Oscars 2012: Michel Hazanavicius wins for director
French newcomer Michel Hazanavicius won the Academy Award for director Sunday evening for "The Artist," a nearly silent, black-and-white film about a silent movie star whose life changes with Hollywood's transition to talking pictures and the arrival of a lovely starlet.
Hazanavicius, who also wrote the screenplay and edited the film, has written and directed several French TV productions, as well as the "OSS 117" movies, which star Jean Dujardin (lead actor in "The Artist") as a French secret agent akin to James Bond. But "The Artist" thrust Hazanavicius, 44, into the spotlight and has afforded him international acclaim. The film, which stars the director's wife Bérénice Bejo as ingenue Peppy Miller, swept the BAFTA awards two weeks ago, taking seven trophies including two for Hazanavicius. He also won the Directors Guild of America award.
For the Oscar, Hazanavicius was up against Terrence Malick for "The Tree of Life," Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris," Alexander Payne for "The Descendants" and Martin Scorsese, who last month nabbed the Golden Globe for directing "Hugo."
"The Artist," which won the Golden Globe for best picture, received 10 total Academy Award nominations, including writing and editing nods for Hazanavicius and best picture.
The Academy Awards are taking place in Hollywood and are being televised live on ABC. They are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose membership was recently examined in depth by the Los Angeles Times.
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-- Noelene Clark
Photo: Michel Hazanavicius, director of "The Artist." Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times