Kidman v. Blanchett: Who’s Better?

kidmanblanchett5A commentator on today’s posting about Nicole Kidman (the kind of commentator who hides behind anonymity) takes me to task for saying that Cate Blanchett has overtaken Kidman is the supreme Australian 40-something actress. Let’s consider. THE WORK OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS: I agree that Kidman’s recent indie work (“Fur,” “Rabbit Hole”) has been interesting. (But not entirely so: many critics disliked “Margot at the Wedding,” with reason.) But Blanchett’s recent indie work (“Notes on a Scandal,” “I’m Not There”) has been both interesting AND Oscar-nominated. (Kidman may get an Oscar nom for “Rabbit Hole,” but it’s a crowded Best Actress field this year, so don’t count on it yet.)

BOX OFFICE: Kidman’s recent big-budget movies have either underperformed (“Australia”) or bombed (“Nine”). Blanchett’s recent big-budget pics have not impressed critics (and didn’t deserve to), but they did good box office (“Robin Hood,” “Benjamin Button”) or spectacular box office (“Indiana Jones”). The most loved stars should be, and deserve to be, those who combine interesting choices with commercial choices, and in terms of this combination, Blanchett’s been cannier over the past half decade.

THEATRE: As for the theatre, Blanchett triumphed in what many critics consider the greatest American play and the greatest female character in American literature: Blanche in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Kidman’s doing lesser Tennessee Williams: “Sweet Bird of Youth.”

COSMETIC WORK: Finally, if we’re going to move on from criticizing Kidman for her use of Botox, fine: let’s start criticizing her for the plastic surgery. (Yeah, she’s had work done: call me and I’ll give you the name of her surgeon.) I have nothing against plastic surgery in general: if it makes you feel better, go for it! But it does affect the work of actors in close-up onscreen. And I’m old-fashioned. I prefer actresses (Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver) who let their faces age over those (Jessica Lange, Nicole Kidman) who chop them up. As far as I know, Blanchett has never gone under the knife, but it’s possible. In any case, I’d rather base my evaluations of Kidman and Blanchett primarily on the work. And I stand by my preference for Blanchett.

One Comment to “Kidman v. Blanchett: Who’s Better?”

  1. I’m with you, 100 percent. I find it especially disturbing that all these actresses are going under the knife. They emerge looking like mannequins and of course can’t do film work. Worst of all, they perpetuate the destructive myth that women have to look 28 years old for life.

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