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February 22, 2009

'Slumdog' feels the love

84979664 It's been an extraordinary journey indeed.

No stars, no money, producer Christian Colson said, and eventually no distributor. But Warner Bros. did the right thing, as Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle said a few minutes ago, and handed the Mumbai-set rags-to-riches love story over to a loving home, indie powerhouse Fox Searchlight.

That changing of the guard made all the difference in the world. It meant a wide release and an intuitive marketing program for a movie that could've ended up going straight to DVD.

And now "Slumdog Millionaire" wins best picture, becoming the most heavily decorated Little Movie That Could. It's a timeless piece of cinema, beloved by most everyone who sees it. That's the very definition of an Oscar winner, or it should be.


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Hugh Jackman: GREAT!
Acting awards presentations: GREAT!
Philip Petit for Man On Wire: GREAT!
No speech by Academy prez: GREAT!
Reciting the accounting rules during closing credits: GREAT!

So here's my beef: the show is still too long!

The truth is someone in the Oscar show editing room is going to have to drown some kittens if they really want me to have faith in the live show. They may find their time-wasting montages precious and irresistible but I DON'T! And, seriously, a pink slip to the person responsible for including a snippet of "Nights of Rodanthe" in ANY portion of an OSCAR BROADCAST. Quickly, my smelling salts!

Another STRONG recommendation: either cut the show to UNDER three hours or start the damn thing earlier. Think of the Superbowl people! That baby goes on forever -- forever! -- yet viewers actually get to see the end of the game, regardless of their time zone, because the action begins at a realistic hour. Perhaps people would be willing to tune in for nearly four hours if the Oscar kickoff occurred in time to allow east coasters a peek at the top honors. As it is, I'm sure my mom passed out somewhere around Best Adapted Screenplay.

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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

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  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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