"Slumdog" emerges as Oscar favorite after SAG win

Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:51pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Slumdog Millionaire," the rags to riches tale of a Mumbai slum dweller, emerged as favorite to win the best picture Oscar after winning the top prize at the 15th Screen Actors Guild awards on Sunday.

"Slumdog," which involves a host of amateur young actors in Mumbai's slums, won for best ensemble cast on a night where Hollywood actors traditionally tend to honor their own.

The SAG win followed four Golden Globes earlier this month and a Producers Guild Award on Saturday.

"It was overwhelming enough to be nominated. But to win this is unbelievable," said Anil Kapoor, who plays the cynical quiz master in the independent movie. "It is the children who have done it, not us."

"It is historic where India is concerned," Kapoor said, telling journalists of his excitement at meeting Angelina Jolie at the SAG awards dinner.

But the night did not belong entirely to "Slumdog," which came away with just one prize and had to share the limelight with the late Heath Ledger, Sean Penn, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet in four other films.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," which has a leading 13 Oscar nominations, came away empty-handed on Sunday, as did "Frost/Nixon" which recounts journalist David Frost's interviews with disgraced U.S. president Richard Nixon.

David Poland, editor of Movie City News, said: "People admire 'Benjamin Button' but they don't love it. It is big and the acting is beautiful but it doesn't hit them emotionally."   Continued...

<p>Actors Anil Kapoor and Freida Pinto (R) accept the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for "Slumdog Millionaire" at the 15th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, January 25, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>