Kate Winslet’s Best Actress Nom for ‘The Reader’ Sure is Fishy

UPDATE: You are going to want to read my latest article either before, after or instead of reading this editorial as I detail the way Oscar votes are counted and it is not as I assumed in this piece. Click here for the updates.

Okay, I need you to work with me here because I am eternally confused as to how Kate Winslet earned a Best Actress nomination for The Reader and not for Revolutionary Road. I am not saying this because I think one performance was better than the other and it has nothing to do with deserving, this is simply based on logic.

As you can see from the scanned For Your Consideration advertisement above that was published in Variety Kate Winslet was being pushed by the Weinstein Co. as a Supporting Actress for her role in The Reader. This was being done primarily because Winslet was being looked at as a serious contender for Best Actress for her role in Revolutionary Road. This comes as a result of the Academy’s rule saying, “In the event that two achievements by an actor or actress receive sufficient votes to be nominated in the same category, only one shall be nominated.” Basically it would be either Winslet for The Reader or Winslet for Revolutionary Road, but not both. Therefore, let’s go for one for Supporting and the other for Lead.

This is not rocket science, but it helps me prove my point, which is coming shortly. First, let’s take at rules #4 and #5 in the Rules for “Special Rules for the Acting Awards“:

4. The leading role and supporting role categories will be tabulated simultaneously. If any performance should receive votes in both categories, the achievement shall be only placed on the ballot in that category in which, during the tabulation process, it first receives the required number of votes to be nominated. In the event that the performance receives the numbers of votes required to be nominated in both categories simultaneously, the achievement shall be placed only on the ballot in that category in which it receives the greater percentage of the total votes.

5. In the event that two achievements by an actor or actress receive sufficient votes to be nominated in the same category, only one shall be nominated using the preferential tabulation process and such other allied procedures as may be necessary to achieve that result.

I have read, and re-read, had others read and discussed the two rules above and have come to the conclusion that the Academy’s nomination process is SERIOUSLY flawed. Here’s how I read the rules as stipulated above.

As votes are being counted if Winslet’s Reader performance received enough votes in the Best Actress category to be nominated based on the number of ballots left to be counted it would instantly become a nominee therefore eliminating her Revolutionary Road performance. However, based on that logic it means that the Reader performance may have only been nominated because the first ballots counted for more whereas the later ballots may have all read Revolutionary Road. Basically, it sounds like Revolutionary Road could have had more votes but just didn’t get enough of them first.

That is just point #1.

Next we take Rule 5 into consideration and perhaps Winslet’s role in Reader was doing well there too, but as it turns out it earned the nomination for Best Actress first and was therefore instantly dropped from Best Supporting Actress, since you understandably can’t be nominated for the same performance in two categories.

With how insane it is to believe an Oscar nomination doesn’t seem to be determined by how many votes a performance received, but rather by which one got to what percentage first, is crazy, but it still doesn’t explain how so many Academy members decided to nominate Winslet as a Lead Actress for The Reader and not a Supporting Actress.

Rule #3 in the Acting Rules says, “The determination as to whether a role is a leading or supporting role shall be made individually by members of the branch at the time of balloting.” Sorry, I find it to be impossible for this to be true.

Harvey Weinstein is well known within the industry for being a great influencer and it is one of the reasons Miramax saw so much success over the years when Harvey was head of the indie studio. In this case Harvey was pushing for a Supporting nod for Winslet for this role and you better believe he would want to make sure that was understood. The last thing he would want is for Academy members to get confused, split the votes between Lead and Supporting and end up with zilch. His For Your Consideration ads read “Supporting” as I am sure did all the screeners for the film. Considering the Academy’s rule saying the determination is left to the individual voting members seems unlikely. And for anyone thinking Harvey somehow wined and dined 5,810 voting members into voting Winslet for Lead and not Supporting on the side I can’t imagine that being remotely true or even possible. On top of all that, if there were still confused voters wouldn’t it be likely there would hardly be enough confusion to swing the vote this far?

The only thing I can even begin to consider happening here is some sort of memo sent out to Academy members or some kind of “hush-hush on the QT” chain mail telling folks to vote for Winslet’s Reader performance as a Lead Actress. The idea of such a thing would be quite a scandal, but I personally don’t believe it would be a problem. I do think the roles should be defined beforehand and I also think it is ridiculous to have a rule where one person can’t be nominated twice in the same category.

Even worse, the idea a performance could be knocked out of contention before all the votes are counted is absurd, but I can’t help but believe that is exactly what happened here due to the “first” rule and the “no duplicates” rule working in conjunction.


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