Glenn Close’s “lifetime achievement” wagon gets rolling

Posted by · 6:26 am · August 17th, 2011

In the grand scheme of the awards season, an honour from the high-end but small-scale San Sebastian Film Festival doesn’t mean much on its own. But seen potentially as the first stop on a tour of similar recognition, the festival’s announcement of a Lifetime Achievement Award for Glenn Close — conveniently attached to the European premiere of her film “Albert Nobbs” — suggests the shape Close’s 2011 Oscar campaign could take. From the press release:

Glenn Close, one of Hollywood’s most feted actresses, will be the film personality to receive this year’s Donostia lifetime achievement award at a ceremony on September 18th at 21:30 in the Kursaal Auditorium.

In San Sebastian, the actress will introduce the European premiere (out-of-competition) of her latest film, Albert Nobbs. Helmed by Rodrigo García, the movie is set in 19th Century Ireland, a society dominated by men where women have no opportunities and are condemned to a life of servitude. The star of the film (Close) is a woman who disguises herself as a man to get a job in a hotel and earn the money she needs to fulfill her dream.

Close, of course, is one of the best examples of the Academy’s curiously fickle loyalties. Nominated so frequently in the 1980s (she racked up five nods in just seven years), most contemporary awards-watchers would have assumed her eventual Oscar win was merely a matter of time — only for the attention, and eventually the opportunities, to dry up completely as soon as the decade turned.

With “Albert Nobbs” marking her first lead film role in a decade (and her first big-screen role of any shape in four years, TV having claimed her of late), there’s a last-chance feeling in the air. She may be very good in “Albert Nobbs” — though for reasons I can’t pinpoint, I don’t quite trust the film — but if the performance proves sufficient to build a campaign on, few will vote for her without a handful of previous roles in mind.

It’s easy to overestimate the Academy’s sentimental attachment to veteran actors — just ask Peter O’Toole or Lauren Bacall, both scuppered by vehicles voters just didn’t fancy driving — so those already positing Close (alongside fellow sixtysomething Meryl Streep) as an automatic frontrunner are possibly getting over-excited. Still, that Close developed and co-wrote the film counts as a point in her favor: the industry admires people who make their own opportunities when no longer handed them by others. The narrative is in place; to get it moving, the film now needs to pass the looming Toronto test. Either way, she has at least one trophy in this year’s cabinet.

[Photo: Roadside Attractions/Liddell Entertainment]

→ 46 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

46 responses so far

  • 1 8-17-2011 at 6:41 am

    kel said...

    this is actually the 2nd time she’s played a man (of sorts)….she played a male pirate in a cameo appearance in Hook (1991) – the male pirate who is shoved into the boo-box and tortured with scorpions

  • 2 8-17-2011 at 6:52 am

    MattyD. said...

    Like you, Guy, I just don’t trust the film. I guess we’ll see.

  • 3 8-17-2011 at 8:02 am

    bobmcbob said...

    Is Glenn Close dressed as Conan O’Brien in that picture?

  • 4 8-17-2011 at 8:24 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    Wait a damn minute now that was Glenn Close as a pirate in Hook?? You have got to be KIDDING me!

  • 5 8-17-2011 at 8:51 am

    Maxim said...

    I think she has a really good shot at winning because I believe she’ll give a great performance.

  • 6 8-17-2011 at 9:01 am

    Sawyer said...

    The Hook thing is weird, because I’ve always thought she looks kind of like a gaunt Robin Williams in the Albert Nobbs costume.

  • 7 8-17-2011 at 9:01 am

    Roger said...


    You just changed my childhood.

  • 8 8-17-2011 at 9:02 am

    Sawyer said...

    Still say Michelle Williams is the frontrunner unless My Week with Marilyn bombs or isn’t dramatic enough.

  • 9 8-17-2011 at 9:23 am

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Michelle Williams can wait until she does something no one can deny.

