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Cinema Room General What movie deserves the title of Best Picture of 2008?
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What movie deserves the title of Best Picture of 2008?
The 81st annual Academy Awards are quickly approaching and I can’t wait to see which film takes home the Oscar for best picture this year.  There are a lot of great nominees - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire.  All have phenomenal casts, phenomenal scripts and phenomenal direction… it’s definitely going to be a close call.

Personally, I’m rooting for Slumdog Millionaire—maybe I’m a little partial to the film because I spent a summer in Mumbai.  Not only was the story uplifting and heartening, it also served as a beautiful reminder of culture in Mumbai and the summer I spent there.  I’ll look forward to Slumdog Millionaire taking home the Oscar.

I would be curious to learn which films others think deserve to win the title of Best Picture.
I haven't yet seen all the movies you list, but I'd like to add several more that I think is more deserving:

Australia, by Baz Luhrmann, which I'm not sure was released early enough for the Oscars, but is really a great film. I should say I'm a big fan of his and I really liked the movie. He perhaps cared too much about making some points, being Australian, to hurt the movie as some points are overly accentuated, but all in all a brilliant film.

Waltz with Bashir, by Ari Fulman, which is nominated to best foreign film and is probably my vote for the best film of the year period.

Hellboy II - just kidding! Awful awful movie.

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, by Spielberg. Here am very serious. It is a brilliant film which was completely misunderstood by people.

Maybe I'll also mention Wanted I also really liked this year and is a very intelligent film which people simply didn't understand. I liked Arthur's post about it here.

In general I don't think it was a great year at the cinema but there was some nice ones nonetheless.

I am also rooting for Slumdog millionaire to take home the Oscar. I've just seen it (and written a post on it).

As for whether it was the best film of 2008 I don't know, as as George mentions, Australia and Waltz with Bashir are definitely up there. The latter probably also my choice for best film of 2008, but all 3 are very good.

I would also mention Batman - The Dark Night, at least as an honorable mention.
And lets face it George, there is no chance a film like Indiana Jones would be considered by most the best movie of any year no matter how good it was.
I'm rooting for Milk, and I'd like to compare it to two other nominees: Frost/Nixon (also nominated for best picture) and Happy-Go-Lucky (nominated for best original screenplay, though Sally Hawkins won best actress at the Golden Globes).

So, Milk vs. Frost/Nixon.  Frank Langella and Michael Sheen made Frost/Nixon very watchable for me, but the production has an unpleasant Hollywood lustre.  The plot arc is uninteresting and clearly imposed on the story in order to make a movie of it, and the intellectual laziness of the whole thing becomes obvious in ridiculous pseudo-interviews, where the characters are interviewed, reality-TV documentary style, as though we are watching period footage that happens to star the actors.  The film betrays no consciousness that there is any problem with this.

By contrast, Milk seems to me serious-minded and conscientious at every step, both in its desire to be adequate to its sources and in the effort to reach a broad audience.  I won't further sing the praises of this movie, since it's already been done plenty of other places -- for instance, in J. Hoberman's Village Voice review.

Then there's Happy-Go-Lucky.  It occurred to me while watching Milk that there's a great affinity between these movies, inasmuch as they both treat (among other things) what it is to care for people, and the limits of this care.  Sean Penn's Harvey Milk and Sally Hawkins' Poppy relate to other characters, often other characters who need them in some manner, in what are really exceptional ways for these times of inhuman cinema.  These interactions don't just humanize the central characters; they also make the other figures persons rather than just cases.  In each film there is one person who really does become a case, and an intractable one, and in each film it's mostly through gesture that we see how one might disengage when care is impossible.
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