Never underestimate the resonance of self-pity in Hollywood, especially self-pity with regard to aging and the relentless onrush (wave upon wave) of the young.
„The plot of The Artist is comfortably modern, too. The subject is celebrity. A middle-aged man whose time, we’re told, has passed, loses it while a cute young tootsie attains it. Never underestimate the resonance of self-pity in Hollywood, especially self-pity with regard to aging and the relentless onrush (wave upon wave) of the young. Forgotten by the fickle public, George Valentin is nonetheless adored by his valet/chauffeur, who works for him without pay, his dog (who is basically a smaller, cuter version of his valet/chauffeur), and the woman who can’t quit him. It’s a lovely narcissistic fantasy — trying to drink yourself to death in response to being ignored but getting saved by those for whom you’re still the center of the world. There isn’t an actor in Hollywood who can’t relate.
The Artist is a skillful pastiche, liberally sprinkled with tropes from our collective unconscious. (By “our” I mean moviegoers of a certain age and Oscar voters.) Jean Dujardin will win for the rakish curl of one eyebrow; the stylized, self-infatuated saunter; the unthreatening handsomeness. He strikes delightful poses. But do you come away thinking you know him, that you’ve seen into his soul? Non. Berenice Bejo won’t defeat Octavia Spencer (neither will Janet McTeer, alas), but she helps sell the movie with her blithe peppiness (her character’s name is Peppy). She dances with more enthusiasm than grace but that adds to her likeability, just as her huge teeth make her seem fresh, forward, irrepressibly eager and not just another demure pretty face.
The Artist will finally be dubbed the best movie of 2012 because no one really loathes it (Armond always excepted) and no one can agree on anything else. Dewy-eyed cine-sentimentalists (cinementalists?) will spring for The Artist over Hugo. The Tree of Life’s name will be greeted with slightly more snickers than cheers. My favorite of the nine nominees, War Horse, has about as much chance as a stallion tangled in barbed wire in a corpse-strewn No Man’s Land between warring Brits and Germans. I also like The Descendants, which seems poised to win an Oscar for its screenplay and that’s it, despite George Clooney’s triumph over his own miscasting. (When Hollywood’s most handsome, glib, and schmoozy politician almost convinces you he’s a misanthropic, workaholic dweeb with no connection to his family or the island on which he was born and raised, it’s no small feat.)”