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.