Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

‘Slum’-ming it at the Oscars: ‘Millionaire’ goes for win

On the one-year anniversary of Heath Ledger’s death, the Oscar nominations were announced, with a few surprises and a posthumous nomination for Ledger’s tour-de-force performance in the box office phenomenon “The Dark Knight,” but no nomination for the film itself or director Christopher Nolan.  

Out of the films nominated for Best Picture, only the Brad Pitt-David Fincher collaboration “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” has grossed over $100 million. The other nominees for Best Picture, which are “Milk,” “Frost/Nixon” and “The Reader,” grossed less than $50 million. Those films will be expanding in theaters due to the publicity from the nominations.  

As usual, a small indie critical darling steals a Best Picture nomination –– but this year’s underdog is in fact the frontrunner. Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” is the vibrant tale of a boy from the slums of Mumbai who goes on the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” to find his long-lost love. The film is laden with subtitles and filmed on location in India and yet it has captured the heart of Americans (and critics –– it’s won almost all the major precursor awards already and doesn’t show signs of stopping). With an astounding 10 nominations, the most after “Benjamin Button,” including director, screenplay, and two song nominations (including one by Sri-Lankan alternative hip-hop singer M.I.A.), “Slumdog Millionaire” seems unstoppable at this point. An inspiring tale about the power of perseverance and love as well as a tribute to Mumbai, the changing climate of hope after Obama’s election will probably propel this underdog to the podium on February 22.  

The beloved Kate Winslet, who is the youngest actress to earn five nominations, earned her sixth nomination for “The Reader,” a Holocaust drama about a man who discovers that his former lover was an SS guard. Despite missing out on major precursor guild awards and lukewarm critical response,   it made a last minute showing with five nominations, including Director and Adapted Screenplay, proving that Holocaust movies always catch the Academy’s eye (see “Schindler’s List” or “The Pianist”). However, none of the other nominees, including “The Reader” and “Milk,” will be able to overtake “Slumdog Millionaire” for Best Picture, which has the underdog factor, a long overdue director and a cast/crew who are genuinely grateful for every award they receive.  

In the other acting categories, there’s a mix of great, perennial nominees like Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, up-and-coming actors like Taraji P. Henson (Benjamin Button) and hardworking character actors who haven’t been nominated before, like Richard Jenkins (The Visitor).  

This was also the year of the comebacks. Robert Downey Jr. (whose last nomination was back in 1993) earned a supporting actor nod for the comedy “Tropic Thunder,” for his role as an Australian method actor who dons blackface to play a black military sergeant. Mickey Rourke also made a spectacular comeback as a wrestler past his prime in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler,” earning his first Oscar nomination ever.  

This year’s nominees haven’t made a lot of money, continuing the Academy’s trend of nominating films that are Oscar bait or just plain weird (like “No Country for Old Men” or “There Will Be Blood”), and snubbing critically and publicly acclaimed films like “Wall-E” and “The Dark Knight.” However, the Academy is trying to increase ratings by choosing actor Hugh Jackman (who also sings and dances quite well) to host. And of course, the Oscars still remain a way for Hollywood to reward the best, regardless of public appeal.  

For a full list of nominations, visit Oscar.com.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *