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« Beauty vs Beast: Our Favourite Fellas | Main | Make Up For Ever »
Monday
Feb252019

On Glenn Close's Oscar Curse

by Nathaniel  R

At this point in her long and celebrated career, Glenn Close surely has reason to wonder. Consider it a reverse Sally Field: 'You don't like me? You really don't like me?'

There are many familiar time-tested ways to win an Oscar and Glenn Close has tried them all. She's tried the debut performance that makes everyone's jaw drop with 'who is THAT?' wonder (World According to Garp). She's tried being the actor who becomes a kind of symbolic representation of an entire film and cast (The Big Chill). She's tried having the necessary momentum, twice actually, with three consecutive supporting nominations ending in The Natural  early in her career, and then two consecutive lead nominations a few years later (ending with Dangerous Liaisons). She's tried having the kind of blockbuster zeitgeist hit that can carry you to win even when you aren't deserving though she certainly was (Fatal Attraction)...

She's tried giving the best nominated performance twice (Fatal Attraction & Dangerous Liaisons). She's tried the "comeback role" and the "personal passion project" (Albert Nobbs, her dream role, after a 23 year absence from Oscar contention while she reinvented her career elsewhere). This season she tried the "career achievement" route (The Wife) that's worked for dozens of actors and actresses whose performances were less impressive than what she delivered in The Wife.

Glenn Close has even tried the playing a real person route, inarguably Oscar's favourite actorly trick. It's worth noting -- and perhaps quite telling -- that when she did try their favourite way of winning, with Sunny von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune (1990), they didn't even nominate her.

An ill-fated tweet from yours truly early on Oscar evening:

 

As you know, your host here at The Film Experience (c'est moi) has been rooting for her to win the gold for over a year, been blurbed in support of her, chatted with her on a red carpet, and tweeted numerous times in her defense as he watched the internet pile on at various points with thinly veiled ageist and sexist remarks, the kind no male actor ever has to deal with (everytime someone made a joke or a glib dismissal like 'no one has seen The Wife' my blood boiled since nobody ever says that about an acclaimed male performance winning accolades and never said that about several acclaimed films this year that made far less at the box office than The Wife). In short this was the most painful Oscar loss I've experienced in years (in that she obviously had a great shot at a win), if not quite the size of the hurt I felt watching Viola Davis (The Help) lose to Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), or the mammoth heart-stabbing that was Brokeback Mountain losing to Crash

The only way off the depression ledge is to understand and perpetually remind oneself that she lost to an actually great performance, Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, in an actually great movie (The Favourite). This is easier to take than when a great actor loses to inferior work (as Close has a few times) but Close's seven losses, mean that it's not easy, just easier.

To those Glenn Close fans, hoping to gain some solace reading this, I have none but to remind you, as I remind myself, that great careers and great performances are their own rewards.

Glenn Close will never win a competitive Oscar.

Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer remain Oscarless. The 1980s are roughly the most brutal decade in terms of the superstar actresses of a particular era never winning. See also: Kathleen Turner and Debra Winger and Sigourney Weaver,

It's time to let that dream go and console ourselves with Close's multiple Tonys and Emmys. Glenn Close turns 72 next month and great roles are few and far between for actresses in their 70s. If any exist in the next decade they will also be offered to Meryl Streep instead, with the notable exception of the Sunset Blvd musical adaptation, if it's ever made but it's hard to win for musicals and people often have their knives out for that genre, and for films that can easily be unfavorably compared to all-time classics). In the history of the Oscars only five actresses older than Glenn Close is now have ever won gold: Ruth Gordon at 72 in Rosemary's Baby (1968), Josephine Hull at 74 in Harvey (1950), Katharine Hepburn at 74 in On Golden Pond (1981), Peggy Ashcroft  at 77 in A Passage to India (1984, beating Glenn Close in The Natural), and Jessica Tandy at 80 in Driving Miss Daisy (1989).

Yes, Glenn Close has been Richard Burton'd and Peter O'Toole'd to history. But therein lies one final comforting note:  That's hardly bad company to keep, the mutual talent and legacy being off the charts grand.  

another ill-fated tweet:

 

Perhaps Oscar can take a cue from an earlier Oscar ceremony to finally give Close her due. Close famously gave Deborah Kerr her Honorary on stage, an actress, she has now surpassed as the woman with the most nominations to have never won. They should quickly repeat that history and hand Close her own Honorary. 

 

 

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Reader Comments (163)

Excellent company indeed.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I think Glenn Close has a Demi Moore-style effect with people.

