“And my final answer is A: Slumdog Millionaire”

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight

I’ve never seen anything like Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire”; that it happens to be my favorite film of 2008 has a little bit to do with that, but it has a lot more to do with it’s palpable sense of excitement. That energy has spilled out into awards season, as the film has already picked up numerous awards and is heading towards Oscars with the intensity of it’s scripts finest moments in hopes of securing an award for it’s Best Picture nomination.

The big man on campus this year appears to be David Fincher’s irritatingly overrated “Benjamin Button”. Along with “Slumdog Millinoare”, the nominees are rounded out with “Frost/Nixon”, “Milk”, and “The Reader”.

The possible inclusion of the record breaking “The Dark Knight” was thought to be a surprise choice; now that everyone’s favorite movie is safely out of the way the race is very obviously between David and Goliath. All five films will garner numerous awards I’m sure, but pitting the low budget left field hit “Slumdog Millionaire” against the big budget attempted tearjerker “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is too tempting to pass up.

My disdain for “Button” isn’t severe, but it’s more than enough for me to even nominate it for Best Picture of the year, let alone want it to win. The Academy seems eager to shove Oscars into Fincher’s hands, where were they when he released “Zodiac”?

It would be far from shocking if “Button” won, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say I would much rather see the cast and creators of “Millionaire” up on that stage.

“Button’s” mistakes and my seemingly never ending praise for “Millionaire” are summed up in my original reviews, I was highly anticipating “Button” and mildly interested in “Millionaire”, those viewing experiences didn’t turn out the way I thought they would, but I’m fine with that. I tend to get excited about something fresh and new. Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” just grabbed me from the beginning. What I thought would bug me about the film, the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” framing device for example, only piqued my interest to the things I had no knowledge about whatsoever.

I wasn’t prepared for how harsh this film could be, but subsequently I was amazed at how much of a rush it was; there are scenes shot in the streets of Mumbai that Boyle supposedly shot on the fly. Set against A. R. Rahman’s livid score (highlights include DFA remix of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes, the gentle “Lakita’s Theme”, the pulsating “O…Saya” and the filthy dirge of “Gangsta Blues”) these races through city streets carry the intensity of a great action film.

Nearly ever other scene, whether bearing intensity or a moment of reflection, feels like a part of a great film. I don’t know if “Slumdog Millionaire” will win Best Picture. To be honest I haven’t’ seen “Synedoche, New York” or “Gran Torino” among a few others so I’m not even sure if it deserves to win. But I do know, that set against this years “Curious” juggernaut, that it’s the right choice to take home the Oscar.

Not just because it would make a good underdog story, though it would be fitting: coming from the slums of Bollywood to the million dollar stage of the Academy Awards.

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~ by rozco on February 4, 2009.

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