Why Cate Blanchett Will and Deserves To Win
There’s been a lot of speculation of late if Cate Blanchett’s chances for Oscar gold this year may be deterred because of the Woody Allen scandal that’s plagued the media for the last month or so. Despite the fact that this entire conversation seems in poor taste, I honestly don’t believe it will affect her chances nor should it. Blanchett shouldn’t be “punished” by association with Allen, nor should she have to weigh in on the situation and make a statement at the Oscars. There have been some people who believe if and when she wins she shouldn’t even acknowledge Allen at all. This seems like an unrealistic expectation. Of course she’s going to mention Allen. He wrote and directed the film. And while Blue Jasmine has its flaws, Cate Blanchett’s performance isn’t one of them. Her Jasmine French is a mass of insecurities and artificialities. It’s a beautifully-tuned performance—one that stemmed from Blanchett’s own portrayal of Blanche Dubois in the Liv Ullmann production of A Streetcar Named Desire a few years back, and her own credibility as an actor to dig deep within herself to produce a character so flawed and pitiful, that we as the audience still feel a deep sympathy for her.
In almost all of her acceptance speeches during this awards season, Blanchett has mentioned her work in the Sydney Theatre Company. I saw Blanchett when Uncle Vanya came to New York several years ago and she was a marvel. Physically mesmerizing, she has a magnetic appeal that works both on stage and screen. It’s already been mentioned by other pundits that she probably should have won a Best Actress Oscar for her work in 1998’s Elizabeth (was Gwyneth really that memorable in Shakespeare in Love?). While she already has a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her lovely larger-than-life performance of the “creature” a.k.a. Kate Hepburn in 2004’s The Aviator, I believe this year the Academy will reward her with a long overdue Best Actress Oscar, cementing her place as one of this generation’s geniuses behind the likes of Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis.
In case you need a reminder of how long Blanchett has been working in the industry and the wide range of her genius, I’ve made a list of my top five favorite Blanchett performances (not including Blue Jasmine, which would definitely be on that list).
1) Elizabeth – Shekhar Kapur’s decadent reimagining of Elizabeth the I is marvelous. Blanchett goes from young girl to hardened queen and we are in awe of her transformation both physically and emotionally at the end.
2) The Aviator – The Aviator takes some liberties with the timeline and history of Hepburn and Hughes’s relationship, but Blanchett is so endearing as Hepburn the persona. I say persona, because she perfectly embodies the “creature” Hepburn wanted the public to see and not the true Kathy. Read William J. Mann’s marvelous book, Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn, for more details.
3) Bandits – Bonnie Tyler. The kitchen. “I Need a Hero.” Perfect shade of red hair. Perfection.
4) Notes on a Scandal – Blanchett’s Sheba Hart is deliciously ugly. Paired with the incomparable Judi Dench, the two make a Gothic campy pair—the likes of which hasn’t been seen since What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
5) I’m Not There – Not since Tilda Swinton played the filmed version of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando has there been such a miraculous transformation of gender-bending on screen. Blanchett’s Jude, a.k..a a veiled version of Bob Dylan, is the strongest of the representations in Todd Haynes’s 2007 film.
For your consideration: Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
If the Academy made it a tie: Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine /Amy Adams in American Hustle