    I’m too nervous to think about Glenn Close returning to the Oscars as a nominee — Hollywood doesn’t value older American actresses — Meryl Streep doesn’t count. She has a get out of jail free pass because of her name alone.

    Could the Academy nominate her in Adapted Screenplay and awarded her there? Emma Thompson is the first actress to win the prize in another category outside of acting.

  • 10 8-17-2011 at 11:11 am

    mark said...

    Why didn’t they give it to her in 88 shame to think they gave jodie another in 91 for superior work and glenn never got there once,i love the youtube clip of jodie winning for the accused the look on weavers face ‘cos she lost twice that night in lead and support.

  • 11 8-17-2011 at 11:21 am

    Nelson said...

    Looks like another year like 2006, where a whole array of veteran actresses get nominated.

    If it comes down to Close and Streep which it may, it’s time people seriously just vote for the better performance. Because both of them are very overdue for Oscars. Streep hasn’t won in 20 years now and has been nominated a bazillion times. Close has yet to win and is obviously a veteran. It should from here just be who is the better performer in their respective roles this year.

  • 12 8-17-2011 at 12:06 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Nobbs is Close’s last chance for a Best Actress Oscar. Streep doesn’t suffer the same fate as the Pfeiffer-s, Weaver-s, and any number of first class American leading actresses of the 70s, 80s and 90s who never won in any category.

    The problem with Streep is there’s always a next time. For everyone else each nomination and win is end of the road.

  • 13 8-17-2011 at 12:09 pm

    Edwin Drood said...

    It’s much too early to speculate as to who will win the Oscar but Glenn Close is certainly deserving of a lifetime achievement award for her career in film.

  • 14 8-17-2011 at 12:26 pm

    Mitchell said...

    I don’t know, it’ll be tough to beat Amanda Bynes cross-dressing performance in the classic 2006 film, “She’s the Man.” :)

  • 15 8-17-2011 at 2:46 pm

    Bryan said...

    I disagree with the sentiment that Close and Streep are equally overdue.

    Yes, Streep hasn’t won for decades, but does she really need it? She gets plenty of opportunities to showcase her (admittedly immense) talent, and every other year she seems to receive a handful of critics prizes. As much as I love her, she’s very low on my list of actresses who haven’t been properly celebrated.

    Having said all of that, I hope that both Albert Nobbs and The Iron Lady are successes, and I will be rooting for the actress who gives the best performance. But, considering that as of now, no one knows which performance is better, how can anyone honestly be rooting for Streep to get yet another Oscar?

    Streep could go award-less for the rest of her life, and she still would have received her fair share.

  • 16 8-17-2011 at 2:49 pm

    Hans said...

    Doesn’t Christopher Nolan have a mantle full of “Lifetime Achievement Awards” from his awards tour last year? Look where that got him. #justsaying

    In all seriousness, though, Close is horrifyingly overdue, and I really hope this is a knockout performance for her (though, of course, I look forward to see what le Streep has to offer as well).

  • 17 8-17-2011 at 2:55 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Doesn’t Christopher Nolan have a mantle full of “Lifetime Achievement Awards” from his awards tour last year?

    Um, well, no.

  • 18 8-17-2011 at 3:27 pm

    Fitz said...

    I’m just glad that it looks like there will be some competition for Best Actress this year. Portman/Bening last year was very compelling, but 2010 was very lackluster.

    Keep it up with the good parts for older actresses writers!

  • 19 8-17-2011 at 3:30 pm

    Sam C. said...

    every time I think to myself, “there’s no way they WON’T give it to her if she’s 0-6,” I think about how I thought the same for Peter O’Toole 5 years ago.

    Then again they made sure Kate Winslet didn’t go 0-6. But I dunno…I just think there’s too much story with Glenn for her not to win in conjunction with a “wow she’s never won” campaign.

