February 14, 2009

Best Picture: Oscars 09

Hey everyone, I'm new to The Writers' Lounge. This is my first post!
Also wishing a very Happy Valentine's Day to all :)


by Bhargav Saikia

I've finally watched the five films nominated for Best Picture at this year's Oscars and here's my ranking of the films (in order of preference). Although 
Slumdog Millionaire will most likely win, I feel The Curious Case of Benjamin Button andMilk are more deserving. And why isn't WALL-E on the list? A pathbreaking film in all respects, WALL-E by far deserves much more than a Best Animated Feature nomination.


I was absolutely stunned by this beautiful moving film. If I had the authority to vote for the Best Picture of 2008, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button would have been my instant choice. This film deserves the Best Picture trophy because it excels in every aspect of filmmaking, from David Fincher's ambitious imaginative storytelling to Claudio Miranda's sweeping cinematography. It has it all. Brad Pitt is stupendous as Benjamin Button, a man who is born old, ages backwards and dies as a newborn baby. It's surprising to see Pitt perform with such conviction. Cate Blanchett as Daisy is not only picture perfect but she also essays every nuance of her character flawlessly. Tilda Swinton is brilliant in a short yet smartly written role and I must mention Taraji P. Henson's fantastic portrayal of Queenie. This is no easy film to make but David Fincher (director of films like Fight Cluband Zodiac) effortlessly makes use of Eric Roth's superb screenplay to treat us to a feast of fantasy and emotions. The film is also a major achievement in terms of its remarkable cinematography, excellent make-up and costume design, and Alexandre Desplat's perfectly synchronised music scoreThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of the most memorable films in recent times and for me this is undoubtedly the Best Picture of 2008.


Milk is a very powerful political drama. The film is about the rise and fall of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to the public office in the United States, who was assassinated by a person called Dan White in 1978. Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk and this is undoubtedly one of the finest performances I've come across in a very long time. His body language and attention to the smallest details to bring this popular character alive is phenomenal. For me, Sean Penn is the Best Actor of 2008, no second thoughts. James Franco (he played Harry Osborne in Spider-Man) and Emile Hirsch are flawless. The director, Gus Van Sant, has not only made a brilliant film but also one that is socially relevant. Milk is an important film regardless of sexual preference and needs to be seen and heard across the world. It could teach a thing or two about various aspects of human rights. I wouldn't be surprised if Milk bags the Best Picture trophy. Number #2 on my Best Picture list.


Slumdog Millionaire has turned out to be the dark horse in many award ceremonies this year and bagging that Best Picture Oscar statuette shouldn't be too tough for this Danny Boyle film. It has an extraordinary backdrop of the Mumbai slums with Simon Beaufoy's smart, appealing screenplay and this should work as a big advantage over the other four nominated films. I personally enjoyed every bit of the film and my 4.5 star rating says it all. From my review - "Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire is full of surprises. It's like a fable. This rags to riches tale about a boy called Jamal is so vibrant, fresh and high on emotions that you can't help but fall in love with it. And there are many reasons to celebrate this film, AR Rahman, the Indian cast and crew and Mumbai to name just a few...I loved every bit of Slumdog Millionaire and I don't see any reason why you wouldn't do the same. Go to the cinemas and enjoy this joy ride." Read more. Number #3 on my Best Picture list.


Ron Howard has an impressive list of films in his filmography; A Beautiful MindApollo-13 and Cinderella Man to name a few. I believe with Frost/Nixon, he has delivered his career-best film. This is completely an actor's film where Frank Langella (Richard Nixon) and Michael Sheen (David Frost) are impeccable in their respective roles. Frank Langella's portrayal of President Nixon reminded me of Daniel Day Lewis' powerhouse performance inThere Will Be Blood, for which he was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor. Michael Sheen as the British TV host is just too good. An intelligent script and crisp editing largely support Ron Howard's vision and he is immensely successful in creating a thoroughly engaging film. Frost/Nixon is an adaptation of a play of the same name and it tells the story of a series of interviews between President Richard Nixon, a controversial political figure who had resigned from the Presidency as a result of the Watergate scandal (more info here), and David Frost, a television talk-show host. I highly recommend Frost/Nixon and even if you aren't familiar with the Watergate controversy, the film will still engage you. It's that brilliant. Number #4 on my Best Picture list.


