Friday, October 27, 2006

Notes on Talking to Her During a Scandal

So... as you may have seen elsewhere yesterday, the Notes on a Scandal trailer is out. This sneak is of the infamous What Lies Beneath school of trailer-making *sigh* giving you beginning, middle, end --all the cliff notes you could need so you don't have to read the book. Which is good --the book, I mean, not this school of clipreels. The only reason to go see the movie now is to watch the performances ("Academy Award Winner Dench. Academy Award Winner Blanchett. Ac...and Bill Nighy") which was the primary reason to watch it anyway... so I'm not sure what the trailer gained by telling you everything that it wouldn't have gained by just setting up the story and then *boom* hyping the actors.

I love that Bill Nighy gets his name all vertical alongside the credits. Has that been done before? I can't recall. Clearly Nighy is the sort that could sail to a nomination if prominent AMPAS members realize that he's the sort they like: respected, enduring, gets featured roles but usually not this featured. I also love the poster in general even if it leans heavily on Talk to Her. That's kind of a dangerous movie to compare yourself too qualitatively speaking but the average moviegoer doesn't remember these things anyway. They don't while away their free time giving awards for "best poster".

I can't recall exactly why I originally poo-pooed the Oscar prospects of Notes. It was probably Oscar fatigue in the same way that the Eastwood/Haggis film made me tired just to think on it. Dench & Blanchett: Again? I stuck by the decision all year fully aware that I could easily be forced to reconsider. Judi Dench is always a threat (she's my #6 currently...which is probably silly. When it comes to favored performers like Dench, you're probably in or out but nowhere inbetween. Unless your name is Meryl Streep and you're starring in The Hours circa 2002 but why go there...again)

As for Cate Blanchett. I'm going to lose 97% of you at this very moment --forgive-- but I'm starting to get sick of looking at her. Can't they cast anyone else? She has appeared in 23 (!) movies, many of them high profile, since breaking through with Elizabeth 8 years ago. What this means is that for almost a decade she's been as ubiquitous as Scarlett Johansson has been this year alone.


Now obviously I do enjoy watching both of these overemployed stars [my top ten list for the decade] but when I think about how familiar their faces are and how many great actresses toil away in smaller roles or get none at all year after year it wears on my nerves. I wouldn't trade Cate for the world in her best roles BUT she's had more than her share of opportunities that other skilled actresses would've had career changing experiences with, instead of you know, merely filling up the empty months in their filming schedule.

A rule I wish Hollywood would live by:
No matter how great the star, they just aren't right for every role

I'm not asking for everyone to be Jodie Foster. God knows that 'one thriller every two years' schedule satisfies virtually no one but Jodie. But can't there be a middle ground?

Oh, and one more thing: Notes on a Scandal is a two-hander. The story is about the relationship of Sheba (Cate) and Barbara (Dench). Two women. Two leads. Like Thelma and Louise, maybe, only with underage coitus instead of road trip crime sprees and uncomfortable sapphic overtones instead of handholding girlpower. But we all know what happens in the age of Training Day, Brokeback Mountain and Collateral. Note this recent change to the official AMPAS rules, from page 97. paragraph 1,230:
Should a film have two principal roles of common genitalia, only one actor shall be eligible for placement in the lead category. The other must be demoted to the supporting category, preferrably displacing a lesser known character actor who we don't want to see on television as much.
Dench will be in the leading category. Blanchett in support.

tags: Judi Dench, movies, celebrities, Cate Blanchett, Oscars, Academy Awards, Notes on a Scandal

53 comments:

Amy said...

Completely with you about Blanchett. I adore the woman, but enough is enough. She's becoming more overexposed than the Simpsons. I keep telling everyone I don't think she's getting a nomination this year, and I fear my life may be in peril.

The trailer (for Notes on a Scandal) looks amazing. Dench is actually getting a deserved nomination. This is so fantastic.

JavierAG said...

Hmmm... I don't know. I mean, there hasn't been a Blanchett movie since 2004, so it's not like she's Meryl Streep in the 80s. But I agree that, say, her "Babel" role (which will do nothing for her one way or the other) could have been of tremendous help to other actresses.

There's also a minority that seems to think she's become a bit dull in her performances, but for every boring turn she gives two great ones, so hell, if we're to have overexposure from someone let it be from her.

aaron said...

Yeah, but Nathaniel, are you counting her tiny performances in those Rings movies? She was in that second one for a hot minute.
PLUS, while WE saw all of her movies, flicks like The Missing and The Man Who Cried and Veronica Guerin all sailed under the radar of most members of the Academy--not to mention the rest of the country.
(Don't mind me; I'm just being contentious.)

Arden said...

she was awful in Hedda Gabler

Arkaan said...

I ignored the part where Nathaniel suggested it might be wise for Cate Blanchett to give up some of her roles. The only one I might have her give up would be The Missing, because then I would never have to have seen another Ron Howard movie, and that, my friends, is a very good thing.

But in all seriousness, post-Elizabeth, which roles would you have her give up? Looking at her imdb profile, all I can think of is Babel (sounds like she has the least challenging/interesting role) and The Shipping News (I still haven't seen it, but it's a Hallstrom film). Unlike Scarlett Johansson, she doesn't actually seem wrong for many of the roles she takes (Scarlett in Match Point or The Black Dahlia for instance)

If I had to give advice to Cate Blanchett, I'd like her to work in better films. She has this habit of taking on films where she'll be the best thing in it (The Gift, Little Fish, Veronica Guerrin, Charlotte Grey, Bandits), but the film itself is pretty mediocre.

Oh, and I really liked the Notes on a Scandal trailer.

Anonymous said...

but i LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE cate. don't be mean to her. with the exception of Elizabeth, she's only now getting leading roles in A-list movies. rather than little bitty things in stuff like Ripley or Hobbit Land big roles in b-list veronica guerin gunk. she's woooooooooooooooonderful.

and i love the Notes trailer. except david poland stole my line about it looking like "single white female" (but all very brit and with judi dench as jennifer jason leigh)

Tory Smith said...

I disagree. There is so much crap in Hollywood when it comes to actor's it's ridiculous. She is a working actress, and this is her time to REALLY shine and do as much as she can before it's over, and roles become less and less. I'm an actor and she inspires and she's just so FUCKING GOOD. So many actresses cannot do what she can do.


I'd rather Cate is cast over ridiculous sequels and prequels and these stupid cartoon-Shrek-type
movies that are made today.

At least I know when these "overexposed" actors are in another film, it has substance and importance, and they ALWAYS deliver performances that are so exceptional and so damn good.

Toryh Smith

David S. said...

Strangely, though I do consider her my favorite actress along side Kate Winslet, I haven't seen nearly as many of her films as all of you which means I'm hardly sick of her. We'll see, though, because I'm aching to do a Cate Blanchett marathon. I strongly believe that she's one of the absolute best of her generation. I don't mind that she takes on so many different types of roles because she can literally play anything. However, I do remember her not being too great in Bandits. Even still, I thought that was a fun film and she did well enough. I'm looking forward to seeing her in all of her films this year. I sort of wish they were spread out more, though, so that she didn't have a heap of films in one year and then barely any within the next two. Oh well.

adam k. said...

I have to agree with people who've said that Blanchett shouldn't give up any roles. It's damn hard to get the opportunities she has, so she should savor them.

That said, she should try and find better films to be in (though she's gotten better at that recently). And also, maybe she should prioritize having a family or something instead of making a million movies a year. Especially now that she's pushing 40.

I think part of the reason Meryl Streep is so revered is that she actually DOESN'T work that much. She gives the impression that she actually doesn't care that much whether people love her. She has her life. It may seem that she was everywhere in the 80's, but she only made like one or two films a year. She just happened to be brilliant in all of them, and always be nominated for oscars. In her off-time, she was having 4 kids and raising them. She knows how to divvy up her time.

