The Artist takes home Oscar for best picture

French silent movie The Artist won the Oscar for best picture, best director and best actor on Sunday.

The Artist, filmed in black and white, is the tale of a silent movie star whose career plummets when he refuses to embrace the advent of talkies in the late 1920s.

It was director Michel Hazanavicius’ first Oscar nomination and his first win. He also won the Bafta and Directors Guild prizes.

“I am the happiest director in the world right now, thank you for that,” Hazanavicius said.

It stars Frenchman Jean Dujardin, who also took the best actor award.

The 84th Annual Academy Awards were held in Los Angeles on Sunday night, with a number of first-time winners and fresh international talent sharing the honours with Hollywood veterans.

Dujardin was largely unknown outside of France until The Artist became the toast of film festivals and started racking up awards last year for his moving, virtually silent portrayal of a dashing actor struggling with Hollywood’s transition from silent to talking pictures.

Most coveted prize
Clearly overwhelmed at his win, a beaming Dujardin took to the stage punching the air.

“I love your country,” he declared with his thick French accent.

Meryl Streep won the Oscar for best lead actress for her portrayal of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

It is Streep’s third Oscar, and her first in 30 years, although she has a record 17 nominations for the most coveted prize in the movie industry.

Streep’s previous Oscars were for the 1979 film Kramer vs Kramer and 1982’s Sophie’s Choice. She had long been considered overdue for another Academy Award.

“When they called my name, I had the feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘oh, come on,'” Streep said. “Oh, her again?”

“I look out there, and I see my life before my eyes, my old friend, my new friends,” she said to the audience that had given her a standing ovation.

Magic of the movies

Streep (62) is widely regarded as the best living movie actress, and most critics said she turned in her best performance ever as Thatcher.

Making a much-anticipated comeback as Oscar host after an eight-year absence, comedian Billy Crystal poked fun on Sunday night at his own reluctance to return and paid light-hearted tribute to leading nominees for the 84th annual Academy Awards.

In his ninth appearance as master of ceremonies, Crystal (63) did his best to keep the live broadcast moving with a mix of one-liners, song and the kind of comic set pieces that have enshrined him as one of the most beloved of Oscar emcees.

With a formal introduction by Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, who set the tone for a rather traditional film industry salute to the “magic of the movies,” the show opened with one of Crystal’s signature film montages, inserting the comedian into footage from the year’s biggest and most-honoured pictures. — Reuters

This year’s winners:

Best picture: The Artist

Best actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Best actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Best director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Best supporting actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best supporting actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best animated film: Rango

Best foreign language film: A Separation, Iran

Best original screenplay: Midnight in Paris, by Woody Allen

Best original score: The Artist, Ludovic Bource

Best song: Man or Muppet from The Muppets, music and lyric by Bret McKenzie

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