  • 20 8-17-2011 at 3:38 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    every time I think to myself, “there’s no way they WON’T give it to her if she’s 0-6,” I think about how I thought the same for Peter O’Toole 5 years ago.

    As I say in the article, they have to like the performance and the movie as much as they like the story of that actor finally winning. It’s not always an easy formula.

  • 21 8-17-2011 at 3:59 pm

    Dana Jones said...

    I don’t know if this even matters or factors into the voting process- but if the Academy is trying to get the attention of a larger audience and score with ratings- would a category full of veteran actresses or actors for that matter really help their cause? I don’t know the first thing about how the Academy works and/or the voting process, but just a thought. It seems like less youngsters would tune in to see someone like Glenn Close vye for the title. I love Streep and so does the rest of the world, but as a 22 year old who comes close to representing the average teen/young adult demographic- I don’t go to the movies just to see Close and Streep, or even Swinton for that matter. Likewise, I doubt I would care as much if the category came down to those three.

    That being said, 2010 was full of young nominees and no one watched, so I really have no idea what is the recipe for success.

  • 22 8-17-2011 at 4:11 pm

    Fitz said...

    A good start would be not waiting until February.

  • 23 8-17-2011 at 4:25 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Dana: I understand your thought process, but it’s always a mistake to think of the Academy as a kind of committee that chooses to make a statement with their nominees — when it comes down to it, it’s a bunch of individual ballots, and I assure you that most individuals have no such telecast-oriented motives in mind when they vote. They simply vote for who they like.

  • 24 8-17-2011 at 4:45 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    That’s stupid, Dana. They’d never seek to award a lesser performance just because they were a bigger name. What options would there be this year in that regard anyway? The PRODUCERS may want to cater to younger viewers, but the actual nominees will always be determined by respect and momentum within each individual category.

    Actually, a lot of college-age kids I know are big fans of Damages, so when I tossed around the possibility of a potential Close Oscar win, they were all pretty excited. (Then there are those who’ve never seen her series, but…loved her in 101 Dalmatians, haha. Hey, whatever gets people interested. And she did magnificent scenery-chewing there, fwiw.)

    Anyway, I think O’Toole’s case was hurt by the fact he JUST received an Honorary award four years prior–a mitigating factor that Close does NOT have to weaken her campaign. Just something to keep in mind, I think.

  • 25 8-17-2011 at 5:24 pm

    Rashad said...

    This is why the Oscars are silly. There shouldn’t even be talk of who is “due” over the actual performances.

  • 26 8-17-2011 at 5:48 pm

    Drew said...

    “Um, well, no.”

    People who are in the twilight of their life like Peter O’toole are way more overdue than Nolan.

  • 27 8-17-2011 at 6:18 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    The Other James D: I don’t think it was the honorary Oscar that really scuppered O’Toole’s chances — voters don’t believe that’s an equivalent award any more than we do. (Paul Newman, after all, won his belated Best Actor award a mere year after the Academy tried to pawn him off with a lifetime achievement gong.) The problem was more that “Venus” was an iffy film that nobody saw.

  • 28 8-17-2011 at 6:58 pm

    Dana Jones said...

    Thanks Guy, that makes sense.

    @the other james D- “They’d never seek to award a lesser performance just because they were a bigger name.”

    I never said said that and wasn’t trying to imply anything of that regard. Obviously the performances would have to be on par with Close and Streep.

    “What options would there be this year in that regard anyway?”

    Granted that most of the films that have been deemed contenders or have anticipated performances haven’t come out yet, I can’t give you a certain answer. I’m hoping Williams’ pulls out all the stops and has a strong shot. Same goes for Felicity Jones and Elisabeth Olsen. Winslet in ‘Carnage’ is on my radar as well. That’s four right there.

    I was just thinking out loud, no need to be an ass.

