Saturday, February 13, 2016

2013: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

Cate Blanchett plays a disturbed socialite who has just lost everything and is forced to move from New York to her essentially estranged, working-class sister's apartment in San Francisco.

Remember the last time an actress won this award for a Woody Allen film, and I wrote about how undeserved it was because she didn't have much of a role and the story was mostly focused on the man? Well, that didn't happen this time. Woody Allen still bugs me, but at least he's demonstrated that he is able to write and direct a woman-centered story. Cate Blanchett unquestionably plays the leading role, in addition to giving an incredible performance that completely defines the movie.

She's very believable, both in the flashback scenes when she seems to mostly have everything together and in the present day scenes when she's completely losing it. The way she handles the scenes when she's talking to herself - usually the result of re-living past events that we've just seen in flashbacks - is particularly intriguing and impressive. She gives the impression that she really thinks it's happening right then, and that she's reacting to it naturally, when she's really staring at nothing. But what's so great about those parts is when she snaps back to the present and finds that people are staring at her. She clearly realizes why, but she never looks embarrassed; she either ignores them completely or glares at them defiantly until they look away. No one could have pulled this off better than Cate Blanchett.

I'm also impressed by how controlled her performance is, considering that she's portraying a mental breakdown. While her character is often over-the-top, I never feel like she's over-acting. She keeps it realistic, so that even though I don't particularly like her character, I can't help sympathizing with her. On the whole, I would call this a pretty good, not great, movie, but without Blanchett's performance it could have been terrible, so if it had to win an Oscar, it won for the right category.

Cate Blanchett received her first Oscar nomination for 1998's Elizabeth. She won the next time she was nominated, for Best Supporting Actress for 2004's The Aviator, in which she played 4-time Best Actress winner Katharine Hepburn. I still haven't seen that movie, but I can't possibly imagine anyone convincingly playing Katharine Hepburn except Katharine Hepburn, even someone as talented as Cate Blanchett. But anyway, next she was nominated for her supporting role in 2006's Notes on a Scandal, and the following year she was nominated twice: for Best Supporting Actress for I'm Not There and for Best Actress for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, but she lost both: the first to Tilda Swinton, the second to Marion Cotillard. Blue Jasmine was her next nominated performance, and currently she's nominated again for Carol, so I may be blogging more about her soon. We'll find out in two weeks.

But in the meantime, the last person I know for sure that I'll be blogging about is Julianne Moore

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