Oscars 2014: Why Cate Blanchett Will Win Best Actress

Blue is the warmest title to earn Cate Blanchett an Oscar

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Sony Pictures Classics

NOMINEES

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Whoever takes Best Actor will be receiving his first Academy Award — but in this year’s Best Actress selection, the finalists are accustomed to aisle seats on Oscar night. Five previous nominees, and all but Adams have won before: Blanchett for The Aviator (Supporting), Bullock for The Blind Side (lead), Dench for Shakespeare in Love (Supporting) and, in her own Oscar category, Magic Meryl. Going into this year, Streep had earned more nominations, 17, than her quartet of distinguished competitors — Dench had six, Adams and Blanchett four, Bullock two — and as many wins (Kramer vs. Kramer in support, Sophie’s Choice and The Iron Lady as the lead).

(READ: Why 12 Years a Slave Will Win Best Picture)

Streep gives the biggest performance in August: Osage County — as the matriarch Violet, she spits hard truths at her troubled Oklahoma family — but not nearly the finest. Adams’ Sydney is the brains and crooked heart of American Hustle. This bold, sad, acute turn, by an actress whose artistry is always full of grand surprises, deserves an Oscar. So does Dench, the British Dame who softens her familiar steeliness as Philomena, the chipper little Irishwoman who won’t give up a 50-year prayer to locate the child stolen from her. Bullock, alone on screen for virtually the entire last hour of Gravity, carries the year’s best movie in a performance that’s both athletic and empathetic; the film is nearly as much her triumph as director Alfonso Cuarón’s.

Strictly between us, each member of this trio inhabits her character with more power and subtlety than the great Cate is allowed to bring to her Jasmine. A snooty one-percenter who lost her money and home (but not her sense of entitlement) when her philandering scam dog of a husband killed himself, Jasmine is an abrasion to her working-class sister (Sally Hawkins), to the city of San Francisco and to many of those in the audience. Perhaps Blanchett received poor, or no, guidance from her director, Woody Allen; but an actress with an uncanny ability to pour herself into roles ranging from Katherine Hepburn (in The Aviator) to Bob Dylan (in I’m Not There) seems oddly outside the blue shrew Jasmine.

(READ: Corliss’ review of Blue Jasmine)

File this away as a minority report, for Blanchett has been the front-runner since the movie opened last July. In the critics groups’ voting, she earned six times as many wins as her nearest rival (Bullock). She took the Golden Globe (dramatic actress) and the Screen Actors Guild prizes.  If she’d been anywhere near MetLife Stadium early this month, she’d probably have won the Super Bowl. Blanchett’s main challenge through awards season has been to give a half-dozen variations on her acceptance speech; she aced those, too, with grace, generosity, humor and resplendent poise.

(READ: Corliss’ pick for Best Supporting Actor in the 2014 Oscars)

The only speed bump in the red-carpet parade might have been the recent accusations of long-ago sexual predation made against Allen by his stepdaughter Dylan Farrow. Not wanting to criticize either her director or a young woman with a poignant story, Blanchett tried to avoid taking sides. And when her friend Philip Seymour Hoffman (who costarred with her in the 1999 The Talented Mr. Ripley) died on Super Bowl Sunday, she shut down her promotional schedule to attend Hoffman’s funeral and handle her grief quietly.

(READ: Corliss’ pick for Best Supporting Actress in the 2014 Oscars)

Two weeks later, she emerged to accept the BAFTA (British Film Academy) award for Best Actress. Without naming Allen, she briefly expressed gratitude to the Blue Jasmine team — “To everyone who made that not only possible but so memorable and such a game-changer for me, I thank you” — then launched into a tender, eloquent tribute to Hoffman. She ended with “So, Phil, buddy, this is for you, ya bastard. I hope you’re proud.”

The only suspense that remains for Best Actress on Oscar night: Who will get Cate Blanchett’s thanks?

(READ: Corliss’ pick for Best Actor in the 2014 Oscars)

4 comments
Elsa
Elsa

 Blanchett IS beautiful in that movie with Woody Allen! I loved the trailer and want to see the movie asap!!!! The other movies she's played in were good too of course. Great fan.

