My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 48: Slumdog Millionaire (Best Picture Ranking)

Slumdog Millionaire won basically every award in sight during all the ceremonies leading up to the Academy Awards and so it was no surprise when it took home an astonishing 8 Oscars. And it’s not hard to see why this movie became such a phenomenon – it’s a moving story told in a very unique style and mixes heartwarming moments with shocking images.

In the middle of the movie is a young man named Jamal who is a contestant in the Indian version of Who wants to be a Millionaire? – and seems to know too many answers considering that he is a poor, uneducated man from the slums. Step by step it is revealed via flashbacks that he knows the answers because of certain events in his past and that he isn’t in the show to win any money – instead, he hopes that by appearing on TV, he will be able to reunite with Latika, the love of his life. Sounds all like a fairy tale and Slumdog Millionaire certainly is – it mixes the brutal realities of life in the Indian slums with the make-believe story of a poor man who, just by luck, is able to win a lot of money and the heart of the woman of his dreams.

The biggest success of Slumdog Millionaire is that it was able to make this fairytale-like atmosphere believable. The fact that Jamal can answer all the questions because of incidents in his part might be a bit exaggerated but it’s acceptable (even though it does stretch credibility a bit too much that the questions fit perfectly to his life in chronological order – but hey, it’s a fairytale!). The early flashbacks are the scenes that not always work – the riot in the slums and later the scenes when the children become beggars certainly show the horrible life in the slums but the exaggerated editing and cinematography in some moments distract too much from the seriousness of the topics and often threatens to turn the whole movie into a MTV-clip (but the scene with the eyes is truly shocking). The movie benefits the most when the grown-up actors play the central parts and Slumdog Millionaire begins to focus more on the love story and the relationship between the two brothers. In regards to the actors, 2008 was one of the years when the Academy Awards made much more sense than the BAFTAs and decided to ignore all the actors. Dev Patel has a goofy charm and is able to carry his sequences but his limited talent is too obvious in various scenes. Freida Pinto is certainly lovely to look at but that doesn’t hide the fact that she has nothing to do in her underwritten part. Actor Anil Kapoor annoyed me to no end during the awards season in 2008 and his unlikable portrayal of the game show host lacks much credibility.

What probably is the highlight of Slumdog Millionare are the last twenty minutes which are truly movie magic at its best. The call on the phone, the answering of the final question, the scene at the train station are touching beyond words. But even before that, Slumdog Millionaire is a memorable and unique experience. The whole concept of the TV show, the flashbacks, the love story may sometimes be overdone but it all fits together beautifully. It’s a movie that shouldn’t be taken too seriously as a portrayal of modern India but it succeeds as a modern fairytale (okay, enough with this word!). There is something irresistible about the way Danny Boyle combines all the times and places of the story while keeping the central plot intact. It’s not a flawless movie but it achieves the illusion of being so. Maybe that’s the best way to describe it – a piece of magic that inweaves with reality in front of our eyes and for a moment we can forget that it’s just a trick before some of the flaws become invisible. It’s a movie that is easy to enjoy and easy to be impressed by since the plot, the technical values, the score, the heart-warming qualities all come together so easily.


Louis Morgan said...

This one just did not work for me. I never really got into it in the right way, and I do think it was do to some of its more obvious flaws, such as many of the one dimensional characters.

joe burns said...

I really enjoy the movie, a fairytale story, but it's beautifully made and the screenplay is very good.

dinasztie said...

I like it less than I used to. It's not bad though.

I'm a bit shocked that you still have Oliver left.

Fritz said...

Well, every ranking needs a little shock! :-)