I think what's happening this year is that the people who would hate films like Artist, Hugo, and Drive just haven't seen them. I haven't really thought about it before, but this is likely the case. People say everyone they know loved Hugo? Nobody saw the damn thing. The only people who went are those who would love Scorsese no matter what. I think these same people realize that Hugo would not be that popular had it been seen by more people. Nobody saw Drive (35 mil domestic), and smart moviegoers know to avoid The Artist. In other words, there are very few people like me who are still willing to sit through the garbage just so they can form an argument against everyone else. Many viewers have given up on fighting an increasingly snobbish critical mass. I think this is what has allowed these films to accumulate enough "universal" praise to be nominated for awards. The people who would fight it just don't care anymore.