Have you ever been hanging out with the same old crowd when suddenly a fresh, new face burst onto the scene? This new person brings a new form of energy, a wisp of danger, the very real sense of excitement to an existence that needed to be invigorated. You find yourself capitulating to the new person's will almost immediately.
A year later, you're still hanging out with the same old crowd when someone asks you if had you had met anyone new and interesting lately. "Not really," you reply. "You know, the same old same old." Suddenly you feel a twang of guilt because there was that one brief tropical storm that blew through a year earlier, but while it was a nice change of pace, it turned out to be something rather unsubstantial -- a fresh, sparkling coat of paint on what turned out to be a shallow package.
I've been having those same kind of feelings about the movie Slumdog Millionaire. It appeared suddenly out of the east, caught us all up in its tidal wave, blew through, picked up a slew of Oscars and left, not really altering the landscape all that much.
I was recently reviewing the handful of films that I thought were not only the best of last year but films that will be remembered fondly long into the next decade -- films like The Visitor, Frozen River, Happy Go Lucky, Milk, Wendy and Lucy, Let the Right One In, I've Loved You So Long, The Wrestler, and, yes, even The Dark Knight. And in the back of my mind was this nagging suspicion I was leaving out a film that belonged in that list. When I realized the film I was forgetting was Slumdog Millionaire, I took another careful look at it and thought, "No, it really doesn't belong on that list."
Slumdog caught us all by surprise, but like any light that shines too brightly at the beginning, its dazzle has faded rapidly. In about five years -- perhaps even less -- it won't even be remembered as one of the 10 best films of 2008, let alone the best.