By Robert Pius
Glenn Close brought the house down in “Sunset Boulevard” on Broadway with the second act power ballad “As If We Never Said Goodbye.” She oddly seems to be living out that song now in her film career. Six days after Close lost her eighth Oscar and tied the record for all-time nominations by an actor without a win with Peter O’Toole, Close had a new film, “Four Good Days,” open, and yes, once again, she got Oscar buzz. Granted, this will be a long shot for Close since the film opened so early in the year with not much publicity. Still, she did get great reviews from esteemed critics like Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Time and Pete Hammond of Deadline (Hammond even started off his review touting her Oscar chances).
You have to wonder what Close really thinks about her Oscar loser status. Has it become a burden that every film she does now sparks the phrase “is this it?” in Oscar fans’ heads, or is she enjoying the fact that the lack of an Oscar has made her the center of attention whenever prospective winners are discussed. Her long-delayed film version of “Sunset Boulevard” already has people saying that will be her win, and not even a bit of film has been shot. She did joke with Pete Davidson on Variety’s Actor’s on Actors that it might be fun never to win an Oscar and be wheeled out in her old age with her wig askew to accept an honorary one. Close may be on to something here.
While her loss for “The Wife” two years ago was probably a bit of a shock and disappointment after her pre-Oscar run-up and status as frontrunner, the loss has almost brought her more attention than had she won. As soon as “Hillbilly Elegy” was announced, pairing her with fellow Oscar also ran Amy Adams pundits were starting to get ready to hear her Oscar speech. The mixed to poor reviews and politics of the author who wrote the book the film was based on and the emergence of popular candidate and ultimate winner Youn Yuh-Jung pretty much sunk Close’s chances. Still, she managed to pull off the (rather dull) evening’s most talked-about moment when she danced “Da Butt” in an audience participation sketch. Interestingly, comedian Lil Rel Howery called her an icon right before pulling her from the audience. I don’t know if she’d be getting all these superlatives if the loss for “The Wife” hadn’t pointed out to many how overdue she was for an Oscar.
As the Oscars and other awards shows fight for their survival with dwindling audiences and other controversies, Close’s quest for the gold has become one of the few fascinating aspects of the Oscars. I know while I didn’t think she’d manage to pull it off this year, I still watched the Best Supporting Actress category with rapt attention and rewound the tape a few times to see Close’s reaction. Directors should keep hiring Close just to get that Oscar interest going for their films. She could become (or perhaps already is) the Susan Lucci of the Oscars, and look how well losing worked for Lucci. Back when the Daytime Emmys were still a major TV show, I had no interest in soap operas or game shows, but I’d turn the telecast on every year for the last 15 minutes to see once again if Lucci would lose, and she always did (18 times!) Then when she finally won, it became one of the most memorable moments in award show history as she waited thru an incredibly long-standing ovation to deliver a powerhouse speech that she had had years to prepare. Close is kind of crossing into that territory.
“Four Good Days” is a bit similar to “Hillbilly Elegy” in that Close once again plays a mother dealing with her daughter’s drug addiction. It lacks the controversy, so if no strong contenders emerge in Supporting Actress, which does sometimes happen (remember Laura Dern’s win for a pretty standard performance in “Marriage Story“), a makeup win could happen. If the film fades from memories by next Oscar season, never fear; Close has another movie in the can for this year called “Swan Song.” The film is the first feature from a director who won Best Live Action Short a few years ago, so it could be interesting. No matter how attractive the film is or isn’t, you know the first thing buzzed about on Twitter after the first screenings will be how is Close and is she Oscar-worthy.
And then, of course, there is “Sunset Boulevard.” To paraphrase the song “watch (Close) fly, we all know (she) can do it.” While I’d be happy for her to take an Oscar for any film, it would be exceptionally sweet if playing faded star Norma Desmond one last time could finally bring Close to the podium. She’s thrilled audiences in the role in Los Angeles, London, and twice on Broadway, so just capturing a little of that magic could concoct an Oscar-winning performance. If not, writers and directors out there better keep writing roles for Close and give us something to look forward to on Oscar night. This year’s ceremony was a tough, long slog to get to that anti-climatic ending. Who knows if Oscar will be able to win back some of its audience next year, so keeping the great Close drama going maybe just the thing to keep people interested. I think it will happen someday. That loss for “The Wife” has made Close beloved now. It just seemed so mean to deny her when lately, people who sweep through precursor awards usually get to the stage. Of all the people not to finish their near sweep, did it have to be Close, who had already lost so many times? So filmmakers keep sending those scripts Glenn Close’s way. She deserves it. She’ll deliver, and you may just keep the Oscars from hemorrhaging even more viewers.
So what do you think? Do you think Glenn Close will ever get that first Oscar? If so, do you think it will be for any of her upcoming already announced projects? Have you seen “Four Good Days” yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or our Twitter account.
You can follow Robert and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @robertpius_