The Oscars

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By Stephanie Holland

By Stephanie Holland

Best Picture”Slumdog Millionaire”

For a true Cinderella story look no further than “Slumdog Millionaire.” This independent film from India is the story of Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) the most successful contestant on India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

As Jamal plays the game, the audience is shown flashbacks of his life story, focusing on his turbulent relationship with his brother Salim and his childhood love Latika.

These memories help Jamal answer enough questions to make it to the final round.

This movie has become the little film that could by sweeping the best picture category at all the major award shows. It has also made overnight sensations out of the film’s stars Patel and Freida Pinto.

The film is nominated for 10 awards, including Danny Boyle’s direction, adapted screenplay, original score and two nominations for original song.

While there has been some controversy over whether or not the film exploits the desperate poverty of India, it has been able to rise above the scrutiny and continue riding a wave of success.

The Academy Awards are known to love movies featuring underdog stories and unlikely heroes which makes “Slumdog Millionaire” the perfect candidate for Oscar’s highest honor.

Best Actor”Milk”

By now it is no secret that Sean Penn is one of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen. However, in “Milk” he raises his talents to new heights with his portrayal of slain politician Harvey Milk.

Penn plays Milk from his campaign for San Francisco supervisor through his assassination by fellow supervisor Dan White, brilliantly portrayed by Josh Brolin.

In a career filled with tour de force performances Penn delivers another highlight with this film.

Penn is surrounded by an all star cast that includes Emile Hirsch, James Franco and Victor Garber.

More than telling the life story of one man, “Milk” tells the story of how San Francisco evolved into the progressive city that we know today.

This is Penn’s fifth Oscar nomination, with a win in 2004 for “Mystic River.”

Most think that the competition is between Penn and Mickey Rourke for “The Wrestler.”

However, Penn gets the edge because the Academy is known to favor portrayals of real people.

Best Actress”The Reader”

Kate Winslet is Oscar’s perennial bridesmaid. Her six nominations prove how versatile she is as an actress. Ranging from a lovesick teenager to an unhappy housewife, she always delivers an award worthy performance.

This year she gave not one but two award winning performances that have given audiences the chance to enjoy the work of a brilliant actress at the top of her craft.

Her first nomination came in 1995 for best supporting actress for “Sense and Sensibility,”

This year she is being recognized for her portrayal of former Nazi guard Hanna Schmitz in “The Reader.”

Winslet plays Schmitz into her later years using prosthetic make up to achieve the illusion that she is an old woman.

It is this commitment to the character and the story that helped earn her Golden Globe and Screen Actor Guild awards.

“The Reader” is also nominated for best picture, providing posthumous nominations for its legendary producers Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack.

Many consider her chief competitor to be Meryl Streep in “Doubt,” but most think this will finally be Winslet’s year to shine.

Best Supporting Actor”The Dark Knight”

In the biggest blockbuster of the year Heath Ledger gives the best performance of the year as “The Dark Knight’s” sociopath The Joker.

Ledger didn’t portray The Joker, he became him. He brought complexities to a character with a simple goal: to cause as much as mayhem as possible.

This may be the closest thing the Oscars have to a sure thing. It seems a forgone conclusion that Ledger will win. Even the other nominees have come to accept this fact.

The only question left is who will accept the award on Ledger’s behalf? Will it be his parents, the mother of his child, actress Michelle Williams, or the film’s director Christopher Nolan.

Ledger’s win will also be the Academy’s big chance to recognize “The Dark Knight” since it was snubbed in the best picture category.

The blockbuster’s other seven nominations are in effects categories like visual effects, makeup and sound editing.

However, this is the award that the film will be remembered for because as great as the overall movie is, it is Ledger’s performance that catapulted the film into the history books.

With this being his final performance he has assured himself of not only an Oscar, but a final curtain call that guarantees he will be forever remembered as a true artist.

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