Two years ago after winning her second Oscar for "Blue Jasmine," Cate Blanchett could well claim her third for playing another woman in crisis in "Carol." This period piece by Todd Haynes premiered at Cannes on Sunday and the first wave of reviews were welcoming. Those Oscar whizzes at the Weinstein Company have scheduled the picture for a limited release on Dec. 18.
One of our leading Oscarologists — Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) — is in Cannes and gave the film an enthusiastic review. "Blanchett is superb as the titular character, allowing heat to flow through her as she seduces a woman years younger than her, carefully but deliberately. She bobs between resisting her husband whose touch she can’t stand, giving of herself to her adored daughter, and allowing her own indulgent pleasure to creep in when she’s with Therese. Rooney Mara, though, is the real surprise here, holding down much of the film herself, revealing tender vulnerability and that occasional dimpled smile." Read the rest of her rave here.
Another of our Oscar experts, Anne Thompson (IndieWire) tweeted: “Blanchett & Mara carry Todd Haynes’ 50s lesbian romance Carol with glamorous allure. Strong contender for awards @cannes15 & beyond.”
This theme of sexual identity runs throughout Haynes' work. "Carol" marks only his sixth feature in a career dating back almost a quarter of a century that. His third film, "Velvet Goldmine," with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a bisexual glam rock star in 1970s London, won him Best Artistic Contribution at the 1998 Cannes filmfest.
His fourth film, "Far From Heaven" in 2002, was, like "Carol," another drama set in 1950s suburbia. Julianne Moore reaped a Best Actress bid for playing a housewife whose perfect world is upended when her husband (Dennis Quaid) comes out.
Haynes' last movie was "I'm Not There" back in 2007. Blanchett earned a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her gender-bending portrayal of Bob Dylan; she lost to Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton").
Following that, Haynes turned to television, co-writing and directing a 2011 five-part adaptation of James Cain's classic novel "Mildred Pierce." Kate Winslet won an Emmy for her work as the title character, a mother preparared to make the ultimate sacrifice for an ungrateful daughter.
"Carol" is based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel "The Price of Salt." One of Blanchett's first American films was the 1999 adaptation of Highsmith's acclaimed mystery "The Talented Mr. Ripley." The year before, the Australian actress had earned her first Oscar nomination as the Virgin Queen in the historical drama "Elizabeth." She would contend again for the sequel "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" in 2007. She lost that first Best Actress bid to Gwyneth Paltrow ("Shakespeare in Love") and the second to Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose").
Blanchett won the Supporting Actress award in 2004 for her uncanny portrayal four-time Oscar champ Katharine Hepburn in the Howard Hughes biopic "The Aviator." And she was nominated again in that category in 2006 for playing the object of another woman's affection in "Notes on a Scandal," losing to Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls").