyone for digging it. It just never resonated with me. The whole concept behind moneyball was interesting to me but not inspiring.

  14. Glamourboy says:

    As someone who loves silent movies I have to say I was pretty disappointed in The Artist. I imagine all the love from it comes from people who haven’t seen too many real silent movies (and I say real, because The Artist breaks the rule of sound and dialogue and technically isn’t a silent movie). The Artist isn’t half as amazing as many silent classics (You want to see a movie that is full of eye-popping surprises and technical genius, take a look at the silent Thief of Bagdad). The Artist told a pretty well-worn tale, simplified the concept and floats on congeniality. It will probably win but it will most definitely be one of the Oscar films that people use as a bad Oscar choice, in the future. Most people I know ‘liked The Artist but said it didn’t live up to the hype.

  15. cadavra says:

    I just wish Paramount had held HUGO till this year so both it and THE ARTIST could have won Best Picture.

    And BTW, the award is for Best Picture, not Most Serious or Most Important, whatever that means. THE ARTIST is a great film because, to quote the old cliche, it makes audiences laugh, cry and cheer. That is not so easy to do, especially in this cynical age, and especially especially when there is (almost) no dialogue.

  16. arisp says:

    NOTHING stood out this year, from the BP noms, except Tree Of Life. As a piece of filmmaking, I truly don’t see how anyone can argue that point. Some of the films were fun, decent, but a trifle in the end. Tree of Life was artistry and virtuosity in cinematic form. Fact. Non-debatable.

  17. David Poland says:

    Wow, JSP… you seem to be going for the Jackass Of The Year award today. Good luck with that. Lots of competition.

  18. anghus says:

    I had a brainstorm. The Oscars are on Sunday. So is the NBA All Star Game. Lets combine the event. Jeremy Lin can only help give the oscars a youth infusion.

  19. David Poland says:

    (insert LexG youth infusion joke here)

  20. Hallick says:

    The longer “The Artist” stayed the frontrunner, the more it seemed to elicit pure liquid hatred from some people that wanted something else to win. In their eyes, the image of anybody who happens to think it was the best picture nominated have slowly turned into a cross between Body Snatcher pod people and brainwashed go-alongers in an Orwellian state.

    Jeff Wells seems to find a new edge to go over in regards to the Oscar chances for “The Artist” ohhhhhh I’d say every six hours at this point. Any minute now, I’m sure he’ll be demanding to see a certified birth certificate proving that the movie’s even qualified to get nominated for Best Picture in this country. If Tea Party members somehow turned a entirely different color in their most enraged, Jeff would be double that color easy.

  21. anghus says:

    you should let lex come back if he agrees to change his screen name to Youth Infusion.

  22. Hallick says:

    “(insert LexG youth infusion joke here)”

    Don’t you mean LINsert?

  23. christian says:

    DP misses his boy fierce.

  24. JKill says:

    JSP would be a blast at Oscar parties.

    Party-goer:”I really want THE ARTIST to win. That was good.”

    JSP: “FUCK YOU. THE HELP or die.”

    Party-goer: “Umm…okay. Can you pass the Doritos?”

  25. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    “does not change the fact that until this blog, I’ve never met people who treated the Oscars so blase”

    A blog that incessantly discusses the next Oscar race a minute after the latest one has just finished?

    I guess blase has a different definition on planet moron.

  26. JS Partisan says:

    David, coming from the jackass of his own profession, that must put me in great company in your head!

    Lady that insults a dead man with her nick, yeah, I’ve been here longer than you have, and the only time there has ever been a real battle in here about nominated movies happened between Crash and Brokeback. Outside of that, this blog enjoys the Oscars, but no one ever picks a fucking side. They blase it up until David comes in here with his KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE LOVE AND THE TEMPERATURE IN THE TOWN, and that’s it. We know the winner in December. Yay.

    Oh Ang, you wear being a bitter Southern honkey oh so well.

  27. Glamourboy says:

    JS, you wear your ‘homeless guy with a shopping cart yelling at passing cars’ pretty well too.

  28. Bob Burns says:

    flash cards next year.