Pember
Pember

Oh, look the guy who gave the film a rotten rating doesn't want Blanchett's excellent, widely-acclaimed performance (for its subtlety, power, intricacy, commitment, how unsettling, comic, and haunting it is), that's by the way won virtually everything of awards seasons, to win the Oscar. That fact that you completely dismiss haunting, subtle, penetrating scenes like, off the top of my head, her in the double-date sequence, when Dwight talks about their plans and getting married, her reactions to Ginger's final outburst, the final, brilliant, haunting sequence that no one else but perhaps Streep could ever pull off, and even Streep might probably overdo it and lack authenticity - speaks to your either alarming imperceptiveness and insensitivity or deep, blinding bias. You not being receptive to that is alarming, particularly for a film critic.


"In the critics groups’ voting, she earned six times as many wins as her nearest rival (Bullock)"


Bullock has 0% chance of winning, and has won practically nothing. Dench is her "biggest rival", which no one actually is. Blanchett swept all major critics groups, in fact she swept all but 4 minor critic circles. Hers is the most awarded performance, more than Helen Mirren's.


"Not wanting to criticize either her director or a young woman with a poignant story, Blanchett tried to avoid taking sides"


Actually what she did was give a gracious, generous response in wishing the family peace and resolution, out of that sordid, unfortunate mess, as we all should. She has absolutely nothing to do with any of that, she has no duty whatsoever to comment on it - like Mr. Alec Baldwin brashly put it and he's correct -  and like everyone else, she has no clue on what really went down. She is simply and actress who acted in a Woody Allen film and has gotten acclaim for her performance.


Adam's deserved an Oscar? for that cringe-inducing mess? what for modeling in sexy clothing? for pouting and being cringe-inducingly self-aware? being the odd one out that doesn't understand the tone of the film she's in? Is that why you say she's bold?

"This bold, sad, acute turn, by an actress whose artistry is always full of grand surprises" - funny how that's your description of ADAMS, and not Blanchett, the one that actually, 100%, objectively embodies that. Lol. 


And that you imply Streep - the one who gives a mixed-to-negatively reviewed campy, over the top, caricatured capital-A performance - , even after you called it not nearly the finest performance, gives a subtler (subtler!) performance than Blanchett completely strips you of your credibility here.


Can you BE anymore biased or clueless? 



corazonlatido
corazonlatido

@Pember  I couldn't agree more. Cate is a chameleon. Which role to even mention first? Elizabeth? Bob Dylan? Katherine Hepburn? Veronica Guerin? She totally disappears in her characters, unlike Adams, from which I always see slightly varied versions of the same character. She's a good actress but in no way any better than many other actresses out there. There can't even be a comparison between Cate and Amy. Cate was simply phenomenal in Blue Jasmine. She managed to give more layers and dimensions to the character than Allen even intended to give, according to what he said in an interview...He said he didn't expect people to end up caring on what happened to Jasmine and that is an element that only Cate could have brought in. She took a great risk with this role but pulled through like a real champion. 


In my opinion, in Adams' place it should have been Emma Thompson or Julie Delpy nominated. Their performances were much much better than Adams', who was totally wiped off screen the moment Lawrence appeared.I would also add Adele Exarchopoulos but I read somewhere that it was the release dates of the movie that caused an issue with it being considered for nominations. 


The second best performance of the five nominated was that of Judy Dench but still not that good and as demanding as that of Cate. 

Pember
Pember

And he praised A:OC! with this as the his blurb on Rottentomatoes: 

"Among Wells' actors, six have earned Oscars or Oscar nominations, and most of the others deserved to somewhere along the line. As a company, they're swell here"


Lol. My, yes, film critic, Oscar nominations of relevance to the quality of the picture reviewed.


An blurb for Amercain Hustle:

"Reveling in its '70s milieu and in the eternal abrasion of sexy women and covetous men, American Hustle is an urban eruption of flat-out fun - the sharpest, most exhilarating comedy in years."


Yes, sexy women, covetous men, good call.