Oscars 2012: 'Artist' director doesn't expect wave of silent films
“The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius thanked filmmaker Billy Wilder three times in his acceptance speech, but backstage at the Oscars, the best director winner said he would have thanked him “thousands of times” if he could.
“He’s the perfect director. He’s the soul of Hollywood,” Hazanavicius said of the “Some Like It Hot” and “Sunset Blvd.” filmmaker.
As to whether his awards-sweeping black-and-white, almost entirely silent film will influence future filmmakers, he claimed that “The Artist” alone couldn’t make a change in the film industry because “one movie doesn’t change things … 10 movies do,” but if it did, “I would be very proud of it.”
Taking home best picture to cap a successful awards season, “The Artist” wasn’t held back by its throwback format and didn’t have trouble getting acclaim once it started screening at festivals such as Cannes.
“It’s not selling, not promoting. You just smile and say, ‘Thank you,’” Hazanavicius said of what he called a “not difficult” process of spreading awareness about the film.
“The Artist” producer Thomas Langmann, meanwhile, gave the majority of the credit for the film’s best picture win to Harvey Weinstein. Langmann recalled inviting Weinstein to France a month before Cannes to view the movie — one with a French director and cast the producer had barely heard of.
“I was supposed to leave him alone in the screening room, and I checked to make sure that the beginning was going OK, and I heard him laugh and laugh, so I stayed through the whole screening,” Langmann said. “He loved the movie, and I knew that Harvey could sometimes be very enthusiastic. But I saw in his eyes and his attitude that he really cared for the movie, and he believed that maybe we could be here today. I must say I think he’s the only distributor, even with this very special movie, to be able to take it to where it is today.”
“The Artist,” which won five Academy Awards on Sunday night, also took home statuettes for original score, lead actor and costume design.
— Emily Rome and Amy Kaufman
Photo: Michel Hazanavicius backstage in the press room at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times.