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Glenn Close has been a beloved fixture on the big screen for decades, starring in everything from acclaimed dramas to goofy comedies. She’s racked up tons of accolades along the way, and has gone on to influence generations of new actresses.
Born in 1947 in Greenwich, Connecticut, Close got her start on the stage before making her screen debut in “The World According to Garp” (1982), which brought her the first of eight Oscar bids. She’s famously yet to win, subsequently competing for “The Big Chill” (1983), “The Natural” (1984), “Fatal Attraction” (1987), “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988), “Albert Nobbs” (2011), “The Wife” (2018), and “Hillbilly Elegy” (2020). As such, she holds the dubious record for the most nominations of any living performer without a victory (tying the late Peter O’Toole).
She’s had better success with other awards, winning three Emmys (two for “Damages,” one for “Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story”), three Tonys (“The Real Thing,” “Death and the Maiden,” and “Sunset Boulevard”), three Golden Globes (one for film with “The Wife,” two for television with “The Lion in Winter” and “Damages”), two SAG Awards (“The Lion in Winter” and “The Wife”), and one Obie (“The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs”).
Close shows no signs of giving up on winning that first Oscar, however, as she’s still actively landing film roles that showcase the talent she’s displayed throughout her now four-decade movie career. Audiences are all the luckier for it.
Let’s take a look back at Close’s 40 greatest films, ranked worst to best.
40. Hillbilly Elegy (2020)
Close walked away from “Hillbilly Elegy” nearly unscathed, earning her eighth career Oscar nomination for her supporting role. The rest of Ron Howard’s adaptation of J.D. Vance’s memoir, however, wasn’t so lucky. While the book was viewed as an insight into the white working class of Trump’s America, the film is little more than feel-good malarky, the story of how poor Southerner Vance (Gabriel Basso) overcame hardship to become a Yale Law School graduate (and eventual Republican politician).
Amy Adams plays his drug-addicted mother, Bev, while Close disappears under heavy makeup to portray his tough-talking Mamaw, who pulls J.D. up by his bootstraps with some folksy wisdom about good Terminators, bad Terminators, and neutral Terminators.
39. Mary Reilly (1996)
Made during the early ’90s horror boom that produced updated versions of old classics, “Mary Reilly” lacks the sex appeal and operatic bombast of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” or “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” opting instead for a sort of staid stuffiness. Directed by Stephen Frears, it’s the story of housemaid Mary Reilly (Julia Roberts), who falls in love with the dignified Dr. Jekyll and his mysterious associate Mr. Hyde (both played by John Malkovich).
Close co-stars (in a sort of “Dangerous Liaisons” reunion with Malkovich and Frears) as Mrs. Farraday, madam at the local whorehouse. Critics savaged the film, which clocked in with an abysmal 26% Rotten Tomatoes rating.
38. The Stepford Wives (2004)
While the 1975 “The Stepford Wives” explored a backlash to feminism with horror and satire, Frank Oz’s 2004 update opts for a campier approach. Critical reaction was largely negative, save for Roger Ebert, who thought the new approach was “a wise decision.”
Nicole Kidman stars as a former TV executive who relocates with her family to the quiet Connecticut suburb of Stepford. While her husband (Matthew Broderick) falls in love with their new home, Kidman has her suspicions when the town’s wives start acting strangely. Close is amusing as Claire Wellington, the almost robotically friendly real estate agent who seems to run Stepford with her husband (Christopher Walken).
37. Evening (2007)
As far as failed Oscar bait goes, “Evening” is a particularly spectacular face plant. Adapted from an acclaimed novel by Susan Minot and featuring an all-star cast, it’s the kind of film whose high hopes came crashing down the moment critics got a chance to see it.
Vanessa Redgrave stars as a dying woman remembering an affair her younger self (Claire Danes) had with a man (Patrick Wilson) she met at her best friend’s (Mamie Gummer) wedding. Close features in the luminous cast (which also includes Meryl Streep, Toni Collette, and Natasha Richardson) as the mother of Wilson’s best friend (Hugh Dancy), who’s secretly in love with him.
36. 102 Dalmatians (2000)
While some sequels improve on the original, others make you realize there really can be too much of a good thing. “102 Dalmatians” falls firmly in the latter camp.