In The Reader, Kate Winslet is phenomenal as Hanna Schmitz, an imprisoned war criminal who is accused of murdering 300 Jewish women by letting them die in a church fire while she was recruited as a guard to the SS (Schutzstaffel), one of Hitler's Nazi organisations. This is Stephen Daldry's adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's German novel, Der Vorleser (The Reader). I haven't read the novel, so it would be very difficult to note whether the film adaptation is faithful to the original text. But on the whole the film is effective in portraying the two episodes of Hanna's life, her sexual relationship with 15-year old Michael Berg (played very convincingly by David Kross) and her life after she is sentenced to life imprisonment. The film is much more complex than it looks and I definitely need another viewing to understand its deeper meanings. Maybe I'll read the book first. (Note that this film contains generous amount of nudity; infact it was fascinating to watch Kate Winslet and David Kross acting their parts without any inhibitions considering the age-difference between the two actors). Number #5 on my Best Picture list. 

Best Picture Rankings:

#1 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
#2 Milk
#3 Slumdog Millionaire
#4 Frost/Nixon
#5 The Reader

Oscar Nominations List - 


  1. That was a well written review .. thanks for the post coz i was totally unaware of all these movies except slumdog .. now i wnt miss any chance to see these movies ...

  2. i watched slumdog it is very good film
    and iam downloading the curio case of benzamine button

  3. good one Bharguv!

    I actually saw Slumdog, liked it, was deciding to watch curios case of Benjuman Button but then. well, kind of left!

    Thankyou for such info :)

  4. Wel..ths one is a really nice post..
    Altough i havent seen any f the movies mentioned yet but i hve seen sm promos n THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON seems to be vry interesting and Different..A new concept altogethr..
    I m really lookin to frward to wtch these movies..
    Keep writing now..

  5. I found 'The curious case of Benjamin Button' the best of the lot too. Slumdog didn't hit me on the emotional front like the former.

  6. I dont know why, I just WANT to vote for Slumdog ... its kind off good ... Anglo-Indian movie, I would call it ...

    Cheers to the team!!

    Good review mate ... keep them coming ... Great Job!!

  7. Hi everyone, thanks for all the kind words :) I had an amazing time watching these films, all 5 of them. For those who haven't seen Benjamin Button yet, do watch it. Superb movie and for Brad Pitt fans, this one's a treat! He's fantastic! I was also impressed with Frost/Nixon..some very powerful performances in that movie.

    @Chirag: I would really appreciate it if you don't download Benjamin Button. Lets not spread piracy further and more so during these times of recession where even the entertainment industry is suffering big loses. It's time to be responsible, high time actually :)

    And besides, Benjamin Button is a film for the big screen. You won't have fun watching it in your PC/Mac. Thanks pal :)

    Wishing everyone a very happy Valentine's Day!

  8. I am not much of a movie buff... but you are doing a lot of good to the movie lovers.. Keep it going..

  9. @raghav
    download karna meri majburi hai dude
    iam in ujjain and idhar esi film lagna possible nahi hai
    yet badi city hai ujjain but esi filsm nahi lagti
    and indore me bhi nahi lagti esi films
    agar lagegi to jarur jaunga dekhane
    and mere aas pass yahi jagah hai jaha me dekh sakta hu film big screen par

    but nahi lage to fir dwnld is the only option

    tumhari bat ka dhyan rakhunga agar lagegi to jarur jaunga

  10. @the pink orchid: Thanks :) Will keep the posts coming!

    @chirag: OK, I understand your situation. However, I still won't support downloading. And I think most of the Oscar nominated films haven't yet released in India except Slumdog Millionaire. I've watched them in the UK (I'm studying here).


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