Warning: spoilers ahead.
I believe that the nominated movies' themes will be the key to this year's Best Picture race. First is The Reader, about the dark secrets and lies uncovered during the trial of a concentration camp worker. Next is Frost/Nixon, about the final disgrace of an already-maligned political leader. Then we have Milk, a film about the brief success and tragic end of a martyred political activist. Benjamin Button traces the life of a man who ages in reverse - it's an epic and tragic love story, but it's essentially a movie about death.
Finally, there's Slumdog Millionaire - the triumphant movie where the young protagonist rises from the filth and brutality of India's slums to win the girl of his dreams and millions of Rupees, while inspiring the downtrodden of his city.
It's a new world out there, people. We're in the Obama age and people are ready to embrace change and optimism and put the darkness of the past decade behind them. After years of brutal movies about moral ambiguity, war, and corruption winning Best Picture, I believe that the world needs a movie with a low body count where the guy gets the girl and lives happily ever after. We saw it happen back in 1998 when the relatively lighthearted Shakespeare In Love blindsided dour favorite Saving Private Ryan. Slumdog Millionaire has no nominations for acting and two of its ten for Best Song. With the most nominations of the year, Benjamin Button is a strong contender, but the world needs Slumdog Millionaire to win Best Picture. Let's all root for the underdog.