Oscar Threat Level Elevated As Kate Winslet Pressured By Underdog

Polls may be closed, but theories persist — crackpot and otherwise — about certain favorites' stability in their respective categories. Kate Winslet might be among those with reason to worry.

Despite Winslet's best clothes-shedding efforts, we've long suspected the Best Actress category was a closer call than most would give it credit for (see the new issue of Time Magazine for starters). Yet it wasn't presumed silver-medalist Meryl Streep making the biggest late strides, but rather Frozen River's Melissa Leo — a 25-year film/TV veteran who may accrue enough rank-and-file votes to split Winslet and Streep and sneak in for the win. That's how Marcia Gay Harden did it in 2000, as Sasha Stone noted this morning; David Carr was even more direct at The Carpetbagger:

[W]hile Ms. Winslet does appear to be the favorite for her role in The Reader, The Bagger heard some stuff at parties last night at parties about Melissa Leo coming on strong; this line of thinking holds that many people did not see Frozen River and her amazing performance until recently and that some have been put off by Ms. Winslet's admission that she would like this year to be hers.

Meanwhile, Winslet's husband Sam Mendes played dumb about her Oscar groveling, instead throwing his own light weight behind the campaign yesterday in New York: "Give her a break from Losing Face, everybody." Was he not at the Globes? Break's almost over, Kate — it might be time to get back to work.