Fincher. Spielberg. Minghella. Raimi. Scorsese. Scott. Soderbergh. Jarmusch. Anderson.
One thing you may notice when looking at Cate Blanchett’s eclectic filmography is her penchant for choosing some amazing directors. A generous mix of mainstream and offbeat. Clearly, not many of these movies are hits or even very good. But Blanchett stretches and experiments unlike any actress I can think of. She’s a chameleon. I’m always in awe of her efforts.
And if I may say so, is there any actress sexier than Cate Blanchett?
Here’s a rundown of her career so far.
Heartland (1994) … Elizabeth
Bordertown (1995) … Bianca
Who knew? Our darling Cate started out in TV! She appeared in these relatively low profile Australian miniseries where she flexed her acting muscles alongside fellow Aussie Hugo Weaving.
Parklands (1996) … Rosie
Thank God He Met Lizzie (1997) … Lizzie
After those TV appearances, she scored the lead roles in these small Aussie films.
Paradise Road (1997) … Susan
Bruce Beresford, a respected Australian director, plucked Blanchett out of obscurity and cast her alongside Glenn Glose, Frances McDormand, Jennifer Ehle and Julianna Margulies in this Japanese/Australian drama about women prisoners in WWII. It wasn’t a hit, but the film paved the way for bigger and better things.
Oscar and Lucinda (1997) … Lucinda
Her highest-profile role to date. She played Lucinda to Ralph Fiennes’ Oscar in this delightful culture-clash romantic drama. I remember simply adoring all of the performances in this film, especially from Blanchett who I had never seen before. A delightful discovery. B
Elizabeth (1998) … Elizabeth I
And there it is. Her breakout role, an Oscar-nominated performance where she dazzled the world with her acting prowess and gorgeous physique. She embodied the role of a young and inexperienced new queen fighting to keep her throne. I’m not a fan of stuffy period dramas, but this one was anything but. And it’s all because of Cate Blanchett. Welcome to Hollywood, my dear. B+
An Ideal Husband (1999) … Lady Gertrude Chiltern
A modest hit from Oliver Parker, this one features Rupert Everett as a philanderer who helps his friend (Jeremy Northam) shush away a scheming blackmailer (Julianne Moore). Blanchett plays Northam’s wife, Gertrude.
Pushing Tin (1999) … Connie Falzone
A flop from Mike Newell that features the unique casting of John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton playing cocky air traffic controllers. Blanchett and Angelina Jolie play the women in their lives. It’s certainly not boring, but it was an uneasy mix of Hollywood clichés and smart character beats. C+
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) … Meredith Logue
I didn’t like this film when I first saw it in theaters, but when I revisited it on DVD not long after, I was enamored with it. Anthony Minghella crafted a very subtle, harrowing study of obsession in high society. Damon is breathtaking here. Blanchett has a brief bit that doesn’t quite pop, but she blends in well with this high-caliber cast. A
The Man Who Cried (2000) … Lola
Sally Potter helmed this bizarre story of a Russian immigrant (Christina Ricci) who falls for a gypsy horseman (Johnny Depp). Blanchett plays her dancing friend, Lola. Can’t say I have much of a desire to catch this one.
The Gift (2000) … Annabelle “Annie” Wilson
A crazy little thriller from Sam Raimi (and co-written by Billy Bob Thornton). It wasn’t a hit by any means, but I know some folks who really dug it. I kind of fell somewhere in the middle. It has some credibility issues, but it certainly contained some pretty explosive twists. I really loved this cast (including Reeves, Holmes, Swank, Kinnear). B-
Bandits (2001) … Kate Wheeler
Blanchett concluded her offbeat Billy Bob period by starring alongside him and the great Bruce Willis in Barry Levinson’s misfire about two bank robbers who fall in love with the girl they’ve kidnapped. Clumsy and poorly paced, I couldn’t get into Bandits at all. I was tremendously disappointed with it considering how much I adore these actors. D+
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003) … Galadriel
In Peter Jackson’s glorious, extravagant epic, Blanchett has the pivotal role of Lady Galadriel, an ethereal guardian elf who casts a watchful eye over our beloved group. These movies are cinematic achievements of the highest order. A
Charlotte Gray (2001) … Charlotte Gray
I love that Blanchett works with such talented directors. I haven’t seen this one, but she re-teams with Gillian Armstrong (Oscar and Lucinda) to play a young Scottish woman who joins the French Resistance in WWII to look for her boyfriend, who is MIA in France. I hear the movie is just OK, but that Blanchett is, no surprise, pretty damned good.
The Shipping News (2001) … Petal
A hugely underrated drama from Lasse Hallstrom. This one has a fantastic performance from Kevin Spacey as a timid, down-beaten man living a sad, quiet life in icy Newfoundland. Blanchett, Judi Dench and Julianne Moore play the women in his life who eventually turn him around. I discovered this on DVD long after it was released and was pleasantly surprised on all levels. A sweet, soft-spoken movie with lots of real human emotions on full display. A-
Heaven (2002) … Philippa
A Tom Tykwer venture in which she plays a widow hellbent on killing the drug dealer that helped claim her husband’s life. Amidst her descent into crime, she falls for the police officer (Giovanni Ribisi) on her trail. A little artsy, a little twisted, but it’s an absorbing, well-acted drama. B
Veronica Guerin (2003) … Veronica Guerin
Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) … Cate/Shelly
The Missing (2003) … Magdelena Gilkeson
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) … Jane Winslet-Richardson
Four wildly different directors – Joel Schumacher, Jim Jarmusch, Ron Howard and Wes Anderson – helmed these dramas that were unseen by me. Her performance as Veronica Guerin was well-received by critics, though the film was not quite embraced by many. (Neither of these films were hits, actually.) One could argue that this was a rare “low period” in Blanchett’s career.
