Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail

Ishika Mohan / Fox Searchlight

Move Over, Mickey Rourke's Text Message: On Tuesday, the London Telegrap stirred up the controversy of award season, reporting that two young Mumbai-based Slumdog Millionaire stars "were paid less than many Indian domestic servants,"  and were "still liv[ing] in grinding poverty."

Bad Luck: On Wednesday, final ballots were mailed to Academy members.

Or Maybe Luck Had Nothing to Do With It: Fox Searchlight, the studio behind the Best Picture hopeful, which elaborately outlined its still-ongoing support of the child actors, floated the idea to the Los Angeles Times that the timing of the Telegraph story was not a coincidence. "It's a sad state of affairs for the industry that the race for Oscar has to come down to this level," a Fox exec told the Times.

Or Maybe It's Sunk to This Level Before: Tim Dirks, senior editor and film historian for AMC, can rattle off several past Best Picture nominees that might have had their chances ruined by bad press. If not a certain ticked-off media titan.

"It could be that Citizen Kane didn't win Best Picture for 1941 because of the uproar created by [William Randolph] Hearst regarding the unflattering portrayal, so How Green Was My Valley was a safer choice," Dirks said in an email.

Dirks also cited Bonnie & Clyde and A Clockwork Orange as other too-hot-to-handle Best Picture picks (that became Best Picture losers).

So, Is Slumdog the Next Citizen Kane? Well, while that's not a bad thing, Dirks, for one, doesn't think the feel-good love story has been fatally hurt. "Since Slumdog Millionaire is a low-budget independent film…it will probably hold its underdog edge and not lose votes from Academy members," he said.

Likewise, child-actor advocate Paul Petersen doesn't think Slumdog will suffer for this week's headlines. Which isn't the same thing as saying he's happy.

"Voters will certainly want to believe that these producers are actually going out of their way to help these kids," Petersen said in an email. "No one likes to admit that sticking with local standards is actually harmful to kids."

OK, Enough About Slumdog, What About Paul Blart? The race for next year's Oscars has already begun. Sort of. When asked if any release from this about-to-conclude month had a shot at the 2010 Academy Awards, AwardsDaily's Sasha Stone replied in an email, "No, only the stuff that's come out of Sundance, like Push and An Education. Nothing in major release."

Well, maybe Paul Blart 2

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share