Close returns as the villainous Cruella De Vil, who won’t let a little thing like animal rights stand in the way of her wardrobe. Freshly released from prison, she continues her hunt for the perfect dalmatian fur coat in the world’s fashion capital, Paris. Other than a new setting, there’s not much difference between this and the 1996 original — Cruella De Vil hunts dogs, G-rated high jinks ensue –- and critics roundly poo-pooed it.
35. The House of the Spirits (1993)
“The House of the Spirits” couldn’t have come with a better pedigree: adapted from an acclaimed novel by Isabel Allende, directed by two-time Palme d’Or winner Billie August, and starring a murderer’s row of acting talent that includes Close, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, and Winona Ryder.
Yet the film laid a great big goose egg with critics, who dismissed it as wannabe Oscar bait. Part of the problem is these talented actors are woefully miscast as Chileans during that country’s military dictatorship. Irons plays a rancher, Streep is his clairvoyant wife, Ryder is their daughter, and Close is Irons’ sister, who he banishes from his ranch.
34. Le Divorce (2003)
The filmmaking team of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala –- better known as Merchant Ivory –- had a reputation for tony literary adaptations that brought them critical acclaim and Oscar victories. So it’s no surprise that Close would want to work with them, albeit on one of their least successful productions critically speaking.
“Le Divorce” centers on an American woman (Kate Hudson) visiting her sister (Naomi Watts) in Paris, where she finds love and uncovers family secrets. Close plays Olivia Pace, an American author who offers Hudson a job and introduces her to a love interest.
33. The Chumscrubber (2005)
One of several indies that hoped to recapture the zeitgeist of “American Beauty” by satirizing suburbia, “The Chumscrubber” was savaged by critics and ignored by audiences after it premiered at Sundance in 2005. Jamie Bell plays Dean, a teenager who comes into possession of some “happy pills” after the owner -– high schooler Troy –- commits suicide. Dean runs afoul of the local drug dealer, Billy (Justin Chatwin), who wants the pills back.
Hoping to teach Dean a lesson, Billy decides to kidnap his younger brother (Rory Culkin), only to discover he’s snatched the wrong kid. Close does her level best as Troy’s mother, who masks her grief with a cheerful exterior, but the film’s attempts to poke fun at the suburban lifestyle ring hollow no matter what.
32. 101 Dalmatians (1996)
Before Emma Stone donned a black-and-white wig for the 2021 Cruella de Vil origin story (on which Glenn Close served as an executive producer), there was this live-action remake of the Disney animated classic “101 Dalmatians.”
The movie overall –- directed by Stephen Herek and scripted by John Hughes — is a mixed bag, as reflected by its 41% Rotten Tomatoes score. But Close received near-unanimous praise for her scenery-chewing performance as the wicked Cruella, a London fashion designer who kidnaps a giant litter of puppies to create a Dalmatian-spotted fur coat. The film brought her a Golden Globe nomination as Best Comedy/Musical Actress and spawned a (less successful) sequel.
31. Paradise Road (1997)
A film almost manufactured in a lab to win Oscars, “Paradise Road” laid a great big goose egg at the Academy after critics turned their noses up at it. Directed by Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”), it’s a World War II drama about a disparate group of women imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp on the island of Sumatra.
There’s a British musician (Close), an Australian nurse (Cate Blanchett), and an American socialite (Julianna Margulies), and together they lift the spirits of everyone in the camp by forming a singing group. Beresford based his story on real life testimonies, which are probably more compelling than the resulting film.
30. Immediate Family (1989)
As Roger Ebert asked in his two-star review of “Immediate Family,” “Haven’t we seen this film before?” It’s a sentiment most critics shared about the movie, which feels almost indecipherable from any other Movie of the Week focusing on some drama dominating the headlines.
This time, it’s surrogate pregnancies, with Close and James Woods playing an older couple desperate to have a child who meet a pregnant teenager (Mary Stuart Masterson) and her boyfriend (Kevin Dillon). Since she’s financially unable to provide for a child, Masterson agrees to let Close and Woods adopt her baby, but she begins to have second thoughts as the birth date approaches.
29. Low Down (2014)
“Low Down” failed to make much of a dent critically or commercially when it was released, earning around $54,000 at the box office and reaping a middling 50% Rotten Tomatoes rating, although it does have its passionate supporters. It’s a biopic of jazz pianist Joe Albany (John Hawkes) as seen through the eyes of his daughter, Amy-Jo (Elle Fanning), who watches helplessly as her father struggles with heroin addiction while creating great music.
