The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Julianne Moore
It's crazy how much we take Julianne Moore for granted as an actress. Sure, everyone respects her and she's always acknowledged as one of the best in this biz. But, for the purposes of this article, I found myself sifting through her IMDB credits and I couldn't believe the insane body of work she's created for herself – surely enough to give her living legend status. She's been in so many classics, from indies like Robert Altman's SHORT CUTS through movies like BOOGIE NIGHTS and MAGNOLIA, to walk-ons in blockbusters like THE FUGITIVE, supporting turns in tentpoles like MOCKINGJAY, not to mention her five – count em' – five Oscar nominations, with her finally due to win (I hope) for her part in the sobering STILL ALICE.
STILL ALICE is a very good film and Julianne Moore is truly great in it, but to me this is like Martin Scorsese winning an Oscar for THE DEPARTED. There's no denying that the work was good (and I'd still say it's the best performance in that category – with Rosamund Pike in GONE GIRL being the runner-up) but it's not even her best work. She's deserved to win so many times, be it for Todd Haynes' FAR FROM HEAVEN or not even getting a nomination for his SAFE or her part in MAGNOLIA (although she was nominated that year for the now-obscure THE END OF THE AFFAIR). How could she not have already taken a golden statue home?
Again, it comes down to Moore being taken for granted, as we're so used to her being great that every time she puts out a film we just say, “oh, well of course she's good, she's Julianne Moore.” It really wound up taking a harrowing performance like STILL ALICE, that puts her through the ringer, to get her up there on stage where she belongs. If she wins on Sunday night, expect the biggest standing ovation of the evening. And if she loses, well, let's not even go there...
Given Moore's body of work, this is an exceedingly tough one to call. For me, Moore's been at her absolute finest when working for Paul Thomas Anderson (I hope they re-team soon). Her Amber Waves in BOOGIE NIGHTS is arguably the film's most heartbreaking character, and her “will you be my mom” scene opposite Heather Graham (who's performance is terribly underrated) would make a stone cry. Yet, Moore's arguably never been better than she was in MAGNOLIA as Jason Robards' guilt-stricken trophy wife, who goes to pieces as the film goes on. And of course there's her uncanny turn as Sarah Palin in GAME CHANGE. I give a (slight) edge to MAGNOLIA.
Julianne Moore has never given a bad performance (not even in THE SEVENTH SON), much less one that could be called overrated. Yet, I can't help but feel her casting in HANNIBAL should have never happened. As wonderful as she is, Jodie Foster was so incredible as Clarice in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, that really the follow-up should never have been made without her back in the part, although Moore did her best and came close to making us forget Foster.
Moore's done a lot of great movies that kind of went under-the-radar. While celebrated for her dramatic work, Moore's always been quite charming in comedy, and one that I've always had a soft spot for was her team-up with Hugh Grant – NINE MONTHS. I was thirteen when this came out and I gotta say, I fell madly in love with Moore in this, as Grant's lovable, very-pregnant wife. Granted, it's not a great movie but it's a cute one and worth checking out just too see how versatile Moore can be. ASSASSINS was another one that nursed my crush, but I have a feeling Moore would rather forget that one (although it's actually pretty decent).
Going back to Moore's part in MAGNOLIA, for me the finest piece of acting she's ever done is the pharmacy meltdown, where she tries to get drugs for her sick husband and absolutely goes to pieces when questioned by a pharmacist who's convinced she's exhibiting “drug-seeking-behavior.”
God willing, Moore will be walking up to the podium Sunday night, but even if not I doubt that'll slow her down one bit. As always, she's got tons of stuff in the works, from MOCKINGJAY PART 2 to the incredible sounding FREEHELD opposite Ellen Page and Michael Shannon which sounds like the kind of thing that could very well see her taking another much-deserved trip to the Oscars.