Hugo was the last of the nine Best Picture films I had to see. It focuses on a young boy who spent his early years learning the skills of his father’s trade as a clock maker. After his father’s death, his uncle takes him to work with him in a train station, maintaining the clocks. After his uncle’s disappearance, the young man continues maintaining the clocks to avoid the slapstick Clouseau-esque Station Inspector. It’s there a relationship of antagonism and respect is built between the young Hugo and Georges Méliès.
For those unfamiliar, Georges Méliès is an early film director who was a pioneer in narrative film and his most famous work is what is most likely the first science fiction film, Le Voyage dans la lune. As a huge nerd, I have, of course, seen the film, but I didn’t know so much about Méliès’ work or personal life. After watching the film, I did a quick run to Wikipedia and was surprised to find out how much of the film is true to Méliès’ life. It’s an intriguing telling of the life of a forgotten artist from the point of view of a stranger. Hugo along with Méliès’ god-daughter uncovered facet upon facet of Méliès’ life.
Of the nine films nominated for Best Picture, it’s without a doubt my favourite. The Artist is a second, but even that doesn’t have the appeal of Hugo, which I found surprising as I’m not generally a fan of Martin Scorsese’s work, or more accurately, his latest work. That isn’t to say the film is not without fault. I think that this being the best picture shows how mediocrity is reigning this year. THe film was shot in 3D for 3D, and I honestly hate 3D. It’s a marketing ploy, and will fade away in a few years, like it did in the ’50s. It causes headaches, and looks like shit. Even watching the film in 2D, it’s easy to see the cliché shots of 3D that just annoy me. OMG! SOMETHING IS COMING TOWARDS THE SCREEN! Oh, shut up. It’s a visually interesting and fun film, and doesn’t need hokey gimmicks.
Also of note is that Hugo is from the same school of thought as Star Trek The Next Generation, in which all French people speak exclusively English with a British accent. Americans have the strangest thoughts of France. At least on Star Trek, we had the suspension of disbelief that there’s a universal translator. When the Inspector got his slapstick on, and was caught attached to a train as it moved out of the station, he was yelling “STOP! STOP!” All I could think was the dolt should be yelling, “ARRÊT! ARRÊT!”
Overall, great film, watch it.