“I have to believe that if Slumdog Millionaire wins Best Picture, it will further cement the awards as an elitist back-patting ceremony which is rapidly distancing itself from the general moviegoing public as it is, ” writes HE reader Evan Boucher.

“There are three different types of people seeing movies these days. The A students of cinema like yourself — journalists, buffs and your grad students living in the village who see mainstream, indie, shorts, foreign,cult…everything. On the other end are the F students, the ones lining up for things like Saw V and Wanted, thinking the latter is the best thing they’ve ever seen because someone made a bullet curve. And in the middle you have people with the intelligence to realize when a movie sucks and to appreciate something when it’s really really good.

“Which brings me to Slumdog., which is a very good film but a tough watch. Personally I felt like I had to pay unbelievably strict attention to understand what people were saying, and even then I feel like I missed half of it. But I can spot when a director or actor as at the top of their game, even if I can’t always understand it, and you can tell that this is a special film, if you have the capacity to understand it.

“This is a perfect year for the academy to step out of its elitist, country-club mode. Because there are two films out there that were widely regarded by critics and people who actually pay to see movies — WALL*E and The Dark Knight. More people paid to see these two movies and came away satisfied than every other Oscar contender combined. They’re powerful in their own ways and entertaining and universal, which a lot of the films on your Oscar Balloon list are not.

“We live in a cinematic environment where there are movies for people, and then there are movies for critics. The critics used to be a barometer for what people would like, but the disconnect is huge right now and the gap is widening. Ten years from now, people will look back and say that 2008 was the year The Dark Knight came out, not Revolutionary Road or The Reader.”