I squirrelled out of the house last night to see The Artist in a theatre. Unusual move for me; besides the limitations of my schedule, I just find it frustrating to hit the multiplex anymore. Sure, I miss the camaraderie of enjoying a film in a crowd and sharing the experience – horror and comedy benefit greatly, of course – but the tradeoff of rude talkers, thin walls and the cattle-like process that it has become is just not worth it. I have a large screen TV, a great sound system, and frankly I’d rather watch what I want on my schedule knowing that clean bathrooms and superior food and beverage are just a pause button away.
But I digress.
Back in the day Cia and I would make a point to see all of the nominated films prior to the Oscar telecast so that we could make an informed wager on who might take home the gold. As we reminisced about that while enduring twenty-plus minutes of trivia and advertisements on the multiplex screen, we laughed remembering how often the votes went the other way, and more often that not, how performances that moved us failed to even draw a nomination. I could write a long list from this year, of course, but I’ll save that for the recap tomorrow. It’s Oscar time.
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I felt that I had to see The Artist; it looked to be an incredible story and paid homage to an era I have much respect for. And Jean Dujardin seems to be as charming in person as his George Valentin character…at least as charming as George was when things were going well. I was totally swept away – the leads were incredible; the supporting characters as over the top as they would have been if they were in the film within a film (a wise choice by the director) and the score was exquisite. Not only did I wind up streaming the soundtrack when I got home, but I looked up some old Gene Krupa footage on You Tube and then dug out the biopic where Sal Mineo gave his masterful performance of the swinging drummer. Now that’s a tangent.
I guess what I felt during the artist was a smorgasboard of emotions – it was funny, romantic, dramatic and moving. When it was over I wished there was another reel; not because it was unfinished, but because I did not want those characters to leave me. And as I spent the better part of this morning spinning some music by old favorites like Ian Hunter, Herman Brood and The Kinks, I realized that I was feeling the same core emotion – the connection – that artists can bring to your soul if you’re open to it.
And tangents be damned, it made me realize that immersing myself in music and film and comedy isn’t a hobby, but it’s part of who I am, and I need to make more time to indulge myself. I saw my friend Ray Paul performing some Beatle covers earlier in the week and when the opening line of Norwegian Wood rolled off his lips, I immediately thought “that’s one of the best lines anyone ever wrote”. Synapses are firing. They might not all be Grade-A, but I need to get into fighting shape again.
So I find myself typing as the red carpet bullshit is droning in my ear. It’s time to throw out some predictions – and yes, I’m really pulling for The Artist – but I’ll circle back tomorrow with my thoughts on the Brit Awards (classy and funny), The Independent Spirit Awards (under-attended and surprisingly tame) and of course the Academy Awards. Let’s see how I do:
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginnings
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Director: Michael Hazanivicius, The Artist
Best Screenplay: Margin Call (Chandor)
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants (Payne/Faxon/Rash)
Best Score: The Artist
Best Documentary: Undefeated