Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
Cate Blanchett recently won her second Academy Award for her brilliant performance in Blue Jasmine , which means that a younger generation of moviegoers is becoming familiar with her work for the first time. Prior to this, Blanchett has been relatively absent from the film industry, devoting her time instead to the Sydney Theatre Company which she co-directed with her husband for six years. Moreover, most moviegoers recognize Blanchett for her brief appearances as Galadriel in the beloved The Lord of The Rings trilogy, or for her performances in more mainstream films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and The Aviator (2004), for which she won her first Academy Award as legendary actress Katharine Hepburn. All of this is fine, but Blanchett’s greatest performances can be found in lesser-known, independent films that mainstream audiences tend to overlook. Below is a list of 10 of these performances to remind us once again why Blanchett is one of the most captivating screen actresses of our time.
1. Jude in I’m Not There. (2007)
In Todd Haynes’ wildly inventive “biopic” of Bob Dylan, Blanchett owns the film as a version of the musician during his electric years. Since the film isn’t told in a linear fashion, audiences didn’t bother to see it, but within seconds it becomes clear that Blanchett is the only performer — male or female — who could have played this role.
2. Philippa in Heaven (2002)
Blanchett is a revelation as a woman who is arrested for terrorist acts and subsequently falls in love with the officer (Giovanni Ribisi) who is supposed to look after her while in a holding cell. Heaven begins as a thriller and ends as one of the most romantic films ever made, with Blanchett taking the audience on this riveting journey every step of the way
3. Sheba Hart in Notes on a Scandal (2006)
Blanchett goes toe-to-toe with acting legend Judi Dench in this taut psychological drama about a teacher (Blanchett) who has an affair with a student and is found out by one of the senior teachers (Dench) at the school. Few films are as impeccably acted as this, and during the film’s intense, climactic showdown, Blanchett shows a side of herself that audiences haven’t seen since.
4. Cate and Shelly in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Coffee and Cigarettes is an anthology film by Jim Jarmusch, and in one of the vignettes entitled “Cousins,” Blanchett stars opposite herself as both Cate and Shelly, two wildly different cousins who reunite over a cup of coffee. Not much happens here, except that we are shown Blanchett’s incredible range as she inhabits both of these characters with equal skill. Who else can pull something like this off and yet make it so watchable and believable?
5. Tracy in Little Fish (2005)
Blanchett is riveting as a drug addict struggling to rebuild her life in this excellent Australian drama. Those who marveled at Blanchett’s ability to confront addiction head-on in Blue Jasmine might be surprised to find that she’s just as fierce in Little Fish, a film that might have earned her a Best Actress Academy Award if it were more popular in the United States.
6. Charlotte Gray in Charlotte Gray (2001)
Blanchett is lovely as a young Scottish woman who joins the French Resistance during WWII to find her boyfriend who is lost in France. Director Gillian Armstrong is known for her beautiful restraint, and Blanchett matches her with a performance that feels so authentic we almost forget she’s acting at all.
7. Kate Wheeler in Bandits (2001)
Who knew Blanchett could be so funny? Bandits is a ridiculous caper that stars Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis as two bank robbers who kidnap Blanchett and fall in love with her. Unlike Heaven, which is somber and serious, Bandits is a playful romp. For those who admired Jennifer Lawrence’s “Live and Let Die” moment in American Hustle, remember that Blanchett did it years ago while dancing to “I Need a Hero” in this film.
8. Veronica Guerin in Veronica Guerin (2003)
In this true story, Blanchett plays Veronica Guerin, an Irish journalist who was murdered by drug dealers when she exposed their crimes in her articles. This is a heartbreaking tale about an ordinary hero, and Blanchett’s riveting turn pays proper homage to Guerin while simultaneously allowing her legacy to live on in the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to who watch this courageous film.
9. Petal Barr in The Shipping News (2001)
The Shipping News isn’t a great movie, but it is worth mentioning for Blanchett’s scene-stealing turn as Kevin Spacey’s reckless lover who leaves him in the beginning of the movie. Her part is small, but she makes an undeniable impact, and shows how she can make the most of even the slightest roles. For the few scenes she’s in, Blanchett makes us feel like we’ve been with this character forever.
10. Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth (1998)
One of the biggest injustices in Academy Awards history is when Gwyneth Paltrow won the Best Actress Oscar for Shakespeare in Love in the same year that Blanchett gave us her rendition of a young Queen Elizabeth in Elizabeth, one of the finest lead performances in the history of cinema. Paltrow is fine, but Blanchett’s work in this film is in a class by itself. This is the one that started it all.
Obviously we have to start with this line, spoken by Randall to Monroe before the title crawl: "I could have gone to Governor Affleck in California." This is the future, people — after being snubbed for Best Director at the 2013 Academy Awards, Hollywood icon Ben Affleck hunkered down, preparing for the inevitable blackout. And when it came? He was READY. Harnessing his network of powerful friends, like Matt Damon and Alan Arkin, and putting his creative goodwill to work, Affleck quickly gained in strength. And even the people who would oppose him — I mean they were just rooting for the guy, you know? Good for him finding another career that really suited him.
RELATED: 'Revolution': Elizabeth Mitchell and the Cast Tease New Secrets
But enough about Affleck, who won't be a featured character until at least the halfway point of Season 2. Last night's installment, "Ghosts," sent our ragtag group of rebels in multiple directions as they realized the need to TAKE THE FIGHT TO MONROE, or whatever tag next year's promos decide to run with. Lovers/fighters Miles and Nora hit Virginia to try and recruit one of Miles' old militia colleagues. On the home front, Rachel finally divulged a bit about the origins of the Blackout as their base* was infiltrated by her old boss, Randall.
*Echo Base. The Empire Strikes Back. Come on!
The part of Virginia we visited last night seemed like it had its s**t together! Very Woodbury on The Walking Dead vibe, minus the not-so-secretly psychopathic town leader. Hell, there were hand-painted signs everywhere and nerds to yell "hey, Shakespeare!" at while you're strolling the street. Even a library, which is where Miles found his buddy, Jim Hudson. Now, you don't expect to see Malik Yoba ("Yul Brenner" in the classic Cool Runnings) just hanging around stupid books, but this was his cover — "Henry Beamus." And Henry Beamus was married. Why any woman would believe that "Henry Beamus" could be a real name/person I have no idea, but "Henry" had nevertheless found happiness — something he'd prefer for Miles to not blow up (figuratively or literally, as is often the case on Revolution.
Within moments, Miles learned that he'd accidentally led a group of militia to the town and well shoot, man we're probably gonna have to sword fight our way out of this! Hats off to the choreography team who puts these together. Where the gun battles on this show often devolve into confusing sprays of bullets, each sword fight has felt fast, vicious, and logical. The only time I truly believe Miles as the "ultimate badass" we're constantly told he is? When they guy's got a sword in his hand, taking on a squad of militia.
Miles, Nora and Jim of course emerged victorious…but not without Jim's wife discovering his true identify (when he stabbed some guy to death in front of her, oops), and leaving him. "You ruined my life, Miles. Again." But by some combination of Miles' endless rogue charm and the realization that there was nothing else left for him in town, Jim decided to saddle up. Good choice, pal! Loads of sword fighting adventures ahead with quips aplenty from your old buddy, Miles.
Because the worst thing in the world would be to slow down for ten minutes and give us a walk-and-talk of the rebel camp or learn anything about our characters, Charlie's group came under almost immediate attack. How? THOSE DAMN PENDANTS. Turns out they can be accessed remotely, specifically accessed by Randall — who used the two in Rachel's possession to track her whereabouts. Why? Because Rachel was not merely a scientist, like she was on LOST, but a high-ranking developer of whatever "weapon" it was that may have (definitely) triggered the Blackout in the first place. She was working with her husband at the Department of Defense. Randall was her boss. Most of which spilled out of Rachel and into the ears of Charlie and Aaron while they evaded (and of course eventually escaped) the attacking militia. Once upon a time Randall was probably a decent guy. But the death of his soldier son, stationed in Kabul, reinforced his desire to "get the weapon built" and finally, in a still mysterious scene, order the it be executed. What is the weapon, exactly? What was its aim? 42 being a limited number of minutes in which to tell all this story, we got only hints. "There's this place," Rachel finally relented to Aaron. "It's called The Tower." And roll your eyes, snark it up (I sure do) but hey — there are worse shows to emulate than LOST. There are certainly storytelling lessons Revolution could still take to heart.
