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epic snubs

Getting to the Bottom of Kate Winslet’s Unprecedented Oscar Snub

Jenny Laden's Red Mountain (2008).

With most harbingers of Oscar doom focusing their efforts on determining what effect the Academy's snub of The Dark Knight will have on the show's ratings, a historic snub in the category of Best Actress flew mostly under the radar. Of course, we're talking about the Academy's failure to recognize Kate Winslet's performance in Revolutionary Road with a Best Actress nomination. This marks the first time in history that a solo winner for the Best Dramatic Actress prize at the Golden Globes has not been the recipient of a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for the same role.* So, what happened? We take a look at three possible theories as to what went wrong for Winslet.

1. The Harvey Weinstein Factor — It's not what you think. Yes, we all know his prowess when it comes to locking down Oscar noms for his films, but Vulture buddy Nikki Finke seems to think that Winslet's nod was intended to spite Harvey, not praise him. "I think The Reader's popularity with the Oscar balloters was all about Harvey, but not as a reward for The Weinstein Co. asshole," she said. "This is a sympathy vote for Scott Rudin and Stephen Daldry and Kate Winslet for having to put up with that nasty oaf during the tortured post-production and release of the movie." Then again, maybe Nikki's just mad that she didn't think to take a commission on that million-dollar bet with Harvey that she won.

2. Her Lack of Composure at the Golden Globes Cost HerEntertainment Weekly's Dave Karger first floated this very intriguing theory earlier in the week. He began by stating that he'd been hearing a lot of chatter from Hollywood insiders that they didn't like how the awards transformed the normally reserved English rose into something more closely resembling a teenager at her first Jonas Brothers concert. "The usually composed Winslet nearly had a heart attack when she won her two Golden Globe prizes," he wrote. "To many people, the reactions seemed over-the-top. Or worse, fake." And, as we all learned in kindergarten, nobody likes fakers!

3. It's All About the Preferential-Tabulation Process, Baby — Duh! Just kidding: it's a fairly complicated process that we ourselves only have a tenuous grip on understanding. But essentially, the vote was split. Unlike Golden Globes voters, who slotted Winslet’s Reader role under Supporting Actress, the Academy considered Winslet the lead in both Revolutionary Road and The Reader. As Brad Brevet over at Rope of Silicon explains, Academy members submit their nomination ballots with performances ranked one through five (with one being the highest). From there, the bean-counters over at PricewaterhouseCoopers tabulate all of the "one" votes first, then the twos, and so on, until five nominees have been selected. In theory, this means that Winslet's Revolutionary Road performance may well have received more total votes across the board, but a smaller, more vocal minority of voters conspired to give Winslet's performance in The Reader their top vote. Or, in other words, lots of people could have liked Winslet in Rev Road but a few people ended up REALLY liking her work in The Reader. And since Academy rules forbid one person from being nominated twice in the same acting category, The Reader trumped Rev Road. Got it?

*This also sort of happened one other time. Back in 1989, Jodie Foster, Sigourney Weaver, and Shirley MacLaine ended up in a three-way tie (!) for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama. That year, both Foster and Weaver ended up getting Oscar nods (with Foster winning for The Accused), but the Academy didn't recognize Shirley MacLaine's work in Madame Sousatzka. We consider this to be a minor technicality.

Nominations For 81st Oscars: Clint Eastwood Blanked, Chris Nolan Ignored, 'Slumdog Millionaire' 10 Nominations, 'Benjamin Button' Leads With 13 [DHD]
Can speeches ruin Oscar campaigns? [EW]
Winslet Oscar Query Solved and ‘The Dark Knight’ Probably Wasn’t Snubbed [Rope of Silicon]

Photo: Courtesy of Dreamworks