Monday, December 01, 2008

7 Word Movie Review: The Reader

Sober and intelligent. Too risqué for Oscar?

78 comments:

Middle-P said...

i LOVE the question mark at the end of the review...that's so nathaniel!

so i guess the big question is, how big is the category fraud?? is winslet better in this or revolutionary road? will the acedemy agree with you?

NATHANIEL R said...

I think Winslet is better in this. It's much more of a stretch for her for one thing whereas, as fine as she is in it Revolutionary Road is stuff we've seen her do before...

I personally don't see how this Reader role could possibly qualify as a supporting one -- she's in a great deal of the film (hi, aging makeup) and even when she's not everything that happens is still entirely about her.
To me it's absolutely a leading role. Hoffman in Doubt (also a leading role) is even slightly less fraudulent than this methinks.

p.s. the academy rarely agrees with me ;)

StinkyLulu said...

I dunno. I'm beginning to worry that I'll be this year's big "category fraud" Cassandra. Just today I read a piece about how Heath Ledger didn't have that much screen time in Dark Knight, a claim I've seen made repeatedly about Debra Winger in Rachel Getting Married as well. And then at the same time I'm seeing Winslet, DeWitt and Zilberstein promoted as Supporting in roles that are clearly co-leads, if not leads. It's enough to get my little scene-counting, screen-timing brain all snarled in frustrated knots...

What oh what are we to do?

Anonymous said...

You got to see The Reader too??!!!???

God, I hate you.

Daniel said...

hmmm... is it possible she could get bumped to best actress for this instead of road, if critics hail her more? or is the category decided by the weinsteins in their fyc ads? it does look like the more interesting performance of the two.

what am i saying? the academy gave jamie foxx a best supporting actor nomination for 'Collateral'. can someone explain that one to me? roll out the category fraud carpet. here we go again.

adam k. said...

Damn. I want Winslet to get two nods. I wish it weren't quite so fraudulent. It's understandable she wouldn't want to chuck her husband's film for this one, especially if it goes over well (which it seems to be doing).

Maybe it could be like Natalie Wood in Splendour in the Grass, for which she was nominated over Best Pic West Side Story, for which she also would've been nominated if that was all she had? Or the year Ingrid Bergman was nominated for something else over Casablanca? (shocking in retrospect, but true)

I dunno. I just want this year to go well for my Kate.

Anonymous said...

Do you think those aging makeup works for Kate ? Some reviews says it's badly done.

adam k. said...

So hey, if this is in fact a lead role, have you found your Best Actress gold medalist? Especially considering she has not one but TWO great perfs? Kidman, '01 anyone?

I know you won't really answer, of course (the suspense!), but can you let us know if it's at least a possibility?

I do think that between this and the as-yet unseen by you I've Loved You So Long and Benjamin Button, there must be a viable actress gold medalist out there.

...right?

Ryan said...

Well Nathaniel, only 2 contenders left (Curious Case, Frost/Nixon). How's it feel?

Just out of curiosity, if you could magically block/stall one of the following Best Pic contenders, who would it be: DARK KNIGHT, DOUBT, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD or SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE?

One more- What would make you more happy: A win for Kate or a nom for Anne?

adam k. said...

What if the win for Kate is in the wrong category?

Ryan said...

Category fraud? Psst. You want to know what’s fraud; try Kate going home empty handed 5 times… while fucking Helen Hunt, Mira Sorvino and Hilary Swank didn’t.

Come on you guys! Why, oh why, bitch about category fraud when Kate... the goddess who gave us “Juliet”, “Marianne Dashwood”, “Rose Dawson”, “Ruth Barron”, “Iris Murdoch”, “Sarah Pierce” and “Clementine”... may FINALLY get her Oscar!

adam k. said...

It's the principle of the thing. I personally would sorta rather see Viola or Penelope win for true dynamite SUPPORTING performances, than have a Kate win tainted by fraud. It would just take away from what should be a glorious moment.

Katey said...

Don't you mean JUST BORING ENOUGH for Oscar??

Sorry, I'm finding it hard to control my frustration with this one. It's exactly the kind of classy, empty vessel that would win an Oscar and break my fragile heart.

Steven said...

Seems like they beefed up the role for Kate. Nothing would please me more than for her to win an Oscar this year. So if that means this performance gets in over Revolutionary Road for lead actress, at least all her apples are in one basket. But the two roles will definitely be competing if they were placed in the same category. Seems like she's getting great notices for both, so if both are considered leading, no nomination for Kate. Therefore, I'm all for category fraud in this instance. And it's a shame that an actor or actress can't be nominated twice in the same category while others were nominated three times in categories like Best Original Song. The category is Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, is it not? So what if an actress pulls out two of the top five best performances? Totally unfair, which means I'm all for category fraud. Worked for Jamie Foxx, didn't it? And he won his Oscar that year too.

