“One of the most nominated actors never to win, or one of the greatest.”
The 1980s was an era of Oscar darlings in the Academy’s actors branch. Eight individuals received three or more nominations in that decade alone, and many of our most acclaimed performers today enjoyed the heydays of their careers in those years. And arguably the most acclaimed to yet win an Oscar is Glenn Close, whose five nods in the ‘80s in remarkably close (pun entirely intended) succession set her up then for an ensuing victory any minute now.
The years passed, and that sad slump through which so many female actors’ careers go in their 40s seemed to extend for Close through her 50s and 60s, and the awards recognition looked like it had dried up for good. All that popularity she’d accrued from Fatal Attraction, the plaudits from Dangerous Liaisons, the overdue narrative that was only becoming more egregious with each year that supplied the same silence from awards voters. All that made Glenn Close look like she’d have to settle with being, instead of a deserving Oscar winner, a footnote in the Oscar story. One of the most nominated actors never to win, or one of the greatest. Either way, still not an Oscar winner.
To someone like Glenn Close, who has seen her friends and colleagues (and often rivals) win at least an Oscar each either back in the ‘80s or in the years since. And who has battled through a peculiar career trajectory where an early, extended run of greatness hit a brick wall right after it hit its peak, and never truly found its footing again. It’s no wonder an Oscar should mean so much.
“That’s not accidental greatness, that’s studied, honed, fine-tuned greatness.”
She’s been campaigning heavily this awards season. Making chat show appearances, turning up to every awards ceremony (even the BAFTAs, thousands of miles from L.A., where few thought she’d win and indeed she did not), delivering the appropriately shocked, humbled but prepared demeanour when called to the stage to collect a trophy for The Wife. Then delivering some exceptionally good speeches.
And why shouldn’t she? Greatness like that she once showed in movies like The World According to Garp, Dangerous Liaisons (one of the all-time finest screen performances), Reversal of Fortune, even 101 Dalmatians. That’s not accidental greatness, that’s studied, honed, fine-tuned greatness, the result of weeks of practise and a mind full of technique, all technique to draw forth an innate, often astonishing brilliance for acting.
She’s won, in the years since her movie career was at its height, three Emmys and three Tonys (one of those was in the ‘80s, but anyway). Not only does a master like Glenn Close deserve an Oscar, she knows she deserves an Oscar, and she’s entirely right to know that!
“It’s right there on the screen in The Wife, as it has been on the screen for nearly four decades.”
Yet this is no mere overdue Oscar, though it was at least in part the overdue narrative that has helped her get to this point. The Wife, for which Close stands to finally win this weekend, premiered all the way back at TIFF 2017, almost 18 months ago, and with fairly low expectations. Support from a handful of critics, canny commercial management from the ever-reliable Sony Pictures Classics, and general goodwill toward Close have all kept her in the conversation.
But the real reason she looks set to win the Oscar is the same reason for which most winners triumph: she’s just so fucking good in the role! No-one – NO-ONE – can communicate so much, such an impossibly deep well of emotion through so little as a passing glance or a stoic stare as Glenn Close, whose talents are deployed to full use in The Wife. And when she’s given space to unleash the full force of her dramatic ability through the script’s manifold subtle modulations of character and scenario, one wonders if anyone has ever deserved an Oscar more. It’s right there on the screen in The Wife, as it has been on the screen for nearly four decades.
Nothing would give me greater joy this Sunday night (or Monday morning, as it shall be here in London) than to watch one-time Oscar darling Glenn Close turn current-day Oscar winner Glenn Close.