Oscar nominations post-mortem: misreading "The Reader"


First of all, I’d like to apologize to the Academy for underestimating their boldness in their Best Foreign Language Film nominations  No way did I think that such dark and challenging films as “Revanche” and “The Baader-Meinhoff Complex” would get in. It suggests that maybe the demographic of Academy members is getting younger, if not chronologically, then mentally and in terms of taste. Not just bolder, but — dare I say the word? —  more liberal. Reflecting, perhaps, the liberal direction in the country’s politics embodied by the new President.

Then again, with “Revanche,” I have no doubt that the FIPRESCI Prize at the Palm Springs Festival put it over the top.

So much for personal delusions. The big question is, what’s with “The Reader?” Did anyone see that coming? (Answer: Scott Feinberg of the blog “And the Winner Is.” Bastard!).  Five nominations, including Best Picture and Director. Could Kate Winslett’s tits have that much clout, even with a thumbs up from Oprah?  Could it be that the Weinstein Brothers still have that old Oscar magic? Maybe the Academy checked out the Foreign Language entries and thought, hey, we can make a dark film about tragic and controversial historical events with gratuitous female nudity too! Overlooked is the fact that “The Reader,” despite its pretensions, is shamelessly exploitative of the Holocaust and bankrupt in its moral reductiveness. If Himmler had such great knockers, maybe we could have cut him a break as well.

I suppose the reason I’m so annoyed with “The Reader” is because it accounted for three of the six (or is it five?) wrong predictions  I made out of 30 in the top six categories. I say five because even though I got Best Supporting Actress wrong (Marisa Tomei’s flaunted nudity beating out Winslet’s in “The Reader”) as well as Best Actress ( Winslet topping Scott-Thomas in  “I Loved You So Long”) I did get Winslet’s performance right, just in the wrong category, while also predicting that her highly favored “Revolutionary Road” performance wouldn’t make the grade. So there. I think I should get credited for one correct choice or that.

Also note that the Boston Society of Film Critics,  of which I’m a member, once again showed its prescience (or is it influence? Dream on.) in its awards.  Seven out of ten of them  proved to be Academy nominees. One of them, the Best Documentary “Man on Wire,” will be shown at the group’s Awards Ceremony February 8 at the Brattle Theatre. One of that film’s producers, Maureen A. Ryan, will be on hand to accept the award and discuss the film.


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