Scorsese's Hugo, set in a Paris train station in the '30s and with a backstory involving early, experimental French cinema, picked up five technical awards, and Woody Allen's deeply nostalgic Midnight in Paris won best original screenplay.
|Douglas Fairbanks, a model for Jean Dujardin's Artist|
On Friday I was part of a good group -- including the Times' John Horn -- on Warren Olney's To The Point -- discussing nostalgia and the Oscars. Here is a link to that show.
We only scratched the surface, especially since I took the conversation a bit off track, into music and politics -- but I think it was lively. I should point out that I think The Artist and Hugo are very fine movies and do not need nostalgia to make them appealing.
(When I met with Michel Hazanavicius, the writer/director of The Artist, for a feature on the film, he talked about his love of Murnau, Fritz Lang and other silent filmmakers. But he didn't see the movie as being entirely about the silent era, but rather about a character caught in a universal struggle. "I think he's afraid of changing. One of the themes of the movie is a man in a transition -- something we all go through. It's something that happens to everyone at least once in their lives." And Hugo was, its setting aside, more deeply about a search for the father and the origins he represented.)
But with Academy voters, pining for the good old days didn't hurt, especially these anxious times.
The issue helps explain why otherwise strong films -- Bridesmaids, Melancholia -- were virtually shut out this year.