Will Cate Blanchett join Meryl Streep and Jessica Lange in Oscars upgrade lounge?

Ever since “Blue Jasmine” opened back in July, Cate Blanchett has been GoldDerby’s frontrunner for the Best Actress Oscar for her critically hailed performance as an uppity Manhattan socialite who freaks out when she loses her fortune.

Initially, Blanchett had a runaway lead based upon our Experts’ predictions in late August, but that dwindled a bit as Sandra Bullock took off, rocket-like, with the spectacular success of “Gravity.”

However, Blanchett retains a sizeable lead with the backing of 19 out of our 24 Experts. She leads with 9-to-5 odds over Bullock (27/10).

Blanchett has received five Oscar nominations to date, winning the Supporting Actress trophy in 2004 for her screen turn as Katharine Hepburn (Oscar’s all-time champ with four Best Actress trophies) in Martin Scorsese‘s “The Aviator” opposite Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes.

While Woody Allen has directed eight performances that contended for Best Supporting Actress — with wins for Dianne Weist (“Hannah and Her Sisters,” 1986; “Bullets Over Broadway,” 1994),  Mira Sorvino in “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995) and Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Christina Barcelona” (2006) — he has directed just two women to bids for Best Actress. Diane Keaton won in 1977 for portraying the title character in Best Picture champ “Annie Hall.” And Geraldine Page was nominated a year later for her performance in “Interiors” but lost to Jane Fonda for “Coming Home.” (See all 16 Oscar-nominated performances directed by Woody Allen in the photo gallery at the bottom of this post.)

So, Blanchett looks set to be the first woman in 35 years to contend in the lead category for a Woody Allen picture. But, that’s not all. 

If Blanchett prevails as predicted, she will be only the third actress to take home the lead Oscar after previously winning the supporting race. One of her rivals — Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County“) — won in supporting in 1979 for “Kramer vs. Kramer” before claiming Best Actress three years later for “Sophie’s Choice.” And Jessica Lange won the supporting award in 1982 for “Tootsie” (she lost her lead bid for “Frances” to Streep) before waiting a dozen years to claim Best Actress for “Blue Sky.” Earning the Oscar upgrade will cement Blanchett’s legacy as one of our finest actresses, as it did with Lange and Streep.

However, another of this year’s Best Actress contender is also looking to pull off this feat. 1998 Supporting Actress champ Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love”) ranks third among our Experts for her performance in “Philomena.”

Is Blanchett going to join the ranks of Streep and Lange, or will one of her competitors take her down?

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