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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 14, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Oscar countdown: “The Artist”

Though it’s romantic-movie day on P&P (don’t forget to vote in the poll!), it’s also time to start an Oscar-movie countdown: one day for each of the nine Best Picture nominees, until we reach Oscar night. We’ll do these alphabetically, which means that the front-runner, “The Artist,” is also the first out of the gate — and happens to be my personal favorite.
In a year full of nostalgia-themed movies, “The Artist” is unique: it’s black-and-white, it’s nearly dialogue-free, it’s shot in the style of a late-1920s silent film. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius — a Frenchman — “The Artist” has been finding love on the festival circuit since last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and has of late been cleaning up at the pre-Oscar awards. Most recently, it won seven BAFTA awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), including best picture, director, screenplay and actor. Why? Because “The Artist” does something few films this year have been able to do: it simply leaves its audience deliriously happy. This audience member, anyway.
Total U.S. box office: $24 million
Total Oscar nominations: Ten, for best picture, director, actor (Jean Dujardin), supporting actress (Berenice Bejo), original screenplay, art direction, cinematography, costume design, film editing, original score.
Best chances for a win: Right now this movie’ s the front-runner for the top awards, looking like a good bet for best picture and director. Dujardin, who won the SAG in a surprise upset over George Clooney, could well take best actor. (Probably not Bejo, who’s up against Octavia Spencer.) It’s less likely for a black-and-white film to win in the design categories; though Guillaume Schiffman’s cinematography has a shot (and would be the first black-and-white film to win that category since “Schindler’s List”). And, if the Oscars had a dog category, you know Uggie would be right up there.
Odds of this movie creating some fabulous Oscar-night weirdness: Since Jean Dujardin has been working hard these past few weeks to prove himself The Most Adorable Oscar Nominee Ever (see here and here), you just know he’d deliver the kind of endearing speech that gets talked about the next day. And rumor has it that Uggie, despite not being nominated, may show up on Oscar night to perform a few tricks.
Where I’d rank this movie out of the nine Best Picture nominees: 1
uggiedogTheArtist30.jpg
Dujardin and Uggie. What’s not to love? (Photo courtesy The Weinstein Company)

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