I was in Telluride four and a half months ago, and here’s what I wrote: “Rank-and-file festivalgoers are creaming over The Artist…every Telluride viewer I’ve spoken to loves it…and I think it’s just a clever, assured, highly diverting curio — a tribute to the lore of black-and-white silent cinema and the divergent-Hollywood-career plot used by Singin’ in the Rain and A Star Is Born.
“And women of all shapes and sizes and social classes love The Help, and we all know the name of that tune.
“So what am I to do? Do a flip-flop and say I was wrong but now I’ve seen the light? Twist my neck 180 degrees like Linda Blair in The Exorcist?
“I don’t think so. I know precisely how good these films are, and they’re both con jobs. They aren’t Illuminating Truth-Tellers. They aren’t addressing the deep bedrock stuff. They’re highly accomplished entertainments, but don’t tell me they’re serious Best Picture contenders. Neither one dramatizes or illuminates some aspect of our common experience all that primally or skillfully or meaningfully.
“They’re about their own realms and realities — the racist South of the early ’60s, the movie business in the late 1920s. You come out the theatre saying, ‘Well, that was good but it wasn’t about any place I live in…later.’
“If they become Best Picture nominees, fine. If Hollywood Elsewhere gets to run ads supporting these films, great. And if one of them wins….naah, won’t happen.”