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Oscars snub 'The Dark Knight' and star of 'Slumdog Millionaire'

January 22, 2009 |  8:38 am

"The Reader" has so much strength with voters at the Oscars that not only did it bump "The Dark Knight" from the top races for best picture and director, but Kate Winslet also was moved up from supporting to lead. Despite giving the core performance in the picture, Kate Winslet had been campaigning for a supporting nod so as not to cancel out her hopes for a lead nomination for "Revolutionary Road." The latter film, which was virtually snubbed, reunited Winslet with her "Titanic" costar Leonardo DiCaprio and was directed by her Oscar-winning husband, Sam Mendes ("American Beauty").

"Revolutionary Road" costars DiCaprio and Winslet were nominated for best lead drama actor and actress at the Golden Globes, where Winslet won twice: in lead for "Road" and supporting for "The Reader." However, DiCaprio was also snubbed today at the Oscars, just like he was the last time he costarred with Winslet — in "Titanic," which earned her a nomination for best actress (she lost to Helen Hunt, "As Good As It Gets"). "Titanic" ended up sailing off with more Oscars than any other movie in history (except "Ben-Hur," which also received 11), leaving its lead male star behind. DiCaprio, in turn, snubbed the Oscars and didn't attend the ceremony.

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Over the last decade, the best picture and director lineups have been out of sync by at least one nomination in every year but 2005. So it was widely thought that if "The Dark Knight" didn't get in for best picture at least DGA nominee Christopher Nolan would be recognized for his helming. Instead, "The Reader's" Stephen Daldry made the cut with the directors, which lined up exactly with best picture. This means that Daldry has been nominated for every feature film he's ever directed. His previous two flicks were "Billy Elliot" (2000) and "The Hours" (2002).

The Oscar nominations for "The Reader" are a huge vindication for studio chief Harvey Weinstein, who forced the film's release in 2008 even though it meant clashing with co-producer Scott Rudin. Rudin was backing his other pony in the Oscar race — "Revolutionary Road." And with Kate Winslet understandably loyal to her husband, Rudin wanted Weinstein to wait till 2009 to release "The Reader." When Weinstein wouldn't, Rudin pulled his own name from the credits of "The Reader." Last year, Rudin produced best-picture winner "No Country for Old Men" and nominee "There Will Be Blood."

Many Oscarologists believed that Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino") would be nominated for best actor despite the fact that he had been shut out at both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. After all, Eastwood has never been nominated for acting by the Globes and wasn't nominated by SAG for "Million Dollar Baby." (SAG didn't have competitive awards when "Unforgiven" was released in 1992.) Nonetheless, he did manage to reap past acting bids at the Oscars for "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby."

It's surprising that critics' darling Sally Hawkins ("Happy-Go-Lucky") was snubbed, considering her early derby victories as best actress at both the Gotham and L.A. critics' awards, as well as the Golden Globes. Oscar voters nominated the lead female stars of other Mike Leigh films: Brenda Blethyn ("Secrets and Lies") and Imelda Staunton ("Vera Drake").

Where's the slumdog, you ask? Dev Patel, star of "Slumdog Millionaire" and a BAFTA lead actor nominee, was snubbed in the supporting race even though his film reaped an impressive tally of 10 nominations and is considered the front-runner to win best picture.

Indeed, the love for "Slumdog Millionaire" was so strong that the academy's music branch nominated two of the songs from the film — "Jai Ho" and "O Saya" — and snubbed past Oscar winner Bruce Springsteen, who just won a Golden Globe for the title track to "The Wrestler." Bruce Springsteen won his Oscar in 1993 for the song "Streets of Philadelphia" from the film "Philadelphia." He was nominated two years later for the title song of "Dead Man Walking" but lost to "Colors of the Wind" from "Pocahontas."

NOTABLE OSCARS SNUBS

BEST PICTURE
"The Dark Knight"
"Wall-E"
"Gran Torino"

BEST DIRECTOR
Christopher Nolan, "The Dark Knight"

BEST ACTOR
Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino")
Leonardo DiCaprio ("Revolutionary Road")
Dustin Hoffman ("Last Chance Harvey")

BEST ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins ("Happy-Go-Lucky")
Cate Blanchett ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button")
Kristin Scott Thomas ("I've Loved You So Long")

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire")
James Franco ("Milk")
Ralph Fiennes ("The Reader")
Eddie Marsan ("Happy-Go-Lucky")

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Rosemarie DeWitt ("Rachel Getting Married")
Debra Winger ("Rachel Getting Married")
Kathy Bates ("Revolutionary Road")

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