How "The Artist" Went from Underdog to Heavy Favorite to Take the Top Prize at the Oscars

Posted 2:14 PM February 26th, 2012 by Senh Duong

I hadn't heard of “The Artist” until the awards season started. Now, it’s the heavy favorite to win the top prize at the Oscars. That’s pretty good for a black-and-white silent film that had made less than a million at the box office before racking up award after award.

The Artist

“The Artist” is a french film directed by Michel Hazanavicius and stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The Weinstein Company picked up the distribution rights for the United States.

It’s a romantic comedy set in the late 20’s and early 30’s about the relationship between an established silent film star and an up-and-coming starlet during the end of the silent film era and the beginning of the talkies.

For me, the ball started rolling for “The Artist” almost half a year ago when some Oscar pundits had already picked it to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

It then proceeded to win trophies handed out by every major film awards, starting with the critics associations. Not surprising since it’s one of the best reviewed films of the year, with a Tomatometer of 97% after almost 200 critics reviews.

It won Best Film from the National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle, and the Critics Choice Awards.

The snowball effect continues with the top awards from the Producers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, and Screen Actors Guild.

“The Artist” then rolled over the Golden Globes, BAFTA, and the Independent Spirits Awards.

It’s heading for the Oscars today, where it’s the heavy favorite to win the top prize. It’s no longer the underdog. “The Artist” has turned into Apollo Creed. I’m already hearing from some onliners from my Twitter feed who are sick of the hype and are rooting against it now.

After it picked up Best Motion Picture for a Musical or Comedy from the Golden Globes, the filmmakers alluded to this. They still wanted to be the underdogs. They still wanted to be Rocky Balboa. They still want people to root for them.

Too bad. Picking up best film honors from both BAFTA and yesterday’s Independent Spirits Awards officially makes them the Goliath of the 84th Academy Awards.

It has also slowly and steadily hauled in almost $32M at the American box office. Pretty awesome for a foreign, black-and-white, silent film that only cost $15M.

Now the question is will it win the coveted Best Picture award today. Binh thinks so. I think so too, mainly because it's the type of multiple nominated epic that tend to take home this category; 2010's "Hurt Locker" is one of the exceptions. I also like the idea of a film that's made in the spirit of the silent era taking home the top prize and then subsequently drawing today's audiences to the movies.

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