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The Good, The Bad and the Badass: Cate Blanchett

01.20.2014

In last week's column, we took a look at the career of actor Matthew McConaughey, an actor many of us once thought of as washed-up, but has since renewed his career to the extent that he's now a newly minted Oscar nominee. This week, we take a look at the career of one of his fellow nominees...

Cate Blanchett

Since bursting on to the scene with her Oscar-nominated performance in 1998's ELIZABETH, Cate Blanchett has established herself as one of the most brilliant and acclaimed actresses of her time. She's won one Academy Award, and been nominated for four others, along with three Golden Globes, and a whole raft full of other awards. Put Cate Blanchett in a movie and you can't go wrong. In fact, just looking at her filmography, the odds are the film will be up for some major awards.

The thing that's really interesting about Blanchett is how she's able to so thoroughly disappear into a part, whether playing Queen Elizabeth, the heroine in a Woody Allen movie, or heck- even the cartoony villainess in an INDIANA JONES movie (not one of her better films, but she's campy fun). She very rarely goes wrong, and strikes me as an actress in the mold of Meryl Streep, meaning that she'll be around for a long time to come.

Her Best Performance

For me, the answer has to be BLUE JASMINE. Blanchett takes what could have been an insufferable role, playing the oblivious wife of Alec Baldwin's Bernie Madoff-style schemer, and makes it human. Granted, Jasmine is a pretty awful person, but there's some humanity there and you pity her throughout her Blanche Dubois-like stumble into madness. It helps that Woody Allen strikes the perfect balance between comedy and tragedy, and the effect is that Blanchett is able to show her proficiency with both.

Her Most Overrated Performance

It bugs me that Blanchett won an Oscar for her turn as Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's THE AVIATOR. I'm a big Hepburn fan, and Blanchett's cartoony performance is probably the only time in her career that I felt she gave a performance that was off. Her Hepburn is insufferable, and doesn't convey the spark that Hepburn had that made her such an icon of the golden age of Hollywood.
Her Most Underrated Performance

Although it wasn't a particularly good film, I always thought Blanchett's performance in Barry Levinson's BANDITS was one of her best. She does a great job playing a lonely, unappreciated housewife caught between two bungling criminals, but relishing the romance and escape of her new, unlawful existence. I especially loved her first scene in the film, where she's shown rocking out to Bonnie Tyler's 'Hero'.

Her Most Memorable Scene

Pretty much any scene from I'M NOT THERE will do. When I heard Cate Blanchett would be one of the people playing Bob Dylan (or a character- named Jude- closely patterned on him) in Todd Haynes' I'M NOT THERE, I thought it was quirky casting that would likely ruin the film. How wrong I was. In a cast featuring Richard Gere, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and more, Blanchett is by a long shot the one that comes the closest to capturing Dylan's idiosyncratic nature. The interview scene with Bruce Greenwood is amazing.

Her Top-Five Performances

5. ELIZABETH
4. THE GIFT
3. HANNA
2. I'M NOT THERE
1. BLUE JASMINE

Up Next

Blanchett's a busy gal. Not only is she co-starring in the new George Clooney-Matt Damon WW2 movie THE MONUMENTS MEN (as a French Resistance leader) but she's also due to reprise her role as Galadriel in Peter Jackson's final instalment of THE HOBBIT trilogy, THERE & BACK AGAIN, along with not one, but two Terrence Malick movies, both of which are due of this year, although whether that happens remains to be seen.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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11:54AM on 01/21/2014

Top notch actress

The vignette called "Cousins" in Jim Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes has Cate in top form playing both herself AND a not famous cousin. The whole movie is pretty great.
The vignette called "Cousins" in Jim Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes has Cate in top form playing both herself AND a not famous cousin. The whole movie is pretty great.
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8:24AM on 01/21/2014
in bandits i think she looked the hottest imo great actress
in bandits i think she looked the hottest imo great actress
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4:28AM on 01/21/2014

