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Cate Blanchett’s Best Movies

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  04 Sep 2015 

Cate Blanchett is already having a pretty good year, riding high on her sixth Academy Award nomination (this one coming for her work in Blue Jasmine) and her third Golden Globe, as well as a busy cinematic slate that finds her in three movies to be released in 2014: How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, and The Monuments Men, which surrounds her with an ace cast (including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and John Goodman) in a WWII caper about a real-life group of Allied soldiers trying to save cultural artifacts from the Nazi regime. We’re celebrating Blanchett’s success the best way we know how: by taking a fond look back at some of the many critical highlights in her growing filmography.

actors
10 I'm Not There.
imdb
rating

7.0

I'm Not There. (2007)

Drama, Music

Bob Dylan didn’t get where he is today by yielding to anyone’s preconceived notions, so it only makes sense that when director Todd Haynes decided to put together a biopic about the rock legend, he came up with the defiantly weird I’m Not There, which rounds up a diverse array of actors (including Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, and Marcus Carl Franklin) to portray Dylan at various points (and under different names) during his long and varied career. Haynes’ approach proved understandably off-putting for some confused critics, but for others, it made perfectly imperfect sense; as Kelly Vance wrote for the East Bay Express, “I’m Not There is a very special kind of life and times. It leaves ordinary musical biopics like Ray and Walk the Line and Beyond the Sea in the dust.”

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Ruminations on the life of Bob Dylan, where six characters embody a different aspect of the musician's life and work.

actors:
Cate Blanchett as Jude   Heath Ledger as Robbie   Julianne Moore as Alice   Ben Whishaw as Arthur   Charlotte Gainsbourg as Claire   Christian Bale as Jack/Pastor John   Marcus Carl Franklin as Woody   Richard Gere as Billy   Kris Kristofferson as Narrator   Don Francks as Hobo Joe   Kim Gordon as Carla Hendricks   Bruce Greenwood as Keenan Jones / Garrett   Alison Folland as Grace  

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9 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
imdb
rating

6.2

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Action, Adventure

For almost 20 years, people wouldn’t stop asking Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Harrison Ford about the odds of a new Indiana Jones movie — and then when we finally got one, it turned out to be Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which added aliens and nuked fridges to a previously sacrosanct popcorn trilogy. But while few people would argue that Skull represents the best of the series, it did at least give us Cate Blanchett as something cinema hadn’t had nearly enough of since the 1980s: a wonderfully nasty Russian villain. “The character and plot contrivances are dumber than ever,” the Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum cheerfully admitted, “but this is basically vaudeville, not narrative, and the thrills keep coming.”

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During the Cold War, Soviet agents watch Professor Henry Jones when a young man brings him a coded message from an aged, demented colleague, Henry Oxley. Led by the brilliant Irina Spalko, the Soviets tail Jones and the young man, Mutt, to Peru. With Oxley's code, they find a legendary skull made of a single piece of quartz. If Jones can deliver the skull to its rightful place, all may be well; but if Irina takes it to its origin, she'll gain powers that could endanger the West. Aging professor and young buck join forces with a woman from Jones's past to face the dangers of the jungle, Russia, and the supernatural.

actors:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones   Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko   Shia LaBeouf as Mutt   Ray Winstone as Mac   Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood   John Hurt as Ox   Jim Broadbent as Dean Charles Stanforth   Andrew Divoff as Russian Soldier   Igor Jijikine as Colonel Dovchenko   Pasha D. Lychnikoff as Russian Soldier   Alan Dale as General Ross   Ernie Reyes Jr. as Cemetery Warrior  

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8 Elizabeth
imdb
rating

7.5

Elizabeth (1998)

Drama, History

For some filmgoers, the mere sight of corseted royalty is enough to provoke a groan or a bored eyeroll — but while Shekhar Kapur’s historical romance Elizabeth is absolutely a grand period piece, it’s infused with enough red-blooded romance, violence, and treacherous intrigue to fill an action thriller, all in the service of a sweeping story following the 16th-century rise of Queen Elizabeth. Blanchett picked up a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her work in the title role, and it’s easy to see why; as Janet Maslin wrote for the New York Times, she “brings spirit, beauty and substance to what otherwise might have been turned into a vacuous role.”

