>> If The Artist does win Best Picture on Sunday at the Academy Awards, it will complete a remarkable rise for a film I first wrote about last June. Back then, the notion that a French, black and white, silent movie would even be nominated, let alone have a chance of winning, seemed completely fanciful. But the powerful Weinstein Company got behind it in America, realised that because the film was actually about Hollywood, it would probably appeal to the Academy if they could get them to see it, and the rest is history.
But what does it mean for the future? That’s the crux of this piece I wrote for Vision, a magazine promising ‘fresh perspectives from Dubai’. Some suggest that The Artist’s success is another shot in the arm for art-house cinema and yet more evidence that people are tiring of 3D, blockbusting action sequels. I’m not so sure about this for at least three reasons:
1: Blockbusters, sequels and the like are not in the habit of winning Best Picture in any case. The last one to do so was Lord Of The Rings in 2003, and two years ago Avatar – the biggest film ever – was beaten by Hurt Locker.
2: The Artist kind of stands alone because of its subject matter: it’s about Hollywood. As Scott Feinberg from The Hollywood Reporter told me, “Hollywood is the constituency of the Oscars, so there’s a little bit of self flattery there as far as the Academy is concerned. It’s a celebration of the industry, a love letter to Hollywood, basically.”
3: People might moan about sequels and so on, but they still go and see them. I knew I probably wouldn’t like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol but I still paid £7.50 to watch Tom Cruise clamber down the Burj Khalifa. Result: an $150m makes nearly $400m at the worldwide box office. Kerching.
Nevertheless, if The Artist’s success can prove anything, it’s that if a chance is taken on an innovative, interesting film, it can reap immense rewards. The studio system, based entirely on profit, doesn’t usually deal in chance. But maybe, just maybe, The Artist might make them think again.