NATHANIEL R said...

to tory --absolutely agree that with certain actors you know there's going to be some substance but my point is there are many very very talented actresses that aren't getting opportunities. Vera Farmiga for one. she's not a favorite of mine (yet) but other people have brought her up as alternate. Hollywood has been aware of her for some time and she's won awards and whatnot and she just now gets her first big Hollywood role (The Departed) and it's still, for all intents and purposes, a girlfriend role.

disappointing.

to Adam I do agree that people who don't work all the time or work in waves (and are consistently excellent) like Streep --do actually end up more legendary than those who work all the time hit and miss. I think if Scarlett J keeps up her current pace her career will be over in 10 years. If she slows down and retains some mystery she'll be acting into her old age. My theory. I could be wrong.

to arkaan
roles I'm glad she did post Eliz: The Gift (but the movie sucks) The Man Who Cried (the best of her unseen performances IMHO), Ripley (awesome pt. 2), LoTR (harder part than it looks and she rocked), The Aviator (awesome pt. 3)

the rest of the roles. I don't see how she was any better than anyone else woulda been (although I did miss Charlotte Gray and Coffee & Cigs)and given that some of them were small roles or in not so great films why didn't Hollywood give someone else a chance. It's not like she's a "bankable" actress so I don't really get why they always go to her.

anyway. I love Cate. don't wanna be misunderstood. just think she's overdoing it.

Ali said...

Normally, I would agree with you Nathaniel. It's pretty frustrating when an actor starts to spread him or herself thin across a multitude of project (Scarlett and Nicole are primary offenders in my book.) Especially when they seem to give the same performance over and over again.

23 movies since Elizabeth *is* a pretty shocking statistic for Blanchett, but the thing is that she seems to repel overexposure. I always find her performances astonishing because she transforms so completely - I even thought she was the lone bright spot in The Shipping News (Christopher Young's gorgeous score was another plus.)

This year, she is dominating the scene, but there's nothing similar about the characters in each turn. Contrast her mysterious femme fatale in The Good German and the wary privileged traveler in Babel... I don't know, I always find her exciting, and it puzzles me why people would find her "boring". I think she's operating at a level few actors are at today.

Sorry, rambly comment.

Beau said...

See, my mind went instinctively to "Persona" first time I saw the poster. I dig it probably for that reason alone. AND the trailer looks magnificent.

Nat, have you looked through the L.A. Times today? If you get to the ad for "Flags of Our Fathers" in the Arts section, please check it out. There's a fairly ridiculous comment at the top of it, which really rather ticked me off.

Felix said...

Yeah, damn Blanchett for being a continually working actress, what nerve!?

I think Blanchett is over exposed in terms of us fans of cinema that oscar watch all year and love those baity films. But overall, I think she's actually still growing in popularity. Last year I was watching Elizabeth with my mom and she kept asking who Blanchett is and if she'd done any other films. Albeit my mom is a 45 year old wino who watches nothing but soap operas.

And yes, I'm all for the Blanchett onslaught we're in for.

Maybe after we see the films we should talk about if she was wrongly cast thus stealing some more talented actors chance at success, rather than before?

NATHANIEL R said...

again. people. i'm not casting any aspersions on films I haven't seen.

this is called train of thought worrying about actors who never ever take vacations.

adam k. said...

Maybe Hollywood always goes to her cause she has a track record of always saying "yes"?

I agree that she's not actually that famous in terms of actual celebrity. Unlike Kidman and ScarJo, she's not really fawned over in gossip rags, fashion circles and such. And most normal people probably don't know who she is. As she starts racking up more oscar nominations, that will start to change. But I really don't see it as overexposure since she's always good and always different (again unlike Kidman and ScarJo).

I think her biggest problem actually is that her "persona" seems too reminiscent of Streep in its chameleonicness and classiness. I feel like people are all "why obsess over Blanchett when we've got the ACTUAL Meryl Streep?". I dunno. I think she should start a family.

Johnny said...

I've always found Blanchett to be quite overrated. There is of course no doubt that she is a more then competent actress, but when you have certain fanboys(not all mind you) comparing her to Streep, it just makes me...not like her as much?

