Glenn Close and the Elusive Oscar
by Abb Jones
Ask any moviephile: what’s the biggest crime ever committed by The Academy? Nearly all will agree – that Glenn Close does not have an Oscar. Not that she really needs one or cares – her impressive work stands on its own. That said, the triple Tony and triple Emmy winner DOES, however, have one Oscar distinction – she and the late Peter O’Toole are tied for having the largest number of Oscar acting nominations with no wins – eight.
Let’s trace the history of Glenn Close’s eight Oscar-nominated performances, and our take on at least two times when we feel she was robbed of the big prize. Let us know if you agree or disagree.
1983 Supporting Actress – The World According to Garp
Winner: Jessica Lange, Tootsie
Close’s big screen debut was a tour de force performance as single nurse and feminist writer Jenny Fields, the mother of Robin Williams’ Garp, in this adaptation of John Irving’s 1978 cult classic. Jessica Lange (who also scored a nomination in the Best Actress category for the biopic Frances about troubled actress Frances Farmer) would snatch this Best Supporting Actress trophy for her role in the lighter, more crowd-friendly Dustin Hoffman female impersonation comedy Tootsie. Should Have Won: Close.
1984 Supporting Actress – The Big Chill
Winner: Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously
Close gave another kick ass performance in this dramedy about college friends reuniting for a funeral, but Linda Hunt was pretty incredible, becoming the first woman to win an Oscar playing a man, in the hauntingly sumptuous period drama The Year of Living Dangerously. Set in 1960s pre-revolution Indonesia, the film featured two up and coming stars, Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver. Should Have Won: Hunt. Her convincing performance was pivotal to the film.
1985 Supporting Actress – The Natural
Winner: Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India
Admittedly, this was a weak year for the Best Supporting Actress category. That said, as iconic as the visual of a backlit Close was in The Natural, Ashcroft’s Oscar was nice reward for her lifetime achievement. Should Have Won: Ashcroft.
1988 Actress – Fatal Attraction
Winner: Cher, Moonstruck
Of all of Close’s performances, this one is without a doubt, the most iconic. Portraying publisher Alex Forrest, unhinged after a married attorney (Michael Douglas) ghosts on her after a weekend affair, she terrorizes him in a vengeful attempt to ruin his life. Perhaps Close was TOO good (if there is such a thing) in her disturbingly chilling performance, sending Academy voters to the feel-good, likable character Cher portrayed in Moonstruck, which itself came on the heels of strong performances in 1985’s Mask and 1983’s Silkwood. Should Have Won: Close. Sorry Cher, we love ya, but this is THE defining performance of Close’s storied career. Holly Hunter also gave a strong performance in Broadcast News.
1989 Actress – Dangerous Liaisons
Winner: Jodie Foster, The Accused
Close gives another spectacular performance in this period piece featuring a connivingly villainous Marquise de Merteuil, who’s set on ruining the life of the beautiful young and innocent Cecile de Volanges (Michelle Pfeiffer) with the help of her equally cruel ex-lover, Valmont (John Malkovich), but again, her villainous character sent Academy voters flocking to the more sympathetic rape victim that Foster portrayed. Should Have Won: Foster, but only by a hair. If there was any year that there should have been a tie, this was it.
2012 Actress – Albert Nobbs
Winner: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Close’s first return to the Oscar competition in 13 years came from this film she produced and co-wrote, playing a woman pretending to be a man in 19th century Dublin, to work as a butler in a hotel. While the film received mixed reviews, her performance was praised. Should Have Won: Viola Davis, The Help. Davis was the heart and soul of that film, and Meryl Streep has done way better work in other non-Oscar winning films (2006’s The Devil Wears Prada).
2019 Actress – The Wife
Winner: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Close was the major frontrunner in 2019, leading nearly everyone to think she had this one in the bag for her portrait of the long-suffering wife of a self-absorbed, acclaimed author. Should Have Won: Lady Gaga, A Star is Born As great as both Olivia Colman and Close were in their respective films, if there ever was a role that was tailor made for a singer, it was A Star is Born for Lady Gaga, who CRUSHED it. Gaga did pick up an Oscar earlier that evening for Best Original Song for “Shallow.”
2021 Supporting Actress – Hillbilly Elegy
Winner: Youn Yuh-jung, Minari
This was the year of dueling grandmas. Close’s portrait of the hillbilly grandma who raised a young J.D. Vance (now a U.S. Senator from Ohio) was the best thing in this film, but Youn Yuh-jung’s performance, as the chain-smoking, lovable Korean granny starting a new life with her family in Arkansas, was magnetic. Should Have Won: Youn. She was an absolute delight.
So there you have it – but fear not, Glenn Close fans. Last year Close revealed at the Met Gala that a musical adaptation of Sunset Boulevard is moving closer to becoming a reality. Close, who originated the iconic role of fading actress Norma Desmond on Broadway in 1994 has been shopping the project with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber to major film studios. She may get that Oscar yet.
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