The 2019 Academy Award nominations for Best Actress were…
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Will You Ever Forgive Me?
And the winner was…
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
That’s the name Frances McDormand read at the podium, but it seriously took me some time to register what she had said. It seemed so obvious by the end of the 91st annual ceremony that Glenn Close, after seven nominations and nearly forty years in the film industry, would finally win her first Academy Award that I didn’t expect anything different.
Usually there’s at least one big surprise in the top categories, and this past year I thought the surprise was going to be… in Supporting Actress. Everyone was predicting Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk, but I thought Rachel Weisz was going to take it for The Favourite.
Weisz won the Bafta award, but she was also in a lot more of her film, which was nominated for ten Oscars total and had a strong shot of going home empty handed. I also thought Regina King not being nominated for either the SAG award or the Bafta award gave her a steep climb to actually win the Oscar, especially for a film that only received three nominations.
Well, I was wrong on that one, and I was certainly wrong that Glenn Close had this one in the bag.
I’ve read so many analyses this week of why Close might have lost, and the one that makes the most sense, of course, is that her film The Wife just wasn’t as widely seen, or widely liked, as it needed to be. The Wife’s sole nomination at the ceremony was for Close. It didn’t get Supporting Actor, or a screenplay nomination, or a directing nomination. The enthusiasm for the film was definitely subdued for sure, but I still thought the award was Close’s to lose because, yeah, SEVEN nominations.
I just didn’t believe that the Academy would let her go empty handed again. Especially since she won both the Golden Globe and the SAG award. She’s one of our greatest living actresses, and this nomination for The Wife could potentially be her last. The Academy handed a trophy over to Julianne Moore for the forgettable 2014 film Still Alice, and that was only Moore’s fifth nomination overall. They’d have to give it to Close this time, right?
Now Close’s competition was better than Moore’s four years ago, for sure, but I still didn’t think anyone had a significant chance of beating her. The two that were closest were Lady Gaga and Olivia Colman. Gaga was going to win Best Song, so I felt that was going to be her award for the night. And Colman, as amazing as she is in The Favourite, was ultimately part of an ensemble of three powerhouse actresses rather than just one. The Wife, on the other hand, is Close’s showcase from beginning to end, no doubt about it, and Colman in many ways could have been up for a Supporting Actress nomination.
What seemed to happen in the end was that, as is often the case, the flashier performance won out. Close’s performance in The Wife is very internal, quiet, subtle. She blows up at her husband at the end of the film, but for most of the running time she is sitting in the background, reflecting on her circumstances without saying a word. Colman, on the other hand, is a wild free spirit all the way through her film, a truly original film character if there ever was one.
I bet it was close (no pun intended). I bet the final tally put Colman just a percentage or two above Close. I bet lots of people didn’t even vote for Close because they knew she’d win it!
Unfortunately, as it stands now, Close is still without her Oscar, and the question becomes will she join the long list of legendary actors who never ever won, or will she pull out another nomination in the near future that none of us sees coming? It was just announced yesterday that her Sunset Boulevard musical film is finally officially getting made, hooray! As someone who saw her on stage in 2017 for Sunset Boulevard’s New York run, I can tell you that her character and performance would be astonishing on film.
If that film doesn’t ultimately come together, or if it sadly isn’t the great film we all hope it to be, what I tend to think is that Close will have to nab a fantastic smaller role that could get her a nomination in Supporting Actress. Close’s first three nominations were in Supporting Actress, after all. Maybe she’s already looking through scripts. Maybe she’s already got something in the pipeline. Maybe Sunset Boulevard will be the one to net her an eighth nomination and finally a win!
And maybe she doesn’t even care about winning an Oscar.
At the end of the day, any actress so consistently brilliant in films like The World According to Garp, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs, and The Wife definitely deserves one of those gold statuettes. Here’s hoping her moment is still to come.