The Artist 
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Of all the films generating Oscar buzz right now, The Artist is most intriguing. It is not often a silent movie is made in this day and age, and perhaps this novelty is its greatest appeal. This is a sparkling homage that revels in its silent nature, even opting to break out of past molds and play with the dynamics a little.
The year is 1927. Silent film star George Valentin (Dujardin) is on top of the world as one of the biggest names in the business. His partnership with studio boss Al Zimmer (Goodman) has resulted in a great deal of success, and the two seem in for a lucrative future.
Fast forward to two years later. Zimmer announces the end of production of silent films, claiming that “talkies” are the future of the business. Valentin calls this transition a fad, and opts to produce and direct his own silent film. This doesn’t go well, and another series of unfortunate events leads to Valentin hitting rock bottom.
Meanwhile, young up-and-comer Peppy Miller (Bejo), an acquaintance of Valentin’s, is taking advantage of the new medium and has become a star in her own right. The two have an interesting history — it was Valentin who “made” her trademark mole so she would stand out from other aspiring actresses. There is a clear connection between them, and they continue to cross each other’s paths from time to time (sometimes conveniently when they need each other most).
There are some pretty heavy moments in The Artist, particularly when Valentin is alone and wallowing in his own self pity. However, when he and Miller are on screen together, the movie becomes electric. Their chemistry is terrific, and Dujardin and Bejo are both so much fun to watch. Dujardin, in particular, seems like he could have been a silent film star himself. His natural charisma translates very well to the movie’s classic setting.
The Artist is a real crowd pleaser, and it’s easy to see why it is blowing up the awards circuit right now. There are just so many enjoyable aspects of the movie — the charming little dog Uggie who brings laughter to a few scenes, the strategically wonderful use of vocals on rare occasions, the frequent nods to cinematic classics — that it’s hard not to fall in love with The Artist. This is a movie that even those ignorant of silent or black-and-white films can appreciate.