  29. leahnz says:

    j f sebastian, my problem with picking a side this year and rooting for my dawg is, none of the movies nom’d for best pic really knocked me on my ass. the movie that remains most seared in my memory is ‘we need to talk about kevin’ and of course the fuds didn’t nominate that or tilda or ramsay, so had that been the case i’d be rooting like a stud horse but as it stands…i’m mildly disinterested but would be ok with a win for ‘the artist’ or ‘hugo’ i guess. whenever, whatever, have a nice day

  30. anghus says:

    hate crime. hate crime. he called me a honkey. i’m calling hate crime.

    i saw Carnage last night accidentally and thought it was better than half the nominees for best picture.

    The accidental part was i thought i was seeing A Dangerous Method and had the wrong date. I walked in just as the show was starting, didn’t even look at my ticket. And then i see the title sequence come up and i’m like ‘huh wha?’

    and leah, you have to remember just because you weren’t knocked on your ass doesn’t mean others weren’t. I think Hugo, War Horse, The Artist, and Midnight in Paris were all exceptional films that would have stood out in any year. There didn’t seem to be a single film that everyone rallied around, and that’s why it feels indecisive for a lot of people. There’s no David or Goliath here. Even last year you had Social Network vs. King’s Speech. There were two frontrunners and people could grab a side. This year doesn’t have that same bipartisan best picture thing going on. You had your Social Network camp and your Kings Speech camp and all the other nominees were quaint.

    This year feels like one of those years where anyone could win. I think it’s The Artist but would hearing ‘The Descendants’ shock me? Or Hugo? Not at all. And with no clear frontrunner you have more discussions about a wide range of films instead of very clear A or B race which most year’s produce

  31. leahnz says:

    “and leah, you have to remember just because you weren’t knocked on your ass doesn’t mean others weren’t.”

    did i imply that? i certainly didn’t mean to. i liked ‘hugo’, ‘war horse’, ‘midnight in paris’ and ‘the artist’, good movies all, and can accept they are beloved by many, no probs. i also liked ‘tree of life’ more the second time…thinking about it, i might actually like to see that win in an upset simply because it’s seemingly so divisive and narratively unconventional and esoteric – and even tho there are aspects of it i find rather naively sexist and cliche, movies of its ilk are so rarely nominated it would be hilarious to see people shit bricks if it took out the big one.

  32. arisp says:

    Midnight in Paris = Woody’s 10th best film. Nothing more. War Horse = schmaltz to the Nth degree. The Artist is a gimmick. Come on. Have you all been desensitized to taste?? jesus

  33. leahnz says:

    christ arisp, have you been desensitised to sensitivity towards the tastes of others?

  34. Joe Leydon says:

    Geez, I had forgot about the NBA All-Star Game. Seriously: I wonder how many folks will think to take that into account in their morning-after stories when (as I strongly suspect will happen) this year’s Oscar show posts lower ratings than last year?

    BTW: Loved Hugo, liked The Artist.

  35. arisp says:

    Sorry leahnz, if I had to choose between a big mac or a whopper I guess I’d pick the whopper. You’re right.

  36. leahnz says:

    always fascinating when people say ‘sorry’ followed by a bunch of smug prickery

  37. arisp says:

    Does that really fascinate you? Sorry, again, I was just giving an opinion.

  38. anghus says:

    i love people like arisp. this is what the internet has brought us to. people tragically overreacting to things like oscar nominees. I mean, look at this post.

    “Midnight in Paris = Woody’s 10th best film.”

    Well obviously they never should have nominated. Just because it was one of this year’s best films, we should discount it because it isn’t woody’s best film. Genius.

    “War Horse = schmaltz to the Nth degree.”

    Can’t argue that it’s schmaltz. It is very well made schmaltz. Some of us weren’t as bothered by its schmaltziness.

    “The Artist is a gimmick.”

    3D is a gimmick. A silent film isn’t a gimmick, it’s a choice. It’s a type of movie.

    “Come on. Have you all been desensitized to taste??”

    Yes. It’s the world that is crazy. You’re the one sane person who still manages to maintain an inscrutable level of taste while the rest of us have devolved into robotic sheep. In related news “yes”, the world does indeed revolve around you.

