I just read an interesting item over at InContention in which writer John Foote speculates that Harvey Weinstein’s successful campaign for The Reader may end up costing Kate Winslet the Oscar this year. His view is that Winslet gave a better performance in Revolutionary Road and may now lose to Meryl Streep next month since she was nominated for Best Actress for The Reader instead. I’m not so sure about that. While I agree that her turn in Revolutionary Road was spectacular, the Academy obviously feels much more love towards The Reader, and that she only received one nomination this year means voters have only one place to vote for her. So in a way, a vote for her Reader performance will be a vote for both performances.
But I also know that Weinstein has been counseled by some of his friends and colleagues to back off on the overall campaign for The Reader between now and the Oscar ceremony, the argument being that while a Best Actress prize is certainly within the film’s reach, it really doesn’t have a shot at surpassing Slumdog Millionaire for Best Picture or Best Director. (I’d say only The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk have even the slightest chance at an upset, and that’s a stretch in both cases.) This would be Weinstein’s chance, these advisers say, to run a classy, understated campaign and basically acknowledge the film’s nominations for Best Picture and Best Director as its wins in those categories. Particularly at a time when tons of costly For Your Consideration ads might not be the smartest move for a company said to be in a spot of financial trouble of late.
But let’s get real: That’s just not going to happen. Even though as recently as three weeks ago, Weinstein was telling acquaintances that he’d “be back in the Oscar race next year” with movies like Nine and Inglourious Basterds, now that he’s got a surprise Best Picture nominee, you just know that he’s going to go whole hog with the campaign. Otherwise he wouldn’t be Harvey Weinstein. And while it may end up being a waste of money as far as the biggest prize is concerned, consider this: With Winslet out of the Best Supporting Actress race, Penélope Cruz may just pick up the Oscar for her amazing work in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, meaning Weinstein could very well be responsible for both female acting winners on Feb. 22.