Silent movie The Artist has become the film to beat during this year’s awards season.
For its talent, filmmaker Michel Hazanavicious and leading man Jean Dujardin, already a household name in his native France, the rise to international prominence has come as something of a surprise.
The film is up for 10 Oscars, including best picture, supporting actress for Berenice Bejo, director for Michel Hazanavicius and best actor for Jean Dujardin.
It has also won three Golden Globes, a Producers Guild Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Directors Guild of America Award and 12 nominations for Britain’s BAFTA awards.
But the two Frenchmen are not the only ones surprised by the film’s success. Hollywood veteran actor John Goodman, who plays a studio executive in The Artist, says when he first took on the project, he never imagined that kind of response.
“I thought it was a great story when we were doing it and I thought it was a lot of fun to do I mean we had a great ensemble and we had a lot of fun but I didn’t think this would be the result of it. It’s spectacular.”
The actor credits Hazanavicious’ vision to be a major reason for the film’s appeal. At least it won him over.
“What usually happens your agent sends you a script, you a look at it and this it looked interesting. And he says ‘If you like it, Michel would like to meet with you. And we met in Los Angeles and he had such a clear vision of what he wanted and it obviously came from a place of great affection for him. He just loved it.”
With many big budget movies now being filmed in different locations around the globe, Goodman felt it to be a nice change to film in the old Hollywood style, at the studio. The actor said he still feels a soft spot for this old form of film.
“I look at this stuff and I’m amazed at how they did what they did and so well and so artistically. They were inventing as they went along and doing an amazing job at it. These guys were tough craftsmen, artists and conman, suckers, marks, everything that got sucked in Hollywood — at that time it’s just amazes mazes me. Constantly.”
And even for someone with a portfolio as big as his, Goodman says this kind of movie brought about its own challenges for him.
“It was just improvised, everything we made it up as we were going along, mainly following a scenario. I’m not particularly good at improvising so it was great that the microphones were off.”
“Jean, the lead, spoke no English at the time. He’s learned since, and I will never, I am hopeless at languages,” he added.
One more barrier the film has yet to overcome will be on Feb. 26, Oscar night, but how it’ll turn out — who knows, says Goodman.
“I don’t know I wish it the best for everyone. I’m not good at predicting things, especially Oscar-wise, — I don’t know. I just keep my fingers crossed, I just wish everybody the best.”