The Reader is another moody, depressing independent film (the same director as the The Hours) with method acting (Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes). Stir in a Holocaust backdrop and beloved, recently deceased insiders Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack as producers, and you have yourself an Academy-nominated Best Picture. No matter how many Heath Ledger or Clint Eastwood movies have their good china out.
The biggest problem with the film lies with the main character’s choices and motivations. The climax in the film will have many audience members scratching their heads, but not necessarily for moral purposes. If you’re into soft porn, The Reader contains more gratuitous nudity than Woodstock (the real one). Seriously, how many times do we need to see a fifteen year-old’s privates? Not to pinhole solely on male nudity, there was a time when actresses were frowned upon for showing too much leg. Nowadays, it seems like the actress who is most sexually provocative, wears the most face-distorting makeup, or gains the most weight for her role will be handed the Oscar on a silver platter (not that Winslet doesn’t deserve it).
The point is that we don’t need to see that much of the characters’ birthday suits to connect with the story. Hitchcock knew that. Erotica aside, The Reader is ready-made for today’s Academy; auf wiedersehen, Braveheart and Gladiator.