The Artist is an homage to movies: silent films, Singin' in the Rain, A Star is Born, Vertigo, and others. I realize that maybe it only won Best Picture because the industry felt like incestuously patting itself on the back in front of 39 million viewers. But it's still brilliant. It's a silent film itself, shot in black and white, and the few moments of sound in the movie are all symbolic (the dream sequence where movie star George can't talk, and the final scene, where he finally does in a heavy French accent).
If I start waxing philosophical about hiding "difference" and how rapidly-changing communications and media change that, I won't stop. So I'll just say I loved the film for its snapshot of the intersections of culture, technology, and identity.
As for the romance between George and Peppy, the backup dancer who becomes Hollywood's It Girl after he encourages her to follow her dreams (and whose star rises in the "talkies" as his falls with the era of silent movies) ... I waffle between thinking it's sweet and thinking it's a better story if they're merely close friends and colleagues.
Without doubt, The Artist was the most fun I've had watching a movie in a theatre since National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. My thoughts didn't stray from the storyline at all, except for the moments when I recognized a cultural reference within a cultural reference. That's what's so ingenious about The Artist: it manages to catapult the viewer back in time to an era when movies were so new and fascinating and amazing and magical...
...because they still are!