Would she or wouldn't she? If she won the Oscar for lead actress, would Cate Blanchett utter the "W" word?
Fairly or not, that was a question surrounding the star of "Blue Jasmine," who took the trophy for her portrayal of a fallen New York socialite in writer-director Woody Allen's latest film.
On the way to Oscar, Blanchett swept up practically every acting award this season — winning lead actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globes, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, and more.
But her achievements in recent weeks had become complicated by sexual molestation allegations against Allen by his adoptive daughter.
In her acceptance speech, Blanchett thanked Allen briefly, while praising a long list of colleagues and peers.
"Thank you so much, Woody, for casting me. I truly appreciate it," she said.
Blanchett, 44, had long been the Oscar front-runner for her performance in the film. But on Feb. 1, Dylan Farrow published an open letter in the New York Times alleging the filmmaker had sexually assaulted her when she was a child. Allen, who was never charged with a crime, has long denied the accusations and did so again in responding to Dylan Farrow's letter.
Blanchett had distanced herself from the controversy, calling it a family matter.
"It's obviously been a long and painful situation for the family, and I hope they find some sort of resolution and peace," she said at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which ended a month ago.
But amid the renewed controversy, observers wondered whether Blanchett's association with Allen would affect her Oscar chances. In her open letter, Farrow called out Blanchett — along with other actors and actresses — for working with Allen, writing, "What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett?"
Allen, famously averse to award shows, didn't attend this year's ceremony, even though he was nominated for his "Blue Jasmine" screenplay.
In past years, academy voters haven't shied away from recognizing Allen.
He has received eight of his 24 Oscar nominations and one of his four wins (for his "Midnight in Paris" screenplay) since the allegations arose.
During the course of his career, he has directed 17 actors (including Dianne Wiest twice, and himself once) to Oscar nominations. Seven of those performances (again, including Wiest twice) have gone on to win.
For some people, it may be tempting to read Blanchett's win as a referendum on Allen himself. That would be a stretch, because the win was widely anticipated since long before the controversy arose.
It may only tell us is that academy voters focused on the performance, not the headlines.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun