As if on cue, the Slumdog Millionaire backlash has begun. First, some cinephiles started complaining after it won the Best Cast prize at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, arguing that the film is not as great an achievement in acting as its competitors Milk or Doubt. And then the UK publication the Telegraph printed a story alleging that two of Slumdog’s youngest actors were underpaid and otherwise exploited by the filmmakers. Director Danny Boyle and distributor Fox Searchlight quickly responded last night, saying among other things that “since June 2008 and at our expense, both kids have been attending school and they are flourishing under the tutelage of their dedicated and committed teachers. Financial resources have been made available for their education until they are 18.”
While it’s apparently true that these young actors (who play Salim and Latika at the beginning of the film) and their families have not become wealthy as a result of their participation in the movie, I doubt that any of this will have a major impact on Slumdog’s Oscar chances. Maybe in a closer race it would have, but my hunch is that the film is simply too far in front to lose now over a minor controversy.
Here is part 2 of my OscarWatch interview with Boyle, conducted before any of this news broke (hence the big smile on his face). Here we discuss Slumdog’s magical train-station shot of star Freida Pinto and why he fought with his leading man, Dev Patel.
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