She'll never be America's Sweetheart, she's more than icy, cool, distant figure.

The Academy seems to forget they should be rewarding the PERFORMANCE not the person.

sigh

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Thank you for this. I feel exactly the same on all levels. Yay Olivia Colman, but this is a tragedy.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

This was absolutely her best and LAST chance. I think that the huge influx of new members over the last few years actually hurt her; there was not a shared sense that she was overdue. And Sunset Boulevard is not the project that will do it for the reasons you mention and I will add one: she was brilliant in the part on stage, but a transition to screen will too easily slide into camp and vultures will feast on it!

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMatty

Can I remind you Nat that Christopher Plummer received his 3 Oscar nods when he was in his 80's and Jessica Tandy when she was in her 80's too,there's still a chance and this loss would certainly help rectify that if she was nominated again for SB if it's made at all.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I've never felt so heartbroken watching my favourite (heh) win an Oscar. I wanted Olivia to win from the moment she popped up on The Favourite, would've voted for her, didn't care that much for The Wife, and yet... my heart broke for Glenn. I hope the Sunset Blvd movie happens - watching her play that role on stage felt like a once in a lifetime experience, I remember picking up my phone and booking another ticket as I left the theatre. Fingers crossed.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKiki

Effective immediately, Judi Dench and Meryl Streep should relinquish all of their upcoming roles to Glenn Close!

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatagonia

This is one of, if not, the most painful loss for me to watch. Glenn was spectacular in The Wife - truly doing work that was both challenging for her and that was top of the field. Additionally, with her winning so many awards and with critics enjoying her performance in reviews, I was generally shocked that she didn't win. I almost would have preferred if she'd just shown up as a nominee again like she did with Albert Nobbs.

Everyone keeps talking about Sunset. In addition to all of the reasons you mention, having seen it on stage, other than Glenn's performance and the songs she sings, it's a pretty wretched musical. It even won the Tony in a light year.

At best, she has a supporting nomination left in her, but I too, can't see her picking up a competitive Oscar. She really is a causality of "too many nominations, too soon."

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I felt so bad for her. Earlier that day I told a friend I thought Glenn Close would be Lauren Bacall'd. I prefer both Binoche and Colman's performances, but honoring an older veteran actress at the Golden Globes and SAG only to have them lose the Oscar is just cruel.

(Interestingly, there's a clip on YouTube of Glenn Close visiting Lauren Bacall's apartment, perhaps 10 years ago?)

My favorite Close performance is Garp. She should've won right out of the gate!

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEric

It's absolutely devastating. I do think SUNSET BLVD could still land her that elusive Oscar...if it ever somehow sees the light of day.

Alas, she'll likely need to settle for an honorary prize.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

Glenn Close's Oscar losses have been to:

82 - Jessica Lange, Tootsie
83 - Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously
84 - Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India
87 - Cher, Moonstruck
88 - Jodie Foster, The Accused
11 - Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
18 - Olivia Colman, The Favourite

It looks to me as if she just has terrible timing. Every time she gets a nomination, someone else tickles the Academy's fancy or is the runaway winner. The way I look at it, she probably should have won in 82, but she isn't beating anyone else after that. Streep is a bad win, but Viola Davis should have won instead of her.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

This is perhaps the only day I felt sorry for /3rtful, who I am sure is now /glennraged. My take is that Glenn is just not that likable among her peers. She has always seemed kind of aloof and removed from Hollywood. She did make many good films, but I agree that this was her last chance for a competitive Oscar. Maybe by some miracle she would win for Sunset Boulevard, but I think the chances of that are slim. Chin up, my darling.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned in Connecticutt

David– "The Academy seems to forget they should be rewarding the PERFORMANCE not the person."

That's exactly what they did!! Did you see THE WIFE? It's barely a movie and Close's performance is simply not special or memorable. Colman did not spend a single day campaigning for this award. And even still the Academy rewarded the performance and not the person.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGWB

Now that it's 20 years later, they should remake Shakespeare In Love with Amy Adams in Paltrow's part and Close's in Dench's and get them their Oscars. LOL. But seriously this was heartbreaking even thought the winner was amazing.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

I'm almost crying, but I'll be fine. And I thank you for this.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I know this isn't a popular view on TFE, but if you compare the number of career GREAT performances turned in by Glenn with those by Michelle, Sigourney, or Kathleen, Glenn's is shorter. Of the five nominated performances this year, I think the Academy got it right. But sorry for Glenn and her fans.

