Updated to reflect Oscar nomination. To see all reviews of nominated films, check out my Oscar page.
I recently went to see Hugo in the theater (in 3D, of course!) and must say that I really enjoyed it. That is, after I saw it. During the film I kept waiting for the magical robot adventure implied in the trailers to take me to a fantasy world. Instead, I was transported to a beautifully imagined 1930s Paris train station, as experienced by the titular young boy, Hugo. See, Hugo is only sorta kinda about a robot (or, to be exact, an automaton) in need of a heart-shaped key to awaken him. It’s actually a film about the beginnings of film-making, the impact imagination can have on our lives, and, to some extent, the importance of film preservation. In short, Hugo is Martin Scorcese’s love letter to Georges Méliès, one of early films’ most innovative and imaginative artists. It is also a siren-call to following your dreams, even if you never fully understand their impact on yourself, or on the world. The only magic in Hugo is the magic of the movies.
So, go see Hugo, in 3D if you can. And, ignore what the trailers imply. They are lying to you. You’ll enjoy the film all the better for it, and this is definitely a film to enjoy.
The Oscars: Best Picture and Best Director Nominee (Martin Scorsese)
While I wholeheartedly agree that Hugo is a beautifully directed film, with a lovely story and fine acting, I feel its nomination for Best Picture and Best Director is a bit obvious. In that, of course the Academy is going to nominate Martin Scorsese. He’s practically always nominated, even if he almost never wins. (I wonder if he and Meryl Streep have a special “Always the Nominee, Never the Bride” club?) Also, this is his first foray into the new “it” film medium, 3D and it’s a love letter to the history of film, so yeah, it got a nomination. But will it win? Scorsese won Best Director at the Golden Globes, but he often wins there even when he doesn’t end up with the fancier-schmancier Oscar. Still, I think he might be a “shoe-in” for Best Director since Hugo has been a darling this awards season, especially since the film is being outpaced by The Artist and The Descendants in the Best Picture category everywhere else. It seems that the voters want to show Scorsese how much they loved Hugo and, obviously, the magic of movies, even if they voted for other films. And, even though he finally won for The Departed, there may be some lingering “we owe it to him” feelings for all the other times he was left at the altar, holding his best friend’s bouquet.