Thursday, March 06, 2014

memo to cate: "great!"

When Dylan Farrow, adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, wrote her courageous and now-infamous letter to The New York Times on February 1, in which she alleged that she was sexually molested as a child by Allen, she challenged those who have blindly supported and celebrated Allen as an artist, while blithely disregarding any flaws or weaknesses.

Two days later, on February 3, Barbara Walters, in her usual seat on "The View," defended Allen - "I don't know about Dylan. I can only tell you what I have seen now. That it's a good marriage, and he's a loving, caring father. I think that has to be said" - completely oblivious to the fact that she was validating exactly what Dylan Farrow wrote in her letter.

There are those who think - and not without good reason - that Farrow's letter was timed to coincide with the Oscars' voting process.

Woody Allen had been nominated in one of the writing categories for his screenplay for "Blue Jasmine."  It was felt that there was too much formidable competition for Allen to win and, on the night of the awards, when Allen's nomination was announced, it was to scant applause compared to the other nominees.  (They were "American Hustle," "Nebraska," "The Dallas Buyers Club" and "her," which ultimately won.)  A surprise?  Not really.  Farrow is correct.  Hollywood usually stands behind one of its own, but Woody Allen doesn't really fit that profile.  He's been a Hollywood outsider - by design - something which hasn't gone unnoticed.

So there was no way that Dylan Farrow's letter would have negatively affected Allen in terms of the Oscar.  If there was a potential victim at all, it was Cate Blanchett, the acclaimed star of "Blue Jasmine" and the likely winner of the Best Actress Oscar.  Yes, Blanchett won the Oscar and several other acting awards for her performance and each time she won, she managed to reference Allen with little or no effusiveness.

Cate Blanchett is not only a great actress, a fashion icon, a handsome woman and and an urbane, witty person, but also a shrewd diplomat.

We can all learn from her.

At each awards ceremony, Blanchett found a different way to deflect attention away from Allen and even herself.  At the Independent Spirit Awards, she made a note of pointing out that the best actor category had six nominations while the best actress category had only five. She wondered why Greta Gerwig's performance in "Frances Ha" was left out.

(BTW, one of the six male Indie Spirit nominations went to Robert Redford who, given his association with Sundance and independent film, couldn't be denied; hence, the sixth nomination.  Am I being too cynical?)

And on Oscar night, she graciously cited Allen's screenplay with cool dispatch and with that quickly out of the way, went on to complement the other contenders in her acting category and to praise one in particular  - Judi Dench (her co-star from "Notes on a Scandal").

She defused Woody Allen by downplaying him.

This past awards season, Cate Blanchett illustrated her knack for brilliantly, effortlessly, neutralizing a potentially damaging situation.

And one which had absolutely nothing to do with her.


Hilary Richardson said...

I am so impressed with Cate Blanchett, and not just as an actress. She might be that rare person of movies - an old-fashioned movie star.

jonathan said...

She truly walked a fine line. There was no way that she could not acknowledge Woody. And there was no that she could let herself be intimidated (even if for a good cause) into ignoring him. She pulled it off brilliantly.

Sheila said...

She's so much more than an "actress."