Oscars celebrate Europe - from the glorious to the gothic
By Clare Byrne Feb 21, 2012, 14:13 GMT
Paris - He may be good at playing the strong silent type but Jean Dujardin, the French actor tipped to win the Oscar for Best Actor on Sunday for his portrayal of a silent movie star in The Artist, is rarely lost for words.
Unless he's discussing what it feels like to be the toast of Tinseltown.
'I'm very proud, I'm shocked, I'm ... doubted!,' a slightly abashed Dujardin said on hearing he had been nominated for an Oscar.
With 10 nominations under its belt, including a nomination for Best Picture, French director Michel Hazanavicius's ode to 1920's Hollywood looks set to be covered in glory at this year's Academy Awards.
'That is huge, especially for a French film - a French film about Old Hollywood. It's a dream, like a Hollywood fairytale,' Hazanavicius was quoted by US media as saying.
Berenice Mejo, Dujardin's co-star, who has been nominated for Best Supporting Actress, agreed the Oscars were 'bigger than anything.'
'It's something you don't even dream about,' she told Rolling Stone magazine.
Hollywood - it's the stuff of dreams for European actors, but the Old Continent also has the power to inspire, as this year's crop of Oscar nominations show.
Two of the films in the running for the Oscar for Best Picture are set in Paris.
Veteran director Martin Scorsese's Hugo recreates 1930s Paris, seen through the eyes of an urchin living in an Art Nouveau train station. The film, which is bathed in amber light, oozes with nostalgia for the early days of movie-making in France.
While The Artist pays tribute to Hollywood's cinematic beginnings, Scorsese's film tells the story of a famous French filmmaker, George Melies, who made the world's first science fiction movie, A Trip to the Moon, in 1902. The film, like The Artist, is silent and magical.
Meanwhile, Woody Allen's romantic comedy Midnight in Paris, which stars Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams as a loveless engaged couple on a trip to Paris, is nothing short of a love sonnet to the City of Lights.
Wilson plays a struggling novelist, who finds his muse by traveling back in time to 1920's Paris, when the city played host to such artistic greats as Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso.
Steven Spielberg's film War Horse, which is also nominated for Best Picture, is also set in early 20th century Europe.
The film tells the tale of an English boy who is so distraught at the sale of the family horse to the army during World War 1 that he goes to war in search of his equine friend.
While Spielberg has called it his 'first British film', critics in Britain have been scathing what The Observer newspaper's film critic called a 'Hollywood celebration of British pastoral', reminiscent of 'Lassie Come Home and National Velvet.'
Thankfully, a grittier, darker Europe also has the power to inspire, as some of the other Oscar nominations show.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on the bestselling book by late Swedish crime writer Stieg Larsson, is in the running for five Oscars, including Best Actress for Rooney Mara, who plays a disturbed bisexual goth working with an investigative journalist to uncover a series of grisly murders.
The austere Scandinavian approach to fiction and drama, very much in vogue these days, is also in evidence in Swedish director Tomas Alfredon's treatment of British spy classic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.