Cate Blanchett’s Oscar Odds

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008

THERE’S no guarantee that she’ll take them home, but Cate Blanchett is odds-on to be nominated for two Oscars in this year’s Academy Awards celebrity rollcall.

In fact, her nominations were virtually assured when she joined the casts of Elizabeth: The Golden Age and the Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There.

Sociologists have joined ranks with Hollywood prognosticators, who claim Blanchett’s name will be read out twice when the Academy announces its nominees early tomorrow in Beverly Hills.

According to Nicole Esparza of Harvard University in Boston, Blanchett’s talent has nothing to do with it. “It’s surprising how many variables other than a performer’s talent play a role in determining who gets nominated,” Ms Esparza said.

Along with Gabriel Rossman of the University of California at Los Angeles, Ms Esparza analysed data from the Internet Movie Database on 171,539 performances by 39,518 actors in 19,351 films to find out what factors boosted the likelihood of an Academy Award nomination. They found an actor’s choice of subject matter was numero uno.

“The odds of being nominated for an Academy Award are so much greater for performers who appear in dramas that … it really pays to be a drama queen,” Assistant Professor Rossman said.

Given that actors were nine times more likely to receive a nomination for their work in a drama than in a non-drama, Blanchett chose well.

Moreover, she has the good fortune of being a woman. Females were twice as likely to be nominated as males for any given performance, Ms Esparza and Professor Rossman write in a report for the California Centre for Population Research.

Blanchett has met other criteria on their list. She’s been nominated before, received top-billing, worked with previously nominated writers and directors and appeared in a movie represented by a major film distributor, a factor that doubles her chance of a nomination.

Blanchett is up for a Best Actress nomination for Elizabeth and a Best Supporting Actress nod for her team effort in I’m Not There, a performance The Australian’s film critic David Stratton applauded.

“I think she’ll win for that role,” Stratton said. “It’s so unusual and striking and very different. Her performance was very much admired.”

As is Blanchett herself. Although the researchers found no link between being an Academy darling and being nominated, Stratton said being disliked “works against you”.

If Blanchett’s turn as ElizabethI is also admired, she may bring home acting’s holy grail: two Oscars in one night, a feat never accomplished.

The IMDb revealed that Julianne Moore (2003), Holly Hunter (1994) and Emma Thompson (1994) were nominated twice but failed to win both categories.

And while Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster were multi-award winners, they never swept both categories simultaneously.

Where does all this leave Russell Crowe’s efforts for 2007, 3:10 to Yuma and American Gangster? Nowhere, Stratton said: “They’re not Oscar material.” And he’s a guy.