Pride sweeps France over Oscar wins for "The Artist"

Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:54am EST
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By Alexandria Sage

PARIS (Reuters) - France was awash in Oscar celebrations Monday after "The Artist" won five Academy Awards including the first Best Actor win for a Frenchman, unleashing a wave of national pride.

Television stations played The Artist star Jean Dujardin's acceptance speech over and over, Le Monde's front page proclaimed "French triumph in Hollywood" over a photo of the actor raising his statuette in victory, while politicians on the campaign trail sought to capitalize on the excitement.

President Nicolas Sarkozy called Dujardin's performance "dazzling," while his Socialist rival for the presidency, Francois Hollande, said the five Oscars won by The Artist made the film a "legend of French cinema."

The Artist, a French tribute to Hollywood's silent era, clinched the coveted Best Film award, grabbed a Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius and also won for musical score and costume design as well as Dujardin's Best Actor.

"I've got the feeling of being in a hot bath and I don't really feel like getting out," Dujardin told RTL radio on Monday morning. "The pressure is going away and it's very, very pleasant."

In the run-up to the Oscars, satiric nightly news show "Le Petit Journal" presented recurring clips of "Jean vs. George (Clooney)," a spoof of over-hyped boxing matches in which images of the two rival nominees faced off amid theatrical music and special effects.

In an multi-page spread in Paris Match magazine last week, Dujardin's wife Alexandra Lamy -- who herself has three upcoming films -- said the behavior of people in France has changed since her husband was nominated for an Oscar.

"They encourage Jean, they want him to win for them, for France. You would think we were back in 1998, during the World Cup," she said.   Continued...