Honorary Oscars are a slap in the face... it's basically them saying, ''We didn't think you were ever good enough before, but seeing as you're near death and you do have some talent, heres a little token of our appreciation''.
Not really. Most of the time, it's just bad luck or being against a heavy favorite. Many Honorary acting recipients are widely regarded as either legendary or extremely talented (eg. Peter OToole, Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Deborah Kerr, Gena Rowlands). But I still think Close can win a competitive Oscar for Sunset Boulevard.
I can see why someone would think an Honorary Oscar is a slap in the face. They nominate her a lot but never reward her and it seemed like it was finally her year, she won just about all of the other big awards, but once again they snub her, but then will turn around and give her what seems like a pity Honorary award? I must say, she handled it really well last night, though. She went to the after party and was dancing and having fun.
I will note that, I think it was Paul Newman who got an Honorary Oscar, but then won a competitive Oscar after that, so if they do give her the Honorary, that doesn't mean she still can't win one outright.
As for Pfeiffer, I don't think she can win a Lead Oscar, she doesn't have the same narrative as Bening and Close, but she is still very popular and active and can for sure win in Supporting.