3. Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth
She is strong, she is invincible, she is Elizabeth I. The last Tudor monarch, the Virgin Queen, the Boleyn bastard, has graced the big screen on several occasions, played by a bevy of women from Bette Davis to Jean Simmons to Helen Mirren. As in life, she is a force to be reckoned with, by the women who play her and the audiences who watch her. Her life, as it is remembered, is littered with discrepancies, hypocrisies, and convoluted contradictions. She was a woman in a seat of power. She was an official virgin with royal suitors and rumored lovers. She ruled with a firm fist, only to leave the British throne in the hands of a Scot. She is indomitable, but also human.
In Elizabeth, we see Elizabeth progress from proud princess to new queen to an icon, which as a performance, like in life, is no easy feat. And this is where Cate Blanchett steps in. Blanchett embodies Elizabeth each step of the way, with her eyes flickering between vulnerability, gaiety and ferocity and her body being born down by growing stature and weighty emotional ties. After flicking around, flirting with the notion of marriage and romance and a happy life, Elizabeth discovers more than once that letting people too close would endanger not only herself but the kingdom and resigns herself to a locked away distance, only then can she rule her people well. Though she stands as the most powerful woman in the world, Elizabeth I must let go of the one person she could have ever loved full-heartedly, and Blanchett plays this scene in such a way that captures both Elizabeth’s deep-seeded pain and her stomach-turning strength. Blanchett is one of those actresses who can just as weightily let out a gale force wind as a slight whimper, and it is this quality that lends itself to hers being the best portrayal of Elizabeth I ever seen in cinema, capturing both the iconic image and reputation while also conveying the enigmatic aspects in a believable and reasonable way.