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This film details the ascension to the throne and the early reign of Queen Elizabeth the First, as played by Cate Blanchett. The main focus is the endless attempts by her council to marry her off, the Catholic hatred of her and her romance with Lord Robert Dudley.

actors:
Cate Blanchett as Elisabeth I   Geoffrey Rush as Sir Francis Walsingham   Christopher Eccleston as Duke of Norfolk   Joseph Fiennes as Robert Dudley   Richard Attenborough as Sir William Cecil   Fanny Ardant as Mary of Guise   Eric Cantona as Monsieur de Foix   Vincent Cassel as Duc d'Anjou   Kathy Burke as Queen Mary   Edward Hardwicke as Earl of Arundel   Emily Mortimer as Kat Ashley   John Gielgud as The Pope   James Frain as Alvaro de la Quadra   Kelly Macdonald as Isabel Knollys   Kenny Doughty as Sir Thomas Elyot   Daniel Craig as John Ballard   Alfie Allen as Arundel's Son  

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7 The Talented Mr. Ripley
imdb
rating

7.3

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Adventure, Crime, Drama, Thriller

With a novel or a television show, it’s possible — but still difficult — to base a compelling work around the antics of an emotionally hollow sociopath like Tom Ripley, the fascinating (albeit altogether icky) character invented by author Patricia Highsmith. On the big screen, pulling off that feat is a much trickier proposition, and one that director Anthony Minghella attempted at his own peril with 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. How do you make a lying, thieving murderer like Ripley relatable? In Minghella’s hands, the answer was essentially “you don’t” — you just hand the part to a talented actor (Matt Damon) and surround him with an equally capable supporting cast (including Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Cate Blanchett). “It’s a gorgeously unsettling film,” wrote Peter Rainer for New York Magazine. “You can hide in the shadows, but luminescence exposes who you are, and the only escape is into another identity.”

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Tom Ripley is a charismatic sociopath who makes his way in mid-'50s New York as a rest room attendant and pianist. His skill however is in impersonating other people, forging handwriting and running second-rate scams. Unhappy with his own life, he kills and takes on the persona of somebody else.

actors:
Matt Damon as Tom Ripley   Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge Sherwood   Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf   Cate Blanchett as Meredith Logue   Philip Seymour Hoffman as Freddie Miles   Jack Davenport as Peter Smith-Kingsley   James Rebhorn as Herbert Greenleaf   Sergio Rubini as Inspector Roverini   Philip Baker Hall as Alvin MacCarron   Celia Weston as Aunt Joan   Fiorello as Fausto   Stefania Rocca as Silvana   Ivano Marescotti as Colonnello Verrecchia   Anna Longhi as Signora Buffi   Alessandro Fabrizi as Sergeant Baggio  

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6 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
imdb
rating

8.8

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Left to their own devices, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies would have dominated this list — which, given the depth and breadth of Blanchett’s impressively eclectic filmography, didn’t seem fair. She’s never been the focal point of the series anyway, but her appearances as the ethereal Galadriel, Lady of Lothlorien have helped provide a narrative throughline — as well as setting up some of the most important events in cinematic Middle-earth.

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Young hobbit Frodo Baggins, after inheriting a mysterious ring from his uncle Bilbo, must leave his home in order to keep it from falling into the hands of its evil creator. Along the way, a fellowship is formed to protect the ringbearer and make sure that the ring arrives at its final destination: Mt. Doom, the only place where it can be destroyed.

actors:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins   Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey   Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn   Liv Tyler as Arwen Evenstar   Orlando Bloom as Legolas   John Rhys-Davies as Gimli   Sean Bean as Boromir   Christopher Lee as Saruman   Sean Astin as Samwise 'Sam' Gamgee   Billy Boyd as Peregrin 'Pippin' Took   Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck   Hugo Weaving as Elrond   Cate Blanchett as Galadriel   Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins   Craig Parker as Haldir   Lawrence Makoare as Lurtz   Sala Baker as Sauron   Alan Howard as The Ring (voice)   Andy Serkis as Gollum   Sarah McLeod as Rose 'Rosie' Cotton   Marton Csokas as Celeborn   Noel Appleby as Everard Proudfoot   Megan Edwards as Mrs. Proudfoot   Michael Elsworth as Gondorian Archivist   Mark Ferguson as Gil-Galad   Brent McIntyre as Witch-King   Peter McKenzie as Elendil   Ian Mune as Bounder   Cameron Rhodes as Farmer Maggot   Martyn Sanderson as Gate Keeper   Harry Sinclair as Isildur   Victoria Beynon-Cole as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Lee Hartley as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Sam La Hood as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Chris Streeter as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Phil Grieve as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Semi Kuresa as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Clinton Ulyatt as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Paul Bryson as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Lance Fabian Kemp as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Jono Manks as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Ben Price as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths   Katie Jackson as Cute Hobbit Child   Peter Corrigan as Otho (extended edition)   Lori Dungey as Mrs. Bracegirdle (extended edition)   Norman Forsey as Gaffer Gamgee (extended edition)   William Johnson as Old Noakes (extended edition)   Elizabeth Moody as Lobelia Sackville-Baggins (extended edition)   Brian Sergent as Ted Sandyman (extended edition)   Timothy Bartlett as Hobbit (uncredited)   Jarl Benzon as Elf (uncredited)   Jørn Benzon as Rumil (uncredited)   Rachel Clentworth as Goblin (uncredited)   Sabine Crossen as Rivendale Elf (uncredited)   Taea Hartwell as Cute Hobbit Child (uncredited)   Peter Jackson as Albert Dreary (uncredited)   Thomas McGinty as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths (uncredited)   Peter McKenzie as Elf at Council of Elrond (uncredited)   Kate O'Rourke as Hero Orcs / Goblins / Uruks / Ringwraiths (uncredited)   Shane Rangi as Witch-King of Angmar (uncredited)  