Barbara Stanwyck never got an acting Oscar either, except for an Honorary, so Glenn is in good company there too if she receives one in the next few years.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPam

My heart breaks. Needs time to recover.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJija

She was disrespected last night. Her peers made it very clear how they feel about her. If the Honorary calls, I hope she hangs up. A damn tragedy. Her legacy is much bigger than this bullshit. I'm livid.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJb

Geraldine Page won on her 8th nomination .. so there is hope (slim hope)

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJEM

It was the saddest moment in a Oscar history.
She was ready to win, even her dress, everyone was rooting for her, but at this point I firmly believe that Glenn is not very liked by the academy.
Last night Reese Witherspoon hint into producing a movie for her, so everything can happen at this point, maybe this very hurtful and recent failure would help some big names in Hollywood to give her really good pieces to work in, even Alfonso Cuarón has hint that he would probably work with her in the future... we have that we need to have hope for her.
And about Sunset boulevard, if the movie is well done, and ALW is not involved (like in phantom) it could be a great film, but we have to wait and see.
And if she’s not destined to win a competitive Oscar let it be, great legends like Peter O’Toole, Lauro Bacall, Angela Lansbury have never won a competitive Oscar, and maybe is for a reason, hopefully Glenn wins one of this.
PD
I blame Meryl for this and for the lack of work for women in Hollywood over 60s, at this point Meryl should let other people work and be visable, I hope Sally Field, Jessica Lange, Goldie Hawn, Shirley Mclaine, Bette Midler and Glenn Can are able to find good movies in the future.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterValentinaYouAreBeautiful

Alright these might be fighting word, but I don't think Glenn Close every delivered an individual performance worthy of winning the Oscar - unlike Olivia Colman.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Someone needs to write Glenn and Amy Adams a killer mother/daughter screenplay so they can both finally win. Make it happen, world!

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCash

'88 was the year. One of the worst choices ever - and Jodie was pretty good in a mediocre film but Glenn in DL is top 5 all time.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I agree. It’s hard to be angry when a great performance was honored instead, but my heart still breaks for her. As you said she’s in great company. Here’s hoping a great role comes along for her. There must be a queen she can play or perhaps a role that requires her to make herself ugly?

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

As someone who appreciated more than enjoyed The Favourite and Coleman's performance therein, I'm a bit more sour regarding Close's loss than I might be otherwise (though Coleman seems a delightful person). Honestly, I don't see her winning unless she goes supporting in an awards juggernaut playing wildly against type -- a bawdy, sexed-up, pill-popping, foul-mouthed grandma perhaps?

These are the times when I remind myself that legacy isn't tied up in awards recognition despite how much we love to conflate the two. We all can cite films and performances which have endured the test of time beyond some of the biggest Oscar winners of their respective years. That Close has given us such creations as Alex Forrest and Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil is the real treasure.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

@Ben

Go to sleep kid. Dangerous Liaisons is a legit all timer. Go to bed you're tired. This Colman woman will win a few Emmys for playing another queen and then we won't ever have to deal with her again. Glenn already has her place in the pantheom.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJb

In defense of Meryl, a couple of thoughts:

1. Her performance in Iron Lady is phenomenal. I love Viola, but I don't recall feeling she was "better" in The Help, which is kind of sappy and her maid role kind of limited/generic. The Iron Lady has issues, but the Streep performance still stands as a major achievement.

2. Streep does not prevent other actresses from working! Hollywood itself does not make many films with women over 30, and for the few roles over 60 (rare) they may go to a Judi Dench, Frances McDormand, Streep, or Helen Mirren. Meryl is not the problem. The problem is that there are not enough roles created for mature women.

Glenn has three Tony awards, something her peers do not. She is recognized as a great actress, and I think she will be fine.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBarron

It's not a coincidence that the most-nominated actress without a win would *also* be on the losing side of the biggest Best Actress upset in decades. (Yes, bigger than 2007, IMO.) The odds of those two things existing in the same universe without a causal relationship are astronomically low. So yes, it feels very shady and I think that speaks for itself.

That said, Colman's win will age well. I can't be hard on her.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterH

This hit me like a ton of bricks. I wouldn’t have been as disappointed if Glenn didn’t think she was going to win. This seemed to be the best chance for her to win and I really can’t see her going through awards season with such momentum again.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterElle

It is sad, but Olivia Colman is my favorite best actress winner since Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. She was truly sublime in The Favourite, and gave a wonderful. Honestly, this makes sense compared to the massive career trajectory Colmans career has had in the past few years, from British tv favorite to acclaimed international star.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

If anything we should never underestimate the Globe+Bafta for playing a real person again.
Glenn has never starred in Biopics (except Fortune?), so she may consider them now.
It's NOT over for her. (and It's hardly the fault of an actress that wasn't even nominated this year)

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

It's too bad there wasn't a tie. Sigh!

