Among this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Supporting Actress is Glenn Close for her performance in “Hillbilly Elegy.” She has previously been nominated seven times before, but still has yet to win, making her the actress with the most losses and no victories in Oscar history. So will the eighth nomination be the charm for her?
In Netflix’s film adaptation of J.D. Vance‘s 2016 bestselling memoir, J.D. (Gabriel Basso) is studying law at Yale University when he receives an emergency phone call from his sister, Lindsay (Haley Bennett), who tells him their mother, Bev (Amy Adams), has overdosed, so he drives home overnight to once again deal with his family. Over the course of the story, he reminisces about his childhood, which includes memories of his grandmother, Mamaw (Close).
Despite a lot of negative reviews for the latest from director Ron Howard, Close’s showy, transformative performance (which is the kind of role that usually does pretty well on the awards scene) has consistently been singled out as the best thing in the movie. Which is ironic because in addition to her Oscar nomination, she also received a Razzie Award nom for the same performance. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that critics and Razzie voters are not members of the motion picture academy, so their assessments of the film may not reflect its Oscar chances.
On paper, you’d think that Close may also be vulnerable due to her being only one of two performers — along with Maria Bakalova in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” — nominated for Best Supporting Actress this year whose film does not have a corresponding Best Picture nomination. However, since the number of nominees for Best Picture expanded in 2009, nine performers have still managed to win Oscars despite their films not being included in that top category.
Those nine were Jeff Bridges winning Best Actor for “Crazy Heart” in 2009; Meryl Streep winning Best Actress for “The Iron Lady” in 2011 with Christopher Plummer claiming Best Supporting Actor for “Beginners” that same year; Cate Blanchett taking home Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine” in 2013; Julianne Moore prevailing as Best Actress for “Still Alice” in 2014; Alicia Vikander winning Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” in 2015; Allison Janney taking Best Supporting Actress for “I, Tonya” in 2017; Regina King winning Best Supporting Actress for “If Beale Street Could Talk” in 2018; and Renée Zellweger running away with Best Actress for “Judy” last year.
What each of those aforementioned winners (with the exception of Vikander) have in common is that they were all respected veterans. Bridges, Plummer, and Moore in particular were considered overdue before winning in their respective years. While those factors sadly did not help Close prevail in Best Actress for “The Wife” in 2018 (Olivia Colman upset her for “The Favourite”), it does seem that the eighth nomination might be considered even luckier than the seventh.
Geraldine Page finally won on her eighth nomination in 1985 for “The Trip to Bountiful.” Paul Newman also won for the first time on his eighth try in 1986 for “The Color of Money” (just one year after receiving an Honorary Oscar). And Al Pacino won his overdue Oscar on his eighth nomination in 1992 for “Scent of a Woman” (that same year he had an additional bid in Best Supporting Actor for “Glengarry Glen Ross”). However, the current record holder for the most overlooked performer in Oscar history, Peter O’Toole, still couldn’t win on his eighth (and final) nomination for “Venus” in 2006.
As of now, the Oscar race for Best Supporting Actress is wide open. Jodie Foster may have surprisingly won the Golden Globe for “The Mauritanian,” but she became the rare Globe winner in that category to not go on to receive an Oscar nom. And Bakalova may have won Critics Choice, but this broad comic turn is not the kind of performance that typically wins Oscars nowadays.
All that’s left for Close before the Oscars is the SAG Awards since she didn’t make the cut at BAFTA (which decided their acting nominees using a new jury system). If she does win SAG, then that would make her chances of winning the Oscar look especially promising. It helps that her “Hillbilly” co-star Amy Adams managed to sneak into Best Actress there, showing greater support for the film as a whole than we’ve seen at other awards events.
And Close is the most widely known veteran out of all the Best Supporting Actress nominees, often an advantage with SAG voters, who have been known to bow to acting legends like Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, and Maggie Smith, among others. Since SAG correlates closely with Oscar (both awards are given by industry peer groups), that could set up Close to finally take home the academy trophy she’s been waiting for for decades.
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