Top 10 Glenn Close Performances
Is there an Actress out there who has reached the extraordinary caliber of theatrical contributions that Glenn Close has achieved? Broadway. Theater. Film. Television.
3 Golden Globes, 2 SAG Awards, 3 Tonys, 3 Primetime Emmy Awards...
Just to name a few.
I don’t think there was a single person watching the 91st Academy Awards this past Sunday who didn’t expect to see Glenn Close walk across the stage and accept the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her brilliant performance in The Wife. Unfortunately it was not meant to be for Glenn as the Oscar went to Olivia Colman for her stirring performance in the period film The Favourite.
While Colman was more than deserving for her brilliant work, we can’t deny the fact that it would have been glorious to see Glenn Close finally receive what many would consider to be Hollywood’s highest honor. With 7 Oscar nominations, Glenn Close now holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations for an Actress without a win in history.
But let’s face it. If anyone doesn’t need an Oscar to validate their talent, it’s Glenn Close! Today I will be ranking my Top 10 performances by one of cinema’s most talented and beloved actresses who for over forty years has created iconic characters on the Broadway stage, television, and the big screen.
The World According to Garp (1982)
Glenn Close began her theatre career in 1974. It wasn’t until 1980 that she was discovered by director George Roy Hill and asked to audition for a supporting role in The World According to Garp and at the age of 35, Glenn Close made her film debut in The World According to Garp, co-starring Robin Williams. In the film, Close plays Robin Williams' mother Jenny, a feminist who lives an unusual lifestyle and where Garp tries to become a successful writer, it’s Jenny who becomes a renowned author and a feminist icon. For her film debut, Glenn Close received her first Academy Award nomination, which just proves how creditable Glenn’s stage background really was.
In this 80s comedy, Glenn Close delivers a comedic performance that challenges her to take on dual roles. One, a very quiet and reserved housewife and the other, a 1920s Hollywood flapper. While the film wasn’t very well received, it’s Glenn Close’s daring performance that makes it worth watching. She sings, she dances, and you certainly get the feeling that she could have been an actress in the golden age of Hollywood. And if you haven’t seen this movie, good luck! Aside from a couple of VHS tapes selling on eBay, Maxie is out of print and is just as rare a find as Glenn Close’s acting talent.
The Stepford Wives (2004)
Glenn Close has never been one to shy away from comedy and in this 2004 remake of the Sci-Fi classic from 1975, Glenn Close plays a larger than life character who runs the all-American town of Stepford where every woman is the perfect housewife. As Claire Wellington, Glenn Close is hyperactive and the modern-day image of June Cleaver. She takes what is a fanciful role and transforms it into something so elaborate and comedic that her scenes remain some of the biggest highlights of the film. And now… “Let’s all be washing machines!”
The Wife (2018)
Was this an Academy Award winning performance? Quite frankly there were many other performances of Glenn’s, as you’ll see in this list that merited an Oscar win, but that shouldn’t take away from the emotionally gripping performance Glenn delivers in this film as Joan Archer, a woman who at a young age is led to believe that women cannot become successful writers, so she is swayed in to writing novels that are beloved throughout the world but all of the credit is given to her husband Joseph and by the time he wins the Nobel Prize in Literature, we see Joan’s lifelong regret come out for the first time. This is a career highlight for Glenn Close and her performance in The Wife is one of her greatest dramatic roles.
Albert Nobbs (2011)
We’ve seen actresses portray men on screen before (Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria, Barbra Streisand in Yentl), but what sets Glenn’s performance apart from the others we’ve seen is that Albert is woman who dresses as a man not for social standing or acceptance, but because she is a victim who has become so comfortable in her sorrow and hiding that she no longer sees herself as a woman. When asked what her real name is, she replies “Albert,” and for a moment we believe that she no longer remembers who she once was. While the film is a bit slow-paced and some of the main characters are particularly grating, Glenn Close’s performance as Albert Nobbs is one of the best portrayals of a woman playing a man on screen.
The Paper (1994)
In a film about 24 hours in the crazy world of newspaper reporting, Glenn Close plays an intimidating and ambitious managing editor and she eats. up. every. scene. The competitive tension between Glenn Close and Michael Keaton adds to the entertainment value of this heavily overlooked film. As Alicia, Glenn Close is like a reincarnation of Faye Dunaway’s character Diana Christensen in Network (1976). One of the greatest moments of Glenn Close’s career is the confrontation between Alicia and Henry as the two literally attack one another over a story. Unbelievable! “Hey Alicia. Congratulations. You’ve officially become everything you used to hate.”
The Big Chill (1983)
That moment during the first minute of Lawrence Kasdan’s 1983 comedy-drama, when we see Sarah’s expression after hanging up the phone, we know exactly what we are in for. Glenn Close’s ability to display all the words she wants to say through the emotion on her face is reflected beautifully in this film and despite being more of a supporting character in The Big Chill, her performance is the one that hits you the hardest.
101 Dalmatians (1996)
Playing a live version of a character from a Disney animated film can be just as challenging as portraying a real-life person on the screen and in playing one of Disney’s most iconic villains, Glenn Close took a route that I think few actresses would have done. She went completely over the top and maniacal in her behavior as Cruella de Vil and that commitment to playing such a fashionable, yet evil woman created one of Glenn’s most memorable characters. Many of us were first introduced to Glenn Close by watching 101 Dalmatians.
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
To see Glenn’s character in this enticing period piece rapidly change in emotions from heartfelt to devious to frenzied in a single frame only reinstates the phenomenal range as an actress that Glenn Close possesses. As Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil, we have never rooted so much for the villain. The delicacy of her delivery throughout the film is flawless and it has since become one of Glenn Close’s most iconic performances.
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Alex Forrest is one of the most complicated, most complex characters in cinema and it is all credited to Glenn Close’s now memorable portrayal. Being that Fatal Attraction is in my opinion, one of the most important movies of the 20th century, it should come as no surprise that Glenn Close’s portrayal of this unhinged femme fatale makes it to the top of this list. This is what makes Glenn Close who she is. As a viewer, we are supposed to be scared of Alex, to hate her, to hope she is taken off in a strait jacket, but the way that Glenn Close plays Alex is a completely realized and misunderstood character. In Fatal Attraction, Alex is not the villain, she is simply a victim of false pretenses. And I don’t think any actress besides Glenn Close could make us see such a formidable character that way.
What are YOUR favorite performances by #glennclose?