Oscars 2019 Reaction: A Tale of Two Queens

I love the Oscars. I really do. More than I should. More than is probably healthy. But by the time the ceremony actually airs, I am usually so exhausted, so fatigued by the ups and downs of award season that actually watching the it is not always as enjoyable or gratifying an experience as I imagine it will be. This year I experienced perhaps the most extreme version of this phenomenon I ever had. I was so generally unenthused by the expected winners that by the time the day arrived, I was glad it was here, primarily so it would soon be over and we could all finally begin the process of moving on with our lives.

The one notable exception to this was that I was beyond excited to witness what I assumed would be Glenn Close finally claim the Oscar she has deserved but been denied for so long. Glenn is an all time favorite of mine, and truly one of the finest actresses we have, so like so many others I have been enjoying her awards coronation this season and expected her to ride that wave all the way to the Dolby stage. But alas, once again, it was not to be.

When Frances McDormand called Olivia Colman’s name instead of Glenn’s when announcing the winner for Best Actress in a leading role, I was, initially, dumbfounded, and remained so throughout the duration of the ceremony. By the time it was over, however, I had picked my jaw off the floor and reminded myself that from the get-go, for a number of reasons, I knew the possibility of Olivia spoiling Glenn was high. When the ceremony began and my friend asked me what if any surprises we could expect, that’s exactly what I predicted. I knew in my head, and think I had always known, what my heart simply would not allow me to believe–that somehow, this still was not Glenn’s time.

I could wax poetic about this for ages but the upshot of it is this: my heart is broken for Glenn. There is no living actress more deserving of an Academy Award. That said, even without an Oscar, and perhaps, in some way, because of her lack of an Oscar, Glenn is a legend. Finally winning would, I’m sure, have been an indescribably rewarding achievement for her. But it wouldn’t have changed her life. She’s still gets to wake up every morning and be Glenn motherfucking Close.

Olivia Colman, on the other hand (whom, for the record, I ADORE and have long been beating the drum for as one of the most gifted and undervalued actresses working today), has not reached that stature yet. But, precisely because she is now a Best Actress Oscar winner, she may. Opportunities that wouldn’t have presented themselves to her before now will. And that is something worth celebrating, because she is truly so extraordinary and deserves the best of everything. What’s more, I am a believer that track record should play into Oscar-voting decisions, which is why I am frequently irked by fresh-faced ingenues with little to no acting experience swooping in and stealing nominations and even awards from more skilled, venerated actresses who often (though not always) give more nuanced, complex performances in the less impressive roles available to them. Olivia, however, is no ingenue. If she had been up against literally any other actress than Glenn (or, of course, my beloved Amy) this year, the track record argument would have worked in her favor. And, not for nothing, Olivia gave what is really my favorite leading performance by an actress this year in “The Favourite.” While I ranked Glenn ahead of her in my “best film performances of 2018” list, I can admit that some level of “it’s her time so she must be the best” emotions played into that.

For all of these reasons, and because she seems like one of the warmest, kindest and most endearing actresses out there, I 110% do not begrudge her that Oscar win, and am, in fact, overjoyed for her, and have watched her speech at least 20 times and cried every single time.

So, what can I say? Sometimes the things life (and the Academy) throws at you are not the ones you think you want but are, ultimately, the right ones. That’s my broad take on this year’s Oscars, since there really isn’t a single other winner I have any interest in thinking about or discussing every again (for the record, Regina King would not have been my choice for Supporting Actress this year, but happy for her nonetheless). The rest of the winners this year are pretty collectively a strong Lucille Bluth-style “I won’t respond to it” situation.

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In conclusion, all hail Queen Olivia. May her reign be long and prosperous.

Otherwise, onward and upward.

But bring on the Sunset Boulevard movie, because my body is ready for that immediately (I saw Glenn in the Broadway revival 4 times)–almost as ready, I imagine, as Queen Glenn’s head is for that elusive golden crown. Though for now she seems to be doing just fine without it.

xx

JB