Slumdog Millionaire is the best of 2008

Last week i saw the movie Slumdog Millionaire and it was amazing.  Easily the best movie i’ve seen yet this year.  It’s a story about an orphan in the city of Mumbai, India who rises from the depths of poverty to become filthy rich on the strength of his intelligence.

Some thoughts:

  • A scene in the beginning of the film when the main character (Jamel) has to jump through a pool of crap/sewage to get an autograph from his idol is one of the best scenes i’ve seen in a long time. Not only does it immediately introduce the two main characters (Jamel and his brother) but also perfectly depicts their completely different personalities.  The picture above is from that scene
  • The music in the movie is incredible. The pace of the movie is frantic and the music does a great job to keep it going.  I specifically love the MIA song in the middle of the movie.
  • the cinematography is awesome.  You can see lots of shots that are similar to Trainspotting (another Daniel Boyle film) but used in a different way here.  Instead of depicting a drug addict, it’s used to show the insane Indian culture
  • At the very end of the movie they have the stars (Jamel and his girlfriend) do a Bollywood-type dance.  I think this dance does wonders for how people feel when leave the theater and their impression of the movie.  The movie ends on a positive note but very little of the movie is upbeat and happy.  But by having a light and fun scene playing at the end, I was able to let a sigh of relief out and smile.  I think that really matters
  • I’ve been reading two books: The Post-American World (Fareed Zakaria) and Hot, Flat and Crowded (Thomas Friedman) – and both tell the tale of India and what it means for our future as a planet.  India is as important as China because of the size of its population and its embrace of Democracy.  This movie is the first film where i’ve seen the India described in these books, an India that is a Democracy, that’s over crowded, that is both corrupt and opportunistic, that is changing from being very poor to being very industrial, that is become more and more American.
  • By naming it the best movie of 2008 (so far) made me realize how few great films there have been in 2008. With maybe the exception of The Dark Knight, nothing from the summer or fall were even contenders for Best Picture. Hopefully there will be a surprise in the next few weeks (Doubt, Benjamin Button, Revolutionary Road) that will totally redeem 2008, but it’s seeming like a pretty bad year
  • The movie also shows how multi-cultural movies are becoming.  A good review on NPR says this too, saying:

Ours is, after all, an age when cross-cultural impulses inflect everything from music to presidential elections. And Slumdog could hardly be more cross-cultural: a romantic adventure set in India, financed in Europe, made by English filmmakers, featuring Muslim characters speaking Hindi, with a climax hinging on the answer to a question about a French novel. And it’s a blast.

Don’t let the above points distract you.  This movie is AWESOME and you should go see it.  It’s my leading candidate for best movie of the year.

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