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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

May 14, 2010 at 11:47 AM

A toast to Cate Blanchett

So, somehow yesterday slipped away without any blogging, which may have led some of you to conclude that I was busily matching beverages with movies and maybe passed out or something. No, no; just busy untangling (and entangling) a bunch of capsule reviews for the Seattle International Film Festival. Anyway, today is the great Cate Blanchett’s 41st birthday, and that combined with “Robin Hood” arriving in theaters (and she’s one of the main reasons to watch the movie) seemed to make this an appropriate time for a mini-tribute. The Australian actress, equipped with an elegantly long face and a voice capable of an infinite variety of tones, has been thrilling us on screen since the late ’90s, when “Oscar and Lucinda” and “Elizabeth” brought her to the world’s attention. Here are five of my favorite Blanchett roles; what are yours?
— “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999). Blanchett can break your heart with a glance in this movie as spoiled society girl Meredith Logue, who falls in love with absolutely the wrong man. Offhand and flip, Meredith has her own smooth way of presenting herself — but it shatters, just for a moment, on a late post-opera night in Italy. Small role; huge impact.
— “The Shipping News” (2001). Another small role, and this time a villainous one: Blanchett’s amoral Petal, a heartless user of men, disappears from the movie quickly but haunts it until the end.
— “Veronica Guerin” (2003). In a starring role as a murdered Irish journalist who’s determined to tell the story no matter what the cost, Blanchett is mesmerizing. The real-life Veronica Guerin is considered a martyr in her country; Blanchett makes her a vivid, appealing yet decidedly nonsaintly woman.
— “Notes on a Scandal” (2007). Though Judi Dench has the more showy role, Blanchett more than holds her own in this character drama, playing a silky-voiced, self-indulgent woman who feels entitled to things she knows she shouldn’t have.
— “The Aviator” (2004). Blanchett’s Oscar-winning turn as Katharine Hepburn was a remarkable feat of impersonation — the voicework, as she hits Hepburn’s famous New England mixture of gravel and silk, is uncanny — but it’s more than just that. Gazing down her elegant nose, she creates both a spot-on caricature and an affectionate tribute.
And here she is, in a delightfully layered scene with the entire Hepburn family and a squirming Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio).

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