“For the first time in the 81-year history of the Academy Awards,” said Lawrence Toppman in the Charlotte Observer, “the winner of the Best Picture Oscar will speak with a foreign tongue.” Slumdog Millionaire (watch the trailer here), about life in Mumbai, seems like a shoo-in—“after its blitz through the preliminary rounds of national awards,” it would be hard for the movie to lose.

Slumdog Millionaire probably will win, said Jay Stone in Canada.com. But the movie that should take the Oscar is Gus Van Sant’s Milk (watch the trailer here): The “biopic about the life and death of gay politician Harvey Milk is not only astute, it presents a believable re-creation of the 1970s and populates it with a cast of characters who—more than any other American film this year—teem with authentic life.”

Don’t count out The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, said Nick Hazell in ABC.com. The film has its detractors, but “none of the criticisms of the movie stopped Button (watch the tailer here) from receiving 13 Academy Award nominations or from grossing nearly $27 million on its opening weekend in the United States and just over $241 million at the box office worldwide since its release Dec. 25, 2008.”

The movie most deserving of the Oscar this year wasn’t even nominated, said Christopher Kelly in the Kansas City Star. Excluding The Dark Knight (watch the trailer here) from the Best Picture category “strikes me as one of the most egregious oversights in academy history.” The Dark Knight “conjured up a complex and detailed alternate universe” and “featured one of the most convincing portraits of wanton evil ever seen in an American film”—it was the best movie of the year.