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Giving an acceptance speech should be the easiest part of awards season for Hollywood stars.
You’ve already done the hard work – studying for and performing in a critically-hailed feature. Now, the challenge is squeezing into a designer dress or tux on the big night.
Just read from the scrap of paper in your sweaty palm, thank a few co-workers and retreat to your table with a new paperweight in hand.
Tell that to Cate Blanchett.
The two-time Oscar winner might snag a third trophy March 12 for “Tar,” the story of a celebrated conductor (Blanchett) whose personal life invades her career. The film hasn’t generated much interest at the box office, but its anti-woke sequence made a splash on social media.
She won the Critics Choice Award for Best Actress on Sunday for the film, and her acceptance speech proved one for the ages.
That’s hardly a compliment.
Blanchett started by suggesting the night’s highlight came earlier when Julia Roberts handed her a bottle of mouthwash.
“Thank you, Julia. This is a poor second.”Cate Blanchett
The rest of her speech, sadly, wasn’t a joke.
“This best actress, I mean it is extremely arbitrary considering how many extraordinary performances there have been by women not only in this room…”
So far, so magnanimous, almost to a fault. Then the speech took a turn.
“I can’t believe I’m up here. This is ridiculous… I would love it if we would just change this whole f***ing structure. It’s like what is this patriarchal pyramid where someone stands up here … Why don’t we just say there was a whole raft of female performances that are in concert and in dialogue with one another? And stop the televised horse race of it all.”
Except Blanchett is an active participant in this “horse race.” She recently graced the cover of Variety, perfectly timed for her film’s awards-season pitch.
It’s what actors do this time of year, avail themselves to the press for weeks on end to enhance their awards-season chances. Why didn’t Blanchett turn down the cover story and fight that “patriarchal pyramid?”
The speech also hints at something else, something the general public has known for a while. The Oscars, along with other show business awards, lack the gravitas they once had. Awards show ratings are cratering. The American public is exhausted by both egotistical stars and the hard-Left lectures they share in place of heartfelt speeches.
An Oscar win doesn’t guarantee a major box office rebound for winning films like it once did, either. And with diversity rules looming in 2024 (but softly embraced already) we know the winners may be chosen for more than just their superlative performances.
And Blanchett isn’t alone in her anti-awards sentiment. Last year, Seth Rogen slammed the Oscars as increasingly irrelevant.
“No other industry expects everyone to care about what awards they shower upon themselves. Maybe people just don’t care. Maybe they did for a while and they stopped caring. And why should they?”Seth Rogen
The feminist part of Blanchett’s speech earned praise from the usual suspects, like Glamour Magazine.
The actress’ speech managed to both bite the hand that feeds her and promote Hollywood’s insignificance.
We’ll have to see how it influences her Oscar chances. Film awards show speeches are often practice runs for Oscar night. Share a few stirring words at the Golden Globes, CCAs and SAG Awards where you thank all the right people, and Academy voters are more likely to write your name on their ballots.
What impact will Blanchett’s head-scratching speech have?
She may lose to Michelle Yeoh, an early favorite for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” but Blanchett may still get her wish. Her call for the end of televised awards shows may happen organically at this point if ratings, and viewer interest, keeps shrinking.