At the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Australian film and theater actress is being honored on Tuesday (17.11.). It’s a great honor for the actress and a symbol of glamour.
Some actresses have it all – standing out in demanding roles on the world’s theater stages and treading the red carpet in Cannes, Venice or Berlin. Their glamour and star appeal grace both Hollywood blockbusters and smaller-scale European films. Cate Blanchett is one such actress.
Among well-known American actresses in recent years, Meryl Streep has nearly stood alone in that respect. In decades past, Katherine Hepburn belonged to that exclusive category, both camera-skilled and shining at galas and film festivals.
The venerable museum honors an actress
Rajendra Roy, curator of the film department of the Museum of Modern Art, chose to honor Cate Blanchett at MoMA’s eighth Film and Movie Gala. With its collection of 30,000 films, the museum has placed the “seventh art” on an equal footing with the pictorial arts for years.
The focus is on a star equally skilled in art and in box office successes, including “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” as well as “Babel” and “I’m Not There” – grand-scale, commercially successful global movies for young audiences yet highly complex art house cinema for demanding viewers. The two are not mutually exclusive, as becomes clear when you look at Blanchett’s career.
A queen onscreen
Born in 1969 in Melbourne, the actress began her career onstage, acted in TV series in her homeland and was discovered early on by European and American directors. In less than twenty years, she can look back on an astonishing variety of roles, having convincingly portrayed both a real queen – Elizabeth I of England – and a fictive one: Galadriel, sovereign of the elves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s saga.
She’s to be seen in “Heaven,” a drama about terrorism by German director and producer Tom Tykwer and in Alejandro González Iñárritus’ existential and philosophical film “Babel.” Often compared to Katharine Hepburn, she portrayed the older actress in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator.” She was equally convincing in a male role – as Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” – and as a desperate woman and wife in films like “Knight of Cups” by Terrence Malick and “Blue Jasmine” by Woody Allen.
The woman of many faces
Blanchett is the winner of roughly seventy prizes and awards, including two Oscars and the Coppa Volpi prize at the Venice film festival for “I’m Not There.”
The German movie and theater scenes have also profited from her acting prowess. Tom Tykwer engaged her 13 years ago for his film “Heaven.” In 2012 she played one of the main roles in the play “Groß und klein” (Large and Small) by Botho Strauss. Blanchett has headlined the Ruhr Festival in Recklinghausen. Since 1997 she has been married to Australian script writer Andrew Upton; the couple has three children. Having moved back to Australia, she now heads the “Sydney Theatre Company.”
“The leading actress of her generation”
The American Barry Levinson, having directed Blanchett in his film “Bandits” in 2001, calls her “the leading actress of her generation” – a description rarely disputed. At the MoMA in New York, she now joins the list of earlier profiled artists such as Pedro Almodóvar and Tim Burton. Following Tilda Swinton, Blanchett is the second artist to have received the distinction.