Saturday, February 25, 2012

This weekend, enjoy the silence

The Artist reigns supreme this year in all the Awards and it really has gotten to be a bit of a drag, hasn't it? The Artist, as I've said before, is a very likable film, a real joy to watch. It's not that it's wrong that it's going to win everything, including probably Best Picture tomorrow, it's just that it feels so weird and anticlimactic. It's still such a small scale film that really just relies on its silent film gimmick throughout its 90 minute frame. It does it very well, but we've had some real great American films this year from Moneyball to Hugo to Tree of Life. That The Artist somehow had enough juice to garner all these awards and Moneyball didn't is a real head scratcher to me. Maybe Moneyball's story isn't very relatable, but neither is The Artist's. Moneyball may be about baseball but it's themes are universal and it's a wonderful underdog story without the typical Hollywood feel-good ending. It's got an impeccable script, great acting, it's technically sound in every area. Sure it's been nominated for a few Oscars, but isn't it kinda said that it's been virtually ignored all year and probably won't win anything tomorrow?

Hugo will probably win a great amount of technical awards, as it should. While some bloggers and critics have championed it, it's a real shame that it's been virtually ignored and misunderstood by mainstream audiences. It's such a visual delight, a personal film on a grand scale, a wonderfully insightful tale about a once forgotten visionary. In many ways, it is a masterpiece. How is The Artist being championed over Hugo?

The Tree of Life's awards plight is more understandable and I'm just happy it has been nominated in the best picture and director category. I proclaimed it the best film of 2011 and I stand by that. No film in 2011 came close to matching the Tree of Life in terms of vision, editing, scope. It does everything, it goes way beyond films have ever gone. It's not afraid to throw all of its ideas at you without worrying whether or not it will stick. It's the most imperfect film of the best picture nominees, but it's also nothing like any film that's been made this year.

Obviously though, The Artist is nothing like any film that's been made this year as well. It's a silent film. It's difference compared to other films in 2011 is pretty obvious. I like what 2011 had to offer us when it comes to movies because we've had many films that are so different from each other visually and artistically. Unfortunately, almost none of those films have been a huge success in the box office. The Descendants has been slowly racking up the box office numbers, but considering it's the most accessible film this year, it's kind of a joke that it hasn't raked it in as much as it should have.

People complaining about the Oscars choices not reflecting the thoughts and minds of the people need to silence themselves. It's not the movie industry's fault that it's best films have largely been shunned by American audiences and it's great that the Oscars chose to recognize them. It's just a shame the Oscars will ultimately be awarding the most self-aggrandizing film of all the movies nominated. The Artist is a film about Hollywood, presumably loved by Hollywood and yet audiences are more-or-less indifferent. Audiences don't care about silent movies and it's a shame. At the very least, they don't care about any film, it seems, that challenges them in anyway. 2010 was such an anomaly with Inception, Black Swan, and The Social Network becoming big successes that year. But look at the marketable aspects of those films: Christopher Nolan's follow up to The Dark Knight, a movie that promises lesbian sex scenes, and a movie about facebook. They were great films but they also had a big thing that Hollywood could market. 2011 films, as great as they are, are too complex and too different for Hollywood to be able to market to American audiences. It's ironic that The Artist is being so championed by Hollywood as it represents a time in Hollywood that simply no longer exists. The movie industry isn't dying, it's stronger than ever. But it's strong because the movies that are the most successful are the most recognizable, most easy-to-swallow brand name type movies. And even some of the most recognizable brand names did little business in 2011, including The Muppets, which proves that parents have fucking lost it when it comes to taking their kids to the movies. Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 does great business but The Muppets just does ok. I don't blame some Hollywood execs for giving up on audiences, they've given up on themselves.

So enjoy the silence, America. Enjoy sitting behind the tv screen, watching the Oscars with a puzzled expression on your face. "Hey, I haven't seen any of these movies nominated, what's the deal?" Don't worry, just go back to watching your Transformers 3 Blu-Ray and continue to dumb yourself down because the movies nominated for the Oscars just don't make any sense to you. We live in a world where people actually get pissed off via social networking sites when a band like Bon Iver wins Best New Artist. "Who the fuck is Bon Iver?!" I don't know, maybe try googling him. You know how to use the internet, all of his songs are on the internet. Why must you watch an awards show where only the people that you recognize wins awards? Or only movies you recognize? It's Hollywood's fault that you didn't see those movies? Maybe Hollywood and the Academy are picking The Artist because it's their way of saying "Fuck you" to American audiences. You don't like that a black and white silent film won best picture? You don't like that it's filled with a mostly unrecognizable cast? Fuck you. You couldn't even watch movies starring Brad Pitt or George Clooney this year. You don't care about the people who act in the movies or the people who make the movies. You'd rather watch a movie you recognize because it's a sequel to a movie you've seen. Or a movie you recognize because it's a remake of a movie that came out 10 years ago. Or a movie you recognize because it's a 3D animated version of a great cartoon tv show even though the 3D animated version is a complete bastardization of the cartoon show. There have been plenty of great movies to see this year. Hollywood gave you dozens of visual gifts and you threw them away. They're not gonna just stop awarding them because you don't feel like seeing them anymore.

Don't we like good movies? Don't we care about quality? Or do we just care about watching robots exploding and fighting with each other? Completely CGI-filled visually chaotic masturbatory clusterfucks. That's what we've been relegated to. A movie like The Dark Knight Rises is a true anomaly and once it has come and gone, the plight of the summer blockbuster will be as dim and unfortunate as ever.

Or maybe not, maybe people will get their act together. Maybe we can find a happy marriage between what the audience wants and what a great filmmaker can make. Maybe audiences are just confused right now. Either way, for now, all you can do this weekend is enjoy the silence.

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