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5 An Ideal Husband
imdb
rating

6.9

An Ideal Husband (1999)

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Oscar Wilde was known for his sparkling wit, and it’s to writer/director Oliver Parker’s extreme credit that he preserved that quality in spades with his adaptation of the playwright’s An Ideal Husband. Wilde’s way with words was always wielded in service of something more meaningful, however, and Parker deserves even greater praise for not losing sight of that subtext here — as well as for rounding up a terrific cast that included Julianne Moore, Minnie Driver, Rupert Everett, and (of course) Blanchett. If you’re in the mood for a period romantic comedy, you could do far worse; as Maitland McDonagh wrote for TV Guide, “It’s lavish, clever entertainment, a welcome opportunity to laugh without shame.”

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Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful Government minister, well-off and with a loving wife. All this is threatened when Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning evidence of a past misdeed. Sir Robert turns for help to his friend Lord Goring, an apparently idle philanderer and the despair of his father. Goring knows the lady of old, and, for him, takes the whole thing pretty seriously.

actors:
Cate Blanchett as Lady Gertrude Chiltern   Minnie Driver as Miss Mabel Chiltern   Rupert Everett as Lord Arthur Goring   Julianne Moore as Mrs. Laura Cheveley   Jeremy Northam as Sir Robert Chiltern   Peter Vaughan as Phipps  

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4 Notes on a Scandal
imdb
rating

7.4

Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Drama, Romance

A modern spin on the sort of mean-spirited melodrama that Joan Crawford and Bette Davis might once have chewed through, Notes on a Scandal stars Blanchett opposite Judi Dench in the tale of two London schoolteachers whose friendship teeters on the precipice of one woman’s terrible secrets and the other’s seething misanthropy. Fashioned from luridly pulpy ingredients but elevated by its powerful cast (including Bill Nighy as Blanchett’s husband), Scandal wowed critics like Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, who wrote, “Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett star in a misanthropic game of cat and mouse from which no one emerges unscathed, including saps like us who think we’re watching a film about other people.”

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A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.

actors:
Judi Dench as Barbara Covett   Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart   Bill Nighy as Richard Hart   Juno Temple as Polly Hart   Max Lewis as Ben Hart   Andrew Simpson as Steven Connolly   Michael Maloney as Sandy Pabblem   Joanna Scanlan as Sue Hodge   Shaun Parkes as Bill Rumer   Emma Kennedy as Linda   Syreeta Kumar as Gita   Wendy Nottingham as Elaine Clifford   Jill Baker as Sheba’s Mother   Alice Bird as Saskia   Benedict Taylor as Eddie   Stephen Kennedy as Mr. Connolly   Derbhle Crotty as Mrs. Connolly   Anne-Marie Duff as Annabel  

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3 The Aviator
imdb
rating

7.5

The Aviator (2004)

Drama

There aren’t many stars with enough chutzpah — or talent — to try pulling off a serious Katharine Hepburn impression on the big screen, but Cate Blanchett worked her way onto that short list by playing the Hollywood legend in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, a sprawling three-hour biopic following the life and times of all-American weirdo Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio). Rounded out with an appropriately massive ensemble cast that included Alan Alda, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm, Kate Beckinsale, and Gwen Stefani, The Aviator practically dared critics not to shower it with praise — a dare that most scribes weren’t willing to take. “While we leave the film without much more of an understanding of Hughes’ legendary obsessions than we did upon entering,” admitted Moira Macdonald of the Seattle Times, “we nonetheless leave with a sense of having been glamorously, thoroughly entertained — which, these days, is a rare pleasure.”

