I’m not surprised that Jean Dujardin, the lead in “The Artist”, is getting so many plaudits. I first saw him years ago in “OSS 117:Cairo, nest of spies”, a French comedy based on the James Bond, Matt Helm, Man from UNCLE style movies of the 1960s. It follows the adventures of the Austin Powers/Clouseausque French secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, codename OSS 117, France’s best agent, in uncovering a plot in Cairo in 1959. Jean Dujardin, who plays the agent, is very funny as the shockingly smarmy, thick agent who is completely clueless about the changing world (In talking with a Muslim contact, he tells her that he can’t see this “Islam thing” lasting very long). Some of the set pieces of the movie are very good, in particular a scene where he, a German, Russian and Belgian agent all face off quoting meaningless faux-philosophical sayings at each other. The movie looks great, and the soundtrack is right on the nose. Keep an eye out for a running joke about French President Rene Coty (the forgotten one before De Gaulle).
Another example of how there are some really excellent movies out there not getting the credit they deserve because they are not English language based. I only stumbled across this movie by accident in a DVD shop in Perth, Australia. There’s already been a sequel.