The big winner from this month’s Golden Globes staked a significant claim to Oscar glory Thursday morning (January 22).
“Slumdog Millionaire,” the story of a destitute Indian boy named Jamal struggling to survive and locate the lost love of his life, garnered 10 Oscar nominations , including nods for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Score. The accomplishment comes on the heels of four Globe wins for the film. While “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” secured more total Oscar nominations (13), “Slumdog” must be considered a favorite heading into the ceremony at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre on Sunday, February 22.
In both the Best Picture and Best Director categories, “Slumdog” faces almost the exact same foes — “Benjamin Button,” “Frost/Nixon,” “The Reader” — it triumphed over at the Globes (the only divergence in both cases is that “Milk” has taken over for “Revolutionary Road”). Of course, good fortune at the Globes is no sure indication of any victories at the Oscars.
Among the other “Slumdog” nominations were selections for Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song and Adapted Screenplay.
With a script from the writer of “The Full Monty,” a director who has been critically praised but never entered into mainstream awards-season chatter and a story planted firmly in Indian history and culture, “Slumdog” seemed like anything but a surefire hit for Warner Bros. Yet the film has established itself as this year’s Cinderella story, and while that distinction is often applied as much to mock a movie (“Juno,” anyone?) as it is to praise it (how about “Little Miss Sunshine”?), “Slumdog” has come in for almost universal acclaim.
Director Danny Boyle first made a name for himself with the intense, surreal heroin drama “Trainspotting” and went on to deliver both disappointments (Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle “The Beach”) and surprises (terrifying zombie fest “28 Days Later”). But all of his films — even 2007’s confounding “Sunshine” — have been riveting. With “Slumdog,” Boyle found the perfect story to meet his kinetic visual style, and Academy voters took note.
For all the praise that has been showered on the drama, its actors have been conspicuously ignored by awards shows. Boyle has become known for breaking new, strong male actors (Ewan McGregor in “Trainspotting,” Cillian Murphy in “28 Days”), and Dev Patel (BBC’s “Skins”), who plays the grownup Jamal, follows in that same tradition. His sweaty, stoic performance competing on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and explaining to a police inspector how a poor kid from Mumbai can even know the quiz-show answers more than holds up when compared to earlier Boyle-directed roles. Similarly strong performances overlooked by awards voters include those by Anil Kapoor (the game-show host) and Irrfan Khan (the police inspector).
While the acting is undoubtedly first-rate, and Boyle’s whip-fast pace provides a satisfying sense of chaotic energy, perhaps the film’s driving force is its score. Credit goes to Indian music legend A.R. Rahman, who locked in an Oscar nod for Best Original Score and two for Best Original Song, including the infectious tune “O Saya,” performed by M.I.A.
“I am overjoyed by this nomination and deeply grateful that the Academy has embraced the music of this film,” Rahman said after learning of the nominations. ” ’Slumdog Millionaire’ has paid magical dividends for so many people around the globe.”
The Boyle/Rahman tandem proved to be highly successful, but it was something of a last-minute endeavor. Late last year, Rahman told MTV News that Boyle was already filming in India when the director called and asked if the musician would like to score “Slumdog.” Rahman said that usually the first thing people ask him is, “Can you get an Oscar for us? Can you give us heaven?”
Rahman never revealed what his typical answer is, but in this case, he just might deliver on that near-impossible request.
Will it be a curious night for “Benjamin Button”? Can “Slumdog Millionaire” rise out of obscurity to grab Oscar gold? Will Brad Pitt surprise leading contenders Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn? The MTV Movies team has the Academy Awards covered every which way, with news, interviews, photos and more. Check out a complete list of the Oscar nominees here and keep it locked on MTVNews.com until the statues are handed out on February 22.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Slumdog Millionaire.”
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