Our prediction for the Best Picture Academy Award: Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist. Why The Artist?
No, not because of some sociohistorical/psychological significance that various pundits have ascribed to the Hazanavicius’ movie and its effect on members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. That’s not only total b.s., but a blatant misreading of both the (brilliant) film itself and of the Hollywood period it represents. Not to mention the fact that The Artist isn’t even an American production, but a French (or Franco-Belgian) effort that was a hit in Cannes long before it arrived at these shores.
The Artist is the top contender for the Best Picture Academy Award because, its SAG Award defeat notwithstanding, it’s a feel-good (feel-great, some might say) movie, it’s technically impeccable, and it’s an upbeat portrayal of moviemaking and moviemakers. Ah, and it’s a Harvey Weinstein release in North America. That always helps. (Suffice to remember The King’s Speech and Shakespeare in Love.)
Additionally, The Artist has already won both the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild awards. Since the PGA Awards were instituted in 1990 (the DGA Awards have been around since the late ’40s), only three DGA/PGA winners have failed to win the Best Picture Oscar: Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 (1995), Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998), and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. The Best Picture Oscar winners in those years were, respectively, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love (a Miramax/Harvey Weinstein release), and Paul Haggis’ Crash.
Wrapping this up: Director-writer Hazanavicius has been adroitly selling his movie, emphasizing that The Artist is a heartfelt homage to American cinema. In other words, Hazanavicius and producer Thomas Langmann may be French outsiders, but their movie isn’t. To the contrary, their offering is the only 2012 Best Picture nominee fully shot in the Los Angeles area. In no small amount due to Harvey Weinstein’s ardent, huh, prayers, we believe the Hollywood film industry gods will smile upon Hazanavicius’ offering.
Jean Dujardin, Uggie the dog/The Artist pic: The Weinstein Company.