Saturday, 21 February 2009

A Pre-Oscar Musing

I love Kate Winslet. I have always loved Kate Winslet. She belongs to an increasingly shrinking group of movie actresses that seem to have valued substance over style. She has been meticulous in her career choices. Beginning with the sublime Heavenly Creatures, and continuing a year later with her Oscar nominated and  incandescent performance as Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, Kate refused to be type-cast as a ditzy and sexy ingenue. And sexy she was. Never one to be a slave to the Hollywood hype for rail thin actress, Kate has insisted on being a role model for real body types and healthy body images. She followed up these magnificent performances with the mega-hit Titanic. (hated the movie with a passion, but not because of Kate!) Nominated again, she could have been vaulted into Julia Roberts money territory, but she chose instead, to star in the strange and independent Hideous Kinky, the Marquis de Sade story Quills, the role of young Iris Murdoch (yet another nomination!) in Iris, and the phenomenally brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. (nominated again!!) She found success in Finding Neverland as J.M Barrie's muse, and rather than sit on her laurels, chose the very disturbing suburban drama Little Children (nomination number 5!!) and the mindless fluffy comedy, The Holiday. Five nominations before the age of 30 is anybody's definition of success, but Kate wasn't done. This year has been her best yet. With turns as the bored housewife in Revolutionary Road and the concentration camp guard in The Reader, (nomination 6!) Kate has launched herself into a new stratosphere of accomplished actresses. Brilliance is not a word that I use lightly when it comes to acting, but Kate Winslet is certainly in that territory. So, it pains me to ask, "What the hell has happened to Kate Winslet during this award season?" She is almost unrecognizable. She is actively campaigning for this Oscar. One cannot turn on a talk show or open a magazine or newspaper without an interview featuring Kate. She has dropped weight and it shows in the designer dresses she has chosen for her preening red carpet walks. She has been positively flighty and ridiculously giddy. Her acceptance speeches have been stupid and vapid, and she comes off as a cross between Sally Field and Paris Hilton. She is being over-managed by Harvey Weinstein in his zealous campaign to drive voters to The Reader and away from Slumdog Millionaire. I want to cry and scream every time I see her on TV these days. 

If Kate Winslet loses tomorrow evening, she will join Thelma Ritter and Deborah Kerr as the actresses with the most Oscar nominations and nary a win. Pretty heady company. If she does win, I suspect it will be a combination of  the Hollywood establishment believing that she is long overdue for a win, and as a result of an impressive media campaign by her producers. I saw The Reader. A terrific movie to say the least, but not Kate's best performance by a long shot. I will be cheering if she does win, but if I had a vote this year in the Best Actress category, it would go to Meryl Streep in Doubt hands down, and Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married would receive serious consideration. Kate, I love you girl, but you need to remember who you are; a wonderfully gifted artist who needs to stay true to her calling. This role of dumb "Hollowwood" starlet simply does not suit you!

***UPDATE!!! So Kate wins and behaves like the Kate of old. Real, effective, gracious and not bubbleheaded in the least. Welcome back Kate. I've missed you for the last 3 months. Nice to see that the aliens returned you before the Oscars!!

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