First of all, I’d like to clarify that since I had to suffer through 4 years of strict French training during my miserable junior-high years, I have tiny (understatement) issues with pretty much everything French, which includes French cinema. I can’t stand the French New Wave and the only French director I truly like is Henri-Georges Clouzot simply because he was the most “American” of French filmmakers.
Now that we got that out of the way, I have to admit that this was not the reason I let out a giant “So fuckin’ what?” when The Artist won for best picture at the Oscars last Sunday.
Even though it still employs some of the same overbearing whimsy that’s a staple of French comedy, I think The Artist is a cute little film that’s quite adorable in parts, albeit somewhat overrated. The fact that it blatantly rips off the entire structure of Singin’ in The Rain and uses the score to talkie-era Vertigo for no discernible reason doesn’t help my view.
But what else should have won? The Tree of Life of course but we all knew it didn’t stand a chance in hell. It was very surprising that it got nominated to begin with. Did some artistic integrity somehow managed to ooze inside the academy?
Hugo was the only possible contender against The Artist’s unbeatable adorable factor. But Scorsese already had his long-awaited Oscar moment with The Departed five years ago. Too soon to give him his props again.
Alors, The Artist won. Congratulations France but remember, your cute factor would be nothing without that dog, and that dog is American! (So are John Goodman and Penelope Ann Miller, but what tricks can they do?)
About some of the other wins:
Meryl Streep winning for The Iron Lady was a huge upset when Viola Davis was the obvious frontrunner. What happened, only 1 black woman playing a maid can win an Oscar per year? Many, many jokes regarding black actors being able to finally win an Oscar after they finally give in and play maids or butlers aside, both Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis deserved the Oscar. They were the only two things that worked in the wildly overrated The Help. Besides, this win could have made up for Davis losing for her devastating brief turn in Doubt.
Best original screenplay should have gone to the brilliant, powerful and mesmerizing A Seperation. One of the best films of last year, it had to be content with winning best foreign language film. Even though it looked great, I thought Woody Allen’s script for Midnight in Paris lacked a coherent story and didn’t sport much conflict.
I think Moneyball should have won for best adapted screenplay. It must not be easy to take a large book about baseball statistics and turn it into a Darwinian survival story. The Descendants had a great script as well, so not much to complain about there.
Rango more than deserved Best Animated Feature. It was the best western I’ve seen, animated or otherwise, in a long time.
When Hugo won for best cinematography, I almost threw something at the TV. Emmanuel Lubezki’s work in The Tree of Life created the most beautiful looking film of recent years. The way he was able to create visual painting using mostly natural lighting was miraculous. He was robbed.