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Beyond Books - The Academy Awards

The Superbowl has come and gone (go Big Blue) and Jeremy Lin is hogging all the sports headlines. However, there is another important media event coming up this Sunday, February 26th - The 84th Academy Award Show hosted by Billy Crystal.  This year there are nine nominees vying for the big prize of Best Picture.  The leading contenders are Hugo, with 11 nominations, and The Artist, with 10.  While there have been some fine pictures produced this year - War Horse, Midnight in Paris, The Help, The Descendants, Moneyball, there are really only two titles that stand above the crowd.

In my mind they are Hugo and The Artist.  Having just seen both of them this past weekend I would like to make some observations on both. Both of these films are very different, not only from each other, but from the films they are up against.  Hugo is an homage to a pioneer of the cinema George Melies.  Mr. Melies created the very first science fiction movie in 1902 titled "A Trip To The Moon." He was also instrumental in the creation of special effects and other film techniques.  Hugo was filmed in 3D and the special effects of this film are wonderful.  The scenes of Hugo and the tunnels and rooms of the train station in which he lives are incredible in 3D.  However the film, which runs over 2 hours, is extremely slow in getting to the essential plot of the film.  What is Hugo's father trying to communicate to him through the automaton he was repairing when he died?  How is this automaton involved with George Melies?  These mysteries are revealed slowly. V-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.  My pick for best picture - The Artist.  I didn't think I would be remotely interested in a silent picture but in this case, action speaks so much louder than words.  A terrific story with, believe it or not, terrific acting.  Sometimes not speaking any lines and communicating feelings and emotions is much harder than any dialogue one has to say.  I loved this movie.  If you think you couldn't possibly enjoy a silent movie in this age of action and blasting noise I urge you to see The Artist when it comes out on DVD. Sunday will tell if the esteemed members of the Academy agree with me.  Until next time.

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