News, or shall we say "scuttlebutt," recently broke in regards to Todd Haynes long-awaited Carol that Cate Blanchett would campaign for Supporting Actress and Rooney Mara for Lead. Speaking at length to someone who has seen the picture they say, and I quote, "...either demotion absolutely insane. Even moreso than Notes on a Scandal." referring of course to the last time that Cate Blanchett pulled out the category fraud stops to get nominated for a lesbian drama. Only this time she's the title character, making it even more ridiculous.
Then Cate's agent denied it.
Which is all along way of saying... that discussions and are still forming. But why should they be when it comes to Supporting/Lead campaigns? why should they be?
If it were to go that way the reasoning is clear: to have Cate avoid competing with herself for Truth, the Rather-Gate movie in which she plays Mary Mapes to Robert Redford's Dan Rather, and defer to Rooney Mara since Rooney took Best Actress at Cannes. If you remove all concerns about ethics, this is just fine and makes sense... but really now. Shouldn't power players within Hollywood have some ethics and set good examples? Cate has two Oscars already. It's time for actors, particularly those of Cate's magnitude, to stop with the greed and start standing up for what's right: let actual character/supporting actors have a shot at Oscar nominations in the category designed to honor them rather than pretend you're not huge star in a leading role just so that you can be feted again. (See also: Julia Roberts in August Osage County recently who also had no excuse for the greed, and whose very stardom ruined the property's ending by insisting on a cutaway closeup that dampened the meaning)
And yes stars do approve their campaigns. They are not blameless though the strategies come from elsewhere.
On the other hand this particular Carol proposition would not likely be the type of Category Fraud that voters would go along peacefully with. Especially not with Cate having top billing, being the title character, and getting 3/5th of the movie poster for her face. Every once in a while they do balk at fraudulent campaigns as when they "promoted" Keisha Castle-Hughes to her true category (Lead for Whale Rider despite a supporting campaign) or when Kate Winslet greedily attempted a double nod by pretending she was supporting in The Reader to clear the way for her lead campaign in Revolutionary Road. Instead AMPAS voters just ignored the latter and "promoted" her for the Holocaust drama to the category she belonged in anyway. For now I'm demoting both Rooney & Cate on both charts until we see further evidence that anyone beyond SAG (who are required to vote by how the studio submits) is going to buy this 'Carol is the supporting player in Carol' business.
Finally, there is no reason to believe that both Rooney and Cate couldn't be nominated in Best Actress if they ran a truthful campaign as it's happened before, and not just once either. One could argue that the only reason it doesn't happen anymore is that its only very rarely attempted it. In supporting where it's frequently attempted it happens frequently.
In other strange categorization news I forgot to add Jason Segel (in another two-hander same-gender film) to the Supporting Actor chart last time round for End of the Tour so there he goes. All Acting Category Charts are now updated: