Months before the embarrassing Oscars of 2012, when I saw previews of The Artist, I thought cute, but I can wait till it’s out on Netflix. The first problem with the preview (and this thought was so instinctive it was a silent film in and of itself) was that the film stock was all wrong. If you’re going to mimic a silent movie, don’t use what looked like a contemporary color stock desaturated of it’s color. (Turns out I was 100% right about this. Cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman said, To create black-and-white images, Schiffman chose to shoot the film on color stock – KODAK VISION3 500T Color Negative Film 5219 – and to drain the color out during digital intermediate timing at DuboiColor in France.
If you’re going to do it, use an orthochromatic stocks as was used in the 20s, so it will look like a silent movie. The preview of The Artist looked like a contemporary movie that was aping a silent picture. (At least to this filmmaker.) But no. Nobody asked me.
Then, of course, the ridiculous happened. Harvey Weinstein bought the evening of February 26, 2012, and The Artist won five Oscars. Was the best picture really “The Artist“? I’m not talking Academy votes here. I’m talking about really, as in, a better motion picture than, say, The Iron Lady? Not unless you drank as much as Jean Dujardin did in his picture. And in what universe was Dujardin (good-looking, but he needs some orthodonture) a better actor than George Clooney?
Was The Artist a sweet motion picture with a clever, interesting shtick, as well as one of the most predictable scripts you ever saw? Absolutely. Should it have been an Oscar-worthy contender? Maybe if you’re a voting member of the Academy desperate to get into Harvey’s private Oscar party.
Who was the completely overlooked best actor? Uggie, hands down. He stole the picture. If I were him or his trainer I would be completely pissed, because without that dog, all that would be left is a sweet, predictable love story desaturated of its color.