Meryl Streep and Glenn Close are in Oscar competition again. The two blazing… (Chris Morris / For the Times )
Meryl and Glenn, together again at last! This year's Oscar race marks the first time in more than two decades that the towering talents of cinema — Streep and Close — have been pitted against one another (Streep for “The Iron Lady,” Close for “Albert Nobbs”). In the last clash of the contemporary titans, 1989's awards marathon, it was Streep in “A Cry in the Dark” and Close in “Dangerous Liaisons.” (Both went home empty-handed, thanks to “The Accused's” Jodie Foster.)
With their strong, blond patrician looks, East Coast cred and formidable acting chops, comparisons are inevitable. So who will be the victor when it's the queen of accents versus the once-dubbed “poor man's Meryl Streep”? (Ouch.) Is this the year Close shakes her bridesmaid status and follows through on her most famous “Fatal Attraction” threat: “I'm not going to be ignored”? Or will “The Help's” Viola Davis step up and put an end to all this silliness?
Baby boomer sisters
Streep: Original Jersey girl Streep was born in 1949 in the Garden State town of Summit.
Close: Beat her rival to the punch, arriving two years earlier, in 1947, in nearby Greenwich, Conn.
Streep: Matriculated at Vassar and Yale.
Close: Walked the hallowed halls at the College of William and Mary. (In nice symmetry, both actresses have received Harvard's Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year crown — Streep in 1980, Close in 1990.)
Oscar's first kiss
Streep: In only her second film, 1978's “The Deer Hunter,” she nabbed a supporting actress nomination.
Close: Not to be outdone, Close grabbed a supporting nod for her first film, 1982's “The World According to Garp” (playing Robin Williams' mother, no less).
They act with their hair
Streep: Almost as famous for her hairstyles as for her accents, Streep has zigzagged from the Pre-Raphaelite red curls of “The French Lieutenant's Woman” to the brown shag of “Silkwood” to “A Cry in the Dark's” black-bob-of-a-creature. (It's a wonder the dingo didn't eat it.)
Close: Her wild mop of 1980s curls in “Fatal Attraction” was as crazy as her character and deserved a nomination of its own.
Costars (kind of)
Streep: The two actresses played sisters-in-law in 1993's “The House of the Spirits,” a starry but sodden affair that lifted no one's spirits. (Hey, how 'bout a remake of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”?)
Close: They also shared billing in 2007's “Evening” but, alas, no screen time.
Marital bliss (or not)
Streep: After a lengthy relationship with the late, great actor John Cazale (her costar in “The Deer Hunter”), Streep wed sculptor Don Gummer in 1978 and collaborated on four children. A happy ending is predicted.
Close: Thrice-married, she has one daughter — and a love of dogs so strong she's written a “Lively Licks” blog for Fetchdog.com.
You do the math
Streep: The Oscar darling has the most acting nominations (17) in academy history and two wins (for 1979's “Kramer vs. Kramer” and 1982's “Sophie's Choice”).
Close: Her glory days were in the '80s with all five of her previous noms in that decade but no wins. She's scored better on Broadway (three Tonys) and TV (Emmys and Globes, mostly for her work on “Damages”).
Streep: Never count out “The Iron Lady” of awards … or underestimate the power of “The Help” — or Viola Davis.
Close: Perhaps “Albert Nobbs” might fare better in the actor category.