Did Harvey Weinstein cost Kate the Oscar?

Posted by · 8:15 am · January 28th, 2009

Harvey WeinsteinFor all his marketing and campaigning genius, Harvey Weinstein’s tactics have become — well, have been — a bit thuggish. In Peter Biskind’s extraordinary book “Down and Dirty Pictures,” a stunning look at the independent film world in the late 1980s and all through the 1990s, we are made privy to many of Harvey’s tantrums, eyewitness accounts of his bullying behavior, and crazy belief that because he is rich, he can do whatever he wants.  He can always buy his way out.

Is there anyone left out there who truly believes that “Shakespeare in Love,” a lovely film, was actually better than “Saving Private Ryan?” Somehow Weinstein convinced the Academy it was, so the best directed, best edited, best shot and best sounding film, lost to a beautifully written work that will be forgotten in time, if it has not been forgotten already.

Weinstein is a genius at getting his films Academy Award nominations, and some have said he will promise the artists as much when he buys the film or agrees to finance the work. He took Billy Bob Thornton from relative obscurity to an Oscar win for writing “Sling Blade.”  Who did Thornton defeat that year?  No less than the great Arthur Miller for “The Crucible!”

I had hoped that when Disney dismissed Weinstein and brother Bob from Miramax (a company they founded) that perhaps he had learned something. It seems The Weinstein Company will continue the legacy of Miramax during the Oscar season, however.

Somehow Harvey got “The Reader” five Oscar nods, including Best Picture, and he managed to sway the Academy to vote for Kate Winslet as a lead actress rather than supporting. Her performance in “Revolutionary Road” might be the best of her career; it is certainly the best performance by an actress I have seen this year.  How did the Academy make this blunder?  What’s more, the actress has slid from a cake-walk win in supporting to a much more contested category in lead.  Might she miss altogether?

The SAG Awards may be a better harbinger of things to come than we realize this year. Meryl Streep is beloved by the film world for her acting genius, her humility and for keeping her life in order far from the madness of Hollywood. They have not honored her since “Sophie’s Choice” back in 1982, though she has been nominated more than any other actor in the history of the Academy.

Streep is splendid in “Doubt” and having won the SAG award, seems a wee bit closer to the Oscar than Kate. The Academy is acutely aware of the years between Streep’s last Oscar win, and has certainly been looking for a chance to honor the greatest living actress once more. Good old Harvey, he might have just given them that chance.  Perhaps if she does win she should thank Harvey in her speech.

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59 responses so far

  • 1 1-29-2009 at 12:38 pm

    Chris said...

    Now seriously billybil, what you’re suggesting is: giving Meryl Streep, the arguably greatest actress of all times a consolation Oscar for a minor performance of hers. I don’t even think she’d want it herself if she knew somebody else deserved it more. And if winning an Oscar really isn’t about the best performance, then why should she even bother to win another one?

    At the same time I’d like to ask you: so Kate Winslet is 33 and got so much more time to win an Oscar than Meryl Streep? How old was Meryl Streep again when she won her last Oscar? 32? Gosh, if your logic was correct Kate Winslet would be pretty f****d when it comes to the Golden Boy, if she doesn’t win soon.

    Now here’s a shocker: just imagine Angelina Jolie won her second Oscar. Streep 2, Jolie 2, Winslet 0. Thank God, this won’t happen.

  • 2 1-29-2009 at 5:12 pm

    Mike V. said...

    I hope Meryl will win BA. I think Kate should have been nominated in the Supporting category and win in that spot. But this is Meryl’s year. Sorry. Her performance in Doubt is fantastic. It’s not subtle because the character was supossed to be exaggerated and over-the-top. But it’s great how she put the habit on and scare more than one. Her performance is even funny, making it more versatile than any other performance of 2008.

  • 3 1-29-2009 at 7:37 pm

    TWC said...

    “As time goes by, it is the winning that people remember.”

    Oh ok! It must just be some strange coincidence then that everyone mentions her being “the most nominated actress” in all of these ‘awards blogs’ and in all her interviews and even the announcer at the oscars when she’s presenting an award. I’m mean because after all it’s just the wins that everyone remembers. LOL

  • 4 1-30-2009 at 1:10 am

    roberto said...

    I actually think Kate has a much better chance at winning now, with one lead actress nomination for a film which is also a BP nominee. She was fantastic in RevRoad, but it’s the Academy’s own rules that don’t allow her to be a double nominee, not Weinstein’s. I think Weinstein really pushed for her in the supporting category and that win would’ve been ridiculous. It’s ironic that finally two Weinstein-film actresses might end up winning the actress categories, but I don’t mind at all, love them both (even though I didn’t think much of VCB apart from Penelope’s performance).

    I think Doubt is not very strong and Meryl’s performance is dividing. This is not a lifetime achievement award, so it doesn’t matter that in a way she’s even more due than Winslet. It seems like the Academy really liked The Reader, so I don’t think they care much about the fact that it’s a Weinstein picture (and let’s not forget that it’s also a Daldry, Minghella and Pollack picture!)

    One last thing: I also think Shakespeare in Love is far superior to Saving Private Ryan and all the Weinstein pictures that won in the nineties-early 00s (SIL, The English Patient, Chicago) were much-loved films that do age well.
    However, his films that couldn’t win, but managed to score BP nominations (Chocolat, Gangs of New York, Finding Neverland) – now, that’s where his awful campaign tactics show. Some might argue that The Reader belongs in this category, but there are many who consider it this year’s high profile literary adaptation BP nominee in the line of Atonement, The Hours etc.

  • 5 1-30-2009 at 11:48 am

    Edgar said...

    If Kate was nominated for Rev Road, she can definitely take home the OSCARS, but for some magic event, she was nominated for The Reader which is a tamer performance compared to Rev Road. I think, Harvey wants to campaign for The Reader so much that it cost Kate her Best Actress win in Rev Road. It’s Harvey who wants to get the Oscar, not Kate. Oh well, Kate is gifted, she’s only 33, she can make 5 more Oscar worthy performance. How sad how actors are sometimes victims of big time producers.

    I would place my bet to Meryl Streep for Doubt, not only bec. she’s the greatest actress on earth but she gave a solid and memorable performance in Doubt.

  • 6 1-31-2009 at 2:10 pm

    BerkeleyGirl said...

    Okay, stoke the fire, because I’m going to get flamed but: Meryl Streep a once-in-a-century talent? I do not dispute her ridiculously prodigious gifts but I, for one, am left unmoved. Streep can hold the camera with her technique but she rarely moves my heart. Nothing I’ve seen her do – which is a LOT, including “Sophie’s Choice” – comes close to reaching Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennyson.

  • 7 2-02-2009 at 10:11 am

    Roxanne said...

    Who is going to buy this garbage about Meryl Streep????!!!!

    What a load of crap! Go try sliming someone else, Meryl Streep is the unslimable, and since when does Kate Winslet r Helen Mirren even begin to compare????!!!