The last silent film to win best picture was Wings in 1927, the first year the Oscar ceremony was held.
The next year, four of the five best picture nominees were "talkies." This non-talkie and the last best picture nominee to be a silent film is 1928's The Patriot.
As for black and white films, since the 1970s to present, only six black-and-white films have been nominate for best picture. Those films: The Last Picture Show (1971); Lenny (1974); The Elephant Man (1980); Raging Bull (1980); Schindler's List (1993); and Good Night and Good Luck (2005). Even Raging Bull and Schindler's list could find them self with an asterisk for their minimal use of color within the films.
With The Artist taking home the Producer's Guild top prize and Oscar nominees around the corner, it's undeniable that The Artist is a contender and should certainly be at a minimum receiving a nomination.
So from this point forward, will we no longer consider The Patriot the last silent film, or does the minimal scenes with sound effects and talking warrant exclusion, or inclusion with an asterisk.
I don't think that there needs to be any asterisks for the black and white category, but should The Artist win it will dethrone Schindler's List from the spot of "the last black-and-white best picture nominee."