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Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning biopic about the life of film-maker and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes from 1927 to 1947, during which time he became a successful film producer and an aviation magnate while simultaneously growing more unstable due to severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. After a scene from 1914, which may explain his later fear of dirt and disease, the film starts in 1927 during Hughes' filming of the World War I aviation film "Hell's Angels". He's 22 years old, has inherited the family's fortune and tool company, but wants to spend his time making film instead. However, he soon finds himself just as involved in the aviation industry, buying an airline and developing new planes.

actors:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes   Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn   Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner   John C. Reilly as Noah Dietrich   Alec Baldwin as Juan Trippe   Alan Alda as Senator Ralph Owen Brewster   Ian Holm as Professor Fitz   Jude Law as Errol Flynn   Kelli Garner as Faith Domergue   Brent Spiner as Robert Gross   Danny Huston as Jack Frye   Willem Dafoe as Roland Sweet   Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow   Adam Scott as Johnny Meyer   Matt Ross as Glenn Odekirk   Frances Conroy as Mrs. Hepburn   Stanley DeSantis as Louis B. Mayer   Keith Campbell as Marine  

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2 Little Fish, Strange Pond
imdb
rating

3.9

Little Fish, Strange Pond (2009)

Comedy, Crime, Drama

The drama about the noble-yet-troubled (but still Hollywood-lovely) drug addict struggling to overcome a dark past is its own subgenre at this point, and on paper, Little Fish — starring Blanchett as a woman whose efforts to start a new life are complicated by her ongoing attachment to a number of unhealthy influences, past and present — might seem like just another award-baiting weepie. But thanks to sensitive direction from Rowan Woods (working from a script by Jacqueline Perske) and an outstanding cast that found Blanchett supported by Hugo Weaving and Sam Neill, the end result feels like what ComingSoon’s Edward Douglas called “Realistic characters brought to life by dramatic performances so strong you forget you’re watching actors.”

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Mr. Jack and Sweet Stephen cruise aimlessly through the streets of LA speculating about life, death, divine will and the force of power that predetermines their existence. Mr. Jack attempts to illustrate to his sidekick the delicate and natural forces of the universe. Sweet Stephen's superficial charm and bloodsucking lifestyle sends him and Mr. Jack on a voyage that is relentless, engaging, and darkly hilarious.

actors:
Matthew Modine as Mr. Jack   Callum Blue as Sweet Stephan   Adam Baldwin as Tommy   Paul Adelstein as Philly   Zach Galifianakis as Bucky   Don McManus as Dennis Rivers   Liza Weil as Norma   Brooke Newton as Lucy   Lisa Brenner as Juliet   David Ellison as Romeo   Martin Spanjers as Seth  

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1 Blue Jasmine
imdb
rating

7.3

Blue Jasmine (2013)

Comedy, Drama

Few among us have experienced the sort of casually absurd luxury afforded Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis (Blanchett) prior to the opening scenes of Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. But even if we can’t really empathize with the socialite’s existence, just about everyone has felt the painful chaos and confusion of a life unmoored by bad decisions — and even though Jasmine ultimately turns out to be one of Allen’s less likable protagonists (which is definitely saying something), Blanchett infuses the character with a palpable, aching humanity that elevates the film into the upper reaches of the director’s filmography. As Chris Vognar wrote for the Dallas Morning News, “Blanchett excels at every turn, from the haughty airs and headstrong sense of entitlement to the fragile and inevitable disintegration that made the hair on my arms stand up.”

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Jasmine French used to be on the top of the heap as a New York socialite, but now is returning to her estranged sister in San Francisco utterly ruined. As Jasmine struggles with her haunting memories of a privileged past bearing dark realities she ignored, she tries to recover in her present. Unfortunately, it all proves a losing battle as Jasmine's narcissistic hangups and their consequences begin to overwhelm her. In doing so, her old pretensions and new deceits begin to foul up everyone's lives, especially her own.

actors:
Cate Blanchett as Jasmine   Alec Baldwin as Hal   Sally Hawkins as Ginger   Bobby Cannavale as Chili   Louis C.K. as Al   Peter Sarsgaard as Dwight   Andrew Dice Clay as Augie   Michael Stuhlbarg as Jasmine's boss   Alden Ehrenreich as Danny   Michael Emerson as    Charlie Tahan as Young Danny   Max Casella as Young Danny   Tammy Blanchard as Jane   Martin Cantu as Ginger's boss   Daniel Jenks as Matthew   Max Rutherford as Johnny   Ali Fedotowsky as Melanie  

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