Back in 2016, Leonardo DiCaprio won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in “The Revenant,” an award that felt like letting out a long-held breath to everyone else. The actor had been nominated for four other acting Academy Awards, probably most notably for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and it almost became a running joke that Leo hadn’t clinched the award yet.
While there are plenty of other performers whose work has been snubbed over the years (looking at you, Amy Adams), the one finally getting some well-deserved attention this year is Glenn Close. You probably know the 71-year-old actress from her iconic roles in “Fatal Attraction” and “Dangerous Liaisons,” and who could forget her ever-amazing Cruella de Vil in the 1996 live action “101 Dalmatians”?
Close has seven Oscar nominations (including this year’s Best Actress nod for her portrayal of Joan Castleman in “The Wife,” a performance that The Guardian called “unreadably brilliant” and “arguably her best ever performance”) to her name...and not a single win. Not only does this make her the only living actor with the most nominations without an award, but she also holds the most nods without a win in history. What gives?!
Close’s first Oscar nomination came from her film debut -- you know how we’re all freaking over Yalitza Aparicio right now? Same thing. She was passed over for the award for “The World According to Garp” in 1982, but that was just the beginning. Since then, she racked up Best Supporting Actress noms three years in a row and had her name in for Best Actress in both ‘87 and ‘89. This year, though, feels different.
Not only is Close basically owed an Oscar at this point -- though I tend to lean toward the opinion that you shouldn’t get an award if someone was better than you just because -- but she’s considered a frontrunner this go around. While the other nominees gave outstanding performances, Close is getting the star treatment this month; it feels like everyone is rooting for her. She’s already clinched Best Actress in a Drama at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards and split the Best Actress win with Lady Gaga (for “A Star Is Born”) at the Critics’ Choice. Olivia Colman is stirring up some competition with her BAFTA win for “The Favourite,” but Close is still...the favorite.
In fact, it’s her Golden Globes acceptance speech that got everyone going. Close spoke about how her character in “The Wife” -- a matriarch who simmers with badly dealt-with jealousy when her husband wins a Nobel Prize in literature -- made her think of her family. She saw the same characteristics and disappointment that her mother and grandmother dealt with before her -- she even wears her grandmother’s ring, who wanted to be an actress but couldn’t during her time.
“I’m floored by how wide my Golden Globe acceptance speech went, because for me it was truly a spontaneous moment, and I’ll never be able to recapture that. So, I think, probably that’s one of the reasons why people were moved by it; it really came spontaneously from my heart, thinking about my mom,” she told Deadline. “I’ve been amazed. People have come up to me in airports and on the street and thanked me for that speech.”
Although Close’s 45-year career has drawn Golden Globes, Emmys and Tonys (so...does she sing?), the actress was quick to point out to Vanity Fair that she doesn’t go into anything with very high expectations of recognition.
“I keep myself to zero expectations just for my own mental health,” she said. “When I’ve done a job and played a character that I’ve felt was to the very best of my ability, and I got deep into the character and lost in that character, that is the most important thing. When that character has resonance and connection with people...that, for me, is the award.”
A resonating character that Close hopes to play again? Alex Forrest, of “Fatal Attraction.” This time, though, Close wants to see the film from Alex’s point of view to paint a larger picture of the character and how she got there. Close talked to numbers of psychologists and doctors to give Alex an appropriate representation and take it further than being “the crazy lady.”
“It’s so easy to make people who probably have one mental disorder diagnosis the antagonist, to make them the bad people. And it just feeds into the stigma,” she said in talks with Deadline. “I think they’ve had some things in the works, but I do think it would be interesting to take the exact story, basically, and do it from her point of view. I think she’d become a tragic figure, rather than perceived as an evil figure.”
Will Close clinch the award this year? If not, maybe she’ll do Cruella de Vil again -- that’ll do it for sure.