Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley
Ah, here we go, the winner of the academy award for best picture of 2011. Pretty sure. It’s got everything the academy loves; good kid actors, bright and colorful imagery, some emotional moments, and especially a detailed history of silent film. If there’s one thing you can learn from looking at this year’s nominees, it’s that the academy looooves movies about movies.
A kid is trying to fix a strange clockwork automaton that his dad was working on before he died, as he thinks that there’s a hidden message from his dad in it. He’s living in this train station in France by himself (and constantly hounded by Sacha Baron Cohen, a semi-evil watchman) when he meets Georges Méliès (Kingsley), who designed the robot, as well as many early, creative silent films. The story transitions from the kid trying to cope with the loss of his father to Méliès recovering from his depression brought on by the loss of his earlier career, which he loved.
It really almost is like the kid coming to terms with his dad’s death is only there so we can get to Méliès and talk about movies, which is too bad. However, Kingsley turns in a fantastic performance as a depressed, angry old man, and they do show quite a bit of Méliès’ actual films, which is super cool from a film nerd perspective. This isn’t my favorite film of the nominees, but if Hugo wins the oscar and that convinces even one young person to become interested in the (legitimately extremely awesome) silent films of the era, then by all means, give it to them.