Blanchett followed the route of other contemporary actresses by first winning in the supporting category — then stepping up to The Best Actress win.
Meryl Streep did it first, of course, winning as Best Supporting Actress in Kramer vs Kramer in 1979, then getting an Oscar three years later for her leading role in Sophie’s Choice. Streep landed a second Best Actress nod for 2011’s The Iron Lady.
Jessica Lange worked up from her Best Supporting Actress win in 1982’s Tootsie, to Best Actress in Blue Sky in 1994.
Streep, Lange and now Blanchett seem to have started a new trend, that of working up to a Lead Oscar and reversing the old trend, of working down from Lead to a Supporting Oscar.
Helen Hayes was the first to do that.
She was a Best Actress Oscar winner back in 1931 for The Sin of Madeline Claudet. Decades later, in 1970 she was Awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1970’s Airport.
Next was Ingrid Bergman. She copped two Best Actress Awards. In 1944 for Gaslight, and 12 years later for her “comeback” American film, Anastasia. (By then the public, and Congress had forgiven her for her then “scandalous” private life.)
She was so revered by the 70s that she won Best Supporting Actress for a very minor role in Murder on the Orient Express in 1974. Even she was stunned, and a bit embarrassed by it.
And the last grande dame to be so honored was Maggie Smith. Her Best Actress win was for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969 and less than 10 years later she won in the Best Supporting category for California Suite. Now Smith is a great character actress on TV’s Downton Abbey.
Hayes, Bergman and Smith did it in the traditional way going from leading lady to character parts, but the new breed seems to work it differently.
From The Aviator to Blue Jasmine, Blanchett is on the move.