It’s open season on the Academy Awards. Everybody has an opinion on the winners and losers. So I might as well give mine: I think Hollywood’s biggest night missed a golden opportunity for women in film.
While this year’s lineup of nominees is rightfully praised for its inclusion of racially diverse pictures and casts," Black Panther," "Roma," and "Green Book," for example, all tell stories about people of color. The Academy failed to honor an original woman’s story and a woman who has been telling women’s stories throughout her career: Glenn Close.
“The Wife,” based on the novel by Meg Wolitzer is the perfect film for 2019. Close plays Joan Castleman, whose husband, Joe, is one of the world’s most acclaimed writers.
The film begins with the couple’s realization that Joe will be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
As they arrive in Stockholm for the ceremony, we learn more about their marriage and its dirty little secret: Joan has been writing Joe’s books all along.
In flashbacks from the 1950s, we see the young Joan being told that a woman novelist will never be taken seriously by publishers.
She settles down with Joe, then her writing professor, and she helps him fine tune the draft of his first bestseller.
As Joe accepts the most prestigious award of his career, we see Joan, through Close’s masterful acting, wrestle with her course in life.
The thing I most appreciate about the film is that it doesn’t drip with feminist platitudes: there is no judgment of Joan’s decisions. They are placed nicely in the viewer’s lap like a fine linen tablecloth. You can draw your own conclusions. The film avoids the Hollywood tendency to cram political messaging down your throat.
It is elegant, restrained storytelling at its best.
Why this film wasn’t nominated for “Best Picture,” I’ll never know as it’s the ideal heroine’s tale, told through the eyes of a female protagonist.
Further infuriating was the snub of Close whose characters from Alex Forrest (Fatal Attraction) to the Marquise de Merteuil (Dangerous Liaisons) show the depth and breadth of women in film.
The fact that this divine artist has been nominated seven times and is still Oscar-less should tell you all you need to know about the state of the Academy Awards.
Olivia Colman, by all accounts, did a fine job in “The Favourite” as Queen Anne, but Glenn Close, for this exceptional performance, deserves her own crown.