I wanted to do a series about a few of this year’s Academy Award nominees and, if there’s time, some that I feel should have been nominated.
Cate Blanchett is one of my very favorite actors and I could talk about her work and genius for years if anyone let me. She’s won two Academy Awards and is creeping into Meryl Streep territory with this, her seventh, including two in one year. So right away we can assume she’s extremely talented and also a hard worker. She has a luminous beauty and grace like no other, and yet, she is at her best when her characters are slightly unhinged. The brilliance of her craft relies on her delicate face and in her eyes, lie the secrets of the universe.
Chronologically speaking, I most likely first laid eyes on her in The Talented Mr. Ripley, but I had no idea what I was seeing and was understandably distracted by Jude Law’s eyes/lips/abs/hair, etc. I probably saw Bandits next and then The Gift, which have both become personal favorites to re-watch whenever I need that quick Blanchett fix. Again, I probably had no idea how good she actually was. In fact, it took her playing one of my idols to realize just how good she was.
In 2007, Todd Haynes set out to tell the story of a living legend. His biopic I’m Not There. featured a character so chameleon-like, no one actor could take on the role; it required six. Five dudes ranging from ages 10 to 60, and one Cate, who, for my money, looked the most the part. In Haynes’ imaginative glimpse into the many lives of Bob Dylan, she played Jude, the answer to his sixties-era, Andy Warhol’s factory, west village, ‘hero of the folk scene’ phase. She was sardonic, mysterious, and wickedly funny. Despite the film being overlooked in the major races that year, Cate earned her fourth nomination that year. This was when I really sat up and started to take notice. I had watched her other work, but had I really seen it? I started to think back.
Cate struck Oscar gold for the first time in 2005 for her portrayal of another legend, Katharine Hepburn, in The Aviator, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. It was then, and remains, my absolute favorite collaboration between DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese. Perhaps due to my overt fascination with the golden age of Hollywood and the history of aviation, the fact that it’s a solidly entertaining film about a few broken characters who can’t buy their own peace of mind. It is gorgeous and technically flawless and contains an emotional center that has stuck with me for the past 12 years. When Howard Hughes (Leo) is at his absolute worst, Kate (Cate) comes to visit him, pleading with him to open the door (and his heart) to her. The two former lovers have tried to remain friends, and I think there’s a level of responsibility that Kate feels for having left him when he was unwell, so she fights tears and makes jokes to the closed door, eventually sliding down to the floor. I know how hard it is to love and be loved when you are not at your best, and it’s probably one the hardest things human beings have to deal with. We find each other, we love each other, sometimes we move on, but we always leave something behind. This scene was about trying to go back and finding it’s too late.
I can’t picture the cinematic landscape without her contributions to it. Her work has already brought me so many of my favorite films and I’m eager to see which fascinating projects she chooses next. There’s a rumour she’s going to be in the next Thor movie and to that I say, move over, Chris Hemsworth. Move over and watch a master at work.
4 thoughts on “You Don’t Know Cate”
Stunning post, Lightle. And I agree, the woman is a tour de force. One of my favourite of her roles is the one in Blue Jasmine, she’s just electrifying to watch. Gwarn Cate with your bad self and grab that golden statue (I have no idea if her role is deserving of this or if she’s better than any of the other nominees at this stage) but still x
I can’t talk about Blue Jasmine because I love it and it’s perfect but I hate Woody Allen so it just makes me angry. But you are right, her aura is intoxicating.
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I know, I know. He was one of my favourite film makers growing up. I don’t want to entertain him any further ever again. So I’m with you on that one. But yeah, Cate. What a goddess x
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