Cate Blanchett wins Longford Lyell Award for cultural contribution

Cate Blanchett as she was honoured at Museum Of Modern Art Film Benefit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art last month. Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage Oscar contender again: Cate Blanchett in the Todd Haynes romance Carol.

As 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes in Truth.

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On the way to another Academy Award nomination, Cate Blanchett has won Australia’s highest screen honour.

The two-time Oscar winner has been named winner of the Longford Lyell Award from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts.

Recognising an outstanding contribution to the country’s screen environment and culture, the award will be presented by Richard Roxburgh and Hugo Weaving at the AACTA Awards in Sydney on Wednesday, with video tributes from Robert Redford, Ron Howard and Ridley Scott.

Previous winners include directors Peter Weir and Fred Schepisi actors Geoffrey Rush, Jack Thompson and Jacki Weaver and critic David Stratton.

After winning her second Oscar for Blue Jasmine last year, Blanchett is considered a virtual certainty for another nomination for the lesbian romance Carol next month.

“When I look at the outstanding men and women who have received this prestigious award before me, I am truly honoured to be considered among venerable practitioners and performers; creative spirits who have had a strong and lasting influence, not only on my work, but on what I thought creatively possible in this country,” Blanchett said in a statement.

What was known as the Raymond Longford Award in honour of the pioneering filmmaker was changed to recognise his creative and life partner, actress and filmmaker Lottie Lyell, this year.

“I applaud AACTA for expanding this award to acknowledge Lottie Lyell’s rich creative legacy,” Blanchett said. “The paths we forge in this great film industry of ours are rarely linear and Lyell’s astonishing achievements as an actress of stage and screen, as a writer, producer and director stand as an inspiration for us all.”

As AACTA president, Rush said Blanchett would be celebrated for generations as one of the finest performers of our times.

“She is in the company of but a few performers in this world whose ownership of their craft has redefined it for the rest; taking performance to new levels of excellence to which many aspire,” he said.

“But as much as Cate is the master of her craft through classical training, she has that rare thing of innate talent. She has intuition and intelligence in spades, and a willingness and ability to be raw and vulnerable in performance, through to fierce and challenging.”

Rush said he first saw Blanchett perform as a student at NIDA in Sydney and had tracked “her bright star” rising.

“Today it is a pleasure to see Cate honoured as one of our best, alongside so many of Australia’s great men and women of screen. I couldn’t be more proud of, or more pleased for, this exceptional woman and performer.”

As a well as Oscars for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine – alongside nominations for Elizabeth, Notes on a Scandal, Elizabeth: The Golden Age and I’m Not There – Blanchett’s awards include three Golden Globes, three British Academy awards and five Australian Film Institute and Australian Academy awards.

Having finished as co-director of Sydney Theatre Company with husband Andrew Upton, her successful year has included acclaimed performances in Cinderella, as wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine, and Truth, as 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes.

The AACTA Awards, which see Mad Max: Fury Road vying with The Dressmaker, Holding the Man, Last Cab to Darwin and Paper Planes for best film, will be televised on the Seven network.

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