“People keep telling me what a good idea it was to make this movie, but the truth is that it was a bad idea, a very bad idea,” Michel Hazanavicius says on the phone from Los Angeles, a chipper lilt to his warm French accent. “I don’t even know if ‘idea’ is the word – it was more of a desire, something I needed to discover. There’s a difference. If it had been just an idea, it’d have been too far out of the market to pursue.”
The “bad idea” he’s is speaking of, of course, is “The Artist,” the director’s playful ode to classic Hollywood moviemaking that has beguiled critics and festival audiences on assorted shores, turned the head of Harvey Weinstein, scooped an award at Cannes and now finds itself among the frontrunners for this year’s Academy Awards. All this despite the minor obstacles of being French-made and in black and white. Oh, and silent. If Hazanavicius sounds like he can’t quite believe his luck, a lot of industry pundits are with him.