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    Director Steve McQueen Calls Kanye West an "Artistic Genius"—and That Was Before His Epic Proposal

    Has Steve McQueen found a new muse?

    The 12 Years a Slave director was hanging out with Kanye West last night at the 17th Hollywood Film Awards before the rapper jetted up to San Francisco to propose to Kim Kardashianand while the filmmaker didn't let on that he knew anything about what West would be doing just a few hours later, he did tell E! News at the event that he considers the Yeezus artist to be an "artistic genius."

    Revealing that they met "through circumstances" when West checked out an art show of McQueen's in Basel, Switzerland, he told us that West presenting him with his award—Breakout Director for 12 Years a Slave—was "pretty amazing."

    PHOTOS: Kim & Kanye's engagement party

    "He's great, he's an artistic genius," McQueen gushed about West—the second time he used the term "artistic genius" during our chat.

    "He is," McQueen insisted. "I'm not just saying it to make him look better because he's been on top for 10 years. He's been hittin' the ball out of the park for the last 10 years with his music. He's an amazing guy to talk to and to converse with."

    OK, so chances are that McQueen didn't know that West was about to fly to San Francisco to pop the question at an actual ballpark—but his use of metaphor was quite the coincidence!

    Asked if his next step would be directing one of Yeezy's music videos or casting him in one of his films, the British director said, "It's about friendship first and we'll see where it goes from there."

    West, meanwhile, was the night's first presenter (well, duh, he had somewhere to be right after!).

    "L.A., what's up?" he began. "It's my pleasure to present Breakout Director to an artist I'm proud to call my friend and someone I have great respect for. I've always admired Steve's work—I'm going off teleprompter so y'all might as well stop it."

    West also talked about seeing McQueen's video art in San Francisco, saying, "And for this guy to understand the sensibilities and to be respected in that art world and to be able to do actual high art, and also understand the sensibilitie of storytelling, and to mix those two worlds, is an incredible statement for the artists of our new generation."

    Sounds like a couple of pals who really get each other.

    For more starry scoop from the Hollywood Film Awards—and the complete story on Kim & Kanye's engagementtune into E! News tonight at 7 p.m. & 11:30 p.m.

    PHOTOS: Stars at the 17th Hollywood Film Awards

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