As the Rascal Flatts would croon, “what hurts the most was being so close.” And Glenn Close was closer than ever to her first Oscar this year with “The Wife,” but alas, she fell short once again, losing to Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”), and is now the most nominated actress without a win. But which of her unlucky seven losses hurts the most?
Close’s film career started fast right out of the gate with “The World According to Garp” (1982), taking Best Supporting Actress at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review, with runner-up mentions at the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. She became one of the few stars to earn an Oscar nomination for their screen debut. At 35, Close, who up until then worked in theater, was at the perfect age for one of those “hot new discovery” wins that Oscar likes. But she lost the Oscar to Jessica Lange (“Tootsie”), who had two nominations that evening and definitely was not beating Meryl Streep in “Sophie’s Choice” in lead. Lange had also won the Golden Globe, where Close was not nominated. Still, as often the case with first nominations, there’s the promise of more chances for Close.
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More came right away the following year when she nabbed a supporting nomination for “The Big Chill” (1983), the representative acting bid for the ensemble cast. This time, Linda Hunt prevailed for “The Year of Living Dangerously,” becoming the first person to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex. Hunt was the critical favorite, claiming the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Circle Awards, and was nominated for the Globe, which was won by Cher (“Silkwood”). Close was again overlooked by the Globes.
Close completed a hat trick of supporting nominations with a third one for “The Natural” (1984). It was a rather small part, but not even the mini narrative of three consecutive nominations could help Close overtake Peggy Ashcroft in “A Passage to India,” which co-led with 11 nominations. Ashcroft ran the table that year and still holds the record as the oldest winner in the category at 77.
Three years later, Close scored her first lead bid for one of her most iconic roles, Alex Forrest, in “Fatal Attraction” (1987). She received her first film Globe nomination, but lost to Sally Kirkland (“Anna”) and then lost the Oscar to Cher (“Moonstruck”). The entire role of Alex Forrest, a mentally ill woman hellbent on revenge, was not of the typical Best Actress winner ilk, but Cher had also built up a sturdy film and Oscar resume over the years that led to her victory.
The following year, Close gave an all-time turn in “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988), getting a second Best Actress bid. At this point, it’s her fifth nomination in seven years, but she was bested by Jodie Foster (“The Accused”). It was the former child star’s breakthrough adult role, as a rape victim, and she took home a handful of critics’ awards and the Globe (in that infamous three-way tie).
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Close ended the ’80s Oscar-less despite five bids. And likely nobody thought it’d be another 23 years before she’d be invited back to the rodeo. That was for her long-gestating passion project “Albert Nobbs” (2011), but this was one of those “happy to be nominated” cases. The Best Actress battle was between Viola Davis (“The Help”) and Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”), which the latter won to bag her third Oscar. (Fun fact: Colman played Streep’s daughter in “The Iron Lady,” so now they’ve both beaten Close for Oscars.)
And that brings us to this year, when Close pulled off that surprising Globe win and delivered an emotional, poignant speech. Then came the Critics’ Choice Award (in a tie with Lady Gaga for “A Star Is Born”) and the Screen Actors Guild Award, which has a great record correlating with Oscar. Close stans would agree “The Wife” wasn’t her best performance, but it all seemed to be lining up for her. It was so close that we could all taste it. Close even dressed in gold. But it wasn’t meant to be.
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