Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF

On February 10, Cate Blanchett was honored with the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award at The Arlington Theatre during the 38th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Blanchett was recognized for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Lydia Tár in Todd Feld’s TÁR. Setting a historic record, this is the second time Blanchett was celebrated at the festival for the coveted award. In 2014, she received the honor for her role as Jasmine French in Blue Jasmine. In 2008, she was crowned the Modern Master Award for her role as Queen Elizabeth in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and as multi-faceted Bob Dylan in I’m Not There

“Cate Blanchett is an artist that has nothing left to prove; she is one of the most brilliant actresses ever – yet she keeps challenging herself and proving over and over again that she’s the most outstanding performer!,” comments SBIFF’s Executive Director Roger Durling. 

In an intimate conversation with Blanchett, Scott Feinberg, executive editor of awards at the Hollywood Reporter, walked the audience through the actress’ career, bringing up stories, memories, and insights from her outstanding breadth of work.  Throughout, Blanchett shared insights into her work, noting her approach to the craft, the eclectic quality of her career, and collaborations with filmmakers Anthony Minghella and Peter Jackson that allowed her to defy expectations within her career.

Cate Blanchett and Scott Feinberg speak onstage at the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award Ceremony (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Blanchett also touched on the role of theater in her life, giving the actress her first job, helping to shape her understanding of key building blocks of the dramatic form, and even pushing her to take a break from the silver screen to head up the Sydney Theater Company. Following the conversation, TÁR director and collaborator Todd Field took the stage to present the award and deliver some heartfelt remarks. As a part of this speech, Field called out four key things Blanchett is, those being an activist, a humanitarian, a working mother, and, finally, the best-dressed woman in the world. Field also mentioned something especially key to the actress – her informed heart.

Todd Field presents Cate Blanchett with the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

To close things out, Blanchett took the stage herself, thanking SBIFF and Field and leaving the audience with one last note. Speaking to everyone in the room, Blanchett advocated for approaching film through the lens of examining what is being done on screen, not just resorting to reductive “likes” and “dislikes,” a message echoed earlier on in the festival.

Blanchett is an internationally acclaimed, Academy Award-winning actor, producer, artistic director, humanitarian, and dedicated member of the arts community. Blanchett plays the lead role in TÁR by writer/director/producer Todd Field. The film was warmly welcomed at the Telluride Film Festival and Venice International Film Festival, where Blanchett was awarded the Coppa Volpi for Best Actress. Recently, she also received the Best Actress Award at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards.

The Outstanding Performer of the Year Award recognizes select individuals who have distinguished themselves with exceptional performances in film.

Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF