YORK - "Slumdog Millionaire", a British film set in Mumbai's dirty slums casting Indian actors, hauled in the most Oscars on Sunday night as India basked in its reflected glory at Hollywood's top event. The ghetto-to-glory romantic story film tells the story of a tea-boy at a
Mumbai call centre that earns a spot in the Indian version of the quiz show "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" He raises the suspicion of the show's host when, despite the lack of a formal education, he begins to answer the increasingly difficult questions with ease.
The film, which has caused huge controversy in India for showcasing the country' subject poverty, also brought in an extra $54 million boost at the box-office" more than doubling its gross since its November premiere, to $98 million to date.
Among the "Slumdog" honours, Briton Danny Boyle was named best director for the often dark but ultimately hopeful tale about a poor Indian boy who competes for love and money on a TV game show, and writer Simon Beaufoy won adapted screenplay.
"Slumdog" also earned Oscars for best cinematography, sound mixing, film editing, original score for composer A.R. Rahman and best song, "Jai Ho" for Rahman and lyricist Gulzar. Only seven other films in the 81-year-history of the Oscars have won eight or more awards.
During its filming in Mumbai, the movie was orphaned at one point when it was dropped by financier Warner Independent Pictures, a division of giant Warner Bros. Fox Searchlight Pictures ultimately rescued the project and released the movie to critical acclaim in November. You've been so generous to us this evening, and I want to thank you for that," Boyle said to the Academy Award audience when accepting his trophy.
Kate Winslet was named best actress for her dramatic turn as a former Nazi prison guard who involves herself in a love affair with a teenage boy in "The Reader."She fought back tears when accepting her trophy and remembered a time as a child when she dreamed of winning it.
"I would be lying if I said I haven't made a version of this speech before. I think I was probably 8-years-old and staring into the bathroom mirror," she said. "This would have been a shampoo bottle," she said gesturing to the golden Oscar statuette. "Well it's not a shampoo bottle now" Sean Penn, best known for tough guy roles in movies such as "Mystic River," earned his second Oscar for best actor, portraying slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk in "Milk."
"I did not expect this, and I want to be very clear that I do know how hard I make it for you to appreciate me, often," he said. "I am touched by the appreciation." Other top honours went to Penelope Cruz who became the first Spanish actress to win an Academy Award for her supporting role in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."
Heath Ledger was posthumously named best supporting actor for his villainous role as The Joker in Batman movie "The Dark Knight." The award for Ledger, who died last year of an accidental prescription drug overdose, brought the crowd to its feet. He became only the second actor after Peter Finch to win after death. The Oscar was accepted by his father, Kim Ledger,sister Kate and mother SallyBell. "This award tonight would have humbly validated his quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers, in an industry he truly loved," Kim Ledger said.
In other awards, Dustin Lance Black won the best original screenplay Oscar for writing "Milk, and "Wall-E," telling of a futuristic robot who finds love while on a polluted Earth, was best animated film.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" walked off with two statuettes for best art direction and makeup, and "The Duchess" won for best costume design.
"Man on Wire" about a tightrope walker who dared to walk between New York's Twin Towers was named best documentary. In the night's one big surprise, Japanese movie "Departures" beat the favorite, Israeli film "Waltz With Bashir," for foreign language film.