Leading article: Dog days

No Country for Old Men. The Departed. Crash. Million Dollar Baby. The winners of the best picture Oscar in the past four years have many qualities but one thing none of them could be said to deliver is a happy ending.

But that trend could be about to end. Danny Boyle's latest film, Slumdog Millionaire, set in Mumbai, has just cleaned up at the Critics' Choice awards ceremony. This is usually an indication that a film will do well at the biggest awards ceremony of them all.

Slumdog deals with some bleak material, but it does not, by all accounts, send viewers from cinemas more depressed than when they came in. So, by happy coincidence, a gem of celluloid cheer has coincided with this nadir of economic gloom. The world needs all the optimism that it can get at the moment.

It will not just be the residents of Mumbai cheering on Slumdog when the red carpet is unfurled next month.