An Oscar for Glenn Close will put her in a very small club

For an actor, being the only Oscar nominee from your film is a pretty lonely business and a sign that you probably won’t need to have an acceptance speech ready when your ballot’s envelope is opened.

Only nine times in the last 80 years of Academy Awards history have Oscars for lead performances gone to actors who had the only nominations from their films. The odds aren’t much better for supporting roles; only 12 of those singular nominations led to Oscars.

So, it will be a small club that “The Wife’s” Glenn Close or “At Eternity’s Gate’s” Willem Dafoe will join if either one wins for their lead performances on Feb. 24. And, really, only Close needs to have an idea what she’d like to say when she gets to the stage.

She’s had plenty of practice before nationally televised audiences, having already won the best actress award at the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. They were nice speeches, especially the part where she reminded people that her wife had a husband who was brilliantly played by Jonathan Pryce.

Normally, a person sizing up the best actress ballot would give the edge to any of the other nominees on Close’s ballot. All four of them are from movies with multiple acting nominations, and three of them are from the three movies – Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”), Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”), and Yalitza Apariciio (“Roma”) – with the most total nominations.

The more popular a movie is across the ballot, the more likely it is to win the acting awards.

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But this is not a normal year. It’s not that the voters feel they owe Close an Oscar, having overlooked her six times before, though that thought helps. Mainly, she’s the odds-on favorite because she’s in the right role at the right time, playing a woman who comes out of the shadows of her author-husband for whom she has ghostwritten the bulk of the work.

Her husband does not fit the profile of a #MeToo or a Times Up abuser; there’s nothing sexual in his abuse, at least that we see. But his decades-long psychological torment of her, subjugating her talent to his ego and then asking her to play the adoring wife when he picks up his Nobel Prize, is just as bad.

This is a theme that was played out a few years ago in “Big Eyes,” based on the true story of Margaret Keane, a popular artist who had to sue her husband for taking credit for her paintings. Amy Adams won a Golden Globe for that film, which the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. in its annual rite of nominating movies in the wrong categories, deemed a comedy.

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Close’s awards winning streak could end Sunday at BAFTA where England’s own Olivia Colman might prevail, but that would probably not derail her.

Of the nine actors with Oscars from films with one nomination since 1939, six were women: Sophia Loren won for “Two Women” in 1961, Jodie Foster won for “The Accused” in 1988, Kathy Bates for “Misery” in 1990, Jessica Lange for “Blue Sky” in 1994, Charlize Theron for “Monster” in 2003, and Julianne Moore for “Still Alice” in 2014.

Like Close, Dafoe has also had multiple nominations without a win but the academy will likely defer his first Oscar to another year. He’s in one of the toughest fields against Christian Bale (“Vice”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), Bradley Cooper (“A Star is Born”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”).

Perhaps voters will split their votes among the other four and let Dafoe squeeze in, but you’d get better odds taking the Rams and three points against New England, and that game’s already over.

If he were to pull off the miracle, Dafoe would become the fourth actor with his film’s only nomination to win. The others were Jose Ferrer (“Cyrano de Bergerac” 1950), Cliff Robertson (“Charly” 1968) and Forest Whittaker (“The Last King of Scotland”).

Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own 2019 Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on February 24.

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