It’s not just because of the wallop of her performance, which is deeply felt. It’s because she, as a star, is overdue to win in the lead race and because her role in “Blue Jasmine” is classic made-for-Oscar fare.
Yes, Cate Blanchett already won an Academy Award for portraying Oscar’s biggest acting champ, Katharine Hepburn, in “The Aviator” (2004), but that was merely in the supporting category. If academy members anoint you there, they sometimes like to promote you later as Denzel Washington, Kevin Spacey, Jessica Lange and Meryl Streep discovered.
Now … about her screen role. Voters like their winners blotto, so it’s always good if contenders guzzle hooch like Elizabeth Taylor in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” or Jessica Lange in “Blue Sky” (1994). Voters also like their winners wacko. Think Charlize Theron (“Monster,” 2003) or Kathy Bates (“Misery,” 1990).
But academy members are connoisseurs of craziness. They like stars best when beset by high anxiety during a search for the meaning of life like Nicole Kidman in “The Hours” (2002). More recently, Natalie Portman went bonkers when confronting the emptiness of a life that academy members know well – showbiz. Remember, she performs on a stage in “Black Swan” (2010).
In “Blue Jasmine,” Blanchett tackles the equivalent to a Beverly Hills life – an absurd veneration of wealth and class that many Oscar voters share. When she loses it, she truly loses it – while popping pills washed down with vino.
Bingo! Oscarology made easy! Can she possibly lose?
Oh, wait, there’s that pesky, Oscar-grabbing Meryl Streep in this year’s derby, too, and – watch out – she’ll be stumbling around “August: Osage County” popping pills and swilling hooch while trying to teach her dopey kids what life is really all about.
Make your early Oscar predictions now — below. Change them later as often as you wish.