7. "Slumdog Millionaire"
At some point, I'm going to stop underestimating Danny Boyle. Not that I'm alone in that, of course. He seems to be a perpetual underdog, even though his work has an energy that is unmistakable, film to film. I may not love this adaptation of Vikas Swarup's novel "Q&A" as much as some people did this year, but I still think it's a lovely, open-hearted film, a Dickensian take on Indian street life and the way following a dream can take us to the most unexpected places in life. My favorite thing about the film is the way Boyle cast the characters over the various stages in their lives. He did a great job of matching each of the kids who plays Jamal or Latika or Salim. He also did an amazing job as a Westerner of getting inside Indian culture, and the film feels authentic.
Even if the film as a whole didn't knock me flat, that sequence cut to M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" is one of the most blissful, confident sequences in any film this year, and you've got to love the cheek that it takes to actually pack in a dance sequence during the closing credits. I don't think Simon Beaufoy's screenplay actually does connect all the dots, but the notes it hits right are sweet, indeed.