"Slumdog Millionaire" wins Oscar gold

Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:37pm EST
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By Steve Gorman and Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A ragtag group of Indian orphans triumphed at the Academy Awards on Sunday as "Slumdog Millionaire" took top honors with an against-all-odds love story that resonated with recession-weary moviegoers.

The small-budget British film -- shot in the teeming slums of Mumbai -- was named best picture as widely predicted and won seven other Oscars.

At the climax of the night, the stage was swarmed by jubilant members of the "Slumdog" cast and crew, including several school children who were plucked from Mumbai's shantytowns to appear in the movie.

British filmmaker Danny Boyle was named best director for the often dark but ultimately hopeful tale of a young orphan who risks it all for love and a shot at instant wealth as a TV game show contestant.

"It is a love story but is heavily disguised," he said. "The spine appears to be the game show but ... there's another story underneath, which is the love story,"

Adding to the international flavor of this year's Oscars, hosted by Australian stage and film star Hugh Jackman, three of the night's four acting awards went to non-Americans.

Kate Winslet of Britain was named best actress for her dramatic turn as a former Nazi prison guard who has a love affair with a teenage boy in "The Reader.

Penelope Cruz broke through as the first Spanish actress to claim an Academy Award, winning for her supporting role in the Woody Allen romance "Vicky Cristina Barcelona".   Continued...

<p>Director Danny Boyle (C) celebrates with young actors Azharuddin Ismail (L) and Ayush Mahesh (R) as they are surrounded by other cast and crew members after "Slumdog Millionaire" won the Oscar for best picture during the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 22, 2009. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>