This year's Oscar race got serious when the Golden Globes picked their winners for Best Picture. The Globes haven't always been a good barometer for which film will actually take Best Picture but they do help films garner recognition and additional box office at a critical time of the year. This year's two winners, The Artist for Best Musical or Comedy and The Descendants for Best Drama, were already considered front-runners and although neither is considered a lock at this point, the wins at last weekend's Globes ceremony certainly didn't hurt their chances.
Which brings me to a question for the audience. Is The Artist getting attention simply because it is a curiosity or is it really that good? I tend to agree with Brad's review when he suggested that "... 80 or so years ago I don't think it would have been hailed as anything more than the norm."
For that reason I would like to suggest Ten Films that anyone who loved The Artist should check out. You may still think The Artist is the best film of 2011. Or you may agree with those who are saying the film is little more than a stunt. I would love to hear your opinion either way while also offering up a few films to broaden your silent horizons.
I wasn't sure which film to place at number ten. I knew it had to be a second Chaplin film but I wasn't sure which one. City Lights and Modern Times are both fantastic and both are definitely worth watching.
In Brad's review of The Artist he pondered whether modern viewers would be able to enjoy Chaplin after all these years along with the likes of classic silent directors F.W. Murnau, Carl Theodor Dreyer and Sergei Eisenstein. I tend to disagree. I think Chaplin is one of the very few timeless performers the film medium has ever had and that The Artist itself owes much of its charm to the screen legacy of The Little Tramp.
I was first introduced to Charlie Chaplin at my hometown theater in Lynnwood, WA just north of Seattle. The theater was called the Lynn Twin and it was the first "multiplex" in the city. (It later became the Lynn Four before becoming the Harvest Time Church and then finally a vacant lot.) Back in the day they showed Chaplin and W.C. Fields shorts mixed in with Jerry Lewis flicks every Saturday morning. That was in the late '60s. I loved Chaplin then and I still love him now.
The Birth of a Nation
For many years this film was very hard to see because of it's subject matter. It is a pro-Klu Klux Klan film and the ideas it espouses are quite despicable. Having said that, the film is a masterpiece. Made in 1915 by D.W. Griffith, The Birth of a Nation was one of the first feature length films ever made and when I say feature length, I really mean feature length. Clocking in around three hours, even Terrance Mallick would have advised Griffith to take 20 minutes out.
Kino first put the film out on DVD back in 1998 and recently a new Blu-ray version was released. It is still as controversial as ever and can actually be watched in its three hour entirety directly below.
Un Chien Andalou
While Birth of a Nation is very long, Un Chien Andalou is very short. It clocks in at sixteen minutes. Made in 1929 by film godhead Luis Bunuel and surrealist artist Salvador Dali, Un Chien Andalou was an instant sensation when it came out. I saw it in college and it changed me forever. The film is that powerful. It is still studied in film schools because of the opening scene, which still shocks audiences to this day and wouldn't you know it, you can also watch it in its entirety directly below.