  • 29 8-17-2011 at 7:43 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    @Rashad: I agree, of course. Ideally, the best performances should win at all times. Yet frequently, they don’t even get nominated. (Ex. Tilda Swinton in Julia–definitely one of the best lead actress turns of 2009, yet nary even a critic award.) Realistically speaking though, these awards are about reimbursement: Give great performances now, win for a simpler performance years or decades later. Cynical, but often true. It’s a vicious cycle. So I just embrace the way it often is, and in doing so, focus more on who could win. For all I know, I might prefer Elizabeth Olsen–or even Rachael Harris in Natural Selection (heard she was wonderful, yet she probably won’t get past Spirit Awards).

    @Guy: Right, definitely true. Still, I don’t think it helped much. (I’m still irritated that Newman won for THAT, and beat the incredible Hoskins. Shame. Newman should’ve beaten Hanks in ’94 or…well, not worth bitching about.) I think the “story” for that year was that the queen and ‘king’ films both won statuettes anyway. :P

    @Dana: Apologies. It’s just a pet peeve when people think along those lines, and it often gets me riled up. I think it’s ridiculous how some entertainment bloggers complain annually that the Oscars should pander to the mentally deteriorated viewers who scoff at old people or indie flicks getting nominations/wins, but champion the likes of Twilight and Hannah Montana as “ZOMG TEH BeSSt MoViE EVAR!!” and such.

    I’m curious about Williams, too. Would love it, of course. But I’m wondering what the film will be, per se. (As in, will it be Me and Orson Welles redux, and completely ignored or not.) Time will tell. I think Winslet might be campaigned in supporting, so she won’t matter. Foster is more of a lead. Looking forward to more answers though!

  • 30 8-17-2011 at 8:22 pm

    Steve G said...

    ‘The problem was more that “Venus” was an iffy film that nobody saw.’

    LOL. Cruel but fair! (from someone who sat through it in the cinema)

  • 31 8-18-2011 at 8:59 am

    Brian Duffield said...

    Every time I see that (or other) images of Close from that movie I think I’m looking at stills from Tin Tin.

  • 32 8-18-2011 at 9:56 am

    Maxim said...

    “Nobbs is Close’s last chance for a Best Actress Oscar. ”

    Give me a break. Her career may not be on fire at the moment but you shouldn’t be making statements like that because you have no way of knowing what roles she may be offered in the future.

  • 33 8-18-2011 at 10:39 am

    med said...


    Do you think Close is not likely to be nominated without voters recalling her prior 5 nominations?

    (re: few will vote for her without a handful of previous roles in mind)

  • 34 8-18-2011 at 12:11 pm

    ninja said...

    I get Streep and Clsoe overhype (at least they have memorable screen presence) but Keira Knightley???? Why are all Oscar sites gaga over her? She doesn`t do much more than constantly pouting and is often upstaged by other actors in her movie. And her performance in the last POTC is one of the worst ever (that includes any direct-to-DVD or drive-in B movie schlockfest acting).

  • 35 8-18-2011 at 12:40 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...


    I follow actresses, especially older ones. The current trend in the Academy is to ignore giving the best actress prize to veteran or just plain older perfomers. If Close is passed over again — it won’t matter the quality of her next great performance — if it isn’t in supporting they won’t pass over a younger, sexier choice for a winner.

  • 36 8-18-2011 at 4:30 pm

    Afrika said...

    What has Keira Knightley got to do with this post? huh? Incontention hasn’t even done a piece on her in centuries so what’s your issue? seriously! you Knightley trolls are truly pathetically laughable. Your desperation is so evident, I actually feel sorry for you. Poor thing!

  • 37 8-18-2011 at 4:54 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    At times, Knightley’s motormouth delivery can be frustrating. We’re not on fire, dear. Slowww dowwwn.

    However, I remember being so happy she got nominated for Pride & Prejudice in 2005. And after a couple of off years, she really surprised me in The Duchess and was outstanding in The Edge of Love.

    But Afrika has a point. Where did this mention of Knightley derive from?? Such an odd tangent.

