Many critics believed the 2014 Oscar for Best Actress was a given, and the Academy confirmed their predictions Sunday night (March 2), as Cate Blanchett became the proud new owner of a gold statuette.
Presenter Daniel Day-Lewis handed the Academy Award to a visibly humbled Blanchett, who took the stage and urged the audience, "Sit down: You're too old to be standing!"
She thanked the Academy, saying, "As random and as subjective as this award is, it means a great deal in a year of — yet again — extraordinary performances by women."
Blanchett honored her fellow nominees, telling Amy Adams, "Your performance in 'American Hustle' blew my mind," and telling Sandra Bullock about "Gravity": "I could watch that performance to the end of time — and I sort of felt like I had!"
To Julia Roberts, she said, "Julia: 'hashtag, suck it.' You know what I mean?" She extolled Judi Dench's long career of acting devotion by explaining that she wasn't present due to working on a film sequel in India. Blanchett also thanked her "Blue Jasmine" director, Woody Allen, for casting her, calling his screenplay "extraordinary," as well as citing her co-star Sally Hawkins as "sublime."
Blanchett finished her speech with a message to the industry, suggesting that while it believes "films with a female at the center are niche experiences," the truth is that "audiences want to see them, and they earn money — the world is round, people!"
The actress, who brilliantly portrays the complicated and unhinged Jasmine French in Allen's film, was a front-runner after earning top honors at the BAFTA Awards (Best Actress in a Leading Role), the Independent Spirit Awards (Best Female Lead), the Screen Actors Guild Awards (Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role) and nearly every critics' association award this season.
On her heels was Adams, who some believed could stage an upset after receiving this year's Golden Globe for Best Actress (Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy) for her performance as Sydney Prosser, a con artist with a penchant for low-cut ensembles, in director David O. Russell's film. Added to her inclusion in the Screen Actors Guild Award win for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and it's easy to see why experts were on the fence.
Blanchett is no stranger to the Oscar stage — having received the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her performance as Katharine Hepburn in director Martin Scorsese's 2004 film "The Aviator" — but the Best Actress in a Leading Role accolades have been a long time coming. She previously received two Academy Award nominations in the category, for playing Queen Elizabeth in 1998's "Elizabeth" and 2007's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age."
Other nominees in the category included lauded actresses Meryl Streep ("August: Osage County"), Bullock ("Gravity") and Dench ("Philomena").