'The Reader': The movie with no leads?

For Your Consideration ads have been coming fast and furious in the trade papers lately, and as I suspected would happen a few weeks ago, the Weinstein Co.’s advertisement for The Reader (which I’d call a definite top-10 Best Picture contender) lists Ralph Fiennes and David Kross in Best Supporting Actor, and Kate Winslet and Lena Olin in Best Supporting Actress, with no candidates for Best Actor or Best Actress at all. Now, other movies, like Crash and Babel, have tried this tactic before with some success. But those two were indisputably ensemble films, whereas The Reader, which spans five decades, clearly has two main characters: one shared by Kross and Fiennes and the other played entirely by Winslet. Obviously, the all-supporting decision is meant to keep Winslet from competing against herself (she’s up for Best Actress for Revolutionary Road), but now that I’ve seen in print, it does seem a little disingenuous. If the Weinstein Co. had placed Kross in the Best Actor category (he has much more screen time than Fiennes), there would have been at least one official lead to speak of. Still, if the Academy follows the campaign directives, it’ll turn out to be a smart move, since Winslet’s amazing performance in The Reader should be a sure thing for a supporting nomination.

addCredit(“Melinda Sue Gordon”)

Comments (5 total) Add your comment
  • Jen

    I loved the trailer for this movie. Here it is in HD http://www.hd-trailers.org/2008/11/the-reader-trailer/

  • Joe

    And the article here http://www.qvvo.com/link/e8c54517

  • Tabb

    Dave is correct in that the argument that this is a film with no leads does not hold. It’s not an equally divided ensemble of small roles and not even a balanced three-hander. This is a film with two clearly defined lead roles – “David Berg” and “Hanna Schmitz.” Kate Winslet is the only lead actor who appears throughout the film, playing Hanna in every time period, and she is justifiably top-billed as the lead actor. There is no conceivable way this role or performance can be considered a supporting one, based on what this category is meant to single out. The fact that the positioning of her as such hasn’t raised more cries of “Foul!” or ridicule astounds me.

  • Tabb

    2 – Reader
    Having scored supporting nominations with SAG and the Golden Globes (which allowed Winslet’s supporting bid only “after what was said to be heated discussion,” according to The Hollywood Reporter) key marketing groundwork has been laid to imprint itself on the minds of Academy voters as they mark their ballots within a very limited time frame. Should the ploy succeed, it would be arguably the most egregious case of “category fraud” in the history of the Academy.

  • Tabb

    3 Reader
    Winslet is excellent in the film as are Ralph Fiennes and David Kross in the “split” role. But it’s no secret that Winslet’s heart this year is more with bringing attention to REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, which she helped develop and convinced husband Sam Mendes to direct, so doesn’t want awards competition with herself. But the worst thing about a lead performance securing a nomination in a supporting category is that it always, always by definition robs another truly deserving and supporting performer of that opportunity. And this year that would mean some other excellent work by another actress would be shoved aside.
    If Winslet is nominated for Supporting Actress – accompanied by the likelihood of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s co-lead being nominated in Supporting for DOUBT – I strongly suspect the Academy Board of Governors will finally make a move to create more restrictive criteria for these supporting categories in the future.

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