What you definitely know her from:
The Lord Of The Rings, The Aviator, Elizabeth
What you might know her from:
Hanna, I’m Not There, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
What you probably don’t know her from:
Notes On A Scandal, Veronica Guerin, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Cate Blanchett has one of the most impressive CV’s around. She’s worked with the majority of the great directors – Spielberg, Scorsese, Jackson, Anderson, Fincher. Her work is varied,: comedy, fantasy, drama, period drama, biopic.Can the woman do any wrong?
With this film, Blanchett became the first person ever to win an Oscar for playing a previous Oscar winner, the late, great Katharine Hepburn. It’s a truly flawless performance, Blanchett completely inhabiting the role of one of the queens of acting. Most people would find taking on such a woman intimidating. If Blanchett was intimidated, there’s not a hint of it. Whereas Kate Beckinsale’s Ava Gardner merely feels like a poor impersonation, Blanchett’s Hepburn is ballsy, unafraid and completely perfect. She does the voice but it doesn’t feel forced, it feels uncanny. In a film filled with star turns, from Leo’s Howard Hughes to Jude Law’s Errol Flynn, Blanchett truly steals the show. Leo is good, Cate is great.In Blanchett’s hands Hepburn becomes a real character, not a caricature. And she manages to do all this with a monster pair of false teeth modelled after Hepburn’s own impressive choppers. Not bad going.
Notes On A Scandal
An intimate drama seething with secrets, lies, anger and loneliness, Notes On A Scandal is intense from the word go. If you haven’t seen this film, go seek it out. It’s a masterclass in acting,
focussing on a fascinating love affair between Judi Dench’s pathetic, lonely, obsessed senior teacher, Barbara to Blanchett’s bohemian, family woman with a dark secret, Bathsheba Hart. Dench almost steals the show here, with her depressing, desperate obsession with Sheba, and a lesser actress may have had the show stolen from her, but Blanchett constantly levels the playing field. Indulging in an illicit affair with one of her students and blackmailed by a woman desperate for friendship, it culminates in an almighty showdown between the two, Blanchett’s face smothered in eyeliner, screaming, shouting, smashing each other against walls. It’s fascinating stuff, and never for a moment feels melodramatic. I’m unsure whether to label this film a drama or a thriller, for by the time the film reaches its conclusion, you’ll find yourself fighting to catch your breath. It is truly intense, there’s an undertone throughout the whole film which makes you uneasy and by the time the film finishes you’re just full on terrified. Two powerhouse actresses giving it their all. Flawless.
One of Blanchett’s first major Hollywood roles, and one which she returned to again in it’s (lesser) sequel, The Golden Age. Blanchett takes on one of history’s great women, and conquers her completely. It’s a great film, part political thriller, part historical romance, part portrait. Blanchett gives it her all, acting alongside such greats as Sir Richard Attenborough, Geoffrey Rush and…Eric Cantona. Again, Blanchett shows no sig of being intimidated by such a cultural icon, instead giving her complete humanity. Gone is the stuffy, ruffled Virgin Queen of the past. Instead, we have a young and beautiful woman learning what it is to be queen, to be a woman in a man’s world, to be in love with a man yet devoted to her country. It’s a remarkably subtle performance, given what we’ve seen Elizabeth played as in the past (Bette Davis, anyone?). We see Liz realising she is going to have be stronger if she has any chance of standing up to a council full of patriarchal bastards, her nervous first moves towards doing so, a young girl intimidated by much older, worldly men finally claiming her rightful throne and shouting the buggers down til they’ve been beaten into submission. Blanchett plays Elizabeth as a young, naive girl finding her way who just happens to be queen. She makes mistakes, she follows her heart stupidly, she believes people are inherently good even though she knows otherwise. By the end of the film, she is transformed, a world weary woman ready to devote herself to her country, because no man is enough for her, no-once can be trusted, and no-one can do the job as well as she can. Much like Blanchett, then…
It’s truly difficult to find a single flaw in Blanchett’s filmography. In the misjudged Elizabeth sequel she was bewitching to watch, making the whole film worthwhile, whilst she was even the highlight of the universally panned fourth Indiiana Jones film as the terrifying uber-bitch Irina Spalko, giving it her all against mountains of CGI ants and flying monkeys. I honestly struggled picking just three films to judge her on, her CV is filled with standout performance after standout performance. It’s a word I seem to keep using for Blanchett, but one that’s true nonetheless. She’s flawless. She makes brave choices in her career, flitting between large fantasy epics and small indie dramas, whilst simultaneously running a theatre company and performing obscure plays on stage. This is a woman who truly loves acting, and so she should, because we love watching her do it.
Overall Grade: A+