Close gives loving support as Amy-Jo’s grandmother, who offers her shelter from her dad’s storm. The film won the Best Cinematography prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
28. The Safety of Objects (2001)
Like many indie movies before it, “The Safety of Objects” peels back the scab of suburbia to examine the festering wounds beneath it. Adapted by director Rose Troche from a collection of A.M. Homes short stories, it’s a multi-character drama about four families dealing with various domestic problems.
Close headlines as Esther Gold, a mother who’s so devoted to her comatose son (Joshua Jackson) that she neglects her husband (Robert Klein) and daughter (Jessica Campbell). The rest of the movie is about as depressing as that plot description would suggest, and many critics panned its aggressively downbeat approach.
27. Four Good Days (2020)
“Four Good Days” seemingly took forever to come out after premiering at Sundance in 2020, a casualty of movie theater closures during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. When it finally was released the following year, it was to little fanfare, although it did manage to snag an Oscar nomination for Diane Warren’s original song “Somehow You Do.”
Directed by Close’s frequent collaborator Rodrigo Garcia, it’s an intimate little indie about a mother (Close) helping her daughter (Mila Kunis) work through her substance abuse over the course of four crucial days. Critics were mixed on the film overall, which took its inspiration from Eli Saslow’s Washington Post article “How’s Amanda?”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
26. Mars Attacks! (1996)
Although she has a reputation for being a very serious actress, Close has always shown a willingness to get down and clown around (remember her doing “Da Butt” at the 2020 Oscars?). Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks!” is nothing if not silly, and the all-star ensemble has a hell of a good time camping it up. It’s a retread of B-movie sci-fi flicks spruced up with modern-day special effects, with humanity under siege from an invasion of cackling, large-brained aliens.
No one is safe, including U.S. President James Dale (Jack Nicholson, who also plays a Vegas casino tycoon) and his wife, First Lady Marsha Dale (Close). Although it had the misfortune of coming out the same year as “Independence Day,” the film has since gained a cult following.
25. Crooked House (2017)
If you thought Kenneth Branagh had the market cornered on modern-day Agatha Christie adaptations, think again. “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes tried his hand at bringing the legendary mystery writer’s work to the screen, to mixed critical results.
“Crooked House” more or less follows the same formula as the author’s most beloved novels: former diplomat turned detective Charles Hayward (Max Irons) is asked to solve a murder at a vast British estate, where everyone in the all-star ensemble is a suspect. Close camps it up as Lady Edith de Haviland, the eccentric sister of the murdered man who spends her days shooting moles hiding in the lawn.
24. What Happened to Monday (2017)
You could almost retitle “What Happened to Monday” as “What Happened to this Movie?,” since it essentially disappeared into Netflix’s vast library of titles after premiering on the streamer to fairly decent reviews.
Directed by Tommy Wirkola, it imagines a dystopian future (is there any other kind?) where overpopulation has led to a worldwide “one child” policy. Noomi Rapace stars as the Settman Siblings, a group of identical septuplets who have to avoid capture by the head of the Child Allocation Bureau (chillingly played by Close) while investigating the mysterious disappearance of one of their own.
23. Heights (2005)
Directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio (“Argo”), “Heights” is one of those multi-character dramas where the protagonists navigate their own personal issues while interconnecting with each other in various ways. Set over the course of 24 hours, it most noticeably focuses on a New York City photographer (Elizabeth Banks) who’s having second thoughts about her pending engagement to her fiancee (James Marsden).
Meanwhile, her mother (Glenn Close), an acclaimed stage actress starring in a production of “Macbeth” as Lady Macbeth, suspects her husband is having an affair and thus starts flirting with her much younger co-star (Jesse Bradford). The film essentially disappeared once released, despite decent reviews.
22. The Great Gilly Hopkins (2015)
This adaptation of Katherine Paterson’s 1978 children’s book is aimed squarely at the Young Adult crowd, and it largely succeeds in catering to that audience. Directed by Stephen Herek, it centers on Gilly Hopkins (Sophie Nelisse), a rambunctious adolescent who has been shuttled from foster home to foster home.
Living with her saintly new adoptive mom (Kathy Bates), she hatches a plan to reunite with her birth mother (who she imagines to be something like Julia Stiles). Close shows up in a third act twist that shouldn’t be revealed here if you haven’t seen the film, so let’s just say she plays a character named Nonnie and leave it at that.
21. 5 to 7 (2014)
Written and directed by TV veteran Victor Levin (“Mad Men,” “Mad About You”), it centers on a young novelist (Anton Yelchin) who enters into an affair with a married French woman (Berenice Marlohe), who can only meet him between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00 every day due to the terms of her open marriage. Close co-stars as Yelchin’s mother, who approves of her son’s relationship even though his father (Frank Langella) doesn’t.
20. The Stone Boy (1984)
“The Stone Boy” was one of Close’s earliest movie roles, and it was essentially lost amongst the actress’s miracle run of acclaimed performances throughout the 1980s. Directed by Christopher Cain, it’s a sort of “Ordinary People” set in the Midwest, centering on a family rocked by a tragic loss.
When young farm boy Arnold (Jason Presson) accidentally kills his brother (Dean Cain, the director’s son) in a hunting accident, his parents (Close and Robert Duvall) react with understandable shock and anger. Forced to deal with his guilt on his own, Arnold runs off to Reno, Nevada, to seek solace.
19. Swan Song (2021)
Benjamin Cleary’s “Swan Song” raises many interesting questions about the role of technology in our lives, and while not every critic found its approach successful, many found it to be moving and thought-provoking.
Mahershala Ali stars as Cameron Tucker, a loving husband and father who’s diagnosed with a terminal illness. Desperate to save his wife (Ali’s “Moonlight” co-star Naomie Harris) and children from unbearable pain, he’s presented with an alternative by Dr. Jo Scott (Close): clone himself and spare his family the grief. Although the lion’s share of praise went to Ali’s dual performance, Close deserves special notice for navigating the potentially tricky role of technocratic caregiver.
18. The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
“The Girl with All the Gifts” is part “Children of Men,” part “28 Days Later.” In other words, it’s a mix of dystopian sci-fi and zombie apocalypse horror with a little bit of hope.
In the not-so-distant future, a parasitic fungus has turned humanity into “hungries,” who live off human flesh. Close plays Dr. Caroline Caldwell, who’s desperately trying to save humanity by experimenting on a group of children who seem to be immune to the virus. Critical response to the film was positive overall, with many reviewers praising its blend of thought-provoking science fiction and grisly horror.
17. Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000)
Close has been a frequent collaborator of director Rodrigo Garcia, first appearing in his debut feature “Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her.” It’s a collection of vignettes focused on five different California women who weave in and out of each other’s lives.
In one story, a middle-aged doctor (Close) devotes her life to her aging mother, leaving little time for anything else. She turns to a tarot card reader (Cameron Diaz) for spiritual guidance, although Diaz is dealing with her own problems. After premiering at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, the film played theatrically in foreign markets before airing on Showtime the following year.
16. Nine Lives (2005)
No, this isn’t the movie where Kevin Spacey turns into a cat. Much like Close and Rodrigo Garcia’s previous collaboration, “Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her,” “Nine Lives” is a collection of vignettes focusing on several different women whose lives connect in unexpected ways.
Close stars as Maggie, who has a heart-to-heart conversation with her daughter Maria (Dakota Fanning) during a picnic in a cemetery. Although each segment only lasts around 10 to 12 minutes total, Garcia manages to create rich characters thanks to his capable ensemble. Critics praised the film, which earned three Independent Spirit Award nominations.
15. Meeting Venus (1991)
Although it’s been largely forgotten today, “Meeting Venus” is actually one of Close’s best reviewed films, with a sterling 100% Rotten Tomatoes score (disclaimer: that’s based on five reviews). Directed by Istvan Szabo, it uses a modern Parisian production of Wagner’s opera “Tannhauser” as a way to examine both artistic conflict and European tensions.
Close plays Karin Anderson, the Swedish opera star who’s having an affair with the production’s married Hungarian conductor (Niels Arestrup). Close has the time of her life as the self-centered diva, undoubtedly a warm-up for her Tony-winning performance as Norma Desmond in the Broadway adaptation of “Sunset Boulevard.”
14. Hamlet (1990)
There have been so many cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s most famous play that it can be difficult to remember which actor appeared in which. Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 version of “Hamlet” stars Mel Gibson as the tormented Danish prince, who suspects his uncle Claudius (Alan Bates) killed his father to assume the throne and decides to seek revenge.
Close plays Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude, which is quite a feat of casting considering there’s only a nine-year age difference between the two. That aside, it’s a joy watching Close tear into the Bard’s language. The film earned Oscar nominations for its art direction and costume design.
13. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Glenn Close joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the first installment of James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” series, which is also one of the best reviewed films in the MCU’s history.
It’s about a ragtag group of misfits –- half-human, half-alien Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), warrior princess Gamora (Zoe Saldana), brutish Drax (Dave Bautista), walking tree Groot (Vin Diesel), and enhanced raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper) — tasked with saving the universe against dangerous galactic forces. Close plays Nova Prime, the no-nonsense military leader tasked with keeping the Nova Empire safe. Although she didn’t return for the 2017 sequel, there’s always hope that Close will pop up in the MCU again one day.
12. Air Force One (1997)
A high concept to begin with, the premise of Wolfgang Petersen’s “Air Force One” feels almost quaint today given our current political landscape. Harrison Ford stars as U.S. President James Marshall, who’s flying back to the White House with his family after giving a speech in Moscow making clear he’ll never negotiate with terrorists.
Sure enough, the presidential plane is taken over by Russian hijackers (led by Gary Oldman), forcing Marshall –- a highly-trained ex-military man –- to rethink his strategy (“Get off my plane!”). Close gives support from the ground as Vice President Kathryn Bennett, who leads the military response from the Situation Room.
11. Jagged Edge (1985)
One of the very best of the neo-noirs released throughout the 1980s, “Jagged Edge” was a junky change of pace for Close, who heretofore had garnered a reputation as a very serious thespian. That’s not to say she doesn’t bring the same level of commitment to this material, which is part of what makes this critically acclaimed thriller so watchable.
Close plays Teddy Barnes, a retired San Francisco attorney who reluctantly agrees to represent Jack Forrester (Jeff Bridges), a publisher accused of murdering his wealthy wife. The script by the poet laureate of trash, Joe Eszterhas (“Showgirls,” “Basic Instinct”), keeps us guessing as to Jack’s guilt or innocence, while Teddy finds herself — naturally — falling in love with him.
10. Albert Nobbs (2011)
Although Close earned five Oscar nominations throughout the 1980s, she spent the ’90s and early 2000s completely ignored by the Academy. Her two-decade-plus dry spell ended with a Best Actress nomination for this 2011 passion project that she also co-wrote, produced, and penned an original song for. Directed by Rodrigo Garcia, it stars Close as Albert Nobbs, who was born a woman and has been living as a man in 19th century Ireland. Albert keeps a low profile before he meets fellow gender-passer Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), who awakens something in him.
Although critics were mixed on the film overall, there was no criticizing Close, who Roger Ebert said gave “a brave performance” that “never steps wrong, never breaks reality.” It was actually the second time she had played the character, having won an Obie for the 1982 stage production of “The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs.”
9. The Paper (1994)
Not to be confused with the other Michael Keaton newspaper movie, “Spotlight,” Ron Howard’s “The Paper” explores the many personal and professional travails that can bedevil journalists devoted to their deadlines. Keaton is at the center as Henry Hackett, editor of a New York tabloid that’s facing bankruptcy. Over the course of 24 hours, Hackett weighs a new job offer while his pregnant wife (Marisa Tomei) begs him to spend more time with his family.
Close plays the paper’s new managing editor, Alicia Clark, who butts heads with Hackett over financial cutbacks. Critics praised the film for its accuracy and energy, with Roger Ebert singling out Close’s character as “one of the movie’s more interesting.”
8. Cookie’s Fortune (1999)
Close only got to work with Robert Altman once, but at least it was in one of the legendary director’s most acclaimed late-career works (as opposed to one of his mid-career flops). She takes the lead in “Cookie’s Fortune,” a sly satire of small town niceties.
When an elderly Mississippi widow (Patricia Neal) takes her own life, her niece, Camille (Close), rearranges the death scene to make it look like a robbery-murder, pinning the crime on an African American handyman (Charles S. Dutton). But like any Altman movie, the plot is just a clothesline to string a series of character vignettes on, and here he explores the ironies of Southern sensibilities with the lengths Camille goes to in order to avoid what she believes to be a scandal.
7. The Natural (1984)
“The Natural” pretty much cast the mold for inspirational sports dramas, setting the template for stories about unlikely athletes succeeding against the odds. Directed by Barry Levinson, it centers on Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford), a ballplayer whose promising career was cut short by a gunshot wound from an unstable woman (Barbara Hershey). Now in middle age, Roy decides to try his hand at baseball one last time by joining the New York Knights.
Close plays his childhood sweetheart, Iris Gaines, who helps Roy out of his mid-career slump and harbors a secret from their past. The role brought Close her third consecutive Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress (following her bids for “The World According to Garp” and “The Big Chill”).
6. The Wife (2018)
“The Wife” brought Close, uh, closer to winning an Oscar than she’s perhaps ever come. Based on the novel by Meg Wolitzer, it’s a small scale drama about (what else?) a wife (Close) who accompanies her novelist husband (Jonathan Pryce) to Stockholm, where he’s set to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Through flashbacks, the true nature of their marriage and careers are revealed, and the long-suffering Close begins to rethink her life.
Reception to the movie overall was strong, and critics were near unanimous in their praise for Close, who tears into her best role in years. She seemed all but assured to land an elusive first Oscar after victories at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, but was ultimately bested by Olivia Colman for “The Favourite” (who was just as shocked by her win as everyone else).
5. The World According to Garp (1982)
You could hardly ask for a better movie debut than the one Close was afforded in “The World According to Garp,” which earned her an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. Directed by George Roy Hill and adapted from the acclaimed novel by John Irving, it centers on the eccentric life of T.S. Garp (Robin Williams), who was conceived out of wedlock by a WWII nurse (Close) and a dying pilot.
While Garp struggles to gain his footing as a writer, his mother becomes a prominent feminist, creating a shelter for battered women while penning successful non-fiction. It’s little wonder Close became a star after this performance, which displays the warmth and gravitas she would become famous for.
4. The Big Chill (1983)
Contemporary assessments of “The Big Chill” run the gamut from acclaim to disdain, as reflected in its 69% Rotten Tomatoes rating. A touchstone for the baby boomer generation, it’s a time capsule of when ’60s radicalism gave way to ’80s capitalism. It also ushered in a new generation of movie stars (including Close, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, and Jeff Goldblum) and birthed a popular soundtrack filled with classic rock and Motown hits.
Directed and co-written by Lawrence Kasdan, it centers on a group of college friends who reunite after the suicide of one of their own. As they come to terms with the sudden tragedy, they reflect on how the hopefulness of their youth eventually gave way to reality. The film earned three Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress for Close as Dr. Sarah Cooper, who hosts the reunion.
3. Reversal of Fortune (1990)
Recent controversies about the real Alan Dershowitz aside, “Reversal of Fortune” remains a chillingly effective mystery that exploits both our fascination with true crime and our obsession with affluence. Jeremy Irons stars in an Oscar-winning performance as Claus von Bulow, an eccentric aristocrat on trial for the attempted murder of his wife Sunny (Close), who lies in an unexplained coma. Claus hires Harvard Law professor Dershowitz (Ron Silver) to represent him, and he takes the case despite being deeply unnerved by his client’s odd behavior.
In adapting Dershowitz’s book, director Barbet Schroeder and screenwriter Nicholas Kazan (both of whom earned Oscar nominations) make the canny decision to have Sunny narrate the film from her coma, adding a detached bemusement to the potentially grim melodrama.
2. Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
The most famous cinematic adaptation of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” is a wickedly funny comedy of manners about sexual warfare in the 18th century French royal court. Close is at her best as the Marquise de Merteuil, a mischievous widow who schemes with her ex-lover, the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich), to ruin the lives of young women through seduction. They focus their attention on the newlywed Madame Marie de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer), which becomes complicated when Valmont falls in love with her.
Director Stephen Frears gives his actors room to tear into Christopher Hampton’s literate, Oscar-winning screenplay (adapted from his own play), and Close is a particular standout in a role that earned her an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress.
1. Fatal Attraction (1987)
More than just the “bunny boiling” movie, “Fatal Attraction” set the gold standard for erotic thrillers and features the definitive Glenn Close performance. A cultural phenomenon that sparked intense discussions upon its release, it’s the story of a philandering lawyer (Michael Douglas) who has a one-night stand with an unstable book editor (Close), who then stalks his family when he tries to break things off.
Although the ending (changed after unfavorable test screening reactions to the original one) put our sympathies squarely with Douglas, director Adrian Lyne and Close make the character of Alex Forrest into more than just a jilted psychopath. You can almost understand the rationale behind her unhinged behavior – after all, she’s “not going to be ignored.” The role brought her an Oscar nomination as Best Actress and cemented her legacy as one of our most iconic performers.