The Good, The Bad and the Badass: Cate Blanchett
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...
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.
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.
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'.
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.
4. THE GIFT
2. I'M NOT THERE
1. BLUE JASMINE
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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