There was some worry among serious-minded awards watchers this season that the Academy might cede one of its five Best Picture slots to a box-office hit in the name of ratings. And with The Dark Knight earning recognition from three important guilds in recent weeks, it was looking increasingly likely that Batman would need to rent a tux for Oscar night. But those fears were evidently unfounded — voters went with the Holocaust movie! The Weinstein Company's The Reader scored five nominations this morning, including a nod in the top category, along with ones for Best Director (for Vulture buddy Stephen Daldry) and Best Actress (Kate Winslet, beating herself out for her performance in Revolutionary Road). So even though Benjamin Button heard its name called thirteen times today, was the frequently embattled Harvey Weinstein today's biggest surprise winner? We think so!
Given The Reader's mixed reviews and hilarious history, which included a war with Scott Rudin and a lost million-dollar bet with Nikki Finke, many had counted it out of Oscar's top categories this year, even after it racked up an impressive number of Golden Globe nominations a month ago. But even if Weinstein himself is a little surprised by this morning's developments, we bet he'd never admit it. As he told us in December: "I was never in doubt, because I knew the movie was strong, and I knew that it was just a bunch of silly bloggers looking to make a story out of nothing." And so it was. Congratulations, Harvey!
Update: Commenter alynch makes an excellent point:
That Weinstein is a clever fella. He manages to get Winslet nominated as a lead for The Reader at the expense of her performance in Revolutionary Road, thereby screwing over Scott Rudin as well as assuring that Penelope Cruz has no major competition in the supporting category. Well played, sir.