Sunday night, the Best Picture award at the 2012 Academy Awards went to “The Artist”, a low-budget, French black-and-white silent film about old Hollywood. It beat eight rivals for the top honor, including Martin Scorsese's “Hugo”,'s “Midnight in Paris”, and Tate Taylor’s “The Help”.
“The Artist” shined at the 2012 Oscars with five wins including Best Picture, Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius and Best Actor for Jean Dujardin. “The Artist”, nominated in 10 categories, also won the titles for the Best Original Musical Score and Best Costume Direction.
The black-and white comic melodrama, which is a tribute to the early days of Hollywood, became the first silent film to win Best Picture since "Wings" was named outstanding picture in 1929. For the first time in Academy Awards history, a French actor and a French filmmaker took the Academy’s top acting and directing awards.
"I have an Oscar. I forgot my speech. I am the happiest director in the world right now. Thank you for that,” director Michel Hazanavicius said, thanking the cast, crew and canine co-star Uggie. “I also want to thank the financier, the crazy person who put money in the movie,” the 44-year-old added in his acceptance speech.
Even Uggie, who was reportedly banned from the Oscar red carpet, had his moment on the stage, wearing a bow tie.
Jean Dujardin, who plays silent hero George Valentin in “The Artist”, was overwhelmed with joy when his name was announced in the Best Actor category. "Oh! Thank you. I love your country," said Dujardin as he accepted the golden trophy. Dujardin became the first Frenchman ever to win a Best Actor Oscar after beating fellow nominees including George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
"If George Valentin could speak, he’d say, "Formidable! Merci beaucoup," he said, using French words for "terrific" and "thank you very much." The 39-year-old actor repeated his trademark dance before exiting the stage.
Jean Dujardin and Michel Hazanavicius are household names in France but they were both literally unheard of to American audiences until “The Artist” opened in theaters in the United States late last year.
'The Artist” also scooped up six Cesar awards including Best film and Best Actress on Friday in France's annual version of the Academy Awards.