Michel Hazanavicius Scores Directing Oscar for The Artist 1French Filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius has kept the ball rolling for “The Artist” at the 84th Academy Awards, winning for Best Director against formidable competition. The film has 10 Oscar nominations and was the strongest contender coming into the show.

The French film director, 44, producer and screenwriter is best known for his spy movie parodies. The Artist was a cut apart.

“I am the happiest director in the world,” Havanavicius said. “I also want to thank the financier, the crazy person who put money in the movie.”

The film is set in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932. An older silent film star struggles to make the transition to talkies. He inadvertently meets a young actress, whom he helps get a leg up in films. But her career surpasses his as the talkies become all the rage.

The film won wide critical acclaim and was the favored to win. But Hazanavicius was the first person associated with the film to take a major award.

French actor Jean Dujardin, who is up for best actor, plays the lead, George Valentin, who is a strong critic of sound in movies. Bérénice Bejo plays Peppy Miller, the aspiring actress, and John Goodman portrays Al Zimmer, a studio mogul.

“The Artist,” won the Golden Globe for best comedy/musical, and was nominated for six Globes. It won three overall. Hazanavicius also wrote the screenplay and edited the film.

He was up against Alexander Payne for “The Descendants,” Martin Scorsese for “Hugo,”
Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris” and Terrence Malick for “The Tree of Life.”