Over the last 10 days I’ve heard a lot of people, in the Academy and otherwise, bad-mouthing Kate Winslet and Anne Hathaway for their emotional acceptance speeches at this month’s Golden Globes and Critics Choice awards, respectively. Upon sharing the Critics Choice prize with her idol, Meryl Streep, Hathaway — who certainly meant to say this a bit more artfully — said it was “fitting” that she tied for the prize with Streep since she thought the Doubt star was the best actress around. But it came off condescending to all the other actresses in the room, particularly her category-mates like Angelina Jolie and Melissa Leo. The usually composed Winslet, meanwhile, nearly had a heart attack when she won her two Golden Globe prizes. To many people, the reactions seemed over-the-top. Or worse, fake.
Now, I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I understand why Hathaway and Winslet would be emotional about their victories. I can’t even begin to imagine how many times, in interviews and in regular conversations, Hathaway has talked about how Rachel Getting Married seems like her bid to be a “serious” actress. Or how many times Winslet, who worked so hard on Revolutionary Road and The Reader, had been reminded that she’d never won a big award like an Oscar or a Globe. So it must have been overwhelming for both of them to hear their names called. But on the other hand, let’s remember that both of these awards are handed out by groups of journalists, for God’s sake — people that big stars like Hathaway and Winslet usually don’t give a hoot about. Why should they then fall to pieces over what those journalists think about them? Particularly in comparison to Laura Linney, who accepted her Globe for John Adams with such understatement and class, it was very surprising.
But here’s the question: Should award contenders’ speeches at pre-Oscar ceremonies affect how many votes they get from the Academy? Or should it be simply about their performances and nothing else? Regardless of what you think, apparently at least a few Oscar voters are now less likely to vote for Hathaway and Winslet. Maybe Streep did herself a big favor by skipping the Critics Choice ceremony.