She’s played vengeful exes, ruthless attorneys and a devilish dog-napper who looks wonderful in spots. But what will it take for Glenn Close to actually win an Oscar?
With three Emmys, three Golden Globes and three Tonys, the 74-year-old is rightfully one of the most beloved and revered actresses working today. The Academy Awards, however, have been much more elusive: Close has been nominated eight times since 1983, most recently for Netflix’s “Hillbilly Elegy” in the supporting actress category. If she loses this year, she’ll tie the late Peter O’Toole for the most Oscar nominations with no wins.
Ahead of the Oscars ceremony April 25, we look back at the best and worst of Close’s Oscar-nominated work.
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8. ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ (2020)
Current best supporting actress nomination.
Close is the only redeemable part of Ron Howard’s grating slice of poverty porn, which has more shouting matches than a full season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked.” The actress delivers some tender, no-nonsense speeches as the bespectacled Mamaw, who tries to keep her grandson (Owen Asztalos) in school and off the same path as his drug-addicted mom (Amy Adams). But like her co-stars, Close often mistakes “good acting” for “the most acting,” even earning a worst supporting actress Razzie nod for her scenery-chewing turn.
7. ‘The Natural’ (1984)
Best supporting actress nomination, lost to Peggy Ashcroft for “A Passage to India.”
Close proves her natural acting bona fides in Barry Levinson’s sports drama, playing the long-lost love of a baseball player (Robert Redford) in a slump. The actress inhabits the small but pivotal role of Iris Gaines, managing to transcend the “supportive girlfriend” trope with quiet grace and wisdom. She’s practically radiant in the movie’s most memorable scene, in which a white-clad Close locks eyes with Redford’s Roy Hobbs from the stands of Wrigley Stadium.
6. ‘The World According to Garp’ (1982)
Best supporting actress nomination, lost to Jessica Lange for “Tootsie.”
Close was just four years older than Robin Williams when she played his mom in “Garp,” an adaptation of John Irving’s 1978 novel that also marked her feature film debut. That you hardly think twice about the age gap is a credit to Close’s ethereal performance, bringing empathy and intelligence to Jenny Fields, a nurse-turned-feminist author who runs a shelter for abused women.
5. ‘The Wife’ (2018)
Best actress nomination, lost to Olivia Colman for “The Favourite.”
Another instance of less is more, Close shows remarkable restraint playing the long-suffering spouse and ghostwriter of a celebrated author (Jonathan Pryce). She achingly conveys the frustration and pain of a life’s work gone unnoticed, simmering with rage as she’s forced to silently stand by and watch her husband accept a Nobel Prize in Literature for words she wrote. The movie derails into histrionics in its overwrought climax, but Close nevertheless stuns.
4. ‘The Big Chill’ (1983)
Best supporting actress nomination, lost to Linda Hunt for “The Year of Living Dangerously.”
Where’s a best soundtrack Oscar when you need it? Lawrence Kasdan’s landmark hangout movie is perhaps best remembered for its nostalgia-inducing tunes and frank discussion of suicide, as a group of college friends reunite for a weekend of revelry after their classmate’s funeral. Close’s Sarah is the most reflective of the bunch: wistful for the youthful ideals they all once held and racked with guilt over an affair that affected her marriage. It’s a subtle performance, but Close’s tearful shower and dinner scenes are two of the film’s most powerful.
3. ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ (1988)
Best actress nomination, lost to Jodie Foster for “The Accused.”
Close is deliciously viperous as a French noblewoman seeking revenge on her ex-husband in Stephen Frears’ sumptuous adaptation of the play and novel. The actress holds court over a starry cast including John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman, gleefully delivering tart one-liners and a now-iconic monologue about using her guile as both an armor and weapon against men. Her inevitable downfall ends in a haunting long shot of Close removing her makeup that later inspired a key scene in Margot Robbie’s 2017 “I, Tonya.”
2. ‘Albert Nobbs’ (2011)
Best actress nomination, lost to Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady.”
Some people might call it sacrilege to rank the often-joked about “Nobbs” over the juicier “Liaisons.” But after a recent rewatch of both movies, we were surprised just how much we were affected by Close’s emotional turn as Albert, a woman who’s spent much of her life disguised as a man in 19th-century Ireland. Working as a hotel butler, she begins a sort of courtship with a female colleague (Mia Wasikowska), and a new friend (Janet McTeer) opens her eyes to the spectrum of gender and sexual identities. Despite scant dialogue, Close captures Albert’s gentle melancholy and tragic repression, with beautiful yet fleeting moments of liberation.
1. ‘Fatal Attraction’ (1987)
Best actress nomination, lost to Cher for “Moonstruck.”
Close hasn’t been shy about her issues with the ending of “Fatal Attraction,” in which her character, Alex Forrest, is punished for her increasingly violent and obsessive behavior after a one-night stand with the married Dan (Michael Douglas). It’s a testament to Close’s preternatural abilities and deep love for the character that we manage to sympathize with Alex, who desperately demands some respect from the guy who – lest we forget – cheated on his wife. “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan!” Alex says in a much-quoted scene. That the Oscars similarly shunned Close’s volcanic performance is a crime worse than boiling bunnies.