The silent French movie The Artist swept aside the competition at the BaftaS in London's Covent Garden on Sunday evening (February 12, 2012), essentially putting to bed any doubts it would face stiff competition for the Best Picture prize at the Oscars later this month.
Only Martin Scorsese's Hugo and Alexander Payne's The Descendants could realistically beat The Artist to the award in Hollywood, but neither performed well at the BaftaS, and even French star Jean Dujardin pipped the heavily fancied George Clooney to the BAFTA for Best Actor. Director Michael Hazanavicius said, "The format is something really special. The more people can get involved in the storytelling process the better it is", adding, "Merci beaucoup". Director Scorsese, who picked up the BaftaS highest accolade the 'Fellowship', was also complementary of silent flick, saying, "The Artist is a film I admire greatly. It is charming". The Artist also picked up awards for music, costume design, cinematography and original screenplay, with Hazanavicius joking, "I am very surprised because many people thought there was no script because there was no dialogue.So English people are very clever".
However, it was Dujardin's acting prize that was the biggest surprise of the night, with Clooney's role in The Descendants perhaps the more acclaimed of the two performances. Accepting his prize, the French actor told the star-studded audience, "I am very proud to receive this award from the country of Sir Laurence Olivier, William Webb Ellis and Benny Hill".