I confess to being a lifelong Martin Scorsese fan, ever since I saw Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. I was outraged when Goodfellas didn’t win best picture or best director (Kevin Costner, really?). But the Academy has always had its prejudices and preferences, and it didn’t surprise me that Hugo didn’t win more than the five technical awards that it garnered. Until I saw it last night. Admittedly, I haven’t yet seen The Artist (I will), but it’s hard to imagine a better overall package that pays tribute to filmmaking while demonstrating exceptional filmmaking than Hugo. There were moments where the pacing was a tad off, but it kept both me and my 10-year-old (who had already seen it on the small screen) in rapt engagement, believing the magic and the time-warp of a mightily familiar Parisian train station and cityscape.
All technical wizardry aside, the story was poignant and relevant: follow your dreams, be persistent, struggle against the forces of evil and hatred. My daughter and I discussed our favorite scenes over dinner afterward: predictably, she liked when the two dachshunds become friends and then stare at the hiding Hugo, but also the flashback of the visit to the studio of glass, with live lobsters sinking through water in front of the lobster-suited actors on set. As a cinephile, I loved this sequence as well, but my favorite was when Isabelle pulls the box down from the armoire and it spills its contents, which fly around the room in vibrant animation, bringing the drawings and dreams of a long-dead creator alive for a new generation. I will admit I cried as the filmmaker rediscovered his buried past.
It is so easy to get discouraged by lack of attention, to give up on our passions in favor of practicalities. It is perhaps not coincidental that I began this blog the same day that I saw this film. Life has a way of highlighting what is most important: we just have to open our eyes.