'The Artist': A Best Picture Winner That Has Just About Disappeared | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS
WARNER BROS.

‘The Artist’: A Best Picture Winner That Has Just About Disappeared

Ten years ago last week saw the release of The Artist, a movie that’s truly unique in movie history. It was a black and white, in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio and nearly entirely silent film. It was released about 80 years after the end of the silent era, and was critically lauded, got a positive reception at Cannes, and went on to win Best Picture at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars. It also collected Oscars for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score, and also featured one of the more memorable movie dogs in recent history. 

Yet, 10 years later, The Artist has all but disappeared from film history. It’s rarely discussed or remembered, and like no other Best Picture since Driving Miss Daisy, it had no copycat effect ― there was no subsequent rush, for instance, by Hollywood to make more silent films. 

Neither the director, Michel Hazanavicius, nor either of the stars, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, got much of a career bump out of the film’s success, with the exception of Dujardin’s small role two years later in The Wolf of Wall Street. And it’s not because of anything in particular about the film that’s problematic or hasn’t aged well, aside from the part about its distribution by The Weinstein Company.  



Of the movies that The Artist was up against for Best Picture, some are still highly regarded (Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Descendents, and The Tree of Life), while some are looked back upon even more negatively now (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Help.) The other Best Picture nominee was War Horse, one of the more obscure entries in Steven Spielberg‘s filmography. 

It’s a shame, though, because The Artist is pretty great. It looks absolutely amazing, it successfully threads the needle of telling a story silently, the score by Ludovic Bource is worthy of that Oscar, and it had the great idea to cast John Goodman as an old-timey studio boss. And as someone who’s rarely moved by on-screen dogs, that dog is an all-timer. 

Why has the world forgotten The Artist? Probably for many of the same reasons it was so groundbreaking

The Artist is sort of French and sort of not. It’s from a French director and French lead actors and was made with French financing, but it was shot and set in Southern California, with an international cast. And it’s not a foreign language film because, well, there isn’t any language. 

It’s a shame, though, because The Artist is legitimately wonderful. It’s a loving homage to the silent movie era and a hugely entertaining film in its own right. 

The Plot

Dujardin plays George Valentin, a silent film star who’s on top of the world until the silent era suddenly ends. It’s an A Star is Born-like story in which an established star meets a woman just as she’s rising and he’s falling. Valentin keeps nearly dying ― always saved by the dog ― until he re-emerges into the film’s happy ending. 

Why has the world forgotten The Artist? Probably for many of the same reasons it was so groundbreaking when it first arrived: audiences don’t seem so keen to re-watch silent and black-and-white films that aren’t cast with stars they know. And there’s also the matter that it was never that big a box office hit, to begin with. 

But if you’re thinking about a rewatch (and you certainly should), The Artist is streaming in quite a few places, including Netflix, Pluto TV and YouTube, as well as all major VOD channels.   


Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop

Subscribe

Don't miss out on weekly new content and exclusive deals