For Your Consideration: As A True Love Letter To Cinema, Hugo Should Be King

By Eric Eisenberg 2012-02-17 20:54:07discussion comments
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Every weekday from now until the Oscar ceremony we'll be running a For Your Consideration piece on behalf of every Best Picture nominee, arguing why it deserves its nomination or even a win, arguing why it's important, or even pointing out why it doesn't belong at the Oscars at all. Here is Eric with a personal argument on behalf of Hugo.


If you were to approach any Academy Award prognosticator and ask what the frontrunner for this yearís ceremony is, the answer will inevitably be The Artist. From the performance by lead actor Jean Dujardin to the loveable Uggie the Dog, The Artist is a real charmer and crowd pleaser, but what makes the film so attractive to Oscar voters is the way in which in creates nostalgia for the golden age of cinema. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loves to hump its own leg and naming The Artist as Best Picture would allow them to do just that. There is a serious problem, however, because The Artist wasnít even the best film about classic cinema to be released in 2011. That honor belongs to Martin Scorseseís Hugo.

Though sold as a family film Ė thatís the curse that comes with having children as your main characters - Hugo is much more than that. Through telling the story of Georges Melies, one of the earliest and most brilliant directors of the silent era, while also taking steps forward by implementing some of the greatest 3D weíve ever seen, Scorsese strikes a perfect balance, showing us the earliest potential of the medium while also demonstrating the incredible heights that it can reach.

Even comparing The Artist to Hugo on a character level it becomes clear how the Scorsese movie is superior. While the silent film does hit on the universal experience of trying to desperately save something that has been lost, itís a concept that has been done, most notably in Billy Wilderís 1950 classic Sunset Blvd.. The tale of Georges Melies, on the other hand, explores a much more original story that also happens to dip its pen in the inkwell of truth. With The Artist Hazanavicius is merely using a caricature to tell a story about classic filmmaking, but Scorseseís work does the same thing Ė and more effectively Ė by shining a light on one of the most influential luminaries that the medium has ever seen. Obviously itís not true that movies about real people are always better than those that are completely made up, but in this case, and when you consider the intention of the filmmakers, it is a significant element.

While James Cameron may be the most prominent name when it comes to 3D filmmaking today, with Hugo it was Martin Scorsese who truly explored the potential of the new technology, but more importantly used it to make a statement about the art. By filming The Artist in the classic non-widescreen ratio and without color, Hazanavicius made homage to what things used to be like and itís a nice gimmick, but, conversely, Scorsese actually used 3D in a way that I previously thought was impossible: to express a deeper meaning. Melies was a pioneer in special effects, being one of the earliest filmmakers to make characters disappear with quick cuts and using forced perspective to make elements seem bigger than they were, and with Hugo Scorsese followed in that tradition and used 3D to create an epic, sweeping scope for what is actually a simple story.

Admittedly, Hugo isnít the most accessible movie nominated for this yearís Best Picture prize. The truth is that you have to care about the world and enchantment of film in order for it to have a real impact, but if you donít have that chances are that you wonít end up seeing the movie anyway. But for those that do have a true passion for the art form and care about the history of the medium there is no other option. Weíve seen the plight of the silent movie star in the world of talking pictures, and The Artist doesnít offer much more than that. Hugo, on the other hand, introduces the world to the magician known as Georges Melies, a man who revolutionized the world of film, and serves as the true love letter to Hollywood.

For more arguments for and against this year's Oscar nominees, go right HERE.
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