The Aviator (2004) … Katherine Hepburn
She escaped from that string of flops and disappeared in an Oscar-winning performance as Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s masterful biopic. Blanchett stole my heart in this film doing an utterly convincing turn as one of the most beloved movie actresses in the world. Blanchett clearly did her homework. DiCaprio is spectacularly good here as the titular Howard Hughes. A stunning film all around. A
Little Fish (2005) … Tracy
I’m sad to say that I never even heard of this one. Cate returned to her native Australia to film this low-budget indie where she plays an ex-druggie who has been trying to live a clean and sober life while building a new business. Of course, it doesn’t exactly go as planned. Her famous Aussie co-stars include Hugo Weaving and Sam Neill.
Babel (2006) … Susan Jones
In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s gorgeous tapestry of interlocking stories set in far ends of the world, we watch in horror as a married couple (Brad Pitt and Blanchett, a divine pairing) are tragically stricken in the desert. It’s richly layered and truly heartbreaking. The cast is brilliant from top to bottom, especially the divine Rinko Kikuchi. A-
The Good German (2006) … Lena Brandt
I skipped this one on the basis of negative buzz and overall disinterest in the story, but part of me regrets it. I so love this cast. I always say I’ll see anything Clooney does, so I have to back that up, don’t I? And one can’t usually go wrong with including Blanchett and Maguire in the cast as well. I should just suck it up and watch it already. Buzz be damned!
Notes on a Scandal (2006) … Sheba Hart
A fantastic little potboiler in which Blanchett plays a teacher carrying on a dangerous affair with a 15-year-old student. Judi Dench is the veteran colleague who does some serious finger-wagging. It’s a bit melodramatic, of course, but Blanchett sold it for me, 100%. It’s a very sexy thriller. B+
Hot Fuzz (2007) … Janine (uncredited)
I’d much prefer Hot Fuzz over Shaun of the Dead, and I know I’m not alone in that thought. In Edgar Wright’s silly, thunderous action comedy, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have truly never been better. Blanchett is virtually unrecognizable as Pegg’s masked ex-girlfriend. A
I’m Not There (2007) … Jude
I’ve heard many wonderful things about Blanchett’s performance as a variation of Bob Dylan’s persona. The buzz for the rest of the film is polarizing, as expected from auteur/experimentalist Todd Haynes. But I may take the jump and rent this one someday…
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) … Queen Elizabeth I
Negative reviews and lack of interest in revisiting the character kept me away from this sequel to the movie that made Blanchett a star. I feel like this one came and went, and no one even noticed.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) … Irina Spalko
Sigh. Where can I begin? I have very mixed feelings about this whole affair. In context, it doesn’t deserve to be called an Indiana Jones movie. It’s not even close to being as good as the previous three. But… as a standalone action blockbuster? It’s not that bad. Spielberg does know how to spin an action yarn. However, Spalko is a poorly conceived cartoon and arguably Blanchett’s worst role. B-
Ponyo (2008) … Granmamare (voice)
I have yet to dip my toe in the waters of Japanese animation, including this very well-received adventure from the revered animator Hayao Miyazaki. Blanchett is one of many Americans voicing the English dubbed version.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) … Daisy
A huge disappointment considering that it was my most eagerly anticipated film of 2008. I certainly didn’t hate it; I found a lot to admire about David Fincher’s fantastical story about a man who ages backwards. But glacial pacing and dull supporting characters prevented me from getting under its skin. B-
Robin Hood (2010) … Marion Loxley
Another one I skipped, despite being such a big fan of Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott. It’s one of those films I mean to get around to someday but never did (yet). Pairing Crowe with fellow Aussie Blanchett seems just right.
Hanna (2011) … Marissa
One of the best films of 2011. Blanchett has a steely, ice-cold reserve as an agent hell-bent on stopping a 15-year-old assassin (the brilliant Saoirse Ronan). This is electrifying filmmaking from Joe Wright, also starring Eric Bana as Ronan’s father. All of the elements worked here — from the action to the pulsating music, from the depth of the performances to the resonant themes of belonging and vengeance. A
Family Guy (2012) … Penelope (voice)
Cate made a rare foray in television, albeit behind the microphone. I don’t watch the show, but I can’t judge the appearance. But Blanchett is a dazzling voice actress. I can see her doing a career in voice work for many years to come.
The Hobbit: An Expected Journey/There and Back Again (2012/2013) … Galadriel
Galadriel, the fanboy’s wet dream from the LOTR trilogy, will be returning to Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s hugely anticipated epic adventure later this year. This is going to be a big one.
Blanchett joins Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Rooney Mara in Terence Malick’s upcoming tale of sexual obsession.
Ahem… Is it hot in here, or is it just me?