The theme of this year's Oscars: France, Paris and France, Paris again. The Artist, the silent black and white film made by Frenchman Michel Hazanavicius, is the hot favorite for Best Picture and garnered 10 nominations. But Paris figures in a pair of American films nominated for Best Picture. Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," and Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," which looks at one of the founding fathers of French cinema, Georges Melies. In fact, the Scorsese film has 11 nominations.
The French capital is even included among the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film where "A Cat in Paris" is among the nominees.
The French are more attuned to American cultural dominance than most people in Europe but Oscar recognition is something that filmmakers crave - even when they decry the power of Hollywood.
French newspaper Liberation devotes its press review today to a selection of quotes praising "The Artist" from Hollywood trade publications like Variety. The headline is a question: "Why has the the Anglo-Saxon press given the Oscar for Best Film to The Artist?" It's a rhetorical question which the article doesn't seek to answer.
I think the answer is obvious: "The Artist" is charming and extremely well made, but it is set in Hollywood and is a honeyed homage to American screen culture. Republicans may excoriate the French, but the film community in LA enjoys the flattery of the old world and, as the nominations for the Allen and Scorsese films show, they like to flatter right back. I am certain the French film industry loves the reciprocation of amity.
The big question for Oscar Night: will they be able to find enough presenters who can pronounce French names without mangling them?