Jean Dujardin became the first Frenchman ever to win the Best Leading Actor award.
Best Original Score and Best Costume Design also went to The Artist, making a total of five Oscars, the most of any film this year, along with Martin Scorsese’s Hugo.
In his acceptance speech, Jean Dujardin said to his mostly American audience “I love your country”. Overwhelmed with excitement and joy, he swore in French, and excused himself for the expletive later, saying in English “I’d like to apologise for that, however, that said, it did come from the heart and was absolutely spontaneous.”
He told journalists afterwards that he might pursue Hollywood projects if they were offered but “I’ll never be an American actor. Dream on.”
Thomas Langmann, who produced the film, and is the son of one of French cinema’s great directors, Claude Berri, said of the film “You need luck in life....you need talent, that’s Michel Hazanavicius; you need grace, that’s Bérénice Bojo and you need magic, that’s Jean Dujardin. And you need Oscars, America, and France.”
The awards ceremony had an uncharacteristically French background. As well as The Artist, two films which were set in Paris won awards.
Woody Allen took the award for Best Original Screenplay for his film Midnight in Paris, while Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, also set in Paris, won 5 oscars, including Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.
Meryl Streep won Best Leading Actress, and received a standing ovation for her astonishing performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. It was her third oscar, though she has been nominated a record 17 times.