We're breaking down all the Oscars contenders for you, so that you can decide whether you want to see them -- or at the very least, hold your own at cocktail parties. Next up: the post-WWII semi-factual drama 'The Reader.'
Let's get right to it, shall we? Which, come to think of it, may be the unspoken message of Kate Winslet's character, Hanna Schmidt, to her much younger paramour, Michael Berg (David Kross).
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director (Stephen Daldry ), Best Actress (Kate Winslet), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography
What It's About: A German schoolboy (newcomer Kross) takes up with a much older trolley attendant (Winslet) in post-WWII Deutschland. Years later, he's startled to see her as a defendant in a Nazi war crimes trial. She's convicted, and he's haunted by the affair -- and by a choice he makes to withhold a secret he's learned -- for the rest of his life, as portrayed by a haunted and morose Ralph Fiennes.
Why You Should See It: At the heart of this dramatized historical drama is a romance -- Michael never really got over his summer affair with Hanna. He marries and divorces, is estranged from his daughter and can't commit to any romantic relationship. So you can watch for its look at how Germany's post-Nazi generation was scarred by its recent past, or you can view it as a love-lost-and-lamented romance. Either way, Winslet as Schmidt makes for a fascinating character one wants to puzzle through, and Fiennes brings his usual A game in an under-recognized role.
It's Kind of Like: 'The Graduate' meets 'Schindler's List'
How You Can See It: In theaters now