MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

On Blanchett

Ah, the joy of the awards season…
The issue of Ms. Blanchett’s intended placement in I’m Not There is at least one step more in the air than suggested to me by a very close source this weekend. In other words, I got played a little… and I was not as careful as I should have been.
At this point, things may well go that way. But frankly, the media blowback coming out of the post the other day is turning heads in various camps and where things land are in play once again.
This much is clear… Ms Blanchett’s turn in I’m Not There is one of the five best performances on the year in ALL categories, male or female or dog or cat, if you were going to pick five. It is easily the current crowning achievement of her career. Cotillard, Day-Lewis, and Bardem are, to my eye, the other undeniables… not just great performances (like Swinton, Page, Wilkinson, Jones, Hoffman, Linney, Depp, Hirsch, etc, etc, etc) but singular events.
But whoever said that the political race of award season is exclusively or even primarily about the work?

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20 Responses to “On Blanchett”

  1. Hopscotch says:

    Having watched La Vie en Rose over the weekend, DP is absolutely correct on having it at the top of the list. It’s remarkable.
    I’d say Bardem, Hirsch, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson are the other outstanding performances this year. Keeping in mind I haven’t seen I’m Not There, There Will Be Blood, or Sweeney Todd or Atonement or Elah.

  2. LexG says:

    Eh, she looks pretty mannered and embarrassing in it to me. Just as she was in The Aviator, where accurate or not, her every line delivery made me cringe and recoil. I guess it’s some subconscious machismo or even sexism, so I apologize, but something about women doing those sort of go-for-broke, mannered, “big” performances just screams camp.
    Plus, you know, Bob Dylan kinda blows.

  3. Monco says:

    I have not seen I’m Not There so I can’t speak to Blanchett’s performance but I have posted on here before that I have thought Tilda Swinton’s performance in Michael Clayton is the best I’ve seen this year. I havent’t loved a performance like hers in the last couple of years. Hearing the Oscar buzz on Blanchett having a lock on winning supporting actress when she just won one three years ago dissappointed because I think it should go to Swinton. Her moving to lead actress and actually having to compete for the award instead of just giving it to her is, in my opinion, a good thing.

  4. LexG says:

    Blanchett shouldn’t win SHIT.
    She doesn’t look or sound ANYTHING like Bob Dylan.

  5. bipedalist says:

    Gosh LexG, I thought you were a female – or are you a female sexist pig? LOL. Either way, you’re so wrong as to be embarrassing yourself at this point so if I were you I would wind it back and stuff it inside somewhere where no one can see it. Your statements, if they aren’t sarcastic, reveal giant holes in your knowledge of either Dylan or Blanchett. I really hope you’re kidding.
    As to David’s taking back his proclamation – you better tell the Gurus Dave because last we heard she was going lead – it’s going to impact predictions. And can you please post a short review of CWW because I can’t go this evening (babysitting problems). I agree that Blanchett gave one of the year’s best performances in any category playing either sex. I think putting her in lead, though, places too much pressure on that film for people who are too (let’s put this nicely) out of it to know a good thing when they see it. Most people, drama geeks especially, don’t get or like Dylan. My theory. Who knows if it’s accurate. You have to have a basic knowledge of the man to fully appreciate how deep and brilliantly Blanchett has gone.
    And you Tilda fans – have you ever seen the woman act? She’s always good – she was good in Clayton but it wasn’t her career-best. Bardem, though, yeah.

  6. Eric says:

    The thing about Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton is that she always plays a convincing embodiment of evil.
    Neither the actress or the movie benefitted from the pairing. Swinton has done it so often and so well that the role looks like a layup for her. And then her presence tips the movie ever so slightly, making the moral choices in the drama just a little too easy. It’s my one complaint about an otherwise stellar movie.

  7. Nicol D says:

    As a Bob Dylan fan who has loved the man’s music for years…I’m Not There is not a good intro to the his music or mythos.
    I have been off Blanchett for a few years now. There was a point where she had a choice. She could have been a serious actress a la Meryl Streep; instead she chose to play two types of roles: glam babes in big budget Hollywood productions and over the top “LOOK AT ME I AM ACTING” roles in lower budget productions. Does Blanchett look or act like Dylan? Sure, and Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzeneggar looked like twins. Only in Hollywood, babe!
    A classic gender bending performance is by Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously. When you watch that, you have no idea it is a woman. Can you really say the same with Blanchett?
    Of course not. As with most of Todd Haynes work, he has the thematic concerns of a first year university student just becoming aware of issues of race, gender and sexual orientation. Virtually all of his films are like this and I’m Not Here is no different. If you like it, great…but some of us grew up. Haynes is a first year university student with a big budget.
    Blanchett’s performance is a stunt job, nothing more, nothing less. When I watched it I rolled my eyes. You thought she looked and acted like Dylan…bullshit! Blanchett looked and acted like Blanchett wanting to win an Oscar. She is one of the most shallow “LOOK AT ME” actress’ currently working.
    I hope Amy Adams in Enchanted, a genuinely wonderful and nuanced performance, cleans the diva’s clock.