Great in everything including Hot Fuzz

When I first saw Hot Fuzz, I thought Nicholas Angel ex-GF looked hot even with everything that covered her. When I knew Blanchett was Janine, I just thought "No wonder she's instantly memorable". So, in summary, in the immortal words of Ace Ventura, this feature fits her LIKE A GLOOOVAAAHH!!!!!
When I first saw Hot Fuzz, I thought Nicholas Angel ex-GF looked hot even with everything that covered her. When I knew Blanchett was Janine, I just thought "No wonder she's instantly memorable". So, in summary, in the immortal words of Ace Ventura, this feature fits her LIKE A GLOOOVAAAHH!!!!!
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7:10PM on 01/20/2014
This woman is amazing. Her performance in Blue Jasmine is one of the best performances I've ever seen in film. I just felt like she should've been exhausted after filming-I was just watching her rung through that emotional ringer. And she has an exotic beauty about her makes her look both pretty and distinguished.
1. Blue Jasmine
2. The Aviator
3. I'm Not There
4.Notes On A Scandal
5. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
This woman is amazing. Her performance in Blue Jasmine is one of the best performances I've ever seen in film. I just felt like she should've been exhausted after filming-I was just watching her rung through that emotional ringer. And she has an exotic beauty about her makes her look both pretty and distinguished.
1. Blue Jasmine
2. The Aviator
3. I'm Not There
4.Notes On A Scandal
5. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
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4:32PM on 01/20/2014
The Hot, the Hotter and the Hottest. Cate...you make me weak at the knees.
The Hot, the Hotter and the Hottest. Cate...you make me weak at the knees.
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1:04PM on 01/20/2014
I never really clicked with her. To me, she's a very technical actress that gives performances that are always good, including tics and mannerisms, but there is always something missing... a certain warmth or a heart behind it all. I never care for her characters (well, perhaps 5 minutes during Benjamin Button), she's mostly cold and distant.

I prefer actors who make it seem like acting is a feeling, not a series of techniques.
I never really clicked with her. To me, she's a very technical actress that gives performances that are always good, including tics and mannerisms, but there is always something missing... a certain warmth or a heart behind it all. I never care for her characters (well, perhaps 5 minutes during Benjamin Button), she's mostly cold and distant.

I prefer actors who make it seem like acting is a feeling, not a series of techniques.
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12:02PM on 01/20/2014
She's just as good as, if not better than, Meryl Streep. Certainly I can't help but place those two in the same category as actresses who can be counted on to disappear into their roles and deliver one strong performance after another. I still pretend she wasn't in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, because that part was so beneath her. I certainly see how Hepburn is an overrated performance. I actually think that movie had a lot of overrated performances in it (but Alan Alda was terrific). I'm Not
She's just as good as, if not better than, Meryl Streep. Certainly I can't help but place those two in the same category as actresses who can be counted on to disappear into their roles and deliver one strong performance after another. I still pretend she wasn't in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, because that part was so beneath her. I certainly see how Hepburn is an overrated performance. I actually think that movie had a lot of overrated performances in it (but Alan Alda was terrific). I'm Not There is phenomenal in large part due to her performance. Bandits is a great star-powered caper comedy that never did seem to get the appreciation it deserved. Another underrated role of hers is in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
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+4
10:46AM on 01/20/2014

Terrific Actress

I thought she was amazing in Curious Case of BB, but it was Veronica Guerin that made me start to pay attention to her. Bandits was great turn for her. I think she is a classic actress of old in our time. Not relying on overdoing sex appeal (though she does have a lot).
I thought she was amazing in Curious Case of BB, but it was Veronica Guerin that made me start to pay attention to her. Bandits was great turn for her. I think she is a classic actress of old in our time. Not relying on overdoing sex appeal (though she does have a lot).
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10:13AM on 01/20/2014
My favorite actress of all time (narrowly edging out Ingrid Bergman). She's just perfect, and if she doesn't win the Oscar for Blue Jasmine, I'll be shocked.
My favorite actress of all time (narrowly edging out Ingrid Bergman). She's just perfect, and if she doesn't win the Oscar for Blue Jasmine, I'll be shocked.
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8:53AM on 01/20/2014
Although it's an Overrated Performance, I really like her in The Aviator. She nailed the role nicely.
Although it's an Overrated Performance, I really like her in The Aviator. She nailed the role nicely.
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8:52AM on 01/20/2014
You vill. Help us. Find it.

I think she was just about the best part of KOTCS. She really was having a ball with the part but at the same time she was dedicated to it and she could've easily phoned it in, but she chewed all that CGI scenery left right and centre and it was awesome.
You vill. Help us. Find it.

I think she was just about the best part of KOTCS. She really was having a ball with the part but at the same time she was dedicated to it and she could've easily phoned it in, but she chewed all that CGI scenery left right and centre and it was awesome.
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10:12AM on 01/20/2014
Agreed!
Agreed!
8:31AM on 01/20/2014

One of the greats, IMO

I know not everyone likes this scene, but I was impressed with the sequence in FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING where Galadriel shows what she would become if she took the One Ring. That little breath she took when she realized, "I pass the test" was incredible. A stunning actress.
I know not everyone likes this scene, but I was impressed with the sequence in FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING where Galadriel shows what she would become if she took the One Ring. That little breath she took when she realized, "I pass the test" was incredible. A stunning actress.
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8:29AM on 01/20/2014

I love me some Cate

I love Cates performance in Bandits. That and the Gift are my favourites of hers. She's stunning too.
I love Cates performance in Bandits. That and the Gift are my favourites of hers. She's stunning too.
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