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Why Julianne Moore Will (Finally) Win an Oscar

January 26, 2015

still_aliceFor Julianne Moore, the fifth time will be the charm. She’s been nominated for Oscars four times before. Her first came for playing a maternal porn star in 1997’s Boogie Nights; she lost to Kim Basinger as a hooker with a heart of gold in L.A. Confidential. Can anyone really argue that Kim Basinger is a better actress than Julianne Moore? Not me. But it was Basinger’s year: The story line of an actress who was never taken seriously because of her looks suddenly sinking her teeth into a meaty role was too much for the Academy to resist.

In 2000, she received her first Best Actress nod, for playing an World War II-era English adultress in The End of the Affair. She lost to Hillary Swank as the tragically murdered transgendered teen Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry. Okay, it’s hard to argue with that one. Moore was nominated twice in 2003: Best Actress for her heartbreaking portrayal of a 1950’s housewife with a gay husband and an African-American lover in Far From Heaven and Best Supporting Actress for…another 1950’s housewife, this one pregnant, in The Hours. She lost Best Actress to her Hours co-star Nicole Kidman, for wearing a prosthetic nose as Virginia Woolf, and lost Best Supporting Actress to Catherine Zeta-Jones for Chicago, for the same reason she lost to Kim Basinger, plus C Z-J also sang and danced her ass off.

She probably should’ve been nominated several more times: for Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (and not just because she went bottomless and proved she’s a natural redhead); Magnolia (reuniting with Boogie Nights‘ Paul Thomas Anderson); and The Kids Are All Right (for some reason, Annette Bening got all the acclaim but lost the Oscar nonetheless). Hell, you could even make a case for her in The Big Lebowski and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. She’s pretty much always great, at least on the big screen (I still can’t get her grating Boston accent from 30 Rock out of my head). And even sometimes on the small screen: She out-you-betcha’d Tina Fey as Sarah Palin in HBO’s Game Change, winning every award except an Oscar in the process.

Well, it’s finally Moore’s year. Her performance as a linguistics professor rapidly losing the power of speech due to the onset of early Alzheimer’s Disease in Still Alice is a thing of rare beauty and subtlety. It’s an even more amazing accomplishment considering the film around her rarely rises above the level of a well-made disease-of-the-week TV movie. Aside from her old 30 Rock love interest Alec Baldwin as her slightly selfish husband, the rest of the cast—including a typically itchy Kristen Stewart, the exquisite but plastic Kate Bosworth and ex-Weeds pretty boy Hunter Parrish as her kids—aren’t up to her level.

But it doesn’t matter whenever Moore is on screen. She owns the movie, and her performance never shades into simplicity or sentimentality. Even if her competition for Best Actress weren’t so weak—the overrated Reese Witherspoon (Wild) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl); the overmatched Felicity Jones (who should be in the supporting category for playing Steven Hawking’s supportive wife in The Theory of Everything); and Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night, a movie that I, like the rest of America, haven’t seen—she’d be the prohibitive favorite to win. Her heartfelt and self-effacing acceptance speech at the SAG Awards, that began “When I was on As the World Turns…,” sealed the deal. It’s about damn time. And when she wins, I won’t be the only one saying, “The Moore, the merrier!”

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One Comment
  1. It’s about time she got an Oscar. She’s definitely put in some worthy performances that were just pipped at the line.

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