  • 38 8-18-2011 at 6:50 pm

    Mike said...

    I don’t think the Academy has any problem with giving someone an Oscar right after an honorary one. Henry Fonda won for “On Golden Pond” a year after his honorary, as did Paul Newman for “The Color of Money.” In fact, the reason he couldn’t be there to accept the honorary was because he was filming “Color.”

    Oh, and I’m on Team Close.

  • 39 8-18-2011 at 6:57 pm

    Afrika said...

    The Other James D

    Motormouth delivery? clearly, your frustration is rooted in a pet peeve, not bad acting. I’m going stop pinching from the Knightley troll bait now so don’t bother with replies. Cheers!

  • 40 8-18-2011 at 7:12 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    Clearly, your menstruation has apparently clouded your reading comprehension. Not ONCE did I associate her speedy dialogue with ‘bad acting’. Did you miss the part where I praised three of her finest performances? And you must’ve glanced right over the portion where I seconded your dismay @ Ninja’s random Knightley bashing. Quit your sanctimonious self-imposed PR repping enough to focus on the positive aspects for a change.

  • 41 8-19-2011 at 2:57 am

    Eunice said...

    As Guy can attest, I am always on Team Streep, but I’m stoked that Close is back on the big screen with a lead role. “Nobbs” seems interesting enough, and the history of Close’s involvement with the project can score extra votes, apart from the ones who will vote because she’s “overdue”. I really hope that both “Albert Nobbs” and “The Iron Lady” do well enough.

  • 42 8-19-2011 at 6:20 am

    Sawyer said...

    Yeah, I think the fact that this project is a labour of love will help her win votes more than any overdue factor.

  • 43 8-19-2011 at 2:20 pm

    W said...

    Also, all of the bloggers are focusing on Streep vs. Close because we all know that is how the Best Actress race will most likely go unless the tide changes with another actress/role being strongly hyped up late in the game. It might change later on, but I strongly predict it will be a Close vs. Streep race. Streep is always a top contender every time she is nominated because she is Mrs. Popularity and got the label of being the most iconic and prolific actress of modern cinema since the ’70′s. I personally don’t think she is overdue for anything but apparently most Hollywood pundits and fans want to see her win again. I think she is over-nominated actually but her role in The Iron lady actually looks quite good. Glenn Close: I don’t have the time to write a long, detailed commentary on her career. She is so overdue and as an older actress, it will be tough for her to even receive more nominations in the future. Albert Nobbs is a rare role and the best type of Oscar-bait she could hope for. We know what Hollywood is like when it comes to older actresses. In the past few years, Glenn Close has mostly gotten supporting roles and then she went to tv with Damages. We know her chances of winning an Oscar are very low in the future if she loses the Oscar. I am really rooting for her right now but I have to see all the performances to make a judgement by Oscar time.

    I personally think it will be predictably be a Close vs. Streep race with Kirsten Dunst being the dark horse.

    It depends on whether Streep can beat Close when it comes to The SAG’s and BAFTA. I think Streep will probably win at least one of the big awards and Close wins the rest. That is just my early foreca

  • 44 8-19-2011 at 2:21 pm

    W said...

    early forecast

  • 45 8-22-2011 at 12:39 pm

    Danny said...

    If Close can win it on merit alone, I’m happy for her. If she pulls a Kate Winslet/Melissa Leo (aggressive, obnoxious campaigning) … and Streep is in the better movie, it’s long overdue for Meryl. She has deserved it so many times, that a total of 3 Oscars would still be less than her due.

  • 46 12-02-2012 at 1:30 am

    Mamta said...

    Nope actually. In the film, she’s deinfitely the lead. And beside, Sony Classics have decided to campaign her for Best Actress instead. Brave move, I must say. Hope she gets in.I also hope someone who has worked for so long like Kirsten to be finally recognized. Beside she’s made a huge transition from teen movies to more complex movies.