Welcome to Oscar Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Oscar race the same way you’ve been communicating with your coworkers for the past year: via Slack. This week, after Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, we chat about the windfall Glenn Close has gotten in the topsy-turvy Best Supporting Actress category after many thought “Hillbilly Elegy” was DOA in November.
Christopher Rosen: All right, Joyce. We’re back at it again after a busy week of pontificating about the meaning of the Golden Globe Awards and SAG Awards nominations with a focus on a former presumed frontrunner who has quickly risen from the ashes to find herself primed to win a long-awaited Oscar. I’m talking, of course, about Mamaw, the inimitable Glenn Close. Following the SAG Awards’ snub of Amanda Seyfried in the Best Supporting Actress category, Close has not only vaulted back into the conservation but stands as a legitimate possibility to win. Her odds have jumped, according to the Gold Derby Experts, with a handful — including you — picking her outright to take home the Oscar. Has her candidacy officially become a Good Terminator, Joyce? I’ll start chain-smoking cigarettes and take my answer off-air.
joyceeng: Well, well, well, how the turntables. First, I think the Good Terminators are in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the SAG nominating committee, helping Close, like you said, rise from the ashes like the Phoenix tattoo on Ben Affleck’s back. I did, in fact, move her to first, and so did lots of people, as she’s now in fourth place in the odds after falling from first to sixth following those savage “Hillbilly” reviews. (For the record, I would like to say that I never dropped her from my five.) If anyone has time, I highly recommend looking back at her chaotic trajectory in the odds. Anyhow, yes, I believe she can totally win this. Everything is breaking well for Mamaw. The category has been, uh, in flux without a strong favorite, and she got a huge boost with not just the two nominations but also with Seyfried getting snubbed at SAG. I see you have Close in, but your No. 1 is her former conqueror Olivia Colman. Is she going to be the Swank to Close’s Bening?
Christopher Rosen: Is this what Alanis Morissette once defined as irony? As you mentioned, back in 2019, Close was a widely assumed favorite to win her first Oscar for a movie few people saw and less remember: “The Wife.” But when it came time to announce Best Actress, Colman scored for the more widely seen and nominated “The Favourite,” a pick that in hindsight seems so blindingly obvious. Cut to now and they’re battling again, albeit in the Best Supporting Actress category. Only now the tables have somewhat turned: it’s Colman with the little-seen film notable for its definite article and Close with the bigger project. Despite knocking around for what seems like months and with a surfeit of Golden Globe nominations, “The Father” has yet to come out and remains one of those elusive awards contenders that everyone (including me) thinks will find favor with the academy. So, yes, I have Colman — a beloved star who could conceivably win three SAG Awards this year — toppling Close again.
But even as I type I wonder if that’s really a likely scenario. I’ll whisper this since it’s not very fashionable to admit: Close is actually quite effective in “Hillbilly Elegy,” which is much better than the critical drubbing it received in November. It’s a flawed film and absolutely worthy of criticism — but there are some genuinely solid emotional beats in the film and Close makes everything feel authentic. Even Pete Davidson was a fan (he told Close he watched “Hillbilly Elegy” twice in an interview with Variety). So maybe you’re onto something here and Close should finally clear space on her mantel. But let’s play out another scenario: is it possible Close and Colman cancel each other out and a third contender emerges? Do you think that opens the door for Seyfried to reclaim her pre-season pole position or will someone else step forward?
joyceeng: I mean, Alanis did croon, “Life has a funny way of helping you out.” “The Father” is having one of the slowest rollouts of all time. Lest we forget, this premiered at Sundance last year. A lot has happened since then and time has no meaning anymore, but it’s wild that it’s still not out yet. I agree it could play very well with the academy. No need to whisper — Close is great in “Hillbilly Elegy,” but also, when is she not good? You can give good performances in bad movies! And vice versa! I think part of the vitriol and downplaying of her chances is because some people don’t want Close to win for this film, but very few people actually win Oscars for their best performance or films. And while I don’t like to buy too heavily into narratives, I think her surprising loss just two years ago is still fresh on people’s minds, and it’ll be her eighth nom, etc, etc. And people do like this performance.
As for Seyfried, I’ve said before that, as charming and wonderful as she is in “Mank,” I felt that she was a soft default frontrunner. Remember, she rose to first after the “Hillbilly” reviews came out. But never did I think she would miss one of the precursors, and the fact that it’s SAG, where Gary Oldman did get in, hurts a lot. I think she can still make the Oscars, but I don’t know if the passion is there to push her over the edge — maybe if we have another splintered race like the 2000 or 2007 supporting actress ones. You do not have Seyfried getting in. Have you no faith?
Christopher Rosen: I took Seyfried out just after the SAG nominations because I am nothing if not a follower. But I’ve long suspected she was perhaps vulnerable among the potential nominees in Best Supporting Actress — through no fault of her own. I’m a big believer in rooting narratives and if you look at the list of contenders, it feels like Seyfried has maybe the least compelling narrative. Close has one. Colman does too — the confirmation of a great star with a second Oscar in quick succession, a la Christoph Waltz and Mahershala Ali. Down the ballot, Helena Zengel for “News of the World” is a child star made good — it feels like she’s reaching lock status. Youn Yuh-jung is a legendary actress in South Korea and her “Minari” role is pretty much undeniable. And Maria Bakalova is a breakout newcomer whose performance didn’t just wow critics and viewers but made international headlines. Seyfried has a couple of great moments in “Mank” and it is clearly the best she’s been since “Mean Girls,” but I’m not sure she has the awards season detritus needed to produce passionate support. But maybe I’ve fully turned into the Charlie Day meme here. Joyce, I’ll let you have the last word.
joyceeng: I would fully support giving a retroactive Oscar to Seyfried for “Mean Girls.” Iconic stuff. But yes, I agree there’s no juicy hook for her. She’s not a fresh-faced discovery either and “Mank” hasn’t been doing too hot (though it’ll still make a killing with craft nominations). And as we’ve discussed before, she’s missing a big moment in “Mank” that the other ladies have in some way or another in their respective films. Bakalova would be such a cool, atypical nomination, but I worry that the same people who snubbed Jennifer Lopez will do the same to her. I think your new BFF Zengel is solidifying her spot and I would absolutely love for Youn to get in and give us just the third East Asian nominee in the category ever. SAG was a massive get for her. It could be the Battle of the Feisty Grandmas. We’ll probably feel completely differently next week after Critics’ Choice noms, which will have, like, eight nominees, but until then, I can actually say, wow, what a week, huh?
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