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Get ready for the 'Slumdog' sweep!

December 8, 2008 | 10:32 pm

While snooping among the ranks of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. today, it became quite clear that "Slumdog Millionaire" is destined to win best drama picture next Jan. 11. Considering it recently won the National Board of Review and is the current fave of The Envelope's Oscar pundits to bag the top Oscar, it seems poised to sweep most of the annual derby.

But the cliffhanger remains: how thorough the sweep?

Only once in modern film history has one movie won the top prize at every major Hollywood award — "Schindler's List" (1993) — so the odds are stacked against "Slumdog" to do the same. I don't think it can sweep the trifecta of print critics' awards, for example: the New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the National Society of Film Critics. Even when the Gothamites and Angelenos agree on a best pic, the NSFC usually takes its own course. In 2004, when New York and L.A. picked "Sideways" in early December, NSFC embraced "Million Dollar Baby" a month later. In 2005, when New York and L.A. picked "Brokeback Mountain," NSFC chose "Capote."

Danny_boyle_slumdog3

New York and L.A. don't usually select the same film, though. Last year NYFCC picked "No Country for Old Men" and LAFCA chose "There Will Be Blood." This year I'm betting that they both pick "Slumdog" when the Angelenos vote today and the New Yorkers cast ballots Wednesday. The reason: The movie is not only a winner in every way, it's got snob appeal, being an indie with art-house credentials. Director Danny Boyle has been a critics' darling since "Trainspotting" (1996), but he's never won an award from a major U.S. film critics group. "Slumdog" is just the chance they've been waiting for.

The big difference between the New York and L.A. critics' awards will be in acting races. If the Angelenos pick Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler"), as I think they will, then the New Yorkers will pick someone else, just to be different, a day later. Rourke's a good bet for LAFCA because the group of 44 members is more than 75% male. Count on them getting caught up in a testosterone rush over "The Wrestler." Wanting to pick something else the next day, the New York group (also overwhelmingly male, but it just added several female members!) will probably opt for a low-budget, critically praised indie about a nerdy abandoned old guy (just like NYFCC members) that was produced in New York: "The Visitor," starring Richard Jenkins.

Beware: If "The Wrestler" sets off a hormonal tsunami, it might end up snatching away one of the best-picture awards from LAFCA or NYFCC. The other one will still go to "Slumdog."

In the best actress race, one of the two critics groups will inevitably opt for snooty Kristin Scott Thomas speaking French and looking all morose and depressed all the time in "I've Loved You So Long." Since LAFCA votes first, it'll probably nab her before the New Yorkers do. Gothamites will want to pick someone else, but who? I'm just guessing Kate Winslet ("Revolutionary Road"), but that's just a wild guess, and anything's possible given the group's odd voting process.

Here are my full predix below. See a full breakdown of other pundits' at AwardsDaily.com.

LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSN.
Best Picture: "Slumdog Millionaire"
Best Director: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"
Best Actress: Kristin Scott Thomas, "I've Loved You So Long"
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Best Supporting Actress: Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE
Best Picture: "Slumdog Millionaire"
Best Director: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Best Actor: Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
Best Actress: Kate Winslet, "Revolutionary Road"
Best Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, "Doubt"

Lastly, since we're only talking the winners of showbiz awards here, I'm omitting discussion of the Critics' Choice for now because it's just issuing nominees today. Little can be learned from those at this point. "Slumdog Millionaire" will surely be nominated, but probably won't lead with the most bids because it's not going to reap lots of acting bids. We won't know the true strength of the Critics' Choice Awards — which are bestowed by broadcast and Web critics, not print journos like the others — until winners are unveiled in January.


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