~Steven

Ryan said...

Well put Adam.

But say a year or two from now Michelle Pfeiffer snags a supporting nom for a lead role… and wins. I wonder, would it taint the moment for, oh say, Nathaniel?

Steven said...

Haha, definitely wouldn't, Ryan. I tend to think that a great performance should be acknowledged. The placing of categories is totally just politics and strategy. Do I think Effie White is a supporting role while Deena Jones is the lead? Heck no. But if this strategy helps Kate win the gold, I'm all for it! As long as the performance is Oscar-worthy, of course. I don't want her winning for crap, not like she would ever do that since she's Kate Winslet.

~Steven

eric said...

“Too risqué for Oscar?”

Uh oh. Is Kate showing bush again?

adam k. said...

to Eric: "HA!"

adam k. said...

How ironic that they seem to have beefed up the role so Kate could really sink into it, and now she finds herself having to choose between a fraudulent category and going against herself in her husband's film.

Maybe they should've kept it supporting like in the book.

Steven said...

True that, Adam. Haven't seen the film yet, but she is only peripherally seen in the book. I guess the translation into film means that you'd have to show her at the trial, show her testimonies, etc., which ultimately makes her have more screen time. Gosh, why is Kate too amazing for her own good? That's why she is still Oscarless. It's times like this when I wish the Oscars had better rules about acting eligibility and concrete placements in categories, like the Tony Awards.

~Steven

Rob said...

Hmmm... It seems we differ on every point. I don't think the film is particularly risque, definitely no more risque than past Oscar-nominated films... found the film well-made, but cold and unaffecting, nor particularly compelling or provocative. Oh, and I definitely thought Winslet's role was supporting. The only lead in it is German jailbait David Kross.

Rob said...

OH! And it may contain elements of past roles/performances, but she's worlds better in "Revolutionary Road" than "The Reader."

Anonymous said...

I don't think to show Hanna all the time is an unwise choice. Why can't they be great AND faithful to the sources? They have to change everything, all the time. Damn. Maybe it's a great movie, but I'd like to see, just for once, a book I love made into a movie that respects the author's choices.

- cal roth

Anonymous said...

wise choice, I mean

-cal roth

anna said...

So how was David Kross then? I keep hearing great things about his performance. I've seen him in two films before and thought he was great (fantastic in "Knallhart"), but acting in a foreign language can't be that easy.

Anonymous said...

Well, I want Kate Winslet to get double nodded and add to her nom count. Category fraud doesn't get my blood boiling like it does for so many on here, so whatever to that. It's not her fault that she's been placed in this position to compete with herself with two baity films coming out in the same month. We should be glad that she's doing this level of work to get the notices in the first place no matter how they come about. She's not going to want to throw her husband's film under the bus, and at the end of the day, if the Academy goes along with the placement, so be it, it's their award to do with as they please.

FilmExperienceLover said...

Well Nathaniel...
who do you believe now?
The sms your friend sent you or moi?

NATHANIEL R said...

rob you don't think this is more risque than other Oscar films? Full frontal nudity more than once from both male and female lead. Tons of sex... etc...


everyone comments about "fraud" always remind me why the Academy is so relaxed about it. Most people just don't care very much. They just want good performances honored.

My thing is this: I do, too. But I don't see the point of having different categories if they don't mean anything. Why not just 10 nominees per category with no rules as to size.

And I think it's an affront to character actors who never have a chance at leading roles and who are often invaluable contributors to the success of movies to be shoved out of honors by stars in lead roles. It just seems really unfair to me.

everyone 2 many people will think Kate is "supporting" in this movie ---so I wouldn't worry too much about little ol' me ;) -- because ideas about this have become so distorted. Yes, she is absent from some sections of the movie and yes David Kross has the most screen time. But the film is still totally about her. And just because you have a smidgeon less screen time than the other lead (cough Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain) it doesn't make you a supporting character.

filmexperiencelover sorry i believe the txt message. I don't think Oscar will bite on this. It's very sad and not "easy" emotionally. And most people --judging on reviews and friends of mine who've also seen it -- seem to find it cold and uninvolving.

FilmExperienceLover said...

Darn...oh well I still love ya ;)

NATHANIEL R said...

ryan there's more than two contenders left. But you're right ... only 2 that will probably matter that much ;)

I'm seeing BUTTON today and FROST/NIXON also this week. so i will finally be done before christmas for once. Despite Hollywood's best efforts to steal the holiday away from my friends and family every year.

Arkaan said...

The reason category fraud bugs me is that it simply operates against the way the category was meant to be - to highlight hardworking supporting/character actors. Now, obviously, stars in the thirties and forties didn't take supporting roles, which they do now, so when a star does take a supporting role, I have no problem with supporting recognition (like Tom Cruise in Magnolia).

Of course, it also leads to leading roles played by less than stars being pushed in supporting, Casey Affleck, Naomi Watts, Scarlett Johansson, Keisha Castle-Hughes.

To me, improper recognition is not recognition. I don't care if it worked for Foxx - it shouldn't have.

Colin said...

"I personally don't see how this Reader role could possibly qualify as a supporting one -- she's in a great deal of the film (hi, aging makeup) and even when she's not everything that happens is still entirely about her."

I personally don't see how this Joker role could possibly qualify as a supporting one -- he's in a great deal of the film (hi, extreme closeups) and even when he's not everything that happens is still entirely about him.

Anonymous said...

colin...you have the best argument so far...

NATHANIEL R said...

Colin -ha ha.

the joker is probably on the line but i'm ok with that classification.

category classifications are often arguable as I've always allowed... even when I get upset about it. Except for Jamie Foxx in Collateral which is just a joke ;)

rosengje said...

... but what about Ralph?

Janice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janice said...

//And I think it's an affront to character actors who never have a chance at leading roles and who are often invaluable contributors to the success of movies to be shoved out of honors by stars in lead roles. It just seems really unfair to me.//

THank you Nathaniel - you've summed up perfectly why catagory fraud is still FRAUD, and why the conversation going on here is - well, isn't it like saying "I believe that cheating to pass an exam is wrong, except when I do it, or one of my friends does it, and then it's ok?" (Then again, we have the current presidential administration modeling that particular philosophy to the rest of the world so that shouldn't come as a surprise.)

There are plenty of Oscar winners who are forgotten or decried with the passing of time, and others who have never won Oscars whose place in the cinematic pantheon are nonetheless secure. It's history, not gold-plated paperweights, that is the final judge of a great performance.

And the supporting players are the liveblood of films and the unsung heros, doing the work and giving great performances without the fame and name recognition that accrues to the stars. Try taking away all the supporting players from any film and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's the Academy's award to do with as they please. If they want to reward leads in supportings clothing, then that's their choice. It'll just make the "character actors" that actually make it in there stand out all the more and make their nominations more noteworthy. And frankly, it's not just the Oscars that do this. NSFC and NBR both gave Casey Affleck supporting actor WINS for "Jesse James", and the world kept turning all the way to his Oscar nomination. Life goes on.

NATHANIEL R said...

anonymous 10:38 --but that's exactly why i get so mad. Even people who should know better "the national society of film critics" who have a lot of really esteemed smart members --cater so specifically to the Oscar punditry that it's becoming a joke.

I realize this comes off weird coming from an Oscar pundit. But that's the way i feel. When critics awards are no longer about film criticism but about helping or reflecting oscar buzz there is a huge problem with film criticism. No wonder nobody respects it and people keep getting fired.

I'm simplifying but sheesh.

Casey Affleck as a supporting actor. It'll never fail to make me crazy. 3 HOUR FILM which you control and in which you're in virtually every scene and you're the supporting actor?

ARGH.

Anonymous said...

It's not that big of a deal. Rectify it with your own awards, that's all you can do. Let the Academy do as they please with their awards.

Nick M. said...

Beyond the nudity (and, it's true there's a ton of it), it's not very risque at all. The questions of morality oddly lead to the stamping of heroes and villains, and the way a certain spoilerific detail is used to justify her Nazi actions is absurdly crass. Nonetheless, I agree that it was much more restrained than I had anticipated. It's still a little too careful and tasteful, though.

I wonder if you were in the same screening as me.

Lara said...

I'm with the ones here saying that fraud is fraud and if you take movie awards seriously when I absolutely understand getting upset about it.

"Let the Academy do as they please with their awards." This argument would work if the Academy would be a bunch of people who don't take themselves too seriously and handle the awards to their chosen ones without making much fuss. You know, just send a letter, thank them for their role, move on.
And you can pour award after award on a performance, IMHO, you'll never be able to "rectify" an Oscar.

Nick Plowman said...

Sometimes I wish Cloverfield was real. Ugh, sorry, but jealousy makes me sadistic.

MRRIPLEY said...

NAT JUST 2 THINGS,IS SHE GETTING A NOMS FOR THIS AND R/ROAD PLUS IS SHE WINNING FOR THIS OR R/ROAD,IS IT REALLY HER TIME,WELL THATS 3,SORRY.

Anonymous said...

Well Lara, I don't let it bother me. I think that most of you take the Oscars more seriously than most Academy members do. They're the final say, it's their awards, and you can always opt to not follow them if their decisions and placements bother you that much.

Lara said...

@ anon 11:54, believe me, it irks me for 30 seconds and then it's gone :-).
But I have to disagree with some some of your statements, like, how seriously Academy members take themselves or not. I say much much more than anybody else on this planet. Guess will never know.

Anonymous said...

If they really took their voting seriously, then they would actually watch all the films and actors that they were nominating and vote accordingly, place less emphasis on precursors and make up their own minds across the board (and yes, that includes category placements), and they would strive to nominate more things based on substance than on hype. When all of those things start to happen, then I'll think that Academy voters actually take their responsibility seriously. They don't more often than not.

Anonymous said...

Nate, on one hand I envy you for having seen RR and The Reader but on the other.. Well, it will be a long time until the next time you watch a new film by Kate. God, we don't even know WHAT she'll do next, let alone when. (Vivien Westwood's bio is on the table but we know too little about it).

Jim

Anonymous said...

Kate Winslet's been placed in supporting actress at the Globes for "The Reader" according to GoldDerby. So now it begins for the possible 2 nods. giddy

Anonymous said...

That's great!! One stupid question: There isn't a chance Oscar voters think otherwise right? (Both theoritically and practically)

Jim

Jeff said...

as much as I love Kate two nods is too much....
7 nominations? and she plays an unlikeable character in this...they will nominate one when they snubbed Kidman superb turn in Margot At the Wedding last year(an amazing performance that improve with each viewing) I don't know. I hope Kate wins of course she deserves it and in leading ,but what if the academy gives her the supporting Actress Oscar instead?
I will be depressed.

Anonymous said...

I think the Oscars will jump on the chance to give Kate two nods, especially if that's what the other groups do. They adore her. :) :)

NATHANIEL R said...

I'm starting to doubt she'll get in for The Reader. Last time she had a shot at two noms they ignored the supporting work.

but either way I think she's winning Best Actress

jim i'm not following your last question. think differently than whom? and also they're a group so i imagine they disagree as often as all of us within their membership ;)

Anonymous said...

If you're talking about the "ESOTSM"/"Finding Neverland" combo, she wasn't ever getting in for "Finding Neverland." "The Reader" is a far stronger racehorse for her than "Finding Neverland" was (all people were concerned about there was Johnny Depp the year after his "Pirates" breakthrough).

NATHANIEL R said...

anon -- i'm not sure i agree. THE READER is only Baity in terms of its overall subject matter. I don't necessarily think it's Oscarable otherwise. FINDING NEVERLAND was the type of thing they really love (biopic, period piece, lots of "heart") and her role in that was a lot more what they go for (her character in The Reader is not what they're usually drawn to).

Plus with Finding Neverland she was nominated for it at BAFTA and BFCA and even shared one critics award for Eternal Sunshine with it and the SAG ensemble nomination.

that said: Blech. I hate Finding Neverland so I'm glad they dodged that bullet ... at least as far as overdoing it with the acting nominations goes.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm sorry, I should have made it clear. I mean, is there a chance Oscar voters think she should be placed lead or is the Globes decision the final word on the matter?

PS: off-topic, it's my birthday and I'm not ashamed to put all these exclamation marks!!!!!!!!


Jim

NATHANIEL R said...

there's always a chance of oscar voters not following the campaigns (sag voters are required to follow studio classification decisions but oscar is a different story) but it's more and more unlikely these days since there are so many precursors to drive the categorizations home in their heads.

NATHANIEL R said...

oh and happy birthday !

Anonymous said...

Thank you :)


Jim

Matt Mazur said...

I didn't think the film was that great, but really like Winslet.

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

there's always a chance of oscar voters not following the campaigns (sag voters are required to follow studio classification decisions but oscar is a different story) but it's more and more unlikely these days since there are so many precursors to drive the categorizations home in their heads.

Was this enacted after Jennifer Connelly won? I remember that she was nominated leading there, but lost.

NATHANIEL R said...

rich aunt i don't think so. i think SAG was always this way. But sometimmes the interns at the studios make mistakes on classifications ;) there was one other example of this recently but it's escaped me.

Anonymous said...

I think you mean Streep. Someone put her lead for both The Hours and Adaptation and got no nominations at all that year.


Jim

Lisa said...

What about the other actors? Do you think anyone apart from Winslet has a chance of being nominated?

Jamesofa1000Days said...

Well I am in the minority on some category frauds.

For me Jim Broadbent was a lead in Iris and he won Supporting. Nicole Kidman was a Supporting Role ( I felt she was) in The Hours and yet she won the lead Oscar. Marcia Gay Harden was a lead in Pollack and won Supporting for it. Juliette Binoche was almost a co-lead in The English Patient and won Supporting.

Actually if you want to go back further on actresses whose category was in question you could wonder if Dame Peggy Ashcroft in A Passage to India or Eva Marie Saint On The Waterfront were actually supporting or leads.

I will have to see this I am usually stingy about the categories. I want to be fair about it though but god Kate should have at least one if not two already lol.

gabrieloak said...

If Catherine Zeta Jones can get a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Chicago, Kate can surely be awarded one for The Reader. Catherine Zeta Jones has an Oscar before Kate everyone. It's all so ridiculous.

Steven said...

Jennifer Hudson has an Oscar before Kate.
Hell, even Anna Paquin nabbed an Oscar by the time she was like 11 or something.
Kate can potentially be Oscar's biggest loser after this year and it makes me a little sad. I mean, not pessimistic, just sad that she will potentially hold that title. I know she will win one someday. She just has to!

~Steven

Glenn said...

Peter O'Toole has, what, nine losses? So she still has a few years of losses to be the all time loser. Or, hell, if you wanna branch out to the tech categories, she needs to lose 32 times.

Colin said...

Steven: Anna Paquin in The Piano - totally bad example of "can you believe she's won and Kate hasn't", because Paquin was phenomenal: precocious, petulant, mood-shifting, insistent, treacherous, naive, all-knowing, all at once. Possibly the best young acting performance ever, and to unexpectedly win the Oscar to boot - now that was the miracle.

NATHANIEL R said...

lisa no i don't. Kate is the only hope for acting nod for the movie.

Steven said...

Glenn, I believe she'd be the actress with the most losses if she gets two nods and two losses this year. And Peter O'Toole lost 8 times, so Winslet isn't far behind if this scenario occurs.

Colin, I never said that Anna Paquin was bad. She was great in The Piano. But the fact remains that she has an Oscar before Kate, who herself has done many, many incredible performances. And it's sad that Anna hasn't done that caliber of work again. I'm still hoping for it!

~Steven

NATHANIEL R said...

Steven you're right. If Kate is double nominated and loses both this year than she'll be the new record holder as all time loser for women

deborah kerr and thelma ritter currently hold that dubious record having been nominated and lost 6 times each.

Anonymous said...

YAY KATE WINSLET NAKED!

Arkaan said...

1. For whatever reason, I remain interested in the academy awards even in their folly. But I would like to minimize the folly, so no fraud for me.

2. I think Nathaniel hit the nail on the head with the critics, though. The preponderance of precursors seem designed to rubber stamp hyped/buzzed films and performers. And that in turn feeds into the cycle that only certain types of film and performances need apply for critical and buzz status, which then limits which films get it, etc etc (remember last year, that critics apparently snickered when one of their brethren submitted Ashley Judd, Bug for best actress? That's what I'm talking about).

Now, I'm sorta fine with groups like the BFCA being rubber-stampers. And the NBR's - "lets give every studio an award so they buy a table at out awards show" is funny in its transparency. But when the National Society of Film Critics does it (Affleck last year), I'm gonna start worrying. And given that there's so much to worry about in the film community right now....

3. I'm finding myself strangely dull about this season. Most of the films I'm looking forward to don't seem to have much a chance (A Christmas Tale, Che, The Class) and the ones that do already seem primed (Slumdog Millionaire, Milk).

The Reader HYPE said...

I'm quite fond of this film and all its dramatic glory. The suspense of what unfolds is shocking. I really enjoyed it.

I Hyped The Reader on Everhype and gave it 91% which I think is fairly accurate.

I wouldn’t mind getting some opinions on it . If you get on there, rate me a 5 & request friendship.

Gene said...

I watched it last night. It is one of the better movies I've seen in the last couple of years. It's pretty good, which probably means that it has no shot to win an Oscar. But that should be a badge of honor in and of itself.

Alex said...

Okay, here's my two cents for what it's worth.

I'm completely fine with Kate winning is supporting even if it is fraud. Can we all just agree that she'll win another one in lead, anyway? I feel the same way about Cate Blanchett. Even though she won an Oscar (completely deserved for a true supporting performance) there's no way that either of these two will win just one.

katty said...

in the reader movie,Michael needs a lady to help him because he is ill. after recovering he wants to thank her but she is not there.....i like the movie .....