One of the great unknowns of 2011, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, played unfinished to a surprised crowd at the New York Film Festival last night. Reactions from the screening range from about what was expected to tepid at best. It seems below-the-line achievements such as sound, VFX, and cinematography will be well-lauded. The story is being called “a bit stale” by some and “tense, exciting” by others.
I’ll speculate on Hugo’s Oscar chances objectively but my love for Scorsese tends to be unfazed by the reviews of others. Just like people have that one musician or author who transcends popular opinion for them, Scorsese’s work affects me in a very specific way. The early reviews for Hugo seem a bit cold, written by the same people who entirely didn’t get Shutter Island. Scorsese is perhaps America’s greatest crossover artist between mainstream and personal cinema. Hugo gives a master filmmaker the opportunity to tell a story to the whole family about the history of cinema while using contemporary film technology. That alone is worth the price of admission.
In addition to the preview screening, Paramount also released a quick featurette about the film.