400 Screens, 400 Blows is a weekly column that takes an in-depth look at the films playing below the radar, beneath the top ten, and on 400 screens or less.
Well, Kate Winslet, you finally won your Oscar. Congratulations! It has been a long hard road since your first nomination, what was it? Fourteen years ago, for Sense and Sensibility? Then, let's see, the other nominations came for Titanic (1997), Iris (2001), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Little Children (2006) and finally The Reader. In-between, there were lots of other attempts to get nominated, with performances in Kenneth Branagh's amazing four-hour Hamlet (1996), Philip Kaufman's fascinating Quills (2000), the awful anti-death-penalty message movie The Life of David Gale (2003), the turgid Finding Neverland (2004), and even a remake of a former Oscar-winner, All the King's Men (2006).
Some people thought you should have been nominated for last year's Revolutionary Road (181 screens), rather than The Reader. But can I be honest? I thought they were both bloody boring, both filled to the brim with prestige with no room for art or soul. (They are what Manny Farber once termed "parade floats" or "white elephants.") Because, let's face it, if you really want an Oscar -- and who can blame you for that? -- you have to make a certain type of film. We can fight and complain, but that's just the way it is.