    “jesus”

    God doesn’t live on the internet.

    look, aircrisp. If you dont care for the nominees, that’s fine. But to imply that your distaste for this years’ nominees is reflective of the rest of us having no taste, well that just makes you an asshole.

    the nerve of some people.

  39. arisp says:

    Not belittling anyone’s taste. Simply when people say these films are “exceptional” I have to wonder if they’ve lowered their standards a little, especially when compared to recent history when masterpieces such as No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and A Serious Man (to name a few) were BP nominees. NONE of this years’ films even come close to these.

  40. arisp says:

    And, SORRY, the first silent film in 85 years, is just that, a gimmick. It’s not a choice. Give me a break

  41. anghus says:

    “Not belittling anyone’s taste”

    you said: ‘Have you all been desensitized to taste?’

    So let’s be clear Senator. You did actually belittle a lot of people’s taste. It might not have been intentional, but it’s what you did. Maybe if you turned down the exaggeration setting a few notches you wouldn’t sound like an AICN talkbacker.

    ” especially when compared to recent history when masterpieces such as No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and A Serious Man (to name a few) were BP nominees. NONE of this years’ films even come close to these.”

    hmmmm. disagree.

    i would put hugo and artist up against No Country, There Will Be Blood, and A Serious Man.

    I’ll give you one more. I think Atonement was better than There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, and A Serious Man.

    “he first silent film in 85 years, is just that, a gimmick. It’s not a choice. Give me a break”

    Well, it’s not the first silent film in 85 years. It’s the first one that’s crossed your radar and the first to get awards consideration. There have been other silent films since then. But again, you sound like one of these people who believe that nothing exists until it comes into your peripheral. If you hadn’t heard of it, it doesn’t exist.

    Has being this self centered had a negative impact on your interpersonal relationships?

  42. arisp says:

    I would love to take a poll here on Hugo and Artist vs No Country and There Will Be Blood. It should be approximately 100 to 1

  43. anghus says:

    apparently you didnt take my advice on the exaggeration button.

  44. arisp says:

    Has being this self centered had a negative impact on your interpersonal relationships? — No reason to stoop to that level really. But ok, to answer your question, no

  45. anghus says:

    it was more of a sarcastic rhetorical. i wasn’t really expecting an answer.

  46. Danella Isaacs says:

    Gosh, Kristy, if I call “The Artist” “slight” and “gimmicky” you criticize me for being slight and gimmicky in my criticism. Somehow, though, I think if I offered a nuanced argument against it as a sub-par piece of post-modern pastiche, “Artist” lovers would just criticize me for being pretentious. I can’t win, can I?

    On the other hand, when someone does try to connect the film to resonant issues, like current concerns about CGI, they’re criticized for crazy over interpretations. I guess the only opinion one can have about “The Artist” is to LOVE it, and to LOVE it… JUST BECAUSE–that’s why.

    You know, I won’t be unhappy if The Artist wins. It basically ties for second in my book among the 9 nominees. Still, I must say I enjoyed Hazanavicius’ previous film–”OSS 117: Lost in Rio”–more. And, frankly, I’m a little annoyed that “The Artist” doesn’t even get its film history right. There’s a scene set in 1928 in which Al Zimmer first shows George a clip demonstrating sound film, telling him it’s “the future” of film, as if it was this surprising new technology that had just came along. The Warner Brothers had been cranking out Vitaphone sound shorts for two years by then; even THE JAZZ SINGER, a blockbuster from the previous year, was old news by then.

  47. Krillian says:

    The Artist will win Picture, Director, Actor and a couple others.

    Still haven’t seen it though.

  48. movielocke says:

    Its funny and sad that all people care about is bp. How about we celebrate the best slate of live action shorts in 5 years? The best doc feature slate I can remember? And excepting the mediocre Payn a stagering bd lineup. Hell I pretty much loved all the acting perfrmances. A first iirc. There’s a lot to the oscars other than bp, and the forty some films nommed this year attest to how strong ayear it was for film. One superstar film doesn’t make or a geat year in film

  49. theschu says:

    I swear that JS Partisan is really Don Murphy.

    It’s like you’re hanging out in someone’s house and then screaming at them for being a bad host.

