‘The Artist’ Earns Michel Hazanavicius Best Director Oscar

'I am the happiest director in the world right now,' he says onstage at the 2012 Academy Awards.

First-time Academy Award nominee Michel Hazanavicius began his Best Director acceptance speech Sunday night (February 26) with four somewhat incredulous words: “I have an Oscar!” Indeed, Hazanavicius beat out four of Hollywood’s most experienced and respected filmmakers to win the award for directing “The Artist.”

“I am the happiest director in the world right now,” he said.

Included in a total of 10 Oscar nominations for “The Artist” were two more for Hazanavicius (for Original Screenplay and Editing), a Best Actor nomination for (winner) Jean Dujardin, a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Bérénice Bejo (Hazanavicius’ wife), a nomination for Best Original Score (won by Ludovic Bource) and a Best Picture nomination (won by producer Thomas Langmann). All this for a little black-and-white French film with almost no dialogue.

In the film, Dujardin plays George Valentin, a fading silent-film star unwilling to embrace the changes occurring in Hollywood during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Bejo plays Peppy Miller, whose star is on the rise. “The Artist” also stars John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller and Uggie the dog , whom Hazanavicius did not fail to thank in his speech.

“The Artist” has been racking up awards since it charmed audiences and judges at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Hazanavicius had already won a BAFTA, a DGA Award and an Independent Spirit Award leading up to Oscar night.

Hazanavicius bested Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”), Martin Scorsese (“Hugo”), Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”) and Terrence Malick (“The Tree of Life”) to win his Oscar for directing. “Sometimes life is wonderful,” he said during his speech, “and today is one of these days.”

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