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'Slumdog Millionaire' Dominates Oscars

Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner at the film industry's Academy Awards, Sunday evening, as the rags-to-riches tale set in India earned eight industry honors, known as Oscars, including best movie. Kate Winslet and Sean Penn earned top acting awards.

Slumdog Millionaire was expected to win big. And, it did, earning Oscars for its cinematography, film editing, sound mixing, and bringing two of the golden statuettes to composer A.R. Rahman for his score and an original song.

Steven Spielberg announced the top award of the evening.

"And, the Oscar goes to Slumdog Millionaire, Christian Colson, producer."

The man behind the movie, Danny Boyle, was named best director.

Slumdog Millionaire was a collaboration between the British filmmaker, an Indian cast and crew and a Hollywood distributor. Backstage, Boyle said joint efforts like this will become more common.

"There's all sorts of people that are going to work there. These things are going to come together," Boyle said. "The world's shrinking a bit in a wonderful way and it will benefit from it because, in culture, fusion is a wonderful thing."

The film is set in slums of Mumbai and features two professional actors with a cast of unknown youngsters from the Mumbai slums. Young cast members came to Hollywood for the Oscars.

The story revolves around a teenager who hopes to win riches on a quiz show. Writer Simon Beaufoy, who won the Oscar for his adapted screenplay, says the story is appropriate in a recession.

"A film comes out that is ostensibly about being a millionaire, and actually what it's about, it's a film that says there are more important things than money," Beaufoy explained. "There's love and faith and your family, and that struck a chord with people, I think, right now."

Kate Winlset was named best actress for her role as a former death camp guard in the Holocaust-themed drama The Reader. This was her sixth nomination and her first Oscar win.

"I mean, you just don't think that these dreams that seem so silly and so impossible could ever really come true, and having been here before and lost, to be here and win, I've got to tell you, winning is really a lot better than losing, really a lot better," Winslet said.

Sean Penn was named best actor for his starring role in Milk, the story of San Francisco gay activist Harvey Milk. As Penn accepted the award and in remarks backstage, he said the story of the activist inspired him.

"That means a lot to myself and to everybody involved not only in the movie, but to anybody who believes in equal rights for other human beings. It's pretty simple," Penn said.

The late actor Heath Ledger won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role as the villainous Joker in the Batman film The Dark Knight. Ledger died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, 13 months ago, and is only the second actor to win a posthumous Oscar. The first was Peter Finch for the 1976 film Network.

Ledger's family accepted the award, and his father, Kim, spoke of what the Oscar would have meant to his son.

"This award tonight would have humbly validated Heath's quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers, within an industry he so loved," Ledger said.

Penelope Cruz was named best supporting actress for her role in the Woody Allen film Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Accepting the Oscar, she addressed the people of her native Spain.

Backstage, she translated her comments into English.

"I said that I want to dedicate it to all the actors of my country and that I wanted to dedicate it to all the people that are now watching there at home, and that are feeling that this also belongs to them," Cruz said.

The Japanese drama Departures was named best foreign language film, beating out the favored Israeli film Waltz With Bashir.

Comedian Jerry Lewis, 82, received a special Oscar for his humanitarian work.

The Oscars are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This year's event was hosted by the actor, singer and dancer Hugh Jackman, who picked up the pace of the broadcast in response to flagging ratings in previous years.