Blanchett, 48, will be the 12th woman to be Cannes jury president, four years after fellow Antipodean, New Zealand director Jane Campion.
She has won two Oscars, for best actress in 2014 for her role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and for best supporting actress for playing Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, making her the only film star to win an Oscar for portraying another Oscar-winning film star.
"We're very pleased to welcome a rare and unique artist with talent and conviction," Cannes president Pierre Lescure and delegate general Thierry Fremaux said in a joint statement.
"Our conversations this autumn convince us she will be a committed president and a passionate and generous spectator."
Cate Blanchett's career
- 14 May 1969: Born in Melbourne, Australia, to an Australian mother, June (née Gamble), and an American father Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr;
- 1979: Her father, an advertising executive, dies;
- 1992: Graduates from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, plays in the David Mamet's Oleanna for the Sydney Theatre Company;
- 1997: Feature film debut in Bruce Beresford's Paradise Road, marries playwright and screenwriter Andrew Upton, with whom she has had three sons and adopted one daughter;
- 2001-02-03: Plays in the Oscar-nominated Lord of the Rings trilogy;
- 2005: Wins Oscar for best supporting actress for The Aviator;
- 2006: Plays in Oscar-nominated Babel;
- 2007: Wins Mostra de Venise for role in I'm Not There;
- 2008: Plays in Oscar-nominated The Curious Case of Benjamin Button;
- 2009-13: Artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company;
- 2014: Wins best actress Oscar for lead role in Blue Jasmine;
- 2015: Stars in Todd Haynes's Carol, which was in selection for Cannes and won the Queer Palm award;
- 2018: Joins 300 Hollywood stars to launch Time's Up campaign against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Time's Up and Harvey Weinstein
Blanchett was one of the first stars to speak out when Hollywood moghul Harvey Weinstein was accused of serial sexual abuse and was one of 300 Hollywood women who launched the Time's Up initiative on Monday.
"Any male who's in a position of authority or power, you know, whether he be a film producer or the president of the United States who thinks it's his prerogative to sexually intimidate or abuse women that they come into contact with, whether in the workplace or otherwise, they need to be held to account," she said during the September premier of her latest film, Thor: Ragnarok.
Time's Up aims to take on sexual harassment at work and has already collected 13 million of its 15-million-dollar (12.5-million-euro) target for a fund to give legal support to victims.
It has also called on companies, government agencies and the US court system to reexamine harassment policies.
Blanchett plays in two films that are soon to be released - Gary Ross's Ocean's 8 and Richard Linklater's Where'd You Go, Bernadette.
The 10 previous heads of the Cannes jury are:
- 2017: Pedro Almodovar, Spain's most celebrated living cinema director, has won Oscars for All About My Mother (1999) and Talk To Her (2002);
- 2016: George Miller, the Australian creator of the Mad Max films, also known for the animated hit Happy Feet (2006);
- 2015: Joel and Ethan Coen, the brothers who make up the writing/directing duo behind The Big Lebowski (1998) and Fargo (1996) and the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men (2008);
- 2014: Jane Campion, New Zealand director of The Piano (1993) and TV series Top of the Lake;
- 2013: Steven Spielberg, US director of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), ET (1982), Jurassic Park (1993) and Schindler's List (1993);
- 2012: Nanni Moretti, Italian actor and director of Cannes winner The Son's Room (2001);
- 2011: Robert De Niro, American actor in Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Casino (1995) and Meet the Fockers (2004);
- 2010: Tim Burton, American director of Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Alice in Wonderland (2010);
- 2009: Isabelle Huppert, French actress in The Piano Teacher (2001) and La Cérémonie (1995);
- 2008: Sean Penn, US actor and director who appeared in Dead Man Walking (1995), Mystic River (2003) and Milk (2008).