Photo Credit: Alex Bailey/Courtesy of Pathe Productions Ltd;The Weinstein Company
The Artist may be a silent movie, but it made a big statement on Sunday night when it swept the British Academy Film Awards. The nostalgic French comedy walked away with seven BAFTA statuettes, including best film, best actor for Jean Dujardin and best director for Michael Hazanavicius.
"Thank you again, I'm so proud that Brad Pitt pronounced my name so well," said Hazanavicius, accepting his best director award from the Moneyball star.
Dujardin, one of the year's breakout stars, seemed shocked by his win, but managed a joke when he "quoted" fellow silent-film star Buster Keaton in his acceptance speech.
In the fiercely competitive category of best actress, Meryl Streep won over My Week with Marilyn's Michelle Williams, The Help's Viola Davis, We Need to Talk About Kevin's Tilda Swinton and The Artist's Berenice Bejo. The Iron Lady star was so excited to accept her award from Colin Firth that she tripped over herself -- literally -- and lost one of her Jimmy Choo heels! (Watch the video below.)
"Half of me is Streep and the other half is Wilkinson from Lincolnshire so I come by it honestly, this part," declared Meryl (referring to her ancestry in the English town where Margaret Thatcher was born).
Octavia Spencer, a reliable favorite this awards season, walked away with the best supporting actress BAFTA for The Help.
"The attention is overwhelming," said Spencer after the ceremony. "I like to fly under the radar and not wear so much makeup or pantyhose and shoes. So I could do with a little less attention!"
Among the other films honored on Sunday night were Rango (best animated film), The Skin I Live In (best foreign film) and Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy (outstanding British film).
While the BAFTAs honor only films released in the U.K., they have been given credit for helping smaller underdog films achieve success.
"It makes a big difference now and it helps films, particularly smaller films like We Need to Talk About Kevin," George Clooney, nominated twice this year, said on the red carpet. "If they get awards nominations they continue to make films like that."
In recent years, the BAFTAs have also been seen as a predictor of the Academy Awards, particularly in the best picture category. (Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech snagged both honors in 2010 and 2011, respectively). In other words, things are looking good for The Artist. By the end of this awards season, we'll all be able to pronounce Michel Hazanavicius's name!