What happened to the Oscar bump? Used to be, the "little" films that got important nominations would have a month or so of free publicity before Oscar Night and make some nice coin. This year, though, three of the five top nominees made hardly a dent. The Reader, Frost/Nixon and Milk together have earned less than $25 million since the nominations were announced, and about $63 million since they opened. (Last year, the bottom three grossers among Best Picture nominees Atonement, Michael Claytonb and There Will Be Blood took in more than twice that amount. And that was supposed to be an artsy year.) For even serious movie fans, The Reader and the two bio-pics are just three more titles to add to their Netflix queue.
The Reader is just now hitting the $20 million mark, which means fewer people have seen the movie than voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. That is a minority crowd. Harvey Weinstein, whose company distributes The Reader, has long been Sammy Savvy in turning Oscar-nominated art films into popular ones and even he can't get folks to pay for this movie, despite glowing reviews and Kate Winslet's face on many a magazine cover. You might have thought the picture could be sold with two words: sexy Nazi. In fact, the predations of the Third Reich may be of interest only to geezers. And people no longer go to a movie house to see virtual sex. They get enough of that at home. Odds of winning: 40 to 1
Director: Steven Daldry
He's directed three feature films Billy Elliot, The Hours and this and been Oscar-nominated for each. The view here is that The Reader is by far his finest movie work, getting a startlingly raw and mature performance from young David Kross, and pushing Winslet to find the moral void at the center of a woman who never loses her fascination. But win the Oscar this year? Nein. Der Nichtsnutz. Die Abzahlung. Odds of winning: 60 to 1
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