Finally, "The Artist" has hanging over its head another movie on the transition from silent to sound movies, "Singing in the Rain," which is so gigantically entertaining on the subject that little more needs to be done. For example, "The Artist" barely scratches the question of why its hero refuses to try sound movies. The film could have shown the technical restrictions that made the first few years of sound movies really stilted. But, "Singing in the Rain" did those scenes so well that how could "The Artist" compete?
One general point I'd add is that this year's Oscar frontrunners are just about the worst crop to intellectualize about it in many a year. I feel sorry for the pixel-stained wretches trying to come up with their annual assignment on What This Year's Oscar Movies Say About the World Today. This isn't to say that they are bad movies, just that the late-season prestige releases aren't very intellectually stimulating. Consider, say, Michelle Williams' Best Actress nominated turn as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn." Here's what I have to say about that film: A. Not bad. B. Holy cow, what have their been, like 800 books on Marilyn Monroe? Is there anything left to say?
In contrast, there were a number of popcorn summer movies that were much more interesting to think about.