I took my wife to see "The Artist" today. She had her reservations about spending an afternoon with a silent movie, whatever the critical acclaim. But it's fair to say she went into the theater a skeptic and left a true believer. "The Artist" lived up to the lavish praise and then some. It has garnered 10 Academy Award nominations and is the heavy favorite to win Best Picture. Michel Hazanavisius has been nominated for Best Director and Original Screenplay; Jean Dujardin for Best Actor. Berenice Bejo---who's married to Hazanavisius---for Best Supporting Actress. Dujardin and Bejo aren't household names in America, but they deserve to be. Dujardin plays George Valentin ( get the allusion?) the romantic silent film star whose world is turned upside down by the introduction of sound. Bejo plays Peppy Miller an aspiring actress smitten by George, who rises to stardom in the wake of his decline. Each gives a subtly nuanced and textured performance in a love story that tugs at your heart.
Everyone's experience with any movie will be unique. But I found the "Artist" a fascinating film on many levels. Uggie, George's Jack Russell terrier and constant companion, steals several scenes and was a real life-saver in the end. John Goodman, the director who bridged the transition from silents to talkies, contributes a solid supporting role.
But enough can't be said about the musical score by Ludovic Bource. It was a perfect fit for the film. It captured the mood, the tone, the atmosphere, and the swings in emotion with remarkable expressiveness. Just before the film's climactic scene, I realized how the strong pounding chords of the strings reminded me of Bernard Hermann who did many of the Hitchcock scores. And then there it was---the Love Scene theme from "Vertigo", absolutely the most hauntingly beautiful movie music ever written. That did it for me.
"The Artist" is the best movie of 2012. And it may be one of the best ever.