Every week a member of our staff voices their unpopular opinion on a popular topic. Read to see if you agree or disagree!
I think Olivia Colman is brilliant. As a person, she’s hilarious, and as an actress, she is clearly talented. Her performance in “Fleabag” is one of my favorites, and I am excited to see where her career takes her next. I’m starting out with that sentiment in hopes that what follows can be forgiven.
I do not think Olivia Colman deserved to win Best Actress at this year’s Academy Awards. This is something that has been sitting on my conscious since precisely Feb. 28, and no matter how many times I press send on a tweet surrounding the topic, or type out lengthy dissertations to group chats of friends who frankly do not care, I cannot escape from it.
Here’s the thing: awards shows are weird, and the person you want to win only sometimes wins. Take 2018’s Best Actress race for example. Going into that night, I felt confident in my chances at happiness. Three of my favorite performances of the year—Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”), Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”) and Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”)—all had valid chances of taking home the trophy. Still, at the end of the night, Frances McDormand won the category.
As the 2019 Oscar race heated up, I became a staunch Glenn Close supporter. Not only is she the most nominated woman who has yet to win, but her performance in “The Wife” was undeniably strong, especially given the fact that the film itself was nothing special. Glenn carried it, and ate a four course meal whilst doing so. The level of acting she delivers during the film’s latter half is nothing short of iconic.
This is why I, unlike basically every other person with a television watching the ceremony, was upset when Olivia Colman was announced as the winner. My first reaction was shock; Glenn Close had checked off all the boxes of a Best Actress winner, had won all the previous awards you need to win to be deemed a frontrunner and was being predicted by basically every predictor to exist. Then, for a brief moment, it felt funny; I did see (and loved) “The Favourite,” and hearing Olivia begin her speech with “This is hilarious” was, of course, hilarious.
But as the speech finished and I revisited the moment Olivia Colman was announced as the winner (and, thus, Glenn Close announced as the loser), Glenn’s reaction broke my gay heart. It was less reminiscent of the look of shock on the other nominees’ faces, and more of the look you would expect one to wear after losing your seventh consecutive Academy Award: defeated, upset, happy for the winner, and knowing.
In her speech, Colman addressed Close directly: “This is not how I wanted it to be.” Same.
It’s not so much that I have anything against Olivia Colman’s performance as Queen Anne in “The Favourite.” While it was admittedly a little “yell, cry, be gross, eat food, cry, yell” for my personal taste, I still thought she managed to convey the layers of the character with relative ease.
My problem is that Queen Anne was by no means the sole lead role of “The Favourite.” Though the character is integral to the plot, the studio submitting Colman to Best Actress while Emma Stone (Abigail) and Rachel Weisz (Sarah) got stuck in Best Supporting Actress was nothing short of category fraud, and readers, I’m still angry about it!
I’m not gonna waste time recounting the entire plot of “The Favourite,” but if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, go watch it then report back. Emma Stone’s Abigail and Rachel Weisz’s Sarah were undoubtedly the lead roles of that film. The entire runtime was spent following the battle between the two for the love and attention of the Queen.
Now, I would entertain the argument that Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne was also a leading role, and if Stone, Weisz and Colman were all submitted to Best Actress, I would have significantly less of a problem with Colman’s win. Of course, that was not the case, as the studio was well aware that it was a weak year in the Supporting Actress category, and they knew their best chance at racking up the most nominations (and potential wins) was by splitting the trio up into Supporting Actress and Best Actress.
Of course you may be asking yourself, “why does this matter?” A very valid question, as this happened nearly a year ago. I don’t have a solid answer, but felt that it was my civic duty to shed the last bit of light on the Great Glenn Close Robbery of 2019 before a whole new awards season kicks off and we all forget.