  8. Christ. Can someone explain why Marion Cotillard is so great in La Vie en Rose? All she did was pull faces and mime from where I was sitting. Doesn’t help that the film around her was a bizarre time-shifting discombobulating mess. However, i digress…

  9. jeffmcm says:

    Nicol, I know you refuse to tell us where you went to college, but would you believe your experience was not representative?

  10. bmcintire says:

    Who cares how much she did or did not ape Dylan? Is everyone jumping all over Richard Gere or Christian Bale for not nailing an impersonation? Are you going to criticize Marcus Carl Franklin for the same thing? She gave an outstanding performance in an amazing picture that was definitely not trying to be RAY.

  11. I am, frankly, baffled by all of the over-the-top gushing about Blanchett’s performance in this movie, even more than I was by reactions to her impersonation of Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator.” I absolutely agree with Nicol D that this was a “stunt job.”

    I wonder what she would have to say about such claims as this being “the crowning achievement of her career.” I suspect she’d burst out laughing, same as I did.

    Either that, or shake her head in sadness that her truly impressive work in other roles could be so easily eclipsed in the eyes of so many by superficial mimicry.

  12. lazarus says:

    The crowning achievement of her career? No.
    Has anyone even seen Tom Tykwer’s Heaven? Shaving her head was the least of what she put into this role. The scene where she realizes who the real victims of her bomb were–the best work she’s done, period.
    Overlooked film and performance.

  13. Agreed. I wouldn’t say it was her best, but it was definitely a great performance.

  14. Thanks for mentioning Tykwer’s ‘Heaven,’ Lazarus. I missed it somehow when it came out and then I let it slip from my memory.

  15. Rob says:

    I’ve never been that into Blanchett either. I feel like she’s the embodiment of all the bullshit criticism Streep used to get about being “too technical.”
    None of her performances have ever really hit me on that Streep/Julianne Moore/Laura Linney gut level, where you empathize with the woman immediately. And there’s a lot of well-intentioned “meh” on her resume: Veronica Guerin, The Missing, The Golden Age, Shipping News, Pushing Tin, Bandits, Life Aquatic, The Man Who Cried, The Gift, The Good German, etc.
    I was impressed by her work in I’m Not There, but I immediately found myself balking when Poland called it her “crowning achievement.” But then I realized I couldn’t think of what else would be.

  16. Nicol D says:

    Exactly. I have felt that way about Blanchett for a while but I never comfortable saying it. Truth is, I think she is quite a hammy actress and unlike Michelle Pfeiffer who spent years taking roles that did not trade on her looks (with some exceptions of course) Blanchett more often than not wants you to know she is a ‘babe’. Even in her so called ‘slumming’ roles like Bandits or The Shipping News you always feel they spend a lot of time making her look like a ‘star’.
    And her choice in films is ugggghh. The Gift is easily the best film on the list you wrote. That that is the best out of 10 films you listed says something. She is nowhere near worth the rep she has and is not box office.
    Laura Linney has far more pathos in her and Meryl Streep at her peak was a far bigger box office attraction.

  17. I thought she was really great in Bandits actually. An unfortunately underrated flick.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    Maybe she’s a showy actress, but so what, I love her anyway. She’s terrific in Elizabeth, Coffee and Cigarettes, her Lord of the Rings cameos, and yes, The Aviator. Sure, Linney has more ‘pathos’ but she couldn’t have done some of the roles that Blanchett has excelled in. Plus Linney has her own share of stinkers – The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Love Actually, Congo…

  19. Noah says:

    How about some love for Blanchett’s supporting work in Talented Mr. Ripley and Notes on a Scandal? She has never given a bad performance and I think The Missing and The Gift are both incredibly underrated. Laura Linney couldn’t play those roles, just as I don’t think Blanchett could have played Linney’s role in Squid and the Whale, they just do different things on the screen. I find Blanchett to be a commanding presence when needed and a more subtle one at times. I think she is incredibly versatile and is quite adept with her accents. She’s an Australian who has done convincing Southern accents, Long Islandese (Pushing Tin), British several times and New England (Aviator). I think she’s one of the finest actresses working today. I’d put her somewhere behind Kate Winslet but ahead of Nicole Kidman.

  20. Nicol D says:

    Congo…a stinker?…dems fightin’ words in these here parts!

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon