16 months ago Björn Runge‘s The Wife premiered during the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. At Roy Thomson Hall, to be precise. I was there in the mezzanine, mesmerized by Glenn Close‘s slow-boil performance as a strong but resentful wife of a Nobel Prize-winning author (Jonathan Pryce). After it ended I was convinced — dead certain! — that Close would land her seventh Oscar nomination, and that she might actually win this time.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Jon Frosch wrote that Close’s performance is “like a bomb ticking away toward detonation” — perfect. But she’s not just playing her husband’s better in terms of talent and temperament. She’s playing every wife who ever felt under-valued, patronized or otherwise diminished by a swaggering hot-shot husband along with their friends and colleagues as well as — why not? — society as a whole.
In the months that followed I kept re-stating my belief that Close’s Oscar-winning moment would finally be at hand. I said it again after catching a Wife screening in midtown Manhattan. The mostly over-50 crowd whooped and cheered, and you could just feel it.
“This Academy contingent is going to vote for Close en masse, no question,” I wrote. “Over the last 30-plus years she’s been nominated for six Oscars (The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs) without a win — this will be the clincher.”
But deep down I wasn’t 100% sure. Noteworthy journos kept saying “yeah, maybe, Close is very good,” etc. My response was “no, not maybe — definitely.”
Early last November I felt slightly irked by an Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson Indiewire podcast about likely Best Actress contenders. Olivia Colman, Lady Gaga, Melissa McCarthy, Charlize Theron, Rosamund Pike and even Hereditary‘s Toni Collette were discussed, but not Close. This despite 22 out of 25 Gold Derby spitballers having predicted a Close nomination. What exactly was Kohn and Thompson’s blockage?
At the same time I was comforted by a decision by Roger Durling, director of the Santa Barbara Film Festival, to present Close with the festival’s Maltin Modern Master Award on Saturday, February 2nd.
In doing so Durling was obviously betting, three months ago, that Close would emerge as a Best Actress heavyweight. He’s been wrong a couple of times, but more often his instincts have been on the money. He sure nailed it this time.
Now, in the wake of Close’s Best Actress wins at the Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards (tied with Lady Gaga in the latter) and the Best Actress Oscar nomination that came her way Tuesday morning, Durling looks like a soothsayer. A whole lot of people had been with us all along.
“We just had to go with our instincts,” Durling told me earlier this week. “We made a calculated guess, based on the fact that Glenn is one of the greatest actresses of our time, and has been Oscar-nominated six times before and never won, and here she is delivering one of her best performances.
“This was combined with the hard-to-ignore fact that the character she plays in The Wife — a sublimated spouse to her successful husband — is so timely.
“Many times in Oscar history we’ve had the ‘gold watch’ award, or the ‘overdue’ award. This is not the case with Close, not fundamentally. For this is a masterful character study by a trailblazing performer who hit the mark dead center with The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons and Albert Nobbs, and also on stage (The Real Thing, Death and the Maiden, Sunset Boulevard) and on TV before it was cool for movie stars to go there (Sarah Plain and Tall, The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story) and the TV series Damages from ’07 to ’12.”
So there it is — Glenn Close‘s grand crescendo is seemingly about to happen. Or so the Friends of Glenn believe. What could possibly stand in her way this time? I’d like to know.…