When French director Michel Hazanavicius’ new film “The Artist” premiered last spring at Cannes, Harvey Weinstein snatched up the United States rights and a handful of prognosticators pronounced it an Oscar candidate. That sounded far-fetched at the time, and maybe still does. But save your derision until after you see the movie, a project so idiosyncratic, so unlikely, so simultaneously innocent and sophisticated that it could only have been devised by the French. Furthermore, “The Artist” is also an outrageous and nearly impossible amount of fun, which is not a concept Americans much associate with French films — and that’s the factor that may put the movie and its lantern-jawed, meta-handsome leading man, Jean Dujardin, in this winter’s awards race.
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