In honor of this weekend’s Academy Awards, I had wanted to make this Weekend Crush one of the nominated actresses. But then I realized that aside from the age-inappropriate ones and Amy Ryan (who, to be honest, I simply don’t know anything about), I had already pretty much crushed them all. Instead, I decided to take a trip back into Oscar’s 80-year history to honor an actress who, while she never won a statuette, left her indelible mark on both the awards and cinema. Greta Garbo was nominated three times for best actress, the first time in 1923 at only the third Academy Awards ever. Eventually in 1954, she was given an honorary Oscar. But Garbo’s greatness isn’t about the hardware. It transcends the normal trappings of fame and gets down to the heart of what it means to be a star.
That face, dear God, that face. With her perfect, broad cheekbones, intimidating arched eyebrows and slow, steady gaze, she gave nothing away. Some faces are open books, hers was a locked diary. But, oh, the secrets that waited inside, if only you knew the combination. Just her name alone, Garbo, has become synonymous with beauty and mystery. As an actress who emerged in the silent era, her first talkie was promoted breathlessly with “Garbo Talks!” -- which gives you an idea of the enigmatic figure she cut even back then. Her early exit from the industry, at age 36, only contributed to her mystique. Her sexuality was just as shrouded in mystery. Since her death in 1990, biographies have delved into her affairs with women including the poet Mercedes de Acosta and fellow actress Marlene Dietrich. And today, people still use her oft-quoted line from “Grand Hotel” as a plea for privacy: “I vant to be alone!” But a face like that will always leave us wanting more. Happy Oscars and happy weekend, all.