One of this year's Oscar nominees for Best Picture is "Nebraska," which was filmed in black and white. Color cinematography dominates the filmmaking world today, and only the most creative producers risk limiting their film's success by releasing it in black and white. No doubt the most stunning example in recent years is "The Artist," which won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2011.
"The Artist" is set in the late-1920s and early-1930s. In this era, movies with sound were becoming more and more popular. Because of this, many people who had success in silent films saw their careers fade. The main character in this film is George Valentine (played by Jean Dujardin), a popular actor and director in silent movies. His career declines as audiences start to prefer "talkies." Meanwhile, the career of Peppy Miller (played by Berenice Mejo), a vibrant young actress George meets at a premiere, surpasses George's since she works in films with sound.
Although the story of "The Artist" is fictional, it is historically accurate; actors and directors who could not adapt to this new mode of filmmaking were quickly forgotten and actors and actresses with appealing voices and faces attracted large followings. By shooting in black and white and minimizing sound, the producer and director give 21st century audiences a genuine glimpse into the cinematic world of the early 20th century. Dujardin, Mejo and the rest of the cast do an effective job of telling this remarkable and poignant story with minimal dialogue.
"The Artist" is well-worth seeing, even if you prefer movies in sound. It should be seen by anyone who is interested in the history of Hollywood.