Can’t Stop This Train


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The excitement in the air was palpable as every time anyone mentioned anything to do with Slumdog Millionaire, cheers and applause erupted from the hall. This was a time for celebration and everyone seemed happy at the BAFTAs, even the losers, locked into the loser-cam for their painful ten seconds of fake smiling. The star of the night was Mickey Rourke, who has a kind of magnetic giantness about him, like he’s physically too big for the room. He seemed almost like a live action figure stepping into the land of the animated. And he was funny. Accidentally but unmistakenly funny. He brought the house down, very nearly upstaging the special guest of the night, Mick Jagger.


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The big question now will be how close with the Oscars match the BAFTAs. In the past few years the actors have matched up well. But who’s to say in the time between then and next week that feelings might have changed. Will the sound, cinematography and score all go Slumdog’s way?

Original Screenplay is a best guess at best at this point; there is no telling which way that one will go. The BAFTAs say In Bruges, the WGA says Milk. But there is Wall-E and Frozen River and even Happy-Go-Lucky waiting. It is more wide open than any other category, and especially so since it’s usually easy to predict it.


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Penelope Cruz seems to have taken the lead in the supporting actress race but that one is also anyone’s game, since Kate Winslet cast such a strong shadow in the thick of the race, taking things over from the frontrunner Cruz. Now, Cruz has bobbed back up to the surface, aided by a newly invigorated Harvey Weinstein, who stood very plainly on camera as Penelope won. Kate Winslet gave her a hug on the way up. Weinstein was having a good night.

The big question of this race isn’t whether Slumdog will win but how much will it win. With the loveable and absurdly talented Danny Boyle there, sincere and humble, with his son standing up and cheering in the middle of his speech, “I love you, dad!” You want to just wrap yourself up in a pile of mewling kittens it’s so goddamned cute, all of it. So yeah, no stories of poverty porn or unpaid child actors are going to derail this one. This train is on the fast track and most people aren’t going to complain. Slumdog took a total of 7 BAFTA awards.

At the Oscars, it will take in a cake walk: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Score.
It should also take: Score, Editing (although we haven’t heard from the ACE).
It may take, if it’s a sweep: Sound, Sound Editing and Song.

That would give it nine Oscar wins. At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me. The BAFTAs didn’t particularly want to spread the wealth that much, the actors went ass over elbow, it’s all over but the shouting. Slumdog should take at least seven Oscars. At least.

But it’s hard to not think about Rourke, who made everyone laugh with almost every line of his speech. It was perfect for the occasion, it might have perked up some bored awards watchers, and it gives Oscar voters something to look forward to. On the other hand, there is Sean Penn in one of his best performances. It’s a tough call that one. If speeches matter, if the BAFTA matters, Rourke has it in the bag.

If Rourke wins, and Slumdog and Kate Winslet – it will be a season of happy endings. Rourke back from the brink, Kate Winslet finally winning and Slumdog Millionaire and its scrappy, deserving crew – collecting award after award in an unprecedented march to the finish.

The Man of the Hour and Great Performers in the NY Times

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