Dear Cate Blanchett…

Art & Culture

Dear Cate Blanchett,

What a busy life you lead. Between now and 2015, there are 13 new films with your name attached. This must be your prime.

 It looks as though Blue Jasmine is going to provide you with at least an Oscar nomination, and possibly even the Big One, which would be no more than you deserve. Somewhat surprisingly, you have only had 2 Best Actress nominations, both of them for the same role – that of Queen Elizabeth 1. This may have something to do with the fact that although you are undoubtedly a wonderful actress, your choice of roles has been somewhat erratic. I’ll be more specific.

Working back from present to past, I offer the following evidence: Robin Hood, in which you do your best to make Maid Marian into something other than a rerun of Galadriel. It was not a good film, and nothing you could do was going to improve it. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button  is an awful film, though I’ve no doubt you would defend it to the death. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull is also an awful film, which you would probably claim was fun to make, and impossible to turn down; though you should have have anyway. Elizabeth: The Golden Age  may have won an Oscar nomination, but it was a terrible film, a sequel that no one wanted or needed. Notes on a Scandal  is a poor film, which asks you (you!) to pretend to fall in love with an unappealing teenager. I don’t think so. The Good German  isn’t bad, but it is boring, which is almost as bad.  Babel  is something of a mixed blessing, which is a lot less important than it thinks it is.

And that, dear Cate, is seven films out of a total of eleven major roles. That may explain the lack of Oscar nominations. And when we consider that two of the films that are due in the next two years are Hobbit films; and two of them are Terence Malick projects (actors don’t get nominated for Malick films), one is a voiceover for an animated film, and one is a TV movie, then maybe I shouldn’t expect things to change any time soon. 

Now I’m going to go back further, and there’s more depressing stuff to report. Bandits  is a shocking waste of a great cast, as is Pushing Tin.  Charlotte Gray  and The Shipping News  (both adaptations of novels) are really really bad. 

The point I’m trying to make – if it’s not already obvious – is that you are so much better then the films you appear in. Even the Woody Allen movie is only watchable because of you. So, why are you not able to find better films? The ratio of bad to good is too high for a woman of your intelligence. You may say that the roles simply aren’t there, but is not fair to say that you are one of the top 3 actresses in the fortysomething age bracket, and surely you can pick and choose from what’s on offer? 

I have no answers, but I do have regrets. As the years go by without you lighting up the screen as often and as brilliantly as you should, it’s going to get harder to get the best roles. And I love to watch you when you’re at your best –  in the original  Elizabeth, in Oscar and Lucinda, The Talented Mr Ripley  and in Veronica Guerin. Please can we have more of the best of Cate Blanchett?

Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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