By Dave Karger
Updated October 31, 2008 at 08:44 AM EDT

Big movie stars are fleeing the Best Actor race in droves these days. Now comes word that Ralph Fiennes’ camp has decided to place him in the Best Supporting Actor category for The Reader. (Astute EW readers will notice that I put Fiennes in the lead-actor column in my Oscar Race feature in this week’s issue, out today; I was merely following the Weinstein Co.’s directives, which apparently have been overruled.) Certainly the swap now means Fiennes has a better shot at scoring a nomination: He’s said to be excellent in the film, but since he shares his role with newcomer David Kross, he probably lacks the sufficient screen time to make the Best Actor cut.

But moving Fiennes out of lead for The Reader does have a few strange results. For starters, it pretty much renders his fine supporting performance in The Duchess (pictured above) obsolete as far as the Oscar season is concerned, since Academy rules dictate that actors may only receive one nomination per category. And with his costar Kate Winslet currently set to be campaigned as Best Supporting Actress for the film, the movie now has no lead-acting contenders at all. The Academy usually lets that fly for an ensemble film like Babel or Crash; will they accept it for a three-hander like The Reader?

What do you all think of this? Is Fiennes shooting himself in the foot by competing against himself? Or is he making the smart move by banking on his Holocaust-themed movie for an Oscar nod?