Sunday, January 25, 2009

Slumdog Gajillionaire

Last night Slumdog Millionaire won the PGA Award. Who knew that golfers would love it so much? ;) I kid, that's the Producer's Guild of America one of the many film guilds that people think have the exact same membership as Oscar. Pssst, they don't. The PGA has almost 4000 members and there are under 500 in the Academy's corresponding branch. In the past 10 years the Producers have agreed with Oscar's selection of Best Picture exactly 50% of the time. This'll be another agreement.

thanks to TFE reader Michael for this "I was there" photo

For Slumdog Millionaire is no little underdog movie but the juggernaut. Perhaps that's why perceptions of the movie have become so skewered in both positive and negative ways. [editor's note: speaking of which, here's a fairly balanced piece on what Slumdog is and what is isn't -- and why it's gotten out of hand in both directions. Here's another piece that disagrees, saying the film's depiction of India is not fantasy but reality]. The Danny Boyle 'feel good' picture is also the second biggest box office grosser in the race (after Benjamin Button) which is usually a strong position to be in statistically.

Crowds continue to cheer for Slumdog, which is now big box office, too

I fear that there's no interesting "who will win?" scenarios left beyond maybe Best Actor and we're in for a dull preordained ceremony. We knew that Jamal was going to get the girl (Latika) and we know which movie is going to win. But then, the public at large loves it when the outcome is set ahead of time. I've never understood this at all -- I don't have that typical gene anywhere (freak!) preferring stories wherein it feels like the plot might swerve off into any direction whatsoever -- but it's a very well documented thing, from the success of trailers which tell you endings and twists, to the appeal of destiny stories like Slumdog, to Oscar ceremonies themselves which can get an uptick in ratings when there's an obvious sweeper in the Kodak.

I'll be live blogging the SAG Awards tonight right here. Will Slumdog's mini multiple Jamals and Latikas win this prize, too? Stay tuned.


Lucas Dantas said...

gonna watch this one today. but i'm already suspicious about it. not that i'm exclusively indie or crap but when a movie starts to get so much attention in the box office i tend to suspect if it's only the hype or its actual quality. so far i've read only divisive reviews [for me], saying it's good but not the masterpiece people are shouting it is. in any case, from all the oscar buzz-ed movies this is the one i'm least excited to watch. maybe i'll be surprised.

John said...

I gotta say Nat, I don't even think Best Actor is going to be a tossup-Rourke's got the big momentum, and Penn already has won (and they've been stingy lately about giving out second trophies-only 3 this decade). I think, if there's anywhere a surprise could be pulled off, it's in Supporting Actress, that is assuming Kate Winslet pulls off the SAG tonight. I still Penelope's got it locked up, but she'll have little precursor support going into the night, meaning that Davis might have a slight shot. They clearly liked that movie a lot, considering the four acting nominations.

Peter said...

I think Actress is much more of a tossup between Winslet and Hathaway than Actor is. As John says, Rourke clearly has big mo.

The others are total snoozers though. That said, at least all the likely winners seem pretty deserving.

Anonymous said...

I sort of promised myself that I wouldn't get on my Meryl Streep bandwagon again, but do you honestly think there's no way she can win best actress at the AMPAS? So many people still seem to think it's a possibillty!

Anonymous said...

Milk should so win best ensemble...

Anonymous said...

I saw Slumdog a second time, and there were audience members who weren't sure he was going to win (I saw one lady completely worried during the run for the phone). And I think that's why it's going to win. It's utterly safe, but with the veneer of realism/danger

I like the first piece you linked to. Watching Slumdog for from the little film that could to the little film that will has been incredibly exciting. I don't know if it'll overtake CCoBM, but it'll get close to that 100 million dollar barrier, which is quite an achievement.


re: Penn vs Rourke

Depends on who wins SAG. Penn hasn't won here before, despite a couple nods. And The Wrestler underperformed at the oscars - no writing, song, directing. Milk matched and exceeded recent expectations. I think it'll stay a two man race.

Also, another person described it thus: Penn's is the work of a chameleon. Rourke's performance is in a role he was born to play. She felt that tilts it to Rourke. I feel that tilts it to Penn, because they love the big, obvious changes as opposed to the lived in work/fusion (especially for actresses, but for actors too. And if you're able to combine the two.... well, then you're Daniel Day Lewis).

Again, I haven't seen either. I'm a bad person.


my god ARKAAAN. get to the cinema. ;) both movies are fantastic.

Anonymous said...

SLUMDOG is a good movie, and definitely deserves to be nominated. I'm just really surprised that this film resonates with people as a "feel good" movie. There's a lot of darkness here as well.

While SLUMDOG is not my choice for Best Picture - that would be THE WRESTLER - I sure hope it wins rather than sentimental and overrated garbage like BENJAMIN BUTTON.

James Colon said...

Totally off topic, how does THE READER get nominated for Best Picture on Thursday, and then the next day, its playing in 50 LESS theaters than it was before?

Anonymous said...

Well maybe NOW how Slumdog Millionaire ends is predictable with all the talk about love and destiny, but my friends and I (who saw it the first two weeks in came out in NYC i.e. before all the hype) honestly did NOT know how it was goign to end.

In my original review of the film I said it was the type of film that could've ended in tragedy or a big Bollywood number. And thank God it was the latter.

So again it may seem obvious now, but that's due to all the marketing and whatnot.

As for woodstock, I don't usually trust reviews that uses other people's perception of a film to review the film. This is why I usually don't trust reviews written long after the movie is released since they are usually influenced by other things than the movie itself.

Catherine said...

I'll be here later on for the SAGs, looking forward to your commentary!

But I hope to sweet Jesus there's a possiblity for a shake-up in Best Actress. I'm just back from Rachel Getting Married, see. And while I like Kate Winslet fine and admired/liked The Reader, I can't support anyone but Hathaway taking that trophy. L'chaim!

Anonymous said...

@James Colon

Nominations usually come out Tuesday morning giving the studious plenty of time to get their film into more theaters for the upcoming weekend depending on how well they do with the nominations.

This year they came out on Thursday because of the Inauguration and they didn't have the time. So the film that were the likely nominees had theater increases. Like Revolutionary Road was one movie that definitely was going to wide today in hopes of capitalizing on the noms. Didn't work out that way though.

The Reader will probably increase next week as well as the other BP nominees though Frost/Nixon isn't really catching on boxoffice wise.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

I don't get why no one is predicting "Slumdog Millionaire" to win best ensemble tonight. If the Screen Actors Guild was myopic enough to even nominate the cast from this movie, aren't all bets kind of off?

Anonymous said...

What's the consensus on the SAGS tonight? Does Doubt win ensemble? Does Winslet go 2 for 2 again? I'm hopping that either Hathaway or Cruz can get a win tonight.

Anonymous said...

Dev Patel and Freida Pinto getting the SAG awards over actors such as Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella etc. would be so humiliating. Perish the thought!

Anonymous said...

I think SAG will go to "Milk"'s ensemble because I still can't believe that they don't see a HUGE gap between "Milk" and the rest of the nominees ("Frost/Nixon" aside, but it does not really care about acting in an ensemble that much).

My winner predictions:
- Streep (because her only win is "Angels in America")
- Penn - obvious choice (never won as well)
- Ledger
- Winslet (she has one, but I think that everyone is ready to forget it in order to make everyone understood that they want her to win the Oscar).

And I think Oscar goes to Kate even if she loses both SAGs and both BAFTAs.

Michael Parsons said...


Does it matter any more:

The winners will be
Ensemble - Slumdog
Actor - Pitt
Actress - Jolie
Sup Actor - Patel
Sup Actress - Adams


Sally Belle said...

I have no idea what will happen tonight. This is the only awards that Slumdog has a chance of losing.

I can't pull for Doubt as the acting was like a banana cream pie being pushed into my face.

I hope Milk wins for ensemble and I think Best Actor is probably going to Penn.

Love Irrfan Kahn...he went home to see his mom for the Kite Festival rather then to the Golden Globes! He's my hero!

Anonymous said...

1) I think Winslet will get the supporting award.

2) I saw Button. Didn't like it that much but I loved Henson.


Unknown said...

Yeah, I can't believe how quickly these awards look like mostly locks. Even a month ago, I thought every big-6 race except supp'tor was pretty wide open, but i think moving Winslet's "Reader" into lead pretty much sewed up best actress races, and that "Slumdog" is consolidating Pic and Dir leads now that "Knight" didn't shake things up by making the finals. What a buzzkill those nominations turned out to be.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

Grr...SAGs or "Big Love"? Is anyone else having this dilemma?

Pablete said...

"Slumdog Millionaire" will win ensemble.

Anonymous said...

The Academy somehow managed to make this yet another boring predictable year. If I hear one more person fawning over Slumdog Millionaire, I think I'll shoot myself. Watch it people, it's gonna hurt in the morning.

Sally Belle said...

Shawn...don't you think Slumdog ended in tragedy AND a big Bollywood number?

See, it's one of my gripes about the film...Salim in the bathtub...and then Jai Ho!!

Danny Boyle's masterpiece is still "Trainspotting".

