Perspective 4: Kate Winslet

As this week has unofficially been Oscars week in the wake of Sunday’s Academy Awards, this latest edition of Perspective on RhettMedia is going to look at and analyse one of the more recent performers synonymous with the golden statues. Kate Winslet’s career has been underlined by her quest towards what many consider the highest honour for an actor or actress in film, and a lot of media scrutiny and speculation surrounded her appearances at the events. Having been nominated an astounding five times in two categories and being unable to lift the golden statues each time, a wave of relief must have flowed through Winslet when she finally won a gong for Best Leading Actress in 2008. Having been marketed as the jilted nominee for the better part of two decades, Winslet’s final triumph for her role in The Reader has capped off a remarkable journey, which will be examined here in this edition of Perspective.

The First Nomination (Sense and Sensibility, 1995)

After reaching mild success in a few tepid appearances on the television scene and a tremendous turn in the acclaimed Heavenly Creatures directed by Peter Jackson, a 20 year old Winslet floated onto the radar of the Academy and received her first of her many Oscar nominations for a supporting role in the screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Performing in the film amongst a star-studded cast including Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant, the picture itself garnered seven Oscar nominations and twelve BAFTA nominations.

Sense and Sensibility can be credited for establishing Winslet as a name to bank upon and a star to watch in the coming years. A combination of an esteemed group of performers to rely upon with a competent and assured execution from the young actress herself, this picture ensured a safe environment for Winslet to take chances and try to excel in the role, and the nominations and acclaim that occurred after release day indicates that the risks paid off. Though she was beaten to the prize at the Academy Awards by Mira Sorvino, Winslet had made an impact on the film world already, taking home a BAFTA instead in the same category. Winslet had arrived, but she had still yet to reach the tip of the iceberg, pun definitely intended.

Propelled to Stardom (Titanic, 1997)

Building on the success and wider visibility that her Oscar nomination in 1995 provided her, Kate bagged the role of Rose in what would turn out to be the most successful film of all time before being unceremoniously removed from that honour more recently. Her turn in the narrative of the tragedy was one of the cogs that made the overall wheel run, her screen romance with teen icon Leonardo DiCaprio driving audiences wild all across the globe.

The role propelled Winslet to the upper echelon of superstardom, and by the tender age of 22 was one of the most recognisable faces of Hollywood and moreover to an extensive international audience. DiCaprio was definitively launched even higher over the course of his career, but by her involvement and link to the Titanic project, Winslet had cemented her status and legacy already. With the movie tallying up in excess of a billion dollars at the box office, the iconic picture swarmed the 70th annual Academy Awards, amassing a huge fourteen nominations across the board with eleven wins in categories such as Best Director and Best Cinematography for James Cameron and Russell Carpenter respectively. However, there was to be no personal celebrations for Winslet, as she fell short in the race for Best Actress, and would have to wait another few years to potentially stroll home with a golden statue to place on the mantelpiece. Unequivocally though, her star was perhaps the brightest it has ever been even when looking through the rear view mirror from the present day, and it was unquestionable that she was destined to challenge for the coveted prize again.

Unattainable Goal (Iris/Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/Little Children, 2001, 2004 and 2006 respectively)

What followed the career-making opportunity and performance for Winslet was a decidedly wretched string of bad luck, with her star instantly becoming synonymous with quality cinema that fails to get the job done on the big night of the awards. Again starring in a film opposite some of the heavy-hitting names of film such as Dame Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent and Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville in the biopic of novelist Iris Murdoch titled simply Iris, Winslet capped off a celebrated performance with her third nomination for an Academy Award, once more in the Supporting Actress category. Ultimately Winslet was bested by Jennifer Connelly for her turn in A Beautiful Mind, but the bad luck didn’t end there.

Several years later, Winslet’s poor form on the big stage was rapidly becoming one of the cruellest tropes of modern cinema, being perpetuated by subsequent losses in 2004 and 2006 for her performances in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind opposite Jim Carrey and in the adaptation of the novel Little Children, co-starring with previous rival Connelly. Again, the critics went wild for the flicks and were particularly partial to Winslet’s performances, the maturity and aptitude for varying and challenging roles justifying the praise that she received so early in her career. By 2006, Kate Winslet was perhaps the most recognisable and reliably excellent talent not to be recognised by the Academy and five failed campaigns towards the golden statue was promptly becoming one of the harshest idiosyncrasies of the awards.

Realising the Dream (The Reader/Revolutionary Road, 2008)

By the time 2008 rolled around, it had been thirteen long years since Winslet’s very first Oscar nomination, and her starring roles in too major motion pictures in that year established a make-or-break mentality for the actress. Surely this time Kate could walk away with one of the prizes at that year’s Academy Awards ceremony? Careful selection of roles and a reunion with Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio meant that all the stops were being pulled out for Winslet, and the publicity machine was focused heavily on the actress and her dream of being recognised as the absolute best of the year.

The Reader and Revolutionary Road were both major league hits, her chemistry with Leo sparking Revolutionary Road into the genre of noteworthy cinema and her eclectic tenderness in the compelling adaptation of The Reader meant that Hollywood was abuzz with speculation that this was Kate’s year. Receiving a nomination for Best Actress at the Oscars for The Reader, it seemed incomprehensible that Winslet would miss out once more on realising her dream. Having gone one better at the BAFTAs and being nominated in the same category for both films, her victory on the English side of the pond boded well for her upcoming appearance stateside. A crescendo of emotion poured out of Winslet upon the announcement and an understandably emotional speech later and Kate had reached the pinnacle of her profession by receiving the Best Actress prize. Having realised her dream of lifting the golden statue, Winslet’s journey for tangible, physical recognition in trophy form had finally ended and her legacy was enshrined on Hollywood forever.


That does it for Oscars week, comments on all the posts from this week are more than welcome and the like button is there to be pressed if you feel like it. Next week is tentatively scheduled to be vampire week, so stick around if you have a taste for the gothic.


~ by jrhett on March 2, 2012.

One Response to “Perspective 4: Kate Winslet”

  1. Kate Winslet is an actress of quality, that can be seen by going through her nominations for Academy Awards. I must wish her all the best for this time.

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