Let's backtrack a minute to look at one of the more interesting snippets of the episode, and maybe the series thus far. Randall had found his target, Rachel, and as he lead her to their fleet of trucks he told her with as many specifics as can be given at this moment what he wanted to do with a renewed power source. "Let's make this a better world, by putting power in the hands of the few." He summarizes what human beings had done with power up until the Blackout. "We just used it to wage war and kill each other." And now, starting over…maybe we can make a better world? I don't agree with him — and we're not meant to — but there's a thoughtfulness here, a sense of what this Blackout has actually meant to people and structures, that until this point I don't think had been raised. I like helicopter explosions. I like bras (and this "family" show seems weirdly willing to help me out!). I like mythology, even when it's LOST-lite. But any show dealing with BIG QUESTIONS has to be prepared to explore what they actually mean. "Ghosts" felt like a good start in that direction.
What did you think? Excited to finally hear the origins of the Blackout next week? Or bracing yourself for the inevitable disappointment of finding out two God figures tripped over an earth-shaped light switch as they were playing chess, and are still stumbling around trying to flip it back? Man, that would be a wacky season finale.
Follow Henning on Twitter @HenningFog
[PHOTO CREDIT: Brownie Harris/NBC]
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The Shakespeare in Love star has credited the exercise expert with helping her shed the stubborn baby weight she gained while pregnant with son Moses.
But the Oscar winner admits she was taken aback by Anderson's no-nonsense methods after she made her new client bare all.
Paltrow recalls, "With my daughter it had been easier (to lose weight), but this time, no matter what I did, I felt stuck. I couldn't shift the weight. But I met Tracy and she was this force from the second I met her.
"She pulled my pants off. I'll never forget it. She was like, 'Oh, my God, wow, I just am so surprised, because you look so good in clothes. I wasn't expecting this.'"
However, Paltrow insists Anderson's regimen put the spark back into her marriage to rocker Chris Martin, telling Redbook magazine, "It did such wonders for my life, my confidence, my sex life, everything."
This is it, Cheesy Blasterz. Get ready to grab your pal Meat Cat and ride away on your flying skateboard to the land of never-ending 30 Rock reruns (also known as Netflix), because after the Season 6 finale airs May 17, we'll only have 13 new episodes of Liz Lemon left in our lives. And seeing as our heroine (we mean lady hero; we don't want to inject her and listen to jazz) is embarking on her farewell tour in a few short months, what better time than now to explore her developmental journey forward (then backward, then forward again) using the model developed by the Bard himself? Shakespeare had the Seven Ages of Man, but Shakespeare didn't understand the glory of putting a donut in the microwave or putting chips on a sandwich, so good ol' LL gets her own version. We present: The Seven Ages of Liz Lemon.
Baby Liz: In the beginning, little Liz Lemon was happily running her flailing variety series The Girlie Show as she imagined she always would when she was awkward comic in Chicago. But when she meets the Ice Dragon himself, Mr. Jack Donaghy, she gets a rude awakening. Like a newborn baby who's just crying and pouting out of sheer helplessness, Liz wanders hilariously through that first awkward stage of life. (You know, the one in which microwave executives take over your life and make you hire Tracy Jordan, who you may or may not have to chase down at a Harlem strip club while wearing a pink Jackie Onassis suit. Typical baby stuff.) It’s also the time in her life when she may or may not be dating Dennis Duffy, beeper salesman in a post-Blackberry world. It's a cry for help that practically screams: I cannot take care of myself.
Lover Liz: After she realizes Dennis is the worst, dummy, Liz pursues a more handsome, more employed man: Floyd. She starts dressing better, avoiding her usual muppet walk, and she even considers escaping to the Cleve. Of course, with that upward swoop comes her crushing eating-ham-in-a-wedding-dress-for-no-one emotional turmoil. Just like Shakespeare's "lover," Lemon falls hard and crashes and burns even harder. Blerg!
Remedial Liz: What's a sitcom heroine without a hilarious backslide? Remedial Liz starts hallucinating about meeting Oprah on a plane; she brings her crazy ex-roommate Jennifer Aniston out of the woodwork and into Jack's unsuspecting lap; and she exploits a woman with a head injury in order to try to adopt a child. (Insert evil laugh with prerequisite corn stuck in teeth here.) And here we thought she was getting so much better when she built that Blerg table and propped it up with her ham dress. Of course, it's not all bad: Bonus points for her backslide including a brief relationship with a dumb-as-a-rock hot doctor played by Jon Hamm. Blammo, suckers!
