Cate Blanchett is one of the best actors on the planet. She is a chameleon, disappearing into every role she takes. Whether it’s an intense, awards-worthy performance or a fun blockbuster, Blanchett never phones it and exudes confidence and charisma, and adds a level of gravitas to every movie. This Friday, Blanchett stars in Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a movie I am really excited about due to Blanchett teaming up with Richard Linklater, a director who works wonders with his actors. So in honor of that, here are my picks for the best Cate Blanchett movies.
This ranking is based on Blanchett’s performance and film quality.
5 – HELA in THOR: RAGNAROK (Taika Waititi, 2017)
- Marvel has a knack for casting great actors for their villains. Actors like Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Michael B. Jordan, Tim Roth, and Kurt Russell have all been a part of the MCU as a villain. Blanchett graced the MCU as Hela, the Asgardian Goddess of Death and sister of Thor and Loki, and she absolutely crushed it, giving us one of the best villains in the entire universe. Blanchett gives a powerful performance as a woman with a chip on her shoulder who wants what she believes is hers: the Asgard throne. Blanchett delivers on every level, but what’s best about the performance is how much fun she is having and how serious she is about the role. Blanchett doesn’t phone this performance in and director Taikia Waititi let’s Blanchett off the leash, never holding her back from going as big as she wants. Thor: Ragnarok is the best of the Thor films and Blanchett is one of the best villains in the MCU.
4 – KATHARINE HEPBURN in THE AVIATOR (Martin Scorsese, 2004)
- Cate Blanchett won her first Oscar for a performance that seems almost impossible. Blanchett played the legendary Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator. Hepburn is an icon who had a personality that could barely fit on the big screen, so Blanchett really had to bring it and she did, giving a brilliant, Oscar-winning performance. Blanchett is lightning bolt on the screen, encompassing all of Hepburn’s personality, while also showing us a side that most of the public didn’t see. Her rapport with DiCaprio is fantastic, both funny and touching, and in a movie where DiCaprio gives a showcase performance, Blanchett never lets him outshine her. This is a wonderful performance that only Blanchett could have pulled off.
3 – JASMINE in BLUE JASMINE (Woody Allen, 2013)
- Blanchett’s performance in Blue Jasmine is a two-hander by one person. This is the story about Jasmine (Blanchett), a former New York socialite who is forced to move in with her sister (Sally Hawkins, going toe-to-toe with Blanchett) in San Francisco after her life is flipped upside down. Woody Allen’s structure cuts back and forth between New York and San Francisco, and we see Jasmine’s rise and fall in New York and the aftermath living with her sister. In New York, Blanchett shows us this woman who was on top of the world, yet was naive to her husbands actions, which ultimately leads to the downfall. In San Francisco, Jasmine is a disaster, a woman coming off a nervous breakdown who has no direction in her life and is on the verge of another breakdown. We feel Jasmine’s anxiety throughout the whole film and Allen does a great job of building the story until the climactic finale, which offers answers to everything about Jasmine’s life and allows Blanchett to let off all the pent-up anxiety she had been holding in the whole movie. Blanchett rightly earned her second Oscar for this performance.
2 – JUDE in I’M NOT THERE (Todd Haynes, 2007)
- Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There is the most unique musical biopic I’ve ever seen. The film took six different actors, all of different race, age, and gender, and embodied the legendary folk singer Bob Dylan. Blanchett’s performance seemed to be the closest to the Bob Dylan that we all know and that we have seen in old concert footage and old interviews, portraying a sort of disgruntled rocker who’s career is changing. But what Blanchett does with the performance is something extraordinary. Her speech pattern, her facial ticks, and the way she looks show just how deep Blanchett goes into her roles. Though the structure of Haynes’ film is unique and cool, I would love to see Blanchett play Dylan in a full movie. This is a performance I have not forgotten since the first time I saw it and one that solidified Blanchett as one of the greats.
1 – CAROL AIRD in CAROL (Todd Haynes, 2015)
- The top two spots belong to films directed by Todd Haynes and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Todd Haynes is one of the best directors in the game today, yet one of the most under-appreciated. Nobody makes movies like Haynes. They are gorgeously crafted, yet crush you emotionally and captivate you from minute one. Carol is one of his finest efforts and features the best performance of Blanchett’s career. Blanchett plays Carol Aird, a high class woman who gets in a relationship with a young photographer (an equally great Rooney Mara) in the 1950’s, a time where this wasn’t the social norm. Carol is a woman who will always save face regardless of what is going on in her life, like an ex-husband trying to take custody of her daughter away. Carol wants to love and wants to live the life that she wants, but society and her life say otherwise. Blanchett gives a performance of great control and nuance, showing us a woman who truly loves the young photographer, but is scared to express it fully because of the social ramifications and the effect it will have on her life. Carol is a beautiful, tragic movie led by Blanchett’s masterful performance.
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