  50. Kim Voynar says:

    David, to get back to your original question … for me, hands down, TREE OF LIFE is the best piece of cinematic storytelling among the nominees. MONEYBALL for me is a close second. Loved WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, but it wasn’t nommed and wouldn’t have won if it had been. Loved MELANCHOLIA and I SAW THE DEVIL, but ditto.

    The question I would toss back to you is: How many people who are over-the-moon about THE ARTIST can intelligently articulate why? All the film journo psychologizing over relevance to the digital age aside, for me it IS a gimmicky film. And by “gimmicky” I mean that if you stripped away the lovely silver tones and the conceit that it’s a silent film about the end of silent films, what is there in the characters that’s original and well-drawn rather than broadly sketched caricature? Guy Maddin has been making more complex silent films than this for years.

    ARTIST is charming, yes, and it makes people feel happy, yes. And I suppose, on a very basic level, it’s okay storytelling. But it’s hardly complex or intriguing from a story or character standpoint. What’s George’s revelation — on a personal level, not just his awareness that his gravy train days are over? What real change does George undergo by the end, other than his willingness to find a way to keep working? Is he less of a solipsistic asshole?

    Look, it’s a fine film. It makes people happy. I’d be shocked if it doesn’t win. And compared to most of the other choices this year (TREE OF LIFE aside because for me that film is head and shoulders above the rest of this pack), whatever. It’s fine if it wins, but I agree that this is not a year of amazing contenders.

  51. movielocke says:

    “But it’s hardly complex or intriguing from a story or character standpoint.”

    Tree of Life is about a director reminiscing on his childhood and wondering if there is a god. What’s so complex or intriguing about that?

    People bring baggage to films, and if you want to see The Artist as simple, you certainly will. Just as if you want to see Tree of life as simply pretentious, you certainly will.

    Is Tree of Life a good film because it doesn’t make people happy? If the Artist is to be chastised and denigrated for making people happy why should a film that makes someone feel another emotion be praised and elevated?

    Who determines the order of acceptable emotions and emotional responses in the artistic realm? What are the biases and preferences of the gatekeepers of acceptable emotional responses and how do their prejudices interact with and affect the wider prejudices of the artistic communities?

    Setting aside individual biases is hard work.

  52. Joe says:

    I miss LexG.

  53. jesse says:

    movielocke, this is the BEST slate of live action shorts in years? I haven’t seen the live-action short program before in full before this year, so tell me: were the others ABSOLUTELY UNWATCHABLE, then? Because I was pretty appalled at the weakness of these shorts. I really liked “Tuba Atlantic” and hope it wins (I guess most people think Terry George’s “The Shore” will take it, and that was the only other decent one, though it felt like a long journey for what it was)… but three out of the five honestly didn’t strike me as any better than your average end-of-year student film selection.

    “Raju” sets up an interesting situation (although the characters aren’t particularly interesting and behave sort of oddly) and then just sort of fizzles out vaguely. It’s not incompetent but it’s kind of boring.

    “Time Freak” is total amateur hour; it’s not poorly made (although it’s not particularly well-made, either) but it feels like one of those commercial-like shorts you’d get on that awful Fox reality-competition show On the Lot from a bunch of years back. Some of the jokes are funny (and trust me, a Brooklyn-filmed comedy short about time travel is RIGHT up my alley) but it feels so limited and overemphatic and not particularly imaginative.

    And I’ve heard people praise “Pentecost” for its brevity, but to me it’s not a super-concise 11-minute movie that gets huge laughs so much as a single joke stretched out to 11 minutes. Even though it’s the shortest one, it still managed to feel overlong and underdeveloped to me. And, again, about the level of an okay TV ad.

    So what am I missing here? Are the shorts usually flat-out awful for these to qualify as strong?

  54. Paul D/Stella says:

    The Artist is a solid 3-star movie. I really enjoyed it and won’t be upset when it wins Best Picture. The two leads are spectacular and it’s very charming and easy to like. I just didn’t love it. I wasn’t crazy about the ending and it dragged a little in the home stretch. I like Moneyball more, but I’ve made peace with The Artist winning.

  55. Paul D/Stella says:

    ALso, f*ck the Oscars. Hallmark Movie Channel airs Movieguide’s 20th Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala Feb. 24. Here are some of Movieguide’s Rotten Bananas Awards for this year:

    Vile, Vulgar, and Anti-Christian Award – Red State

    Politically Correct Pagan Hedonism Award – Hangover 2

    Promoting an Immoral, Abhorrent, Atheist Worldview Award – Paul

    All the Villains are White Christians Award – Straw Dog

    Tortured Homosexual Fantasy Award – Albert Nobbs

    Worst Stoner Mockery of Quests – Your Highness

    These are so fun. See them all here: http://www.wnd.com/files/2012/02/20_most_unbearable_movies.jpg

  56. Mike says:

    It’s so rare that the movie I want to win actually does win, that I’ve sort of given up on the notion that the Oscar is for the objectively “best” film. The Academy picks what they like, and this year they picked another likable film.

    The Artist isn’t my favorite, and I can see the gimmick argument, though I think a gimmick in the hands of an artist is just another tool. Telling the story backwards is the gimmick of Memento, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t used for a reason.

  57. arisp says:

    Can someone please shed some light on the Doc shorts and the animated shorts? Know nothing about these, and anything that might help me win our huge office pool would be appreciated.

  58. anghus says:

    People call the artist simple and gimmicky. lve heard prople call Tree of Life the worst movie they’ve ever seen. More walkouts at the art house theater in my neck of the woods than any movie they’ve ever screened.

    You know what would be interesting dave. Well, potentially interesting. A poll of the last ten best picture winners and the question “was (blank) the best picture of its respective year”. Yes and No answer. I wonder if there’s a film that would get more than 50% ‘yes’

  59. arisp says:

    I would like to see that too.

  60. jesse says:

    Arisp, can’t speak to the docs, but the only real contenders for animated short have to be either the flying books one, or La Luna (the Pixar short). I’d give the edge to the flying books (which is apparently by some ex-Pixar people).

    I’m a big fan of “Morning Stroll,” however.

  61. Joe Leydon says:

    With all this talk about how well certain Best Pictures hold up, let me add this: Many people complained at the time — and continue to complain — that Bonnie and Clyde, not In the Heat of the Night, was the real Best Picture of 1967. I never did think that myself. And throughout the last couple years, as I’ve screened both films for a Social Aspects of Film class, I’ve found that, while I admire both films, Heat holds up a tad better. And my students clearly prefer it.

  62. Bennett says:

    I’ll watch the Oscars out of habit, plus the wife loves the fashion, but damm that is an uninspired list of nominees. I think that it will be a record low viewership.

    I predict that The Artist will be in many $7.99 discount bins by Christmas.

    God I hope 2012 is a better year in movies……So far, I am less than excited.

  63. sanj says:

    if the artist wins best picture – lets see where the 2 main leads are 2 years from now.

    every week is oscar week – DP usually does 1 really
    good interview a week and every actor thinks they
    made something amazing thats worthy of oscar.

    Liam Neeson hyped his own movie early for a dp/30 for the grey – lets see if anybody remembers it next year for oscars.

    hey Joe – i still want new interview with Hawke. dude is
    really good. grab him again and see if he remembers you.

    also time for new byob

  64. jesse says:

    Bennett, first, I’d say 2011 was a pretty decent (unspectacular, but solid) year for movies.

    Second, are you less than excited by the movies so far (it’s only February) or by the slate for the rest of the year?

    Offhand, I’d say 2012 looks like the most awesome-on-paper movie year in ages: new movies from Nolan, Spielberg, Wes Anderson, PT Anderson, Tarantino, Cuaron, possibly the Coens and/or Malick, Luhrmann doing Gatsby, Pixar with a non-sequel, Whedon doing superheroes, Apatow, Mendes doing Bond, Andrew Dominik, two from Tim Burton, two from Soderbergh (including the already-released and awesome Haywire), Spike Lee, David O. Russell, Woody Allen, Ridley Scott doing sci-fi (not a huge Scott fan but Prometheus looks really cool), Whit Stillman’s first in 14 years, an Oliver Stone movie that actually sounds cool, a couple of Will Ferrell movies that sound funny and a couple indie comedies out of Sundance that sound promising.

    To me, that’s a pretty kick-ass line-up, at least from the big-name director POV. We’re missing Jonze, Gondry, Kaufman, Fincher, Scorsese, and a few others, but still.

  65. David Poland says:

    Kim – I guess my point is, the moment of the voting is inherently inarticulate. It is emotional.

    And the truth is, though I can swing at it pretty hard, the feeling of Tree of Life is what stays with me and its pretty much beyond articulation. It’s like trying to analyze poetry that rally makes you feel things… language is a bit of a fool’s errand at that point.

  66. Joseph says:

    I totally agree with Kim. It’s fine to call “The Artist” gimmicky if you believe there is nothing solid behind the silent, black and white, Academy ratio filmmaking. It’s enjoyable enough but there was no real drama in the film, other than just how depressed can this guy get over the dying art of his trade. Since Peppy was always determined to save George I was just waiting the whole time for George to hit rock bottom so that he has no other choice but to succumb to her belief in him as an actor who can cross over. There was never a moment of doubt, or anything to keep my mind from thinking about the inevitable outcome. That to me is why the film is gimmicky. I was charmed by what was put into the movie, though was never moved or involved by the story or the choices of the characters.

  67. anghus says:

    ” I can swing at it pretty hard,”

    hee hee hee.

  68. cadavra says:

    Love, love, love Movieguide. How can you not be tickled by people who condemned the Disney nature documentary OCEANS because it does not tell The Truth–that the oceans were created by God. Or WE BOUGHT A ZOO for depicting the family working hard together to bring the zoo back into working order, when they should have simply sat around and asked for God’s help. Or almost any Asian movie, because they depict Buddhism or Shintoism, which are “false” religions. Or my favorite, GODZILLA 2000, because the alien was described as having been at the bottom of the ocean for 60 million years, when everyone knows God created the Earth only 6,000 years ago. Now that’s entertainment!

  69. yancyskancy says:

    MIke wrote: “It’s so rare that the movie I want to win actually does win, that I’ve sort of given up on the notion that the Oscar is for the objectively ‘best’ film.”

    Please direct me to any organizations that bases their award choices on objectivity, and explain how they’re able to do so. :)

    Joe: I wonder if your students’ preference for IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT over BONNIE AND CLYDE is simply a matter of style. B&C has a fair amount of New Wave, ‘arty’ influence, while HEAT plays similarly to the kind of procedurals young audiences are familiar with from TV.

    Well, I guess there’s also the thematic angle: the racial issues of HEAT are probably of far more interest to the average college student than the problems of some ’30s bank robbers.

  70. Bennett says:

    yes 2012 looks great. But everything until May looks pretty crappy.

    I tend to judge a year of movies based on how many Blu-Rays or DVDs I would purchase. With the exception of maybe Moneyball or Mission Impossible(mostly because of how it will look on Blu-Ray and how it will sound in surround sound) and The Muppets for my daughter, I haven’t purchased any Blu-Rays for 2011 movies. I usually have at least a Pixar film I’ll buy.

  71. jesse says:

    Bennett, that’s a fair metric. For 2011, I’m definitely buying The Muppets when it comes out (a rarity for me as I tend to look for used stuff later), and I have Super 8, Tree of Life, Drive, X-Men: First Class, Bridesmaids, Source Code, Rango, Fast Five, and Your Highness on disc at home (some of these are review copies, but most of them, save maybe Fast Five, are movies I would’ve bought for $5-7 if Blockbusters weren’t going away/shying away from the used DVD market).

    And if I find a cheap copy of Rise of the Planet of the Apes or The Future, I’d get those too.

    Not all great movies, not a bad showing. I usually want my top ten of the year, give or take, at home, so this seems about par.

    And yeah, the year doesn’t seem to really kick in until May, but: I am definitely looking forward to 21 Jump Street, Damsels in Distress, Friends with Kids, John Carter, and Five Year Engagement. Hell, I’m happy to go see Wanderlust tonight for new Rudd/Wain.

  72. palmtree says:

    Geez, you guys are so content to label anything as a gimmick. Just because The Artist is a silent movie doesn’t mean it had to be successful. Everyone here is talking as though any dimwit could just make a silent movie and have it be a Best Picture candidate. What’s engaging about The Artist is the way it not just pays homage but uses the actual language of silent storytelling. That’s not easy. Anyone remember The Good German?

    Some films are innovative and original…The Artist is not innovative or original, but that doesn’t make it a gimmick or bad.

  73. I know David is right. But, Christ, I want him to be wrong. Those are the conversations worth having the next day. It’s just more fun. I didn’t care for TREE OF LIFE, but would love it if it won just to shake things up. We still talk about CRASH over BROKEBACK and SHAKESPEARE over PRIVATE RYAN partly because they were true upsets. It seems silly sometimes but it’s so much more interesting than anointing THE KING’S SPEECH or THE ARTIST months before and watch the “predictions” come true.

    Having said that: Go HUGO!!!

  74. Kim Voynar says:

    “Tree of Life is about a director reminiscing on his childhood and wondering if there is a god. What’s so complex or intriguing about that?”

    Pretty much everything, actually.

    The point of storytelling in all its forms is not just to entertain the masses and distract them for a moment from how shitty and depressing their lives are, but to do so in a way that takes the specific (these characters) and makes it relevant in the abstract (how do they relate to YOU). You do this, as a storyteller, either through poetry or prose. With prose, you give your characters an arc and a revelation that connects the audience to a theme. MONEYBALL does this very well; THE DESCENDANTS less so for me, mainly because I think this is one of the laziest, sloppiest screenplays likely to win the Oscar in a long time. THE ARTIST is less effective at this because there’s just never a sense that there’s anything greatly at stake other than George’s fancypants moviestar lifestyle — not a very sympathetic plight given the state of our economy. So it relies instead on being so charming that we overlook the lack of a well-developed structure underneath. Apparently very effectively for a lot of people, but that doesn’t make it more than a vanity cake — pretty to look at, but nothing inside once you bite in.

    TREE OF LIFE uses the opposite approach, staying almost entirely within the realm of the abstract and distilling that down through visuals that wash over you and through you, seeking the places within you to connect to. Poetry, by its nature, paints ideas with sparse strokes. This is Malick saying: This is what I’ve learned about life so far, this is what I think it all means. And either you connect with his very visual poem that’s really an ode to his philosophical underpinnings at this point, or you don’t.

    But to argue that the search of any person — especially someone with a mind like Malick — to explore his life and seek the deeper meaning and connection to God or some higher power in it all is not complex and intriguing, I think, is to completely miss the point of this film.

  75. Jen says:

    I always think the Oscar winner should be (though not necessarily is) a film for the ages, on in which we can watch at any point in our lives and enjoy and engage in. For me, that movie could be The Artist, or The Help, or The Descendants. For me, it isn’t Extremely Loud or War Horse. Doesn’t make them bad–just makes them not for me.

  76. Terrance says:

    “What lies at the bottom of the mainstream is mediocrity.” The Artist is mediocre, at best. Its heart is in the right place, but is such an old story (see Sturges and later, Donen/Kelly) with nothing more to offer but an homage to, that I find it completely forgettable. My prediction: It will probably win… And it will probably be forgotten after the blu-ray release.

  77. Joe Leydon says:

    Something to think about: Even after all in this time in U.S. theaters, The Artist has grossed less than both Fireproof ($33.4 million domestic gross) and Courageous ($34.5 million domestic gross), two faith-based films that received only grudging coverage in the mainstream press. I’m certainly not going to compare the films, or their audiences, except to note that Artist actually played in more theaters than Fireproof. And I’m not saying that The Artist won’t gross anywhere from $10 to $20 million more if it winds up winning the Oscar tomorrow night. But it’s fairly obvious that despite all the breathless hype, despite all the media reports about this quote, unquote “phenomenon,” The Artist still hasn’t attracted the attention or generated the interest of most mainstream moviegoers. Again, a Best Picture win might change that. Or, just as possibly, the lack of front-runner awareness might translate into the lowest ratings for an Oscarcast in several years. (As I have posted elsewhere: Compeition from the NBA All-Star game won’t help.)

