If you take the box office returns on Judi Dench's oscar-nominated films in comparison to the number of oscar nominations she's recieved it must be pretty low.
How many people actually saw Notes on a Scandal, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Iris, or Mrs. Brown? Granted, Shakespeare in Love is well-known but how many people even saw her in that movie. She' s notorious for having very little screentime.
And the more important question, how many ordinary people off the street who aren't film buffs or oscar afficianados saw Mrs Henderson Presents, Notes on a Scandal, Iris, or Mrs. Brown. Notes on a Scandal is a movie i've never even heard of, and maybe you can call me uneducated if you want.
One thing i can conclude is that if nothing else, the publicity machine behind Judi Dench is terrible at promoting her movies, or box office take just doesn't matter to selecting performances.
Granted, it's not the best picture race, but it would be nice if someone, anyone had seen or heard of these movies. And seriously, ask 100 random people on a street if they've heard of those movies?
Judi Dench isn't really the target of my attack, but I notice that some movies with acting lead nominations like (Before Night Falls, Quills, or Transamerica) (I would give partial honors in that category to I Am Sam or Pollack) really have very nonexistent audiences. I'm not saying that it's the fault of the moviemakes, but maybe more people should see these movies or maybe they're just not massively appealling. The numerous movies about people with mental disabilities like My Left Foot or I Am Sam or sexual deviants like Quills, Boys don't Cry or Transamerica start to blend into one another.
I don't know much about some of these movies but honestly, I really can't say Transamerica sounded that appealling. A movie about a woman who becomes a man, was pretty much all that it was marketed as. Am I right? That would be unappealling because that plot has been done many times before in the name of pure oscar bait. Breakfast at Plut was another oscar bait role of the year 2005 which unfortunately didn't get a nomination for Cillian Murphy. It was about a transsexual too, but it advertised itself as more than that: it was about a kid abandoned by his parents, a person trying to make it in the Irish revolution, a person filled with joy and happiness, and it had director Niel Jordan to boot.
Transamerica didn't get its word out that it was more than just a picture about a transsexual, as if to say "Come see another one of these movies about a transsexual, this time hopefully with an acting performance you can admire." Or better yet, maybe it wasn't that heavily advertised and maybe the people didn't really care about the audience. Maybe it was just an effort to get an oscar under the studio's belt and to get one for Felicity Huffman, who treated the whole thing as an Olympic diving competition where playing a transsexual is the equivalent of a super-high degree of difficulty that grants you a virtual guarantee on the medal podium if you can pull the dive off.
But, somewhere along the way, I think the need to cater to the American Public gets lost in there.