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMark F.

"She's tried giving the best nominated performance twice" - sorry to be that person, but Cher deserved her Oscar!!!!!

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Nathaniel I dare to remember you that she's not dead yet

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrown Cow Stunning

I'm heartbroken, this is by far the most painful Oscar moment in my lifetime. But she's a legend, hopefully she gets a honorary Oscar and her huge legacy doesn't need an Oscar to live on.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterStefano

I don't think it's right to say she will never win. It's likelier than not, but not a done deal.

There just needs to be a wonderful female buddy movie starring Glenn & Amy Adams with an enchanting theme by Madonna.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Rettenmund

Elle -- i can't see it either. I'm absolutely convinced that this is it for her. I think other people are just trying to not face it. She's 72 next month. Geraldine Page was 62 when she died and for her 8th nomination she was only 60 years old.. It is very very rare for actors to get good roles in their 70s or 80s.

aaron -- it does make sense and Olivia was brilliant. I'm just sad for Close is all.

GWB -- but you shouldn't state those things like fact. I personally think Close was brilliant in THE WIFE.Just because you dont doesn't mean she wasn't "special or memorable"And it's a lie that Colman didn't campaign. I love Colman so that's not a knock on her (there's nothing wrong with campaigning contrary to internet opinion) but going to awards shows and giving speeches and being photographed and all of these things that take place during awards season -- they are what campaigning is!

Sawyer -- you're absolutely right. 1988 was THE year to honor her. Not only was hers the best performacne nominated but they chose the worst performance nominated for the win. ARGH! And it was for someone who clearly had a bright future ahead of her and would win again in just a few years time.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Glenn Close will never win a competitive Oscar.

This is death while living.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I'm not really a fan of Dangerous Liaisons. Glenn I'll admit is pretty darn good in her scenes with Malkovich. They each kind of relish in their battle of wills. And her closing scenes are pretty strong as well. Still, I think theirs a strange kind of soullessness to the film that just doesn't sit well with me. I'd take Winona Ryder in Heathers or Jamie Lee Curtis in A Fish Called Wanda from that year instead. I guess my point is more that it shouldn't matter if an actor has received x nominations over their career. Each instance should be taken individually.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

She's a natural, but not the favorite.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHustler

@Matty: You say that Close in Sunset Boulevard could slide into camp. What do you call what Coleman effectively slid into? She is camp presonified!
Mind you, I liked her very much, but I wanted Close to win. She's never been better since Dangerous Liaisons!

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Like most I was sorry that Glenn didn't emerge the winner but this was never a clear cut case such as when Helen Mirren cruised her way to the podium for The Queen. Olivia Colman was always a close competitor and my guess is that the vote was a tight one considering the splitting of awards the two did collect.

She's still a hard working actress willing to try different things and stick with projects that she deems worthy as she did with The Wife, so perhaps she has other things in the fire that haven't come to fruition yet and might contain a role to put her back into competition again. After all when she was up for Albert Nobbs people were saying it was good to have her back but that this was probably her final shot at a nomination (since it was clear that she didn't have a prayer of winning that time out) and yet here we are again.

Ya maybe Sunset Blvd will happen but I don't know if that would turn the trick. I'm sure she's disappointed but she seems philosophical about the whole awards aspect of the business and for someone who has been at it as long as she I'm equally sure she sees the work as the reward and shiny bric-a-brac as a nice but not vital element.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Colman better check on her bunnies or they will be boiled by someone who will not be ignored. ;)1

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBecausewhynot

The Academy used to have a bias in favor of older performers getting an Oscar in a last chance situation: John Wayne, Jessica Tandy, Don Ameche, Henry Fonda. Now the bias is exactly the opposite. Close deserved hers for the work. It was a masterpiece of largely non-verbal acting where she elevated the material Coleman had a great script with great lines and pulled it off like a dozen other pros could have done. Oh well!

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDan H.

Thanks Nathaniel, you've made some good points. I've been watching the Oscars since 1968 here are a few observations:
1. 80's actresses really were short-changed. Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver and Kathleen Turner all did amazing work in great iconic roles. Yet not one of them has an Oscar.
So Close isn't the only one. This is unfair but then I remind myself...

