Her on-screen husband might’ve taken the Nobel Prize for Literature in Björn Runge’s intense character drama The Wife, but star Glenn Close now has another gilded statue of her own to balance out the mantle.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association honored the 71-year-old screen legend as Best Actress in a Drama at Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony, with the six-time Oscar nominee (and current Academy Award frontrunner) beating out sturdy competition from the likes of A Star Is Born‘s Lady Gaga, Can You Ever Forgive Me? star Melissa McCarthy, Destroyer‘s Nicole Kidman, and A Private War actress Rosamund Pike.
After thanking her “category sisters” and her talent agents before discussing the 14-year production process it took to make The Wife, Close made an emotional tribute to her mother — and women everywhere — with the latter half of her acceptance speech that referenced the film’s themes regarding gender inequality.
“I’m thinking of my mom, who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life, and in her eighties she said to me, ‘I feel I haven’t accomplished anything,’ and it was so not right,” Close said through tears. “I feel what I’ve learned form this whole experience is that women, we’re nurturers and that’s what’s expected of us. We have our children and husbands if we’re lucky enough…. but we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams we have to say, ‘I can do that,’ and ‘I should be allowed to do that.'”
Close closed her impassioned speech by reflecting on her nearly five-decade career in Hollywood.
“So, when I was little, I felt like Muhammad Ali who was destined to be a boxer; I felt destined to be an actress,” she finished. “I saw the early Disney films [with] Hayley Mills, and I said, ‘I could do that!’ and here I am today. It will have been 45 years in September that I am a working actress, and I cannot imagine a more wonderful life.”
Based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel of the same name, The Wife follows Joan Castleman (Close), a former aspiring writer who married a professor at her women-only university. Though the pair’s romantic life appears placid on the surface, Joan’s enthusiasm for her husband’s literary work dwindles as he travels to Sweden to accept the Nobel Prize, which he may or may not have earned using more than just a little inspiration from his spouse’s work. The film had a lively run at the specialty box office as well, grossing $8.2 million on North American screens throughout the last third of 2018.
Though Close has racked up six Oscar nominations throughout her career, she has yet to win. Her victory Sunday greatly increases her chances, however, as Oscar nominations voting opens Monday for all Academy members. Since 2008, the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama has gone to seven performances that went on to win the Best Actress Oscar. Across the last decade, Kate Winslet’s work in 2008’s Revolutionary Road is the category’s only winner not to receive a corresponding Oscar nomination, though Winslet’s performance in The Reader (which won the Golden Globe in the supporting category) went on to win the Academy Award that year.
Still, Close has amassed an astonishing 14 Golden Globe nominations throughout her career, including two wins for her various television projects (Damages and The Lion in Winter) as well as a nod for Best Original Song in a feature film (“Lay Your Head Down” from Albert Nobbs).
“I can’t get behind the idea that there are winners and losers…. I sat next to Lady Gaga at the [Hollywood Reporter] roundtable the other day, and she’s such a good lady. She’s so deeply talented, as are the other ladies around that table,” Close previously told EW of her category competition. “For me…. the great honor is to be picked out of a crowd as one of five in this incredibly competitive profession we’re in… You can’t compare my performance with Gaga’s or Melissa [McCarthy]’s or Nicole [Kidman’s]’s; You can’t. I can understand why there have to be winners and losers, but I don’t buy into it.”
The Wife is now playing in select theaters and hits VOD and digital services on Jan. 22.