Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is The Artist (2011).
Had the Oscars existed any earlier, silent films would’ve made up at least some portion of their winners, but coming onto the scene the same year as The Jazz Singer and keeping up with the trends of the time for the early years and mostly ignoring silent work, for most of Oscar history, Wings, the first winner, remained the only one that wasn’t a talkie. So it seemed destined that, given the time to get over the bias found when faced with recently outdated technology, some intrepid filmmaker would embrace the old ways and in turn be embraced by the Academy. The Artist, of course, was that film. When stacked up against the greats of the actual Silent Era, it can hardly compete, offering a fun but trifling story that never quite finds the balance between the humor and drama that folks like Chaplin managed effortlessly. However, seen in the modern film landscape, it stands out from everything else and it’s impossible not to get caught up in the nostalgia it generates and to appreciate the effort everyone went through to revive styles they never had the chance to work in before.
The Real Best Picture:
Only kidding. Of course it’s The Tree of Life