The drama of this year’s Best Actress Oscar

The Cate Blanchett and Amy Adams showdown

Cate Blanchett and Amy Adams. (Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon)

Cate Blanchett and Amy Adams. (Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon)

Everyone knows Oscars are handed out not for pure cinematic accomplishment but to those who best represent the narratives Hollywood likes to believe about itself. And rarely has that machinery been so exposed as in the current Best Actress category, a showdown pitting Cate Blanchett, nominated for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, against Amy Adams, up for her nuanced portrayal of a con woman in American Hustle. Rabid predictions of who will prevail have nothing to do with performance, but a trifecta of seemingly random events: newly revived allegations that Allen sexually molested his daughter Dylan Farrow 22 years ago when she was seven, grief over Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sudden death, and a press release about a $3,275 designer bag sent by a publicist who is either incredibly inept or incredibly canny. It’s itself a plot begging for a Charlie Kaufman screenplay.

To recap: Blanchett was widely viewed as an Oscar lock for her Ruth Madoff-meets-Blanche DuBois turn in Blue Jasmine, winning Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, held to be Oscar foreshadowing. Then came Farrow’s open letter in early February detailing allegations against Allen that implicated actors who’d worked with him, Blanchett at the top of the list: “What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett?” Farrow asked, sending a giant elephant into the final round of Academy voting in mid-February. Blanchett tried to distance herself from the scandal at a California film festival, telling a reporter: “It’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some resolution and peace.”

Then Hollywood was diverted by Hoffman’s death, a tragic tabloid ending for a venerated actor who occupied an increasingly rare Hollywood stratum: famous but not a celebrity. Blanchett, who’d worked with Hoffman, quickly became part of that story, too, photographed days after his death carrying bags of toys into the apartment the actor’s partner shares with their children. But by then, Adams, who starred with Hoffman in three movies, with another project in the works, had become his leading lady in the tributes. On, the author of a January cover story about Adams recalled how Hoffman waxed enthusiastically about Adams, calling her “one of the most gifted” and a “great talent.” Adams’s presence at the funeral, also attended by Blanchett, became front-page news when a “celebrity relations manager” for a brand that will get no further ink here sent a press release saying it was “pleased to announce” Adams was carrying a bag from its “spring/summer 2014 collection.” Designers sending celebrities free merchandise, then publicizing images of them wearing it, fuels fashion marketing. And, had Adams been entering a restaurant with the purse, no eyebrows would have been raised. That she was at a memorial for an actor who was the antithesis of designer endorsements summoned pious sputtering that it was a tasteless attempt to cash in on tragedy. (This brand wasn’t alone in grief-pimping: Another lived up to its name by sending shearling boots to Hoffman’s colleagues.)

The label behind the bag apologized, saying it was “an innocent mistake” and that Adams “was not aware, or a part, of our PR efforts.” Days later, a rep for Adams, who wore the label to the Golden Globes, issued a statement pulsing with outrage: “The suggestion she would use this moment to participate in a promotion is truly appalling,” it said in part. The upshot: more publicity for the bag and for Adams.

Now, the Best Actress category bristles with its own drama: Will Blanchett be collateral damage in the Farrow-Allen mire? Or will she benefit from the fact that a loss at this point would make the Academy appear petty? If she wins, will she snub Allen in her speech? Or could Adams, linked to a dead actor who represents the best of Hollywood, and a top Oscar contender with box office of over $133 million, prevail? Or did the PR fiasco taint her? Could a dark horse unblemished by child abuse or designer excess snag the prize? All that’s certain: Whoever accepts the Oscar won’t be wearing the outcast designer. That would be tasteless.

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The drama of this year’s Best Actress Oscar

  1. You know how the Academy solve these things. And the Oscar goes to Meryl Streep! -).

    • Yes, the one with 0% chance of winning.

    • I agree no one would take issue with that AT ALL. I love Meryl Streep , we all do.

  2. They both were wonderful with their performances. Unfortunate drama.

    • Yeah too bad that Cate Blachette decided to work with an accused child molester. No one unless they were living under a rock did not know of these accusations. Including the one where he dated a 17 year old high school girl when he was 42. And took off with his life partner’s daughter step daughter to his adopted daughter.

      She knew everyone just overlooked it. Even the Judge in the case said that the child was not coached to say she was molested as a little girl.


