The Academy emphasizes nostalgic art films for Best Picture, ironically including Woody Allen’s latest work
by Nikita Shah
I’m not going to beat around the bush here—Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris gives me warm fuzzies. You could not find a better cast for this film. Every character—historical or otherwise—was perfectly suited for the actor that portrayed him/her. I will admit, Owen Wilson played his usual character of the goofy, lovable guy with untamed surfer hair, but in the case of Midnight in Paris, it was entirely appropriate in order to create the dichotomy between himself and his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), and her uptight parents.
This film is a dream-come-true for fans of art, literature, and history. All of the artistic icons from the 1920s come to life in a way that is casual yet stunning. There is something jaw-dropping about watching F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) sitting in a pub with Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), just having a smoke and a pint. The writing of the characters really carried across the message that these icons had no idea that they would one day become legends—except for Hemingway, of course, who knew he was great. To quote him: “If you’re a writer, declare yourself the best writer! But you’re not as long as I’m around, unless you want to put the gloves on and settle it.”
The nuances of the historical characters really do shine through in this film. Zelda Fitzgerald (Alison Pill) is the live wire we have always thought her to be, with a tense and complicated relationship with Scott. Her disdain for Hemingway is all but subtle. Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), whose very short scene is probably my favourite in the entire movie, is simply and indescribably wonderful. The film is full of famous artists who just pass through, most having just a short cameo. At first I was displeased with how sporadically these characters appeared, but then I realized it must have been just like this at the time— these artists walking in and out of each other’s lives without a focus on any “main” person.
The film captures different eras of art and how people of each time view art—how a certain time can be viewed by some as the “golden age,” yet the artistic value of our own time are ignored. Unlike The Artist, also up for Best Picture, Midnight in Paris shows the fault in allowing yourself to be consumed by nostalgia, and that icons are constantly being created. I guarantee you will walk away from this film with a newfound appreciation for the art and artists of the here and now.
Midnight in Paris has earned four prestigious Oscar nominations. Besides Best Picture, it is nominated for Best Art Direction. Woody Allen is up for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay as well. Allen has been a film icon himself since his first of 11 Oscar wins (Annie Hall in 1978). Happy 34th Academy Awards, Woody!