To quote Homer Simpson, it seems everything is all wrapped up in a neat little package. By ignoring Weinstein’s attempt to gerrymander Kate Winslet into two categories, Oscar’s unexpectedly independent-minded decision to place her in the lead category for The Reader has cleared up any and all loose ends in this particular storyline. The academy gets to award the long overdue actress for her role in a movie that’s clearly more to their liking than Revolutionary Road, especially given the nominated role allows her to execute (no pun intended) a number of the tricks Oscar loves to see from actresses (old-age makeup, funny accent, Holocaust drama, pert young breasts). Bonus: they can avoid having to deal with category fraud, which slotting Winslet’s Reader performance as supporting clearly would’ve been. I suppose it would’ve been a better story to give Winslet the award for a role in which she was directed by her husband Sam Mendes instead of the one whose most endearing production backstory is how Stephen Daldry and his crew were strongarmed into wrapping the damned thing up specifically for the purpose of qualifying it for Oscars. But that’s collateral damage. Ditto the fact that her win here has the unfortunate effect of allowing the Academy to walk right into Ricky Gervais and Winslet’s satirical trap on Extras. Winslet might be portraying a nun in that fictional Oscar bid on Gervais’s series, and La Streep is undoubtedly her closest competition, but her “interesting” decision to portray Doubt’s Sister Beaver for comedy will probably blow out a few too many voters’ lights. Winslet’s not old enough yet to lose many votes to Anne Hathaway from the Academy demographic that routinely votes for female actors they’d like to sit on their laps. Finally, there are no cripple roles in this spread. Like Winslet said, besides the Holocaust, “you are guaranteed an Oscar if you play a mental.” With no bona fide mentals in the running here (Hathaway’s self-destruction also extends to destroying others, so no sympathy points there), that pretty well clears the path for Winslet to break her losing streak for what’s pretty obviously her worst nominated performance. Still, cue up the cult of Winslet’s chorus of Flanders-like screams.
Will Win: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Should Win: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married