Cate Blanchett is one of the few major movie stars that have been able to ensure that the movies they’re in are mostly great. Even when Blanchett agrees to be in a blockbuster, like a big-budget high fantasy trilogy or an MCU installment, then it’s a great one, like The Lord of the Rings movies and Thor: Ragnarok, respectively.
And in between those roles, she finds time for smaller, more intimate character pieces where she can really show off her talents as a performer. She’s been in plenty of well-reviewed movies. So, here are Cate Blanchett’s 10 Best Movies, According To Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Notes on a Scandal (87%)
Starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal is a riveting psychological thriller about a lonesome teacher who uncovers a co-worker’s affair with an underage student. The plot is surprisingly complex and dramatic, considering that the script was written by Patrick Marber, best known for working with Steve Coogan and co on the earliest Alan Partridge material.
Marber’s script goes a long way towards making this a great film, but ultimately, it all rests on the powerhouse performances by both Blanchett and Dench to knock the story out of the park. The only downside is that it’s a tad melodramatic.
9 Little Fish (90%)
An Australian drama set in the Little Saigon region outside Sydney, Little Fish is one of the smaller movies that Cate Blanchett has starred in, but it’s also one of the best films she’s ever been in. It’s a dark tale about recovery and the drug trade; it uses tragedy as a mirror and comedy as a coping mechanism, balancing the two perfectly.
This movie rests almost entirely on the performances of its leads, including a striking Hugo Weaving and, of course, Blanchett, doing some of the best character work of her career with a role she can sink her teeth into.
8 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (91%)
Although the How to Train Your Dragon movies were never as popular as DreamWorks’ other big animated franchises, like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, but they are arguably better films. They have a visual style that is to die for, and while they’re not as funny as those other movies, they’re far more emotionally resonant, which is arguably more important.
The third movie, The Hidden World, which was released earlier this year, advanced the plot by having Hiccup contend with his dragon Toothless’ newfound affection for a female dragon, and concluded the trilogy with the characters’ search for a dragon utopia.
7 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (91%)
The first chapter of The Lord of the Rings trilogy introduces fans to the characters and their journey in a way that’s as enticing and structurally sound as the original J.R.R. Tolkien novel it’s based on. The actors are perfectly cast and almost every scene is iconic.
The third act of The Fellowship of the Ring has its own climax that makes it feel like a movie in its own right and not just the setup for future movies with the promise of exciting things to come. (This would ultimately be one of the mistakes that Peter Jackson made with his prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.)
6 TIE: Blue Jasmine (91%)
Woody Allen’s more dramatic work isn’t usually as critically acclaimed or popular as his comedic work, but Blue Jasmine is one of his biggest hits from the past decade or two. It’s the story of a Manhattan elite whose life comes crashing down when her shady businessman husband’s arrest comes at the cost of her lavish lifestyle and country home.
She’s forced to move in with her working-class sister in San Francisco and figure out how to carry on with her life. Unsurprisingly, Cate Blanchett’s incredible work in the disillusioned, narcissistic, deeply flawed lead role landed her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
5 How to Train Your Dragon 2 (92%)
In the second How to Train Your Dragon movie, Cate Blanchett joined the voice cast (which already included plenty of A-listers, from Gerard Butler to Jonah Hill) in a pivotal role. The plot revolved around Hiccup’s search for his long-lost mother, Valka, and that’s who Blanchett was brought in to play.
Writer-director Dean DeBlois clearly took some inspiration from The Empire Strikes Back in progressing the plot from the first movie into the second, which gave the sequel a shot in the arm. The first one was great – visually stunning, well-developed characters etc. – but it was lacking a certain degree of excitement, and the sequel improved on that.
4 TIE: Thor: Ragnarok (93%)
Even Chris Hemsworth had gotten bored of the Thor character by the time his third solo movie rolled around. However, Marvel hired Taika Waititi to direct it and he fixed the character by putting him in a brightly lit, visually stunning absurdist comedy. Thor: Ragnarok is filled with slapstick gags and random one-liners and meta character moments.
Cate Blanchett played the villain, Thor’s long-lost sister Hela, and clearly spent the shoot reveling in the opportunity to play a cartoonish, mustache-twirling villain in the vein of Maleficent or Ursula. The MCU might have a “villain problem,” but not when Cate Blanchett is around.
3 TIE: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (93%)
The Return of the King is an astonishing achievement in film. For starters, it holds two significant Academy Awards records; winning all 11 of the awards it was nominated for, it became both the movie with the highest clean sweep in Oscars history and the movie with the most Oscar wins of all time.
It’s easy to see why. Shooting three movies back-to-back and then doling them out, once a year, was basically a risky experiment back then, and The Return of the King brought that experiment to an end in a satisfactory way. It was the Avengers: Endgame of its day.
2 Carol (94%)
One of the greatest taboo-busting LGBTQ-themed movies in recent memory, Carol tells the 1950s-set story of the forbidden love shared by a young female photographer and an older woman in the middle of bitter divorce proceedings. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are terrific in the lead roles, and share a very real on-screen chemistry.
Todd Haynes’ typically brilliant direction, Phyllis Nagy’s passionate screenplay (adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt), and Edward Lachman’s elegant cinematography all serve the central duo’s impeccable acting. The movie has become so popular that there’s a fan community called “the Cult of Carol.”
1 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (95%)
It’s not surprising that all three Lord of the Rings movies ended up placing on this list, but it is a little surprising that The Two Towers topped it. The Fellowship of the Ring is a classically structured call-to-adventure tale and The Return of the King is the trilogy’s staggeringly epic and satisfying conclusion.
The Two Towers is a fine movie, which bridges the two other parts of the story well, but few fans consider it to be the best one. Still, it has that breathtaking Battle of Helm’s Deep sequence and deepens the relationships shared by all the characters.