Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

'Slumdog Millionaire' scores 8 Oscars - 02/22/2009 11:41:25 PM MST.

"Slumdog Millionaire" completed its improbable journey from the poverty of Mumbai to Oscar gold Sunday night, winning eight Academy Awards including Best Picture.

The cross-cultural drama, about a Mumbai teen whose hard-knock life provides the answers he needs to succeed on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?," was the toast of the night at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.

"Slumdog" producer Christian Colson accepted the Best Picture Oscar amid dozens of cast and crew members, most of them flown in from India. "As you can see, our film was a collaboration between hundreds of people," Colson said.

In their acceptance speeches, both Colson and Danny Boyle, who won the Oscar for Best Director, praised the people of Mumbai. "They dwarf even this guy," Boyle said, pointing to his statuette.

Besides the Oscars for Best Picture and director, "Slumdog Millionaire" won awards for Simon Beaufoy's adapted screenplay and A.R. Rahman's Bollywood-inflected score and original song, as well as editing, cinematography and sound mixing.

"Milk," the moving biography of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office, won two major awards -- for its original screenplay and for Sean Penn's soulful portrayal of Milk.

"You commie homo-loving sons-of-guns," Penn said mockingly to the Kodak audience. Penn, in a speech that included mentions of President Barack Obama and fellow nominee Mickey Rourke, admonished those who voted to ban gay marriage in California last November.

"We've got to have equal rights for everyone," Penn said.

"Milk" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, in his acceptance speech, recalled growing up gay in a Mormon family when he first heard about Milk's accomplishments. "It gave me the hope to live my life," Black said. "It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married."

Kate Winslet won Best Actress for her portrayal of a woman who seduces a teen -- and is later put on trial for her role as a Nazi concentration-camp guard -- in "The Reader."

Winslet said she had practiced some version of her Oscar speech for years. "I was 8 years old, staring into the bathroom mirror, and this [statuette] would be a shampoo bottle," Winslet said. "Well, it's not a shampoo bottle now."

Awards for supporting performances went to Penelope Cruz, playing an unstable lover in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," and the late Heath Ledger's manic turn as Batman's archnemesis, The Joker, in "The Dark Knight."

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," the story of a man born old and aging backward, went into Oscar night with a leading 13 nominations. It left with three wins, for art direction, visual effects and make-up.

On a night when most of the award winners were predictable, the surprises came from the ceremony itself. First-time producers Laurence Mark and Bill Condon pulled out some fascinating surprises in an exhilarating show.

Host Hugh Jackman led a show filled with musical numbers -- including an off-the-wall medley paired with Beyonce Knowles -- and light on extraneous movie-clip montages. The acting nominees were instead toasted, and occasionally roasted, by actors who had won in past years. Other categories were cleverly grouped to depict the steps necessary to make a movie, starting with the screenplay, then craftspeople, then post-production, and so on.

The night's winners:

• Slumdog Millionaire - 8 oscars
• The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 3 oscars
• Milk - 2 oscars
• The Dark Knight - 2 oscars
• The Reader - 1 oscar
• WALL-E - 1 oscar
• Vicky Cristina Barcelona - 1 oscar
• The Duchess - 1 oscar
• La Maison en Petits Cubes - 1 oscar
• Smile Pinki - 1 oscar
• Okuribito - 1 oscar
• Man on Wire - 1 oscar
• Spielzeugland - 1 oscar

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