'Slumdog' leads UK charge at the Oscars

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The tale of a boy from the slums of Mumbai is an early favourite for best film – with 16 more Brits in with a shout of glory, writes Guy Adams

The rags-to-riches fairytale of Slumdog Millionaire entered a new chapter yesterday, when the film scooped 10 Oscar nominations and was installed as the odds-on favourite to be named best film at next month's Academy Awards.

Danny Boyle's stirring love story about a boy from the slums of Mumbai who is suspected of cheating on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? looks set to continue its unlikely domination of the 2009 awards season, when it leads a strong British challenge at Hollywood's blue riband event.



The film features no big stars, and includes large passages in Hindi, but has captured the public imagination, making $45m (£32m) at the US box office, more than four times its production budget, despite being on limited release.



"It's just amazing," said the film's teenage star, Dev Patel, yesterday. "When we first began working on the film I don't think any of us ever imagined that we might end up attending the Oscars ... I have been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the film ... I truly feel blessed."



The success of Slumdog Millionaire helped home-grown talent and films gather a near-record 17 mentions on the Oscars shortlist, which was unveiled in Los Angeles.



Kate Winslet declared herself "thrilled" to be nominated as best actress for her portrayal of Nazi war criminal Hanna Schmitz in The Reader, which also scored nominations for its British director Stephen Daldry and writer David Hare.



"I'm extremely happy to have been nominated, and very fortunate," she said. "Playing Hanna Schmitz will always remain one of the biggest challenges I've ever been blessed with. I'm genuinely thrilled not just for myself but for the wonderful Stephen Daldry and David Hare. These nominations are a testament to their unwavering commitment." Winslet has never won an Oscar, despite being shortlisted five times. The Reader marks her best chance yet: bookies make her a narrow favourite over Ann Hathaway, after she pipped her rival at the Golden Globes.



Fans will be hoping she at least prepares an acceptance speech this time. At the Globes, Winslet's appearance on the podium swiftly became a YouTube hit, after she repeatedly instructed herself to "gather!" thanked most of the people she'd ever met, and sobbed: "I'm sorry ... I have a habit of not winning things!"



Another British frontrunner is Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan's atmospheric tale of Sir David Frost's interviews with the former US president, which garnered five nominations, including best film, best director (for Ron Howard), and best actor (Frank Langella). "I'm delighted for the creatives who were involved, Peter and Ron, who hasn't made a movie this small since his early days, and for Frank," said Eric Fellner, a producer at Working Title, which released the film.



The US election certainly seemed to help political films. Milk, the story of Harvey Milk, America's first openly gay elected politician, secured eight nominations, including nods for best film, and for Sean Penn as best actor. "I think people are generally more interested in politics than they have been recently," said Mr Fellner.



The best overall showing yesterday went to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, an epic adaptation of F Scott-Fitzgerald's short story about a man who ages in reverse. It landed 13 nominations, including one for its lead actor, Brad Pitt.



Pitt's nomination opens up the intriguing possibility that both halves of "Brangelina" – the celebrity institution of his marriage to Angelina Jolie – might win the biggest acting prizes. Jolie was shortlisted in the best actress category for her performance in Changeling.



Pitt declared himself "especially happy for [director] David Fincher, for without him there would be no Ben Button." Jolie had gushing words for her director. "Working with Clint Eastwood was a reward in itself that will last me a lifetime," she said.



It wasn't all good news for Eastwood, though, who was ignored by best actor judges for his performance in Gran Torino, which has been a commercial and critical hit, and is rumoured to be his last major role.



Perhaps the biggest surprise overall was the half-hearted showing of The Dark Knight. Despite being the biggest box-office hit in years, the film secured just eight Oscar nods, mostly in technical categories such as cinematography, visual effects and editing. It failed to win its expected place on the best film shortlist.



Last year's US audience of 32 million for the Oscars represented the worst TV ratings in the event's 82-year history, and in an effort to jazz up the three-hour telecast, which is broadcast in the UK on Sky, the producers have hired Hugh Jackman to present the show.



In a further break with tradition, the full list of guest presenters is being kept secret until the big night, which organisers hope will add to the sense of intrigue about the event, which will be held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.



The final worry for organisers is a repeat of the industrial action that marred last year's awards season. The Screen Actors Guild has still not settled a long-running dispute with the studios, and although it is riven by internal disputes, some hard-liners this week suggested balloting for a boycott of the Oscar event.



Academy Awards Nominees



Best picture



The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



Frost/Nixon



Milk



The Reader



Slumdog Millionaire



Best director



Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire



Stephen Daldry – The Reader



David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon



Gus Van Sant – Milk



Best actor



Richard Jenkins – The Visitor



Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon



Sean Penn – Milk



Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler



Best actress



Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married



Angelina Jolie – Changeling



Melissa Leo – Frozen River



Meryl Streep – Doubt



Kate Winslet – The Reader

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week