Silence is golden as "The Artist" scoops 7 BAFTAs

Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:31pm EST
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By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) - Black-and-white turned to gold as silent movie "The Artist" won seven BAFTA awards including best film at a ceremony in London on Sunday, raising expectations of a strong showing at the Academy Awards.

Meryl Streep clinched the leading actress prize for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher both as a politician at the height of her power and as a frail elderly lady suffering from dementia, in "The Iron Lady."

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards are not always an accurate predictor of what is to come at the Oscars, but they are the most coveted film honors outside of the United States.

Streep, looking regal in a sparkling black gown with her hair piled high in an elaborate style, lost a shoe on her way up to the stage to collect her award.

"That couldn't be worse," she said, having recovered her shoe, to laughter and cheers from the audience at the Royal Opera House in the popular Covent Garden area of London.

Apart from Streep, the undisputed star of the night was The Artist, a French-made romance set in Hollywood in the 1920s and 30s. It had been nominated for 12 awards and walked away with the prizes for best film, leading actor, director, original screenplay, costumes, cinematography and music.

The film, which tells the story of a star of silent movies whose career is destroyed by the advent of "talkies," had already done well at the Golden Globes and now has further momentum ahead of Oscar night in two weeks.

"I'm so proud that Brad Pitt pronounced my name so well," said Michel Hazanavicius, the film's director, as he accepted his award from the Hollywood heart-throb.   Continued...

<p>Actress Meryl Streep from the film "The Iron Lady" arrives at the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California January 29, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>