Slumdog Millionaire

Boyle's crowdpleaser is the season's underdog

Fox Searchlight

Release date: Nov. 12

“Lost in Translation,” “Sideways,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Juno.” With each of these films drawing Oscar noms in the past five years, it has become all but expected that some underdog movie will crack the contenders list for picture.

This year, watchers of that trend will be keeping a close eye on “Slumdog Millionaire.” Directed by Danny Boyle, the poignant, flashback-

infused tale of a young contestant on India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” has the right profile for an outsider looking into awards contention: a thinking fan’s crowdpleaser.

It’s worth noting that none of those aforementioned underdogs remained underdogs in the end. “Lost in Translation” performed the worst of the four but made nearly $45 million in U.S. box office; “Juno” finished with three times that amount.

But with great word of mouth potential, plus a hook that could intrigue any number of gameshow-watching U.S. viewers, “Slumdog” could build the kind of audience that would buttress its critical praise and earn the film serious Oscar consideration.

Should “Slumdog” meet that bar, Boyle may be in line for his first Oscar nomination, while writer Simon Beaufoy, a 1997 nominee for well-received underdog “The Full Monty,” could nab a nom for adapted screenplay. Anthony Dod Mantle (“The Celebration”) may get a look for cinematography.

Individual acting awards probably remain a longshot, despite superb work by the cast, because even lead Dev Patel (“Skins”) is absent from chunks of the film in the early going.

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