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Rahman triumphs at LA Awards

Arthur J Pais | December 10, 2008 14:38 IST

A R Rahman

With the nominations for the Golden Globes around the corner, the influential Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards have been just announced, with plenty of surprises for the perennially nominated Meryl Streep [Images] and well regarded star Kate Winslett.

While the animated hit Wall-E ($490 million worldwide and counting) walked away with the best picture nod, Danny Boyle took the best director award for Slumdog Millioniare beating fellow Brit Christopher Nolan, the maker of the highest grossing film (about $996 million worldwide) The Black Knight.

A R Rahman was named the best composer for his work in Slumdog. Among the high profiled scores this year are in the films Quantum of Solace [Images], Mamma Mia [Images]! and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Los Angeles Film Critics Association is not particularly known for hailing big Hollywood hits and this year's choice could raise a few eyebrows. But then the association promptly hugged the underdog by giving the best director award to Boyle. Slumdog, which had no distributor five months ago when Warner Independent folded, was then picked up Fox Searchlight. The distributor, which has released smash hits such as Juno, has been lucky with India themed films -- the Oscar nominated Deepa Mehta film Water as well as Mira Nair's The Namesake [Images]. It also distributed the arthouse hit, Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited.

A picture from Quantum of SolaceLos Angeles Times said Slumdog, which got the third highest votes following Wall-E and The Black Knight, created a controversy among the 43 voters.

Though the film has received the highest praise from publications  across the country including Time, The New Yorker, USA Today and The Chicago Tribune, some of the voters in Los Angeles dismissed it outright.

'Its scrum of detractors said they wouldn't vote for it under any circumstances,' wrote LA Times, 'with some critics claiming it was too derivative, coming off like an amped-up Satyajit Ray [Images] film.'

Sean Penn from MilkThe film, in its fourth week of limited release, has grossed a healthy $5.5 million in 27 days of release in North America. It was named top film earlier this month by the National Board of Review and the Washington, DC, Area Film Critics Assn.

While Sean Penn [Images] winning the best actor award for his vivid portrayal of a real life politician, who was openly gay and was gunned in San Francisco over two decades ago, in Milk, the supporting role award went to Heath Ledger for his rousing work as the villain in The Dark Knight [Images].

Penelope Cruz [Images], who has just about 15 minutes (out of 100)  in Woody Allen's [Images] arthouse hit Vicki Cristina Barcelona nabbed the best supporting actress nod, for her work in the smaller success, Elegy.

There were plenty of snubs: For instance, Kate Winslet [Images] who has two films in release this month, Revolutionary Road and The Reader.

Sally Hawkins from Happy Go LuckyStreep was seen in two films, too. While the smash hit musical Mamma Mia! (which has taken about $560 million worldwide) was not considered award-worthy, her performance as a dogmatic nun in Doubt has enchanted some critics and infuriated some who think it is too loud and one-dimensional.

The best actress nod went to Sally Hawkins in the little seen Happy-Go-Lucky.

But some of the films that were snubbed, especially Frost/Nixon, may get a boost when the Golden Globe nominations come out on Thursday. The Globes, which are televised and are reportedly watched by over 50 million worldwide, has nominations in two categories, drama and musicals/comedy. The Oscar nominations will be announced on January 22.

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