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'Slumdog' snatches top prize from movie guild

"SLUMDOG Millionaire" continued its rags-to-riches march through Hollywood's awards season as its film maker, Danny Boyle, won the top honor on Saturday from the Directors Guild of America.

The win puts Boyle on the inside track for the same prize at the Academy Awards on February 22, since the guild recipient almost always goes on to win the best director Oscar.

While "Slumdog Millionaire" started as an underdog that nearly went straight to DVD, it has emerged as a potential Oscar favorite. Audiences have embraced Boyle's tale of a poor boy rising to fame and fortune from the streets of Mumbai, and the film triumphed at the Golden Globes and Producers Guild of America Awards, while taking the prize for best ensemble cast from the Screen Actors Guild.

"Slumdog Millionaire" originally was to be released by Warner Independent, but its fate went into limbo after Warner Bros closed down the unit. After a brief prospect of going straight to DVD, the film found a theatrical home with Fox Searchlight, which has had success with such smaller films as "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Juno."

"I should start by curiously thanking Warner Bros for actually having the grace to do the right thing, when I think it would have been a lot easier to do the wrong thing, and pass the film on to Fox Searchlight, who are an extraordinary bunch of people," Boyle said.

Backstage, Boyle joked about the fact that his award was presented by Joel and Ethan Coen, who won the prize a year ago for "No Country for Old Men."

"To step into the shoes of people like the Coen brothers, I mean, it's phenomenal, because I have, as I admitted in the earlier speech, I've stolen from them all my career," he said. "I mean in a naked and appalling way."

"The Office" won the honor for television comedy, "The Wire" took best TV drama.


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