2. Winning isn't everything.
I know this sounds feeble, but in the long run having an Oscar doesn't guarantee respect, longevity, or make a film or role more memorable. Seriously.
Bacall didn't win an Oscar, Juliette Binoche was surprised, but Bacall is still a legend.
You really can be a legend without an Oscar, just ask Cary Grant ! (or Rosalind Russell, Barbara Stanwyck, etc.)

3. Case in point - Stanley Donen. No Oscar - so what ? Look at the tributes to him. They show his work which has lasted and is still loved. The Work is more important.

4. My final point. Popularity doesn't always bring an Oscar. The fact that Glenn Close didn't win an Oscar does NOT mean she is hated. This is not true.
Paul Newman was one of the best loved movie stars of all time, yet year after year he would get nominated and then not win. Look at Tom Hanks, he doesn't even get nominated these days. They really can like you, but just take you for granted.
Finally Tom Cruise did Color of Money, and Paul Newman won an Oscar.
This could happen for Glenn Close, or maybe she gets an Honourary Oscar which is no small feat either.
I repeat, you can be a legend and well liked but still not win a competitive Oscar. The work is what matters.
(end of rant)

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Thank you for your thoughtful and comforting words, Nathaniel.

I am utterly heartbroken and at least mildly devastated.

I officially give up on the Oscars.

Emma and Rachel in Supporting was nothing less than cheating, not to ensure either of them a second win but to strategically assist Olivia’s coronation.

As much as I appreciate “category fraud”, I’d prefer we refer to people who engage in it as “CHEATERS!” Mahershala = CHEATER! Viola = CHEATER! Alicia Vikander: CHEATER!

Glenn was presented as a Cinderella story through the media since the Globes win, had to graciously feign joy at that Critic’s Choice tie, and even assure her fans in advance that she’d look at the camera and say “I’m okay” if she lost. This Oscars year finally broke my soul.

I’ve seen THE WIFE seven times, and no other performance this year worked its way into my heart or mind. The film may not be perfect (obviously, the flashbacks are bit clunky), but it’s a perfect performance, and I think it lost to a scenery-devouring, borderline Supporting role, which is largely two-note (the notes being 1. a lovably grotesque and bumbling idiot 2. frequently prone to deep sadness and rage - with one expositional scene about her 17 miscarriages and the bunnies she named after each dead child.) It’s still a great performance, but I don’t believe it deserves to even be mentioned beside Glenn’s achievement in THE WIFE.

Along with Annette Bening, Glenn Close is my favorite Actress, and I’m through with with this sh!t!

In the words of Joan Castleman, “I can’t do it anymore; I can’t take it; I can’t take the humiliation...”

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Crowe

Maybe Sunset Boulevard will do the trick. I often think that when someone like Glenn Close or Peter O'Toole or Richard Burton loose it I because there I some underlining reason that we as Hollywood outsiders don't know about that has turned the community against them, maybe arrogance maybe pretentious behaviour, something that we do not see and are unaware of because we do not have contact with them on their sets ob behind the scenes.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDavid F

I've been reading a lot of "I feel terrible for Glenn Close, but Olivia Colman gave an amazing performance" comments online today (from myself included) and I really do wonder if that's how Academy members voted in private. Like you said, it's hard to deny the strength of Colman's performance, not to mention her movie.

It really is so interesting to me how sometimes actors can cruise to a career Oscar (Julianne Moore; Al Pacino; Leonardo DiCaprio; etc.) while others can't make it happen. It makes me think they just don't like Glenn Close enough, which is probably why her loss felt so hard to bear. I've personally never been a huge fan of her work, especially her later performances, which have often felt forced and hammy, even in The Wife. The gold dress thing was also a bit of an eye roll.

Still, what a tough blow. I agree that she'll never have another shot. At least there's still hope for Pfeiffer!

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

I'm not even sure she'd be cast in Sunset Boulevard if it's ever made. I still think there's a chance for her but it could be in a supporting role. Meryl can't do them all, and Glenn is probably every casting director's 2nd choice for roles in her age bracket.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

The only way Glenn wins now is to receive the Honorary.

Accept it the MOMENT it's offered to you!!!

I'm devastated and livid over this Oscar loss.

Just plain disgusted over the rest (Rami Malek, "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Green Book," score, visual effects, Ali, Original Screenplay, and on and on).

Erase this Oscar season from memory. Gear up for 92.

February 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterOrion

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