In a career that already seen five Oscar nominations and one win for a body of work that includes remarkable performances as Queen Elizabeth, Bob Dylan and Katherine Hepburn, no less, Cate Blanchett somehow topped herself this year.
As the title character in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," Blanchett plays a woman whose wealthy husband (Alec Baldwin) has lost all their money, forcing her to abandon their upper class Manhattan life to live with her working class sister (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco. Even at this point, Jasmine is somewhere past the verge of a nervous breakdown, and Blanchett manages her character's subsequent further spiralling with a tour-de-force authenticity that blew away audiences and critics alike.
Leading into the Oscars, Blanchett has already won a slew of kudos for "Blue Jasmine," including a Golden Globe, honors from the New York and Los Angeles critics groups and nominations from SAG, BAFTA, the Critics Choice and Indie Spirits that could all very well turn into wins in the coming weeks. And if the vast majority of pundits are correct, a second Oscar is not too far behind. Which should leave no one complaining: In a standout year for acting across the board, Cate Blanchett effortlessly offered the profession a new gold standard.
"I love her," Sally Hawkins said of her "Blue Jasmine" onscreen sister. "To be working opposite her, I felt incredibly lucky. Because of who she is. What a phenomenal actress she is and how bright she is. And also the kind of person she is. She's a great friend, and I feel very blessed that it was her. Even though she is one of the greatest actors working today, she's one of the kindest, most generous people you would ever meet, really."
Hawkins also said it's not as easy for Blanchett as she makes it look on screen.
"She finds it tough, as well," Hawkins said. "She works incredibly hard. I mean, she's human. But she's also such a coper. She's how you want to be as an actress, and as a person."
Four new films make the cut this week, as we update the list for one of the final times in 2013. As the collection passes 80, how many have you seen?
Awards season reduces a lot of people to smiling objects, but actresses experience this dilemma worse than most.
For Indian cinephiles, dreams of seeing Woody Allen's latest acclaimed feature have gone up in smoke. And that's not the only problem.