Glenn Close’s Birthday: Her 15 Best Movies and TV Shows Ranked


Glenn Close, who turns 72 today, may have left the 2019 Academy Awards ceremony empty-handed, but she created a new record. By losing out on the Best Actress award for The Wife to Olivia Colman’s turn in The Favourite, Close became the most-nominated living actor to never win an Oscar.

With seven nominations under her belt, including four Best Actress nominations, Close would have had reason to think 2019 was her year. The category celebrated unconventional women—Close was up against Yalitza Aparicio, the first American indigenous woman ever to have been nominated, the iconoclastic pop star Lady Gaga and the comedy-focused Melissa McCarthy. In the end it was Colman, another hard-working late-starter, who nabbed the award.

Although she was an established stage actor by her late 20s, Close didn’t get her first movie role until she was 35. Playing Robin Williams's mother in 1982’s The World According to Garp, Close established herself as a unique presence in Hollywood and got her first Oscar nomination.

She followed this strong start with 1983 comedy-drama The Big Chill and 1984 sports drama The Natural, scoring another Oscar nomination for each. She branched out from maternal characters during the rest of the decade, perhaps most memorably playing deranged editor Alex Forrest in 1987’s Fatal Attraction and a scheming aristocrat in 1988's Dangerous Liaisons.

The 90s would see Close take on lighthearted roles, including a pirate in 1991’s Hook and Cruella de Vil in 1996’s 101 Dalmatians. Over the years, she has chosen a number of memorable indie films, such as 2001’s The Safety of Objects and 2011’s Albert Nobbs.

Now Close is lined up to play a role which she seems destined to bring to the big screen—the reclusive silent movie star Norma Desmond in the upcoming production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard. She’s had practice, having played the lead in two stage adaptations of the classic 1950 movie.

“The story is just brilliant,” Close told Deadline in 2018. “[Norma Desmond is] one of the great characters ever written. If I have the privilege of doing that on film, that would be thrilling to me.”

As Close turns 72, Newsweek looks at critical aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb to find the 15 best performances of her career so far.

01 The World According to Garp
Warner Bros.

15. The World According to Garp (1982). Total score: 65%. IMDb users: 7.2. Metacritic: 63. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.5. 
Directed by: George Roy Hill. Starring: Robin Williams, Mary Beth Hurt, Glenn Close. 
Plot summary: A struggling young writer finds his life and work dominated by his unfaithful wife and his radical feminist mother, whose best-selling manifesto turns her into a cultural icon.
What the critics said: "A dense, rich, textured work, a sequence of scenes ultimately creating a complex, complicated life, one that is at once funny, horrifying and heartbreaking." Bruce McCabe, Boston Globe.

02 Air Force One
Columbia Pictures

14. Air Force One (1997). Total score: 65.21%. 
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen. Starring: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell. 
Plot summary: Communist Radicals hijack Air Force One with The U.S. President and his family on board. The Vice President negotiates from Washington D.C., while the President, a Veteran, fights to rescue the hostages on board.
What the critics said: "Preposterous but viscerally juicy." Mike Clark, USA Today

03 Jagged Edge
Columbia Pictures

13. Jagged Edge (1985). Total score: 65.81%. 
Directed by: Richard Marquand. Starring: Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Peter Coyote.
Plot summary: San Francisco heiress Page Forrester is brutally murdered in her remote beach house. Her husband Jack is devastated by the crime but soon finds himself accused of her murder.
What the critics said: "A well-crafted, hardboiled mystery." Variety.

04 Fatal Attraction
Paramount Pictures

12. Fatal Attraction (1987). Total score: 67.28%. 
Directed by: Adrian Lyne. Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer.
Plot summary: A married man's one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.
What the critics said: "Close should take pride in her performance. She should also expect a depressing avalanche of scripts requiring a she-wacko." Desson Thomson, Washington Post.

05 The Natural
Tristar Pictures

11. The Natural (1984). Total score: 68.28%. 
Directed by: Barry Levinson. Starring: Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close.
Plot summary: An unknown comes seemingly out of nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent.
What the critics said: "The Natural is an impeccably made, but quite strange, fable about success and failure in America." Variety.

06 The Girl With All the Gifts
Saban Films

10. The Girl with All the Gifts (2016). Total score: 69.14%. 
Directed by: Colm McCarthy. Starring: Sennia Nanua, Fisayo Akinade, Dominique Tipper, Paddy Considine, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close. 
Plot summary: A scientist and a teacher living in a dystopian future embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.
What the critics said: "It's a film for people who thought they never needed to sit through another zombie flick. It's also quite likely the strangest entry that will ever appear on Glenn Close's IMDb page." Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly.

07 Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

9. Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000). Total score: 69.33%. 
Directed by: Rodrigo García. Starring: Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, Calista Flockhart, Holly Hunter, Gregory Hines. 
Plot summary: An anthology of five loosely connected stories dealing with a variety of very different women in dealing with their own life problems.
What the critics said: "What does it say when a picture like Rodrigo Garcia's lovingly detailed Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, which won the first-time writer-director a prize at Cannes last year, doesn't make it to theaters in this country?" Stephanie Zacharek, Salon. 

08 Cookie's Fortune
October Films

8. Cookie's Fortune (1999). Total score: 70.99%. 
Directed by: Robert Altman. Starring: Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler, Chris O'Donnell.
Plot summary: Conflict arises in the small town of Holly Springs when an old woman's death causes a variety of reactions among family and friends.
What the critics said: "What's so distinctively charming is the easygoing tone, which manages to turn black comedy into a strangely gentle, touching and delicate affair." Geoff Andrew, Time Out.

09 Nine Lives
Magnolia Pictures

7. Nine Lives (2005). Total score: 71.49%. 
Directed by: Rodrigo García. Starring: Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Glenn Close, Sissy Spacek.
Plot summary: Captives of the very relationships that define and sustain them, nine women resiliently meet the travails and disappointments of life.
What the critics said: "Nine Lives is an elegant film of quick, tour-de-force acting turns, a simple actor's gesture that tells you more than four pages of dialogue, a movie that demands concentration but that rewards the viewer willing to pay attention." Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel

10 Meeting Venus
Warner Bros.

6. Meeting Venus (1991). Total score: 71.5%. 
Directed by: István Szabó. Starring: Glenn Close, Niels Arestrup, Kiri Te Kanawa.
Plot summary: A Hungarian conductor attempts to mount a bold new production of Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser while navigating the snares and pitfalls of artistic egos, rampant nationalism, internal company and union politics, and precarious funding.
What the critics said: "Glenn Close, lofty and radiant as a world-famous Swedish diva, makes a perfect centerpiece for the film's romantic intrigues." Janet Maslin, New York Times.

11 The Wife
Sony Pictures Classics

5. The Wife (2017). Total score: 74.11%. 
Directed by: Björn Runge. Starring: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Max Irons.
Plot summary: A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
What the critics said: "Close owns this movie, from beginning to end; it's a performance of such intelligence and subtlety that only when the movie is long over do you start wondering about whether the plot holds up." Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times.