I dunno, I suppose that's not really Blanchett's fault as much as her fan's fault.

But hey, the plus side is she's an Aussie(as am I) and it's so fun to see that many find her, along with Kidman and Watts to be among our greatest working actresses.

Aussies represesnt!

Kamikaze Camel said...

Adam, she already has a child (or is it two?) I know she dropped out of Closer 2 years back cause she was pregnant.

Anyway, I've loved Blanchett since Thank God He Met Lizzie and I want her to keep working furiously. It gives us more chances to watch her in the future when she is relegated to one movie a year.

But, who else thinks Blanchett will become Judi Dench in her old age? I do, which is why I find it ironic that they're starring together. Two of their generations' finest actors, but who are both occasionally seen as phoning it in because they're just automatically good in anything they do.

I'm not overexposed to her because I did skin things like Charlotte Grey and The Missing and Veronica Gueren. She was fabo in Coffee & Cigarettes though, she had the second best short of the film.

Barry said...

I love Cate Blanchett and I never get tired of her. The way she disappears into all of her characters is why I keep watching her. Notes on a Scandal looks great and I think Judi Dench will get a nomination and I think Cate Blanchett will as well. She will either get one in supporting for Babel (which I don't think she's getting enough credit for) or Notes.

My favourite performance from her so far is the one she gave in Charlotte Gray. Just--amazing!

Kamikaze Camel said...

Also, you speak of giving her roles to other actresses like Vera Farmiga, but quite frankly, I'd rather watch Cate do a great job in a role than have the casting agents hire some sexy young actress who's just out for an Academy Award (HI HALLE!!!!)

Also, for the record, she would have won Best Supporting Actress for The Talented Mr Ripley and would have been nominated again for Bandits (and The Man Who Cried), a movie that is quite underrated methinks.

adam k. said...

Oh crap, I had a feeling maybe she had a family and I didn't realize it. I just never hear her talk about her kid in interviews. And how exactly is it, then, that she's still doing 3 films per year? She really never sleeps. Good for her.

I'd agree that she should've won or at least been nominated for Ripley except that that was 1999, the year in which Keener, Moore, Sevigny, Collette and Jolie were all statue-worthy, too. She was not better than them, I don't think.

The Missing was awful.

Arkaan said...

I thought she was phenomenal in Heaven as well.

NATHANIEL R said...

glenn. come on OF COURSE we want Cate over Halle. That wasn't the option. I'm saying some of these small roles that she does inbetween...

i just don't see why she does ALL of them. Like for example. I'm sorry. She was OK in Life Aquatic for example but I AM SURE that if you gave some young hungry unknown a featured role in a Wes Anderson they'd find a way to make more of a mark, it being their big break and all.

does anyone get what I'm saying?

I'm not dissing her talent.

par3182 said...

i went to college with her husband; if i was married to him i'd be getting out of the house and working as often as i could

Anonymous said...

Cate is great. And I really would like to see Jodie Foster more often. I disagree with you: Foster is my favorite American actress post Meryl Streep. I would like to see her everywhere, because she rocks. She'd never make people feel tired.

- cal roth

Woodstock said...

This was one of the movies this year that didn't got me hooked. I'll probably only watch it after the Oscars, since my country is rather shity nowadays in bringing the award conttenders films before the Academy Awards, and I'll surely watch it for Judi and Cate [even though I agree with you that Hollywood gets us tired with this actor-routines].

Anonymous said...

She has a plan of two more babys, so she has a busy schedule...

She is near 40... and she will return to Australia for more babys(2009 or 2010 IMHO). We will not see her maybe 3-5 years...

Nathaniel... If you don't know... don't say about that...

And who is more respected actress than her under 40?... Who is more praised actress than her?

Anonymous said...

Many actors or actresses who did not become a co-star with her praises or loves her...

No one(under 40) can beat her in that point... no one...

adam k. said...

Kate Winslet is also widely loved by everyone. I think she is more praised that Cate B.