  78. Ray Pride says:

    Harvey Weinstein to Matthew Garrahan in the Financial Times, Saturday 25 February: “There’s not one thing this movie has going for it, except for the fact that it’s great,” Weinstein says. It could run out of steam “if it was overly distributed. Look, we’ve got 10 Academy Award nominations, we’re in 800, 900 theatres. Most people would go straight to 2,500. We will go to 2,500 … but not now.”

  79. Joe Leydon says:

    Harvey Weinstein is taking a calculated risk, and he’s a smart guy with a proven track record so I would never be quick to bet against him. But, again, I question how much more can be milked from this cow, Oscar or no Oscar.

  80. Jim Philips says:

    For me, the problem with this whole premise is that people didn’t piss on “The King’s Speech” enough. It was the kind of formulaic Oscar-bait we get every year in one form or another. But I can’t for the life of me see why it should have been awarded over “Black Swan” to name one.

  81. Glamourboy says:

    @Kim…how do you see the screenplay for The Descendants as lazy and sloppy? I’m a screenwriter and those are two of the last words I’d use to describe this script.

  82. Sue says:

    Just saw The Artist last night. The most boring movie I have ever seen!

  83. cadavra says:

    Yeah, how dare those fucking French make a movie without any explosions, giant robots or guys getting kicked in the balls?

  84. You nailed it. We LOVE this movie. It is so well crafted, has so much original magic, and energizes and fills one with joy.

    http://onfoodandfilm.com/2012/02/18/why-the-artist-should-win-best-picture/

  85. SamLowry says:

    When I saw the link on the front page to a story concluding “The Artist: Capitalist; Hugo: Spiritual” I couldn’t help but think “Annnnnd?”

    Hollywood then and now was all about money, and if you’re not pulling audiences in like you used to, you’re gone.

    I laid my hands on a pristine hardcover of “Hollywood Babylon” months ago and while I read it, from the beginning, I was stunned initially to see the phrase “has-been”, which I hadn’t heard in ages, which quickly led to story after story of has-beens who killed themselves when they could no longer tolerate the lack of attention. One faded star even gutted himself while surrounded by all his favorable clippings.

    Méliès, however, stuck it out during the forgotten years until he was eventually remembered and celebrated, just a few years before his death. The actors, however, never received the same treatment and even today we can name only a scant few.

  86. Steven Kaye says:

    Not only are there a bunch of numbskulls out there who think The Artist is going to win Best Picture, but there are actually some utter loons – like the grotesque Sasha Stone – who believe it has a shot at Original Screenplay!

  87. christian says:

    I’m sorry, in no film universe is IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT better than BONNIE AND CLYDE except for maybe Wexler’s camerawork and Steiger’s juicy role. B&C changed film history. And it’s still fresh and shocking.

  88. K. Bowen says:

    I won’t be too upset about The Artist winning, although it is light, and what’s the big deal about it being silent … they made all of them that way for 30 years. :)

    The Tree of Life, on the other hand, is the best nominee since … I don’t know … Barry Lyndon? Lawrence of Arabia?

  89. cadavra says:

    Sorry to disagree with my old pal Christian, but HEAT is just as fresh and entertaining and endlessly watchable as it was in 1967. B&C is a fine film, but every frame screams “LATE 1960s!” The problem with being a “trend-setter” is that eventually the trend moves ahead of you and you end up dated; Jewison smartly shot HEAT in a “normal” manner and it holds up perfectly.

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“I have to interrupt you. No. the answer is no. I’m just a storyteller. Please don’t confuse the character in a story and the storyteller. Of course there is a connection and of course there is a human being that you sense behind the films, but don’t take it one-on-one that Herzog is Aguirre, the mad conquistador or something like that. This attempt has been made and it has failed all the time. Thank God, I’m not the central figure of my films.”
~ Werner Herzog To Mark Olsen

 

 

“I am just grateful I am still around. I would love to be Steven Soderbergh, but I am lucky to be Joe Swanberg. Actors want to work with me, people want to give me money, and my nightmare scenario remains: Getting in bed with a studio, spending years on a movie, and it turns out horrible, but now I’m rich.”

Actually, by Hollywood standards, you’re right, I said. That is unambitious.

“It is, and yet, if you can go to bed happy at night, doing what you want, isn’t that ambition for a lifetime?”
~ Swanberg On Swanberg By Borelli