Boring Safe Security-Conscious Liz: In the wake of traumatic experiences like thinking she might have been pregnant with Dennis Duffy’s baby, her “weird underwear’s” affair with the new guy on TGS (Cheyenne Jackson), and a one-night stand with James Franco and his sex pillow, Liz needs to get real. Naturally, she meets someone while high on anesthesia at the dentist's office and declares him her future husband, even though in real life she can’t stand him and he says things like “Gangway for footcycle.” Still, Wesley Snipes is technically a man, and Security-Conscious Liz needs a man... any straight, non-juggling, velvet-slipper-wearing (shudder) man.
Emotionally Stunted Liz: Despite meeting her perfect match in Carol, the Delta pilot, Liz has trouble with the intimacy part. (See: The laughter- and tear-inducing scene in which she comforts him with “Don’t be cry.”) With one fake, elicit affair with Paul Giamatti as the NBC video editor and a plane-bound screaming match of a breakup that would give any TSA worker hives, Liz delves into a series of Lemony, hilarious stunts that have little to do with anything other than sending us into lizzing fits (laughing and wizzing for the non-Lemonites). It was a strange, distant time during which we were served platter upon platter of senseless Lemonisms. Top prize goes to Liz pretending to be infused with the spirit of Gaya and lathering her distended belly with baby oil in her fake pregancy photo shoot; it remains one of the best moments in the history of the series.
Middle-Aged (Finally) Liz: In Season 6, Liz actually found a happy relationship. And this one might stick. After all, he lives in her apartment. Let’s also not forget he Soloed her, which is grounds for marriage. (Just ask any nerd.) Her biggest hurdle has been getting Office Dad’s approval and now that’s Jack’s on board with her beau, Criss practically has her hand in marriage. Plus, they’ve agreed to raise a plant together. This is huge. Liz Lemon is happy, and comfortable, and she doesn't have food stains all over her clothes. Plus, she actually likes bedroom time (though we can assume the word "lovers" still bums her out) as long as it involved Criss referring to her as "Khaleesi." She finally learned how to express emotions using her words (even if she has to wear Hulk hands to do so). It happened: Liz Lemon is finally an adult.
Sunset Liz: Season 7 hasn’t aired, but the final season is no time to throw any of the Dennis-shaped wrenches at Liz’s personal life like we’ve see in seasons past. Unless Floyd is back with a divorce and perhaps a lobotomy (and maybe some sort of memory eraser for Liz), it’s time for Lemon to settle down with Criss, their plant, a lifetime of sexy evenings in bed with new episodes of Dance Moms, and only the occasional trip down Sabor De Soledad lane.
What's your favorite Age of Lemon? What will you miss most about 30 Rock when it's gone?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
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Twenty-eight TV writers filed a $200 million federal civil rights lawsuit on Monday against TV networks, entertainment companies and talent agencies, saying that Hollywood has blacklisted them because of their age.
According to Reuters, the lawsuit says that Hollywood has discriminated against individuals over age 40 since the 1980s to the extent that older writers are unable to find work, thusly driven to financial collapse and mental breakdowns.
"Since 1995, my career has spiraled into an abyss," writer Tracy Keenan Wynn told reporters at a news conference in Los Angeles announcing the lawsuit. Wynn added that young TV executives who say that he can't relate to young adults and therefore is a poor choice to write for them usually reject him.
"Was Shakespeare only 15 when he wrote 'Romeo and Juliet'?" said Wynn, a two-time Emmy winner. "Good, experienced writers are capable of writing about anything."
Among those listed as defendants in the lawsuit: Walt Disney Co., Fox Entertainment Group Inc., Time Warner Inc., Viacom, DreamWorks and Universal Television.
So far the defendants in the lawsuit have remained quiet.
Paul Sprenger, the lead attorney in the case, said that he planned to have the lawsuit certified as class action and represent some 5,000 writers. He said that evidence in the case would include a statement by Brandon Tartikoff, the late present of programming at NBC, that Tartikoff wouldn't employ any writer older than 30.
The 81-page lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
In related news, the Screen Actors Guild has launched a study on ageism in primetime TV, focusing on casting and the portrayal of characters older than 40, Daily Variety reports. Dr. George Gerbner of Temple University will conduct the study, which will include SAG data on casting diversity.
The results will be announced in the spring.