By Rachel Abramowitz
January 23, 2009
Winslet apparently had hoped to avoid having her two performances go one-on-one by expressing her wish (via the studios' campaigns) that "The Reader" be entered in the supporting actress category and "Revolutionary Road" in the lead actress category, a desire that was honored by both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Yet the rules are different for the Oscars, which permit actors only one nomination per category and assign the category as the academy -- not the potential nominee -- sees fit. The 5,800 Oscar voters were clearly overwhelmed by what many consider one of the actress' best performances.
The 33-year-old Winslet has never won an Oscar, although she's been nominated six times, including for her performances in "Sense and Sensibility," "Titanic," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and now "The Reader." During this Oscar season, Winslet has been candid about her desire to finally win one.
Winslet declined to comment Thursday beyond a released statement that said, "I'm genuinely thrilled not just for myself but for the wonderful Stephen Daldry and David Hare. These nominations are a testament to their unwavering commitment to this film. . . . Surely Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack are smiling down on us today!" (Both producers died before "The Reader" was released.)
In Daldry's film, based on the Bernhard Schlink bestseller, a German teenager falls into an affair with a mysterious and much older working-class woman, Hanna Schmitz, only to find out eight years later that his former lover is now a defendant in a war crimes trial. The movie garnered four other nominations, including best picture, director and adapted screenplay.
In an earlier interview with The Times, Winslet explained her way into this controversial character. "The fine line for me playing Hanna is I knew I couldn't try to make her likable. I'm playing a woman who contributed to some of the worst crimes committed against humanity, so how can an audience feel something for such a woman? So I knew I couldn't take on responsibility for asking for the audiences' forgiveness, but I knew that if an audience could feel any level of sympathy for Hanna, and then feel morally compromised because that's what they felt, that would be potentially interesting."
She did admit that the goal she set for herself was a challenge. Said Winslet, "Everything is such a leap of faith, you just go into it saying, 'I hope I can bring something to this.' "
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