Slumdog is still in the "Millions" category for me.
It was good.

Anonymous said...

Canj anyone tell me when it starts? (it would help if it was expressed in a way like "in 5 hours" and not in an absolute way)



it starts at 7 central time.

so 8 o'clock east coast i believe. they replay it as soon as it ends at 10 usually (on tnt)

Anonymous said...

@ Cristhian: Slumdog Millionaire my favorite film of the year! Do you need a gun?

@ Sally Belle: Well actually it's Salim in the bathrub, then the Millionaire result, then the reunion, THEN Jai Ho. I do love Trainspotting though.

@ Anonymous: In four hours. It starts 8PM EST.

changetheworld360 said...

Looking forward to the live-blogging as always!
I know this is old news, but I finally saw Revolutionary Road and needed to vent. How the hell was Brad Pitt better than Leo DiCaprio?? Not only AMPAS but every precursor with the exception of the Globes seemed to think that. It baffles me. Brad's performance doesn't even come close to the level of DiCaprio, Jenkins, Penn, Rourke, Langella, etc., and yet he seemed to get kind of a "free ride" from all the precursors b/c of all the BB love. [/rant]

Anonymous said...

What the hell happened to the supp actress poll? Last time I saw, Adams was 4th with only, maybe, 8%. Now she's first! Adams's fansite or something? Or am I seeing wrong?

Catherine said...

Yeah, Towelie, a big doubleyoo-tee-eff there. I voted for Marisa this morning and I think Cruz was in the lead at that point.

Glenn said...

I'm hoping Milk can win Best Ensemble and then much like Crash take the Oscar by surprise. Saw Milk last night and it was faantastic. Penn was great and I think he'll win the Oscar (and the SAG) because there aren't too many major categories to reward the film, which they clearly liked, if my SAG-Ensemble-Oscar hope doesn't pan out.

In regards to Pitt sliding in effortlessly somehow, I think it's just because they wanted him in there and Leonardo already has three nominations.

Remember when everyone thought Kate and Leo would both win for Rev Road. Aww.

Anonymous said...

I know at least for me, it's not that I love pre-ordained winners, but juggernauts usually happen for a reason (widespread support), and I respect that. I think that people who just want surprises just to have surprises and upsets are only that way b/c they follow the Oscars season so religiously that they basically get bored by the final stretch. I don't mind that Helen Mirren won 40 some awards in her run, or the "Slumdog" craze now. Good for them.

rosengje said...

I think Milk is the biggest threat to Slumdog's presumed victory. While the Golden Globes snub definitely hurt its momentum, it has a great combination of acclaimed performances, production values, and political relevancy that I could see many voters finding appealing.

Anonymous said...

Nate, you might be correct about the public liking preordained outcomes but I don't think pointing to Slumdog's path to Oscar proves it. Most people I know don't follow the race as close as we do and have no idea that Slumdog is the unquestioned favorite. Just today, a friend told me that she hoped it would win but doubted it because she thought it was too small of a film. Most people could care less about guild wins and have no idea what precursors mean anything.


Anonymous said...

A least the PGA gave "MILK" that special (Kramer?) award.

Anonymous said...

I can't think of any other place to say this, but I'd like to petition Nathaniel to remove the "Biopic" designation from Frost/Nixon. A Biopic is a movie that tells someone's life story, not all films that include real life characters are biopics. The movie focuses on a very brief period (a few months) of its characters' life. And for that matter, if it is a biopic, who is the subject? Frost of Nixon? I'd argue they both get equal play as protagonist and neither one of them meets the usual biopic-lead template, as we don't see them grow up, grow old, or grow into alcoholism or domestic strife.

I understand that, according to the poll, I'm in the extreme minority of people who liked F/N above all others in the Picture category, and I think a lot of the malaise is tied up in the "just another biopic" line. It's not a biopic. Milk is a biopic and both Slumdog Millionaire, Benjamin Button, and The Reader are de-facto biopics in that while their subjects are fictional they are essentially life-stories with the same formulae and tools. Flashbacks. Life lessons. Coming-of-age subplots. You name it. Their bio-pics in the same way that my imaginary best friend is my soulmate.

So, please, Nathaniel. Make me happy. Change the genre listing on Frost/Nixon's Best Picture page from Biopic to Historical. I love the site and have been making daily visits for months now. But everytime I see that listing, it makes me cringe. Because Frost/Nixon is not a biopic.

And, while I'm at it, neither was "Capote".

Continued best,


Michael B. said...

I took that PGA Picture...

It was an awesome night. Met Dustin Lance Black, Dev Patel and Freida Pinto...