Early last fall certain award-season pundits began to elbow aside Blue Is The Warmest Color‘s Adele Exarchopoulos as a Best Actress contender. Not because her performance isn’t wonderfully skillful and alive, but because award-season hoopla is almost always about celebrating familiar brand-name actresses who are already in the game and have established p.r. veterans orchestrating their interviews and whatnot. Exarchopoulos was deep-sixed for not being famous enough and because IFC Films/Sundance Selects didn’t have a big enough bankroll behind her campaign. Cate Blanchett has the Best Actress Oscar in the bag, but her Blue Jasmine performance seems narrow and shrill and “theatrical” when you compare it to Adele’s au natural-ism, her breathtakingly open and vulnerable and aching…I don’t know what to call it but it was more than just a “performance,” and it damn well should have been a knockout punch. It certainly was for me.