I feel really stupid now though for talking about how she should start a family. Should've done my homework.

Anonymous said...

Kate Winslet is my another favorite actress... but, one question...

How many actors or actresses who don't work with Kate Winslet praise her?... I really curious about that...

I want to hear their name... because I know many actors or directors who don't work with Cate Blanchett but praise or like her...

RC said...

i love that you have the talk to her poster next to the notes on a scandal...i had the same thought comparison the moment on saw the notes poster.

And bill's name on the side...i don't recall ever seeing anything like it...i like it.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

Arkaan said...

Nathaniel, see what happens when you mention something negative about Blanchett to a bunch of salivating fans (myself included). We don't see what you've written, just that you've attacked (oh yes, ATTACKED :D ) Blanchett and she got us, her loyal minions to do her bidding, and that is defend.

To take what you say seriously, I do think she could slow down the pace a bit. In all seriousness, though, I would like to see her work with more auteurs like Anderson, if only to help expand her range and taste a bit, even in smaller roles.

Ali said...

I agree with Nathaniel on Cate in The Life Aquatic - that's the only performance of hers that I've actually been bored with. Then again, this could just be my intense dislike of the overall film talking.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Nathanial. Blanchett was my favourite actress many moons ago, but these days, I don't really care that much anymore. She's an ever reliable, always competent actress, but I've stopped being "blown away" by her work. She's just some woman who makes 5 movies a year.

For me, the final straw was probably The Aviator. Her Hepburn performance divided opinion, but you can count me in the camp that considered that performance a souless, and at times cartoonish piece of skilled mimicry, as oppposed to great "acting".

There's something too technichal about Blanchett's approach. The passion and emotion seems rote and forced in her work. People seems overly impressed that she's really good at accents and physical transformation and stuff, but that's to acting what CGI is to movies. CGI can enhance the landscape of a film, but it should never be the dominant reason for a film's quality. Most of the time,in her dramatic work, I find Blanchett to be only superficially 'different". The base personalties of her characters in Elizabeth, The Gift, Charlotte Gray, The Missing and Veronica Gurein, An Ideal Husband among others, are pretty much the same. Ornery, independent, tough women. Just because one has an Irish accent, and the other is in a western, doesn't mean I'm getting something new. In comedy, she generally hams it up and does minor work, but as a dramatic actress, I know almost exactly what type of characterisation she'll give, whether she's playing a Norwegian pilot or Marie Curie (an ornery, independent, tough chick). And part of this is her relentless work-rate and overexposure. Physical disguises and accents, imho, can no longer disguise the similarities between her dramatic work. I wouldn't really care if I thought she was an emotionally raw actress, but I don't find her to be one.

I disagree with what AdamK said about Kidman (though he's right on the money with Johansson). Kidman isn't always great, and she's certainly had her share of overexposure and lame roles. But she's one of the most emotionally naked actresses on the planet, at her best, which makes it easy to love her more interesting performances. With Blanchett, I often feel I'm watching a technical and contrived facsimile of emotional behavior (ie/ the irritatingly smug Veronica Gurein and her cartoonish Kate Hepburn impression). Watching Kidman strut her stuff in Birth and Dogville, imho, is extremely uncomfortable, because the actress clearly isn't holding back or operating on a technical level. It's why I'm still looking forward to watching Fur, and why I wish she'd stay away from contrived studio pap like The Interpreter and Stepford Wives.

If I found Blanchett's performances as emotionally resonant and corsucating as Kidman's work in Birth or Dogville, I might be inclined to give her a pass for her Samuel L. Jackson-like tendancy to appear in every movie ever made. Unfortuantely, I don't.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I'm in the camp that actually thinks The Interpreter is pretty damn good for a Hollywood thriller (it actually had thrills!). And it has 66% cream-of-the-crop at RT so it's not like it was universally hated by critics either, which some people like to let us believe.

Anonymous said...

See Heaven and especially Little Fish...

Her performance in Little Fish was really one of the best(if not the best)in 2005... heartbreaking performance...

daveylow said...

I still like Blanchett quite a lot. Who cares if she makes a lot of films? You don't have to see all of them. I don't. But the ones I do see, I appreciate her presence. I plan to see Babel, The Good German, and Notes--all three look like films I'd enjoy. I still regret Cate wasn't in Closer.

NATHANIEL R said...

anonymous, you speak eloquently on the Blanchett/Kidman divide. I'm with you mostly (other than that I love the Kate Hepburn performance) I prefer raw i'm not sure what i'm getting emotion to perfect technical pleasures... which is probably why I'm never all that impressed with Oscar winning mimicry star turns (Capote, Ray, etc...)

Anonymous said...

There's nothing actually "wrong" with Kidman's work in The Interpreter, per se. But one of the reasons I'm not really fond of that performance, is that I find it to be a performance completely typical of many of Cate Blanchett's overpraised dramatic turns.

It was a technically proficient (Kidman was easily belivable in her Southern African accent and general foreign diplomatic personnel persona), watchable and professionally competent performance. Kidman hit all her marks like a pro, threw in a few surface level emotional beats, and went home. But at the end of the day, I was left with a feeling of...so what?

It's the same "so what" feeling I get when watching Blanchett roll out her numerous technically proficient, watchable and professionally competent performances, that some people mistake for amazing performances, because she always gets her accent correct. It's the "so what" feeling I get when watching Charlotte Gray, The Missing, Veronica Gurein and The Gift (I haven't really loved any of Blanchett's work since The Talented Mr Ripley). To me, these are a whole bunch of "The Interpreter" level performances, that Blanchett fans try to place on the level of Sophie's Choice or Frances, because Blanchett always looks the part and does a believable accent. To which I say....meh.

If Blanchett gave the exact same standard of performance Kidman did in The Interpreter, too many people would act as if Blanchett just delivered the greatest performance since Streep's last one. Most of the focus would be on "how authentically South African" Blanchett sounded and how "different" she was in her last movie. It's almost irrelevant whether the performance is great or not. With Kidman, nobody gives a damn how technically proficient she was in The Interpreter, since everyone knows she's capable of much more sublime, raw and emotionally powerful performances.

Kidman, for good reason, since she's actually delivered some truly stunning performances this decade, suffers from higher expectations than Blanchett. After the likes of Moulin Rouge, The Hours, Birthday Girl, Birth, The Others and Dogville, competent, "solid" and technically proficient is no longer a marker of excellence. If she isn't delivering an emotional tour de force on par with her work in The Hours or Dogville, it's seen as a disappointment.

Blanchett has a more consistent level of performance than Kidman, but I think that's because Blanchett is rarely "great", just dependable and solid (like a Volkswagon). I feel Kidman reaches greatness with more regularity and frequency, so it's much more obvious when she drops below those standards.

Anonymous said...

One quesion:

Who respect or loves Kidman?...

I really want to hear actors or directors who didn't work with her and praised or loved her...

I know Kidman has much more fanatics than Blanchett and I know Bryce Dallas Howard praised Kidman, too... Who else?...

All Kidmaniacs... Please tell me about that... I really want hear those people...

Anonymous said...

Dear Kidmaniacs...

I really want to hear about those people... not internet fanatics' opinions...

adam k. said...

I am an off-and-on Kidmaniac. I agree that she has a rare intensity and intimacy, which is why she obviously gravitates toward auteur films. I'm sure the reason she does the studio stuff is for the money and also to try and be as well-rounded an actress/star as possible. If you just do little autuer-driven indies, you don't have the same caché.

I don't think Kidman has the same technical perfection as Blanchett, though. Her accents are often spotty, and I sometimes find her to be "raw" at the expense of technical perfection. But I was as obsessed as anyone circa 2001/2002. She has this kind of mystical fusion of actress persona and choice of roles that I can't get over, and an emotional nakedness onscreen that's incredibly compelling.

Blanchett, I think, is where Streep was circa the late 80's, when she got a lot of flack for being "too technical." I think Blanchett has it in her to blow that rep away if she can find her own Postcards from the Edge type fun vehicle. But note how Blanchett isn't actually nominated very much. I don't think she's as overpraised as is being made out.

One young actress today who I think has Blanchett's technical faultlessness and Kidman's raw emotion is Kate Winslet. I think she's just the best. The true heir to Meryl. Listen to her Australian in Holy Smoke! and her American in Eternal Sunshine. I could never tell she wasn't really from those places.

And you can't say she hasn't conquered all genres, having carried the biggest blockbuster/action thriller of all time, one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, biopics, indies, period films, etc. She can do anything. I love her so much.

Anonymous said...

Interesting call on Winslet.

I agree that Winslet's for raw emotion and vulnerability sets her apart. It's almost her stock in trade. For that reason, I really enjoy her work.

But as for technical profiency, I don't think she's a match for Kidman at all. Kidman isn't as technically proficient as Blanchett (whose gotta be some freakish sort of gold standard for technical accuracy among actors. She's possibly even better at the technical aspects of acting than Streep), but who is? Maybe Gary Oldman, but that's about it. I think Kidman has greater technical ability than probably 90% of her peers.

Kidman's technical trimuphs outweigh her mistakes, imho. To Die For was all technique and minimal raw emotion. The Hours was a fusion of technique and raw emotion. The Human Stain was a technically flawless performance, in spite of claims that Kidman was too attractive to play a janitor (as if all janitors are ugly). The Others was a mixture of technique and emotion. So was her Russian accented character in Birthday Girl. The only thing recommending The Interpreter, imho, is the technical aspects of her performance.

Cold Mountain is probably Kidman's biggest technical misstep. The southern accent wasn't horrible, but not completely convincing either. Other than that, I think she's an extremely capable technical performer with a great range and variety.

Kate Winslet (imho) does not display the technical variety of Streep, Blanchett or Kidman. Winslet's first stab at playing a contemporary American in The Life Of David Gale produced an awful, unbelievablly nasal American accent. Luckily , so few people saw the movie, that she got away with it. By the time Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless came around, her "American" was much improved, if slightly generic. In All The King's Men, she's meant to be playing a Southern gal, yet she's still sporting that generic mid-western American accent she perfected in Eternal Sunshine (one of the numerous inaccuracies and criticisms of that film). I think Winslet has a "one size fits all" approach when it comes to playing an American accent. Doesn't matter what part of America the character is supposed to be from, she'll sound the same now that she's mastered a believable American accent. You can often get away with it, but it's technically lazy.

Kidman also has a "generic" American accent that she employs in certain roles, but when she is supposed to be from a specific part of America, she'll do what Blanchett and Streep do, and attempt the dialect (even if she doesn't quite carry it off, like Cold Mountain). I was really disappointed that Winslet didn't even really attempt the Southern accent in All The Kings Men.

I did think Winslet did a great Australian accent in Holy Smoke as well. But look at the variety of Kidman's successful accents and dialects; The Hours (upper class English), The Others (middle-class English), To Die For, Dogville, Birth, Bewitched (American), Birthday Girl (Russian), Far And Away (Irish), The Interpreter (Southern African). That's an impressive technical display.


I also find that Kate Winslet seems to have a narrower range of characterisations than Blanchett, Streep or Kidman, meaning that technically, she doesn't have to stretch herself that often. She's played a lot of free spirits and English Roses. Her range will probably expand the longer her career goes on, but right now, I don't see her being capable of or well cast in something that demands total evil, cynicism or amorality like Kidman's role in To Die For or Streep's part in The Devil Wears Prada (or The Manchurian Canidate remake).

So yeah, I realy like Winslet and think she's a briliant actress. But she's not really an actress in the "Streep" tradition. Blanchett is, and to a lesser extent, so is Kidman. Winslet is more classically British character/star actress in the mould of Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons and Judi Dench.

Anonymous said...