      “Unlike Yale-New Haven I am not persuaded that the videotape of Dylan is the product of leading questions or of the child’s fantasy”
      “Ms. Farrow statement to Dr. Coates that she hoped that Dylans statements were just fantasy is inconsistent with the notion of brainwashing. In this regard I also credit the testimony of Ms. Groteke, who was charged with supervising Mr. Allen August 4, visit with Dylan.”

      “there is no credible evidence to support Mr. Allen’s contention that Ms. Farrow coached Dylan or that Ms. Farrow acted upon a desire for revenge against him for seducing Soon-Yi. Mr. Allen’s resort to the stereotypical ‘woman scorned’ defense is an injudicious attempt to divert attention from his failure to act as a responsible parent and adult.”

      “The fact Mr. Allen ignored Soon-Yi for ten years cannot change the constellation of a family and does not create a distance sufficient to convert their affair into a benign relationship between two consenting adults.”

      Very unfortunate indeed.

  3. Another Woody Allen story created from nothing. Blanchett just won the BAFTA. Hollywood doesn’t care.

    • The BAFTA is never a guarantee of an Oscar win. In fact very few wins in the
      BAFTA’s resulted in an Oscar.

      ” Hollywood ” The academy overlooked Russel Crowe for his conduct outside the academy and denied him the Oscar actually . However it will be interesting to see whether the Academy will circle the wagons around Allen’s film that really has drawn a dark shadow over the awards.

      • It has drawn absolutely no shadow over awards or the industry. Don’t pay attention to pundits and the media, they like controversy, they like sensationalism, they like publicity, they like hits. In reality It has no effect on the industry’s perception of Blanchett’s merit of the award, which is what they’re rewarding. Voters interviewed in Entertainment Weekly and other publications have themselves stated this. Woody Allen isn’t winning, Cate Blanchett is, for her performance.

        Blanchett has not just won the Bafta, she’s won everything but 4 minor critic award. Literally every relevant award she was eligible for but 4 minor city groups she’s won. She’s been a lock since the summer, and has only held on to that more strongly as the season progressed and now closes on sunday. She’ll probably also be winning the independent spirit award the day before the Oscar.

  4. What a load of sensationalist hits-seeking rubbish.

    “Blanchett, who’d worked with Hoffman, quickly became part of that story, too”

    No, Blanchett was a close family friend of Hoffman’s family. Hoffman had been friends with her and her husband for 15 years, and they worked multiple times together, twice with her and husband at their Sydney Theater Company.

    • Exactly, thank you for setting things straight!

  5. Blanchett should win because her performance was incredible, the best in her category and the award for ACTING and nothing else. Adams is overrated, over promoted by Hollywood, while her only really worthy Oscar nomination was for “Doubt”. Blanchett is by far a better actress in general and her performance in “Blue Jasmine” will be remembered for a long long time. I totally ignored Adams in American Hustle the moment Jennifer Lawrence walked in.

    • Perhaps Cate should have though about the fact he was an accused child molester before working with him.

      Chick is cold as ICE.

      • First of all, no one can really know what really happened and it is “innocent until proven guilty” in case you don’t remember. Why shouldn’t what you say then also apply to Mia Farrow and Polanski (who was proven guilty and sentenced)? Double standards much?

        Second, Meryl Streep, Penelope Cruz, Mira Sorvino, Dianne Keaton and so many many other have worked with Allen, all four ladies mentioned have Oscars, the latter three won for a movie of Allen. Didn’t see anyone objecting then. Didn’t see anyone saying they should return their Oscars for having worked with Allen. Again, double standards…

        Finally, Blanchett is not cold at all. She’s one of the most humble sweet, funny and down to earth people in the business and you can see that just by watching any of her interviews. And on top of that, she’s a phenomenal actress (both on screen and on stage), by far the best of her generation.

  6. I agree with BigSisterC. The last time a Woody Allen project received any Oscar nominations was 2011 for Midnight in Paris. He was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and the movie was nominated for Best Picture. Did we hear anything about the molestations then? Why is that? Why now? Cate Blanchett was wonderful in Blue Jasmine. As we have heard before, Allen doesn’t give his actors much direction and sometimes only sparse dialogue which makes her performance even more impressive. In case you are wondering, he won for Best Original Screenplay for Midnight in Paris.