Jan 09

Reasons Why Slumdog Millionaire May Win The Oscar

FT7 comments • 493 views

Bear in mind that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is made up of a ragbag of old people and industry professionals. What does this superficially hip, nearly MTV edited, earsplitting, scatalogically* partial subtitled film got over the other contenders. The main argument may be that the other four nominees are worthy but not exactly demanding: biopics or based on source material with little need of a cinematic treatment (hmm, another German prison cell…) But there are plenty of good reasons why Slumdog Millionaire may triumph. Very few are to do with the quality of the film. Here’s how:

a) In the old days the movies HATED television and HATED films about television. This has softened with the barriers being broken down between visual media, and massive cross-ownership of independent film production companies. Even so whilst SM shows the unifying cultural power of television, it also shows it as venal, corrupt and in the end not worthy of its self reflected adulation.

b) That said, isn’t it funny to see a TV show you know really well (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire) in a foreign setting. Same but different. And old people really like quiz shows.

c) Slumdog Millionaire fits nicely the Academy’s occasional tendency to look abroad. Especially when those visions of the other are colourful, romantic, predominantly in English , filmed by a Westerner and eventually rather comforting. The “feelgood” epithet attached to SM may seem contradictory bearing in mind the brutal horrors depicted in the film but is the sign of excellent audience manipulation. So you come out knowing you have seen into a different world, but one where love triumphs and we all live happily every after. Unless you are unfortunate not to be the star in the film in which case you might end up with deliberate blinding with a spoon.


e) The film has no highly paid stars. As we head into the belly of recession, AMPAS may well want to flag up to its members that wasting money of Angelina Jolie’s ten million quid bee-stung lips is not the only way to have a hit movie.

f) They want to be seen to care about the rest of the world, especially if they care about Hollywood. Annoyed that Bollywood has a big turnover, they see Slumdog Millionaire as a primer to how to tap that market without compromising western sensibilities**.

f) They are all secretly MIA / Eastenders fans both of which are surprisingly prominent in the film.

*Another Danny Boyle film where the protagonists takes a dive in a toilet. One might suggest OBSESSION.

**Like having a lead character jump into shit.


  1. 1
    Matthew on 26 Jan 2009 #

    Of the two Best Picture noms I’ve seen, I like Slumdog better than Benjamin Button. Dunno, after reminding myself of the other nominees it seems like Election ’08 fever may have influenced the choices. Will increased interest in all things political thanks to Obamania propel Milk or Frost/Nixon to a win? Or will a nation basking in the warm glow of Obamitude see fit to let something as feelgood as SM take the statue? EXCITING TIMES.

  2. 2
    Mark on 31 Jan 2009 #

    Do people read this crap?

  3. 3
    Matthew on 2 Feb 2009 #

    Not only do I read it, apparently I think about it furiously when I’m offline too. Should I be worried for my sanity? Probably.

    I’ve decided that all my Oscar money is on Milk, which I haven’t even seen yet, but still. In the wake of Proposition 8 it is the correct political choice, and I’m confident that Oscar voters, who like nothing better than movies where sane men pretend to be mentally ill, will see no significant difference between this and a straight man pretending to be a raving homo.

  4. 4
    Pete Baran on 2 Feb 2009 #

    Well you’ll find out tomorrow why it might win (though your reasons above come very close to mine).

  5. 5
    Mark M on 4 Feb 2009 #

    Purely incidentally, because I was thinking about it, has anyone pointed out that the closest thing in the Boyle back catalogue to an actual Bollywood movie is A Life Less Ordinary?

  6. 6
    Pete on 5 Feb 2009 #

    Certainly its the only film where his love of musicals comes through, though I am a bit worried about his suggestion that this is what his next film will be. The dance sequence at the end of Slumdog is lacklustre and suffers from terminal cast embarrassment, and lack of confidence in just filming a dance scene. He certainly knows how to use a soundtrack to drive his films, but I am not so sure about singing and dancing.

    (Mind you, having Ewan MacGregor as one of the singers previously certainly didn’t help, nor did a claymation ending either).

  7. 7
    Investment in Property on 9 Oct 2009 #

    Slumdog is a very good film, great to see stuff that is different, and all so real. A very good watch for any move fan.

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