Julianne Moore’s name suggests that any movie, even the least promising one, will have something. Well, at least, it will have her, one of the best actresses in the world, capable of just giving everything in each project.
Moore has made any kind of film that one can imagine, and always from the most total and absolute commitment to what was happening on screen. It did not matter if it was a blockbuster with dinosaurs or an independent drama, a teacher’s film or a not particularly brilliant craftsman: this actress inhabits her roles with supreme naturalness and, it seems, does not take much effort. She just needs the directors to leave her alone.
We take advantage of the already imminent premiere of ‘Gloria Bell’, a ‘remake’ of the Chilean-Spanish ‘Gloria’ in charge of the same director, Sebastián Lelio, to remember the ten best roles (some more could enter) of an actress who Luckily, at 58, he continues to regularly add milestones to his resume.
‘Cross lives’ (1993)
When Robert Altman cast her in this choral drama based on Carver’s stories, Moore was almost a novice in cinema, but she had been shining on stage and television for ten years; won an Emmy in 1988 for her role as twin sisters, one good and the other bad, of course, in the soap opera ‘As the world turns’ (the next was for her brilliant composition of Sarah Palin in the HBO telefilm’ Change of strategy’). In Altman’s film, Moore is a wife who brilliantly argues with her doctor husband (Matthew Modine) about having kissed another man. Part of his big scene is done with nothing underneath. A brave movie actress was arriving.
‘Vania on 42nd Street’ (1994)
The following year, critics again applauded Moore for her role as a woman trapped between two men in this ‘sui generis’ adaptation of Chekhov , a swan song by the great Louis Malle , director of ‘Atlantic City’ and ‘Goodbye, boys’ . The boundaries between simulacrum and reality are constantly blurred and the actress masterfully masters every little evolution in her character.
In the first of her collaborations with director Todd Haynes (after ‘Far From Heaven’ and ‘Wonderstruck’ came), Moore is a housewife who discovers her allergy to the modern. The challenge consists not so much in filling the character as emptying him, leading him further and further in his process of introversion and isolationism, made worse by a society that distrusts the victims of mysterious diseases. As critic Amy Taubin once said in ‘Film Comment’, ‘Safe’ is “a response to the AIDS crisis in which the term AIDS is not mentioned.”
Amy Taubin once said in ‘Film Comment’, ‘Safe’ is “a response to the AIDS crisis in which the term AIDS is not mentioned.”
‘Boogie nights’ (1997)
Where Moore was placed under the command of Paul Thomas Anderson, clear heir to Altman, in the role of veteran porn actress Amber Waves, a kind of protective mother of the young actors who are signed by her partner, director Jack Horner ( Burt Reynolds ). But who protects the protector? Amber does not have a simple life: there is a great distance between who she thinks she is (someone capable of raising her child, for example) and who she really is (a drug addict with no clear future ahead of her). Incredibly moving performance.
‘The end of romance’ (1999)
At the end of 1999, a couple of films had finished establishing Moore in the collective consciousness. The first, somewhat underrated, was this adaptation of the Graham Greene novel by the always interesting Neil Jordan. Our star embodies with total restraint the devoted wife who falls, to her surprise, into the arms of the writer played by Ralph Fiennes. The film is pure, unleashed romanticism, partly thanks to Jordan’s passionate hand and partly thanks to the actors, especially her.
The other great film (even superior to the previous one) of Moore in 1999 is this epic, excessive and extraordinary choral tapestry by Paul Thomas Anderson. Of the film’s many neurotic characters, his is perhaps the most neurotic of all, with the permission of William H. Macy’s former prodigy: the (much younger) wife of a dying man Jason Robards, a fortune seeker who ended up wanting truly to her husband and now she faces loss with a lethal mix of nervousness, grief, and remorse all at the same time. If there is only one scene to highlight from his ‘tour de force’, it must be that intense outburst in the pharmacy: “I have diseases everywhere.” Film to revisit / discover with supply of tissues well on hand.
‘Far from Heaven’ (2002)
In 2003, Moore was nominated not for an Oscar, but for a couple of them: best actress for “Far from Heaven” and best supporting actress for “The Hours.” Neither of them won, which is criminal, especially in the first case. Our honoree radiates emotion as the 1950s wife and mother who, after discovering her husband’s homosexuality ( Dennis Quaid ), initiates a brief and chaste affair with her black gardener ( Denis Haysbert ). He knew how to perfectly show how the feeling of love takes the character by surprise. Also the difficulty to breathe in a landscape of idyllic surfaces and tortured interiors. Director Todd Haynes He said he wanted to make “a movie that would make you cry”, and he succeeded, well he did, better than well supported by an actress in (her usual) state of grace.
‘The boys are fine’ (2010)
A family with a double mother (Moore and Annette Bening ) is reeling when the biological father ( Mark Ruffalo ) of their offspring ( Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson ) appears in their lives . Jules / Moore, the more outgoing of the two matriarchs, has so much love for giving that she decides to give the charming intruder some. The problems grow, but they are solved. ‘Feelgood’ cinema can be artificial and fake, but also organic and emotional, as this vindicated film by Lisa Cholodenko demonstrates
‘What do we do with Maisie?’ (2012)
Is there something that Moore can’t do? The answer, for now, is no. In this emotional family story, adaptation / update of a Henry James novel , he convinces again of his dramatic abilities, but he also surprises with singing and playing guitar and piano (his backing band was the real The Kills ). Moore is Susanna, a slightly downward rocker, with temperament problems and a major narcissism, in a fight with the no less selfish art dealer Beale ( Steve Coogan ) for the custody of Maisie ( Onata Aprile ), her adorable daughter six years.
‘Always Alice’ (2014)
And finally, Moore won his first Oscar. Maybe not with her best film, but with another great performance: that of a 50-year-old linguistics teacher who, absolute horror, begins to lose her words (“I see them hanging in front of me and I can’t reach them”) as a result of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Or rather, a familial early-onset Alzheimer’s, a rare strain that means one of your three children could have the gene. ‘Always Alice’ has something of a horror film, because in horror it is all a matter of perspective, and here the disease is not explained from the outside, from the husband’s point of view, but from subjectivity. But it also tries to be a film that helps and relieves, that recalls the possibility of handling with dignity “the art of losing”, expression of the poet Elizabeth Bishop that Alice quotes in the movie.