Five reasons why Cate Blanchett has Best Actress Oscar in the (designer) bag

By Tariq Khan
By Tariq Khan
Dec 27 2013 15:30 pm
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Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine") is all but certain to win the Best Actress Oscar for the following reasons: 

1. She gives the flashiest performance of any of the likely nominees
When it comes to Oscar, it’s often more about the “most” acting than it is the “best” acting. In this regard, Blanchett has two big advantages.

First of all, she plays what might be considered the most complicated character of the year. In fact, it’s almost as if she has a dual role. There’s the self-indulgent, pampered and snobbish socialite seen in the New York City flashbacks. Then there’s the self-indulgent, desperate and conflicted single woman trying to reinvent herself in San Francisco. By comparison, Judi Dench in “Philomena” and Emma Thompson in “Saving Mr. Banks” seem surprisingly simple. 

Second, the brilliant Blanchett is constantly acting to the camera. Her Jasmine is like an emotional roller coaster, with 100 minutes of ups and downs. She’s screaming and crying, downing martinis and Xanax, and prattling away as if her life (or in this case, Oscar) depended on it. Even in her quieter moments she’s reacting with a vengeance. The critics have taken notice to the loud yet layered performance. Academy members will, too.

2. She’ll probably win the Golden Globe
She may not be a slam dunk, but the odds seem stacked in her favor. Blanchett has long been a favorite of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., having first won this category fifteen years ago for “Elizabeth.”  She received her second prize for 2007’s “I’m Not There,” and even reaped bids for her non Oscar-nominated work in films like “Bandits” and “Veronica Guerin.” With Woody Allen receiving this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, a prize for his latest film’s star performer will be especially sweet. Don’t forget that HFPA members know that Blanchett is the Academy Award frontrunner and will likely want to crown her first. If she gets the Globe, her  “Blue” may be as good as Oscar gold.

3. She’ll almost certainly win the SAG Award
Blanchett is a true actor’s actor, and “Blue Jasmine” is an actor’s movie. It’s almost like watching theatre on the screen. (Remember that “Jasmine” has been described as a modern version of the classic drama “A Streetcar Named Desire.”) Sure, she faces competition from Sandra Bullock in “Gravity.” But it’s hard to imagine the thespian group preferring a performance in an outer space action flick. Even if Blanchett somehow loses at the Globes, she’ll quickly rebound with her SAG acceptance speech. And if she wins both awards, it’s almost unfathomable that she’ll leave the Dolby Theatre empty-handed come March.

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4. She’s due for the Best Actress Oscar 
Four-time winner Katharine Hepburn once said that the right actors always win, but for the wrong roles. Ironically, that very thing is probably true of Blanchett – who claimed a supporting trophy for portraying Hepburn in 2004’s “The Aviator.” It was unquestionably a solid performance, but hardly the best role of her career. She lost her first leading actress race for her bravura turn in 1998’s “Elizabeth” to Gwyneth Paltrow for “Shakespeare in Love.” It seems that Hollywood has been wanting to pay back Blanchett ever since. With her much buzzed-about “Blue Jasmine,” the timing may finally be right.

5. Bullock has too many negatives 
Sandra B. in “Gravity” may be Blanchett’s biggest threat, and for good reason. She gives a heart-stopping performance in a rare critically acclaimed, bona fide blockbuster. However, performances in sci-fi/fantasy films seldom win. (Consider the losses of Alec Guiness in “Star Wars,” Melinda Dillon in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Jeff Bridges in “Starman,” Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens” and Ian McKellen in “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”) Single actor showcases also have a poor record. (Look at the Oscar failures of James Whitmore in “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!,” Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” and James Franco in “127 Hours.”) Finally, Bullock won four years ago for “The Blind Side.” Do voters really want to see her triumph again so soon?

All in all, the rules of awards gravity may keep Bullock grounded (and Blanchett bouncing) on Oscar’s big night.

Who do you think is going to win Best Actress? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu.

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