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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

‘The Artist’ gets 10 Oscar nominations – and deserves them all

By Rod Pocowatchit
The Wichita Eagle

Academy Award nominations were announced on Tuesday, and I correctly predicted 21 out of 25 nominees in acting and directing categories. In best picture, all the films I thought would be nominated were, although I didn’t see “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and “War Horse” sneaking in.

I’m really glad “The Artist” did so well – it nabbed a stunning 10 nominations, which is nothing less than remarkable. Here are five reasons why:

1. It’s the first silent best picture nominee since, well, there were silent films.

2. It’s French.

3. It has no big-name leading stars.

4. It’s in black-and-white.

5. Did I mention that it’s a silent film? This is so unusual it should count as two reasons.

But “The Artist” is every bit the underdog story that Hollywood loves – Oscar nominated writer/director Michel Hazanavicius has said that he never imagined the film would get so far.

It deserves the accolades, and here are five reasons why:

1. It’s beautiful. The cinematography by Oscar-nominated Guillaume Schiffman is breathtaking – but the film also has a beautiful spirit.

2. It’s creative. It wholly embraces its premise and gimmick, but also plays around with it. It’s a movie fan’s movie.

3. It has wonderful performances. Rightful Oscar nominees Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo had to rely on facial expressions and body language to express their emotions, and they gave rich, engaging performances – moreso than some actors who have the luxury of speaking words.

4. It’s a marvel – joyous and absolutely exhilarating.

5. Did I mention that it’s a silent film?

“The Artist” is now showing at Warren Theatre east. See it.

Oscar nomination tidbits:

•  “The Artist” is the first predominantly silent film to be nominated for best picture since 1928’s “The Patriot.”

•  Meryl Streep adds to her record of being the most-nominated performer in Oscar history – her best-actress nod for “The Iron Lady” is her 17th acting nomination.

•  Woody Allen collects his seventh double nomination as writer and director for the same film (“Midnight in Paris”), passing previous record holder Billy Wilder.

•  If Viola Davis wins best actress for her performance in “The Help,” she would become only the second black actress to do so (Halle Berry was the first with “Monster’s Ball” in 2002).

•  John Williams is nominated twice in the same category – original score – for “War Horse” and “The Adventures of Tintin.” He’s the most-nominated living person with 47 nods – only Walt Disney had more with 59.

•  Best documentary short subject nominee “Incident in New Baghdad” features Wichita resident Ethan McCord. The film played at last year’s Tallgrass Film Festival and will be shown again in Wichita on Feb 10.

Source: Associated Press; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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