The acclaimed but little-seen movie has grossed less than $1 million in the United States. But now, with nominations for best supporting actress, actor, director, score, screenplay, and motion picture (musical or comedy), the limited release is poised to play with the big boys at the box office.
So, for those who are just hearing about "The Artist," what's it all about? The film is largely silent (wait, don't stop reading!) and takes place in Hollywood in the 1920s. It focuses on George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin), a star of silent movies who suffers an epic downfall with the advent of spoken films ("talkies"). Bérénice Bejo plays his admirer and protégée, whose star ascends as George's declines. Hollywood veterans John Goodman, James Cromwell, and Penelope Ann Miller also have supporting roles.
Critics' reviews are, across the board, positive. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly remarks that the film is "delightfully old-fashioned, but it's also poppingly contemporary, with a puckish spark of self-awareness." And it's fun. Gleiberman writes, "Days after I saw 'The Artist,' I was still thinking (and grinning) about it." A.O. Scott from the New York Times also gives the movie a glowing review: "This is not a work of film history but rather a generous, touching, and slightly daffy expression of unbridled movie love."
Whether "The Artist" will take home all the awards it has been nominated for remains to be seen. The film will face stiff competition from more widely seen films. But this is Hollywood. Everybody loves an underdog.
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