I have always founf Blanchette to be very overrated, she has her comfort zone that she never leaves when it comes to acting, her greatest strength is that she is highly technically proficient. Does she give good performances? yes but always great ones? no Is she really versatile? no, can she play the wilting flower? no, the fragile yet steely woman? no Give her something in her comfort zone i.e. a strong woman who knows how to cry then she is pretty much sussed, anything out of that and she falls flat, she knows this so she sticks to what she knows and keeps on getting the acclaim. All her characters are variations of themselves and that's why people are very tired of her.

Despite her many attempts to jump on the tabloid pages by giving them bits and pieces of her private life, they don't seem interested. Good actress? yes

For all of Kidman's Bewitched and TSW, she has Blanchette licked in what she can deliver on screen in various roles even though she doesn't get much credit for it. There isn't a Blanchette role that Kidman couldn't have done well but reversed, I don't see Blanchette getting or understanding the motives of Alice, Anna, Grace (Dogville), Satine, even Nadia of Birthday Girl and now Diane Arbus to make them what Kidman made them onscreen.

What keeps Blanchette a favourite of most people is that she has the "serious actress look and voice" and keeps to what she knows. Her technical skills are brilliant but her characters rarely crawl under ones skin and that's where Kidman shines, put Kidman's characters side by side, you find something to love, hate, despise, etc. she wrings the emotions out of you. I can't say I've ever had that experience with Blanchette, I watch her, enjoy her work but I can't say I have ever had any serious discussions, lengthy conversations about the life of her characters. She is simply a good and reliable actress.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:34

Pedro Almodovar

Emir Kusturica

Stephen Shainberg who crowed to have her as Arbus until Bonnie Timmerman relented and sent her the script

Stephen Spielberg

Martin Scorcese

And many more

Anonymous said...

Nat, check this out:

http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Set/4824/bjsduets.jpg

Yet another red/blue two profiles variation.

NATHANIEL R said...

omg. BABS goes all talk to her. crazzzzy.

anyway...

i see the many commenters here have investigate what it is that is both great and lacking in Cate than I myself have.

fascinating discussion... what is important and what's not. or what's more important at least.

btw though. I don't think Streep pulled off the amoral/evil thing in Manchurian that anon claims Winslet can't do. Nor do I think she was aiming for that in Prada. she completely humanized there. I think Manchurian is her worst recent performance.

Anonymous said...

Johnny Depp has praised Kidman

Al Pacino

Sean Penn sent Kidman flowers after TO DIE FOR

Robert Downey Jr.

Jack Nicholson

Anonymous said...

Just recently, Penelope Cruz who is crazy about Kidman.

Arkaan said...

Whoa....

What impresses me most about Blanchett is her emotional fluidity. Things like "Heaven," "Coffee and Cigarettes," and "Little Fish" which aren't hugely seen but show off a highly fascinating actress with commendable range (no, she wasn't all that impressive in "Charlotte Grey" or "Veronica Guerrin" or "The Missing." But everybody has their down films). She's never less than believable in her roles that's something to cherish. She may not be perfect for everything, but I have yet to find a performance of hers that I think is absolutely wrong, either.

Kidman, on the other hand - she's fearless. Is there a major star who's challenged herself as much as she has? Even before her big year, performances in To Die For, Portrait of a Lady, and Eyes Wide Shut revealed a great screen presence and eye for intriguing projects and/or directors. Even if she's completely wrong for a role (and she can be - Cold Mountain, Bewitched) she's interested in trying out new/different things.

Anonymous, I'm surprised you think it's so easy to flip performers around. I doubt very much that Kidman could've pulled off the comedic stylization required in The Aviator or simply the lightness required in Coffee and Cigarettes. That said, I don't think Blanchett had/has the movie star mojo required for Moulin Rouge or the masochistic streak for Birth.

That said, it's gratifying to see Blanchett take a page from Kidman's book and challenge herself (the Todd Haynes-Bob Dylan biopic).

jer said...

I agree that Kidman is plucky in her choices but I find her acting a lil' weak at times in terms of consistency. Well I do agree that Blanchett has not turned in GREAT performances that often post-elizabeth. I think having kids has affected her passion about films and it shows.

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