Does Jean Dujardin’s Poster Scandal Make Him a Lock for Best Actor?

This isn’t the viewpoint that most articles are given this most recent news story featuring “The Artist” star, Jean Dujardin. The reaction to a controversial poster for his next French film “Les Infideles” has many pundits and journalists worried that the Frenchman may now lose his chance at having his named called up onto the, probably soon to be renamed, Kodak Theatre stage. But I disagree. I think this is a classic example of the old adage, “any press is good press”.

If we remember just back to last year’s Oscar race, around this time there was another controversy that was being placed on the front-runner “The King’s Speech”. News had surfaced that the set that had been used for the speech therapy sessions between Colin Firth’s character and Geoffrey Rush’s had been used before by another movie, one of the pornographic nature. Some thought this was a blow to the film, that it would somehow be seen as a slight that the feel-good movie of 2010 was somehow related to a porno. But what happened when Oscar night came, what most expected. “The King’s Speech” walked away with four awards, including Best Director and Best Picture, just as they were expected to prior to the controversy.

Now back to this year. Jean Dujardin pulled a surprise win a couple of weekends ago by taking the SAG award for Best Actor over presumed front-runner George Clooney. That catapulted him very much into the conversation, as the actors are the larges branch of the Academy, as well as the fact that “The Artist” is the clear favorite among the industry right now and poised to be a monster come the ceremony. On top of that he has proven extremely charming in his two major wins this year, back at the Golden Globes and at SAG, with his acceptance speeches, and even back stage talking with the press. Just check out this video after he wins his SAG:

And now we have this new story where suggestive positioning of a woman’s legs threatens to derail the momentum that he has been building up. But as I said, I’m in the opposite camp. Why? Because I’m writing this article about it as are hundreds of other journalists and Oscar pundits. It popped up on Deadline and in the Hollywood Reporter, two of the industry’s biggest sources. Because it keeps Jean Dujardin fresh and in the minds of the public and voters rather than let us forget about him until he walks down the red carpet. Because any press is good press and a little controversy can shake things up just as much positively as it can negatively.

Has there been a major story on George Clooney since the announcement of the nominations? No. Clooney has been silent, which isn’t a bad thing; George has never been one to stir up too much controversy. But since losing at SAG the actor at the forefront of everyone’s minds has been Dujardin. From the upset win to this new story, he has been the main headline out of all the nominees, and Clooney has almost fallen into the shadows, hoping his fantastic performance will speak for itself, which it still very much could, but it could definitely use a boost to challenge the Dujardin train that is starting to roll. Even fellow nominee Brad Pitt, who didn’t win a single pre-cursor award, is starting to gain momentum over Clooney with interviews on talk shows like “The Daily Show” and “The Today Show”.

What we also have to consider is that the controversy isn’t something involving the actual film “The Artist”. The poster is not a For Your Consideration” for Dujardin, it is for his next film, a French comedy about the infidelities or men. Considering the subject matter and the fact that it is a French film, who I think we all have to agree are a little more lenient in their censorship then mainstream American cinema, the poster isn’t really all that surprising. Like “The King’s Speech”, the controversy wasn’t directly related to the film, it was a different movie that just happened to use the same space. This doesn’t have to ruin “The Artist” for anyone, it is still a fantastically charming movie that people love, and it doesn’t lessen Dujardin’s performance in it.

One final thing that we have to consider in this grand chain of events is who might actually be pulling the strings on all of this. And it would be none other than the master of Oscar spin himself, Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein’s ability to make a film an Oscar favorite has been legendary since “Shakespeare in Love” upset “Saving Private Ryan” in 1999. And should it come as any surprise that “The King’s Speech” was also a Weinstein film last year. I’m not saying that Harvey Weinstein is the reason that these images of the poster made it onto the Internet; it is extremely possible that they surfaced on their own. But I think not considering that the level of coverage this story is getting for a film that will not even be released in the US could be a play by The Weinstein Company to keep their strongest horse in the race in all categories would be ignorant of people who are aware of the idea that, once again, any press is good press.

As for me, I’ve been sticking with Clooney this whole time, but always saying that something had to happen for the likes of Dujardin or Pitt to dethrone him. Well that something has happened in my opinion, and unless Clooney makes a late charge, I’m changing my pick to Dujardin to walk off victorious in three weeks time.