LOS ANGELES – Michel Hazanavicius has won the Academy Award for directing for his silent film “The Artist.”

Claiming Hollywood’s top-filmmaking honour Sunday completes Hazanavicius’ sudden rise from popular movie-maker back home in France to internationally celebrated director.

The supporting-actor prize Sunday went to “Beginners” co-star Christopher Plummer, who became the oldest acting winner ever at 82. Veteran bit player Octavia Spencer earned the supporting-actress prize for her breakout role in “The Help.”

Hazanavicius had come in as the favourite after winning at the Directors Guild of America Awards, whose recipient almost always goes on to claim the Oscar.

But his win remained uncertain given the lineup of established filmmakers he was up against: past winners and nominees Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Terrence Malick and Alexander Payne.