The traditionalists view this as the “Best Picture-elect” category, and with four of the five contenders in that category in play here, it certainly looks like a done deal for what nearly every guild has now christened the only 2008 movie worth honoring. Slumdog Millionaire’s suspense is pitched at about the same level as one of
Regis Philbin’s Meredith Vieira’s pregnant pauses—which is to say it’s a comfortable tease, but probably only works on those who are in the movie’s hot seat. Fortunately, everyone who votes on movie awards this year seems to be pretty well strapped into that seat, and adding insurance are Slumdog’s breathless, M.I.A.-infused montages and the fact that it sends audiences out with a production number. The other Best Picture nominees haven’t got a prayer, though Benjamin Button’s methodical, unshowy pacing is as responsible for the movie’s alien, out-of-time effect as anything, and also allows the VFX team’s work to weave itself into the tapestry without too much fanfare. (Too bad it will probably lose the vote of anyone who had to get up and change their colostomy bag during the film’s 47-hour running time.) Of the two 1970s candidates, Milk’s editing is defter by far, and should at least win a few points for the times when it chooses not to cut away (like when Sylvester wishes Harvey Milk a very gay birthday). Frost/Nixon only brings game when it parallels the central interviews with the spectacle of their respective handlers spiking footballs or recoiling in horror, but it’s no All the President’s Men. (And how do you let “I Feel Love” just sit there on the soundtrack without so much as a single syncopated cut?) If anything’s going to beat Slumdog, it’s The Dark Knight, because critically-acclaimed actioneers have proven stealth candidates in recent years here. But a lot of Knight’s action sequences are spatially confusing, even by Paul Greengrass’s standards.
Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire
Should Win: Milk