Julianne Moore. This beautiful red-head is among the finest actresses of her generation, moving easily between being a major movie star and hugely gifted actress. That she finally won an Oscar for one of her lesser performances is a demonstration of how much the Academy loves her, as they recognized they had been foolish in not honouring her before.
I remember seeing Moore in The Fugitive (1993) a summer blockbuster, small role, but the star quality was leaping off the screen. Later that year she gave an Oscar worthy supporting performance in Short Cuts (1993), Robert Altman great film, bravely doing a scene naked from the waist down with Matthew Modine. She all but burned a whole in the screen with her indignation in the sequence.
It was her work in the powerful indie film Safe (1995) that launched her, displaying to Hollywood and the world this was one of those once in a lifetime, brilliant actresses to be treasured. In the last twenty-two years she has given an array of stunning performances, earning great acclaim, Oscar nominations, critics awards, and finally that long overdue Academy Award.
Her greatest work remains with two directors, Todd Haynes for whom she gave her greatest performance in Far from Heaven (2002) and again in Safe (1995) and Paul Thomas Anderson, for whom she was brilliant in Boogie Nights (1997) and even more so in Magnolia (1999).
If I was handing out the Oscars, the lady would have won two supporting awards, each for her work with Anderson, and once for Best Actress for her soaringly braves performance in Far from Heaven (2002). Her work is for the ages, but then, like Jane Fonda, and Meryl Streep before her, so is she. Here is the list of top 10 Julianne Moore films. You can watch some of these best Julianne Moore movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
1. Far from Heaven (2002)
As Kathy, she seemingly has it all. Her loving husband who works for a successful company, beautiful children, lovely homes good friends, an extraordinary wardrobe, everything fifties suburbia had to offer. Her clothes seem colour coordinated with the autumn Colors that decorate the leaves on the trees around her home. But taking her hard-working husband dinner one night, she finds him kissing a man in his office. Their world shattered, they work on their marriage, but like it or not, he is a homosexual at a time when society shunned such things. Worse, she befriends her black landscaper, a gentle towering man who connects with her too. When her husband leaves her for a much younger boy, her world is rocked, held in place only by her friendship with her landscaper. Seen together, gossip begins, he is terrorized by his own people and decides to leave town. They love one another, no question, they are without question soul mates unable to be with one another because of society and racism. Moore is breathtaking in the film, like a deer caught in the headlights, but she cannot deny her feelings for this man. Simply astonishing, and she is surrounded b brilliant work from the entire cast.
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2. Magnolia (1999)
As a drugged up trophy wife of a Hollywood player, she finds herself reeling in guilt as he lays dying, the visions of her many affairs running through her mind. Out to fill prescriptions, she moves through the town like a broken bird, barely able to function. She demands his will be changed, wanting nothing from him, finally realizing how he changed her life and despite the age difference (Thirty, thirty-five years) he truly loved her. Only at the end does she realize how much she loved him. Filled with utter self loathing she cannot bare to be near him, and runs, looking for a better life, a fresh start away from her grief. Beyond brilliant.
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3. Safe (1995)
A cautionary tale directed by Todd Haynes about a perfectly healthy young woman who suddenly develops ferocious allergies to her environment and everything around her. Moore is again superb as a confused young woman suddenly dealing with the terrible pain, nosebleeds, seizures, the absolute hell of being in contact with everything dangerous to her physical and eventually mental health. Slowly we see her entire life implode on her as she is forced to deal with a living hell. Moore is devastating in the film, astonishing in what she brings to her portrayal.
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4. The Kids Are Alright (2010)
In this excellent drama, Moore is the long time lover/partner of Annette Bening, they have long shared a home, and have raised two teenaged children, the result of a sperm donor. When the kids seek out their father, they bring him home to dinner, he meets the birth mom (Moore) hires her to do some yard and they begin a torrid affair that will shatter the family unit. Moore is exceptional here, confused, angry, shamed and finally contrite and sorry for her actions that so hurt her partner. Benign got the lions share of acclaim, but without Moore the performance is less. Her character is flawed and knows it, making no apologies for it, though her actions will deeply hurt one she loves. Both were brilliant, both deserved accolades.
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5. Game Change (2013)
Superbly cast as controversial, Sarah Palin, running mate to John McCain for the role of Vice President in 2008, Moore is simply a revelation. In real life she looks nothing like Palin, her pale beauty a complete contrast to Palins’ dark good looks. But through the magic of make up, and surprisingly very little, she becomes the governor of Alaska for two hours. It is a spellbinding performance. Moore insisted that every sentence she spoke (and she nailed Palins folksy speech pattern) be on the record, overheard by someone to make her performance accurate. This is not a hatchet job, but a study of a woman out of her depth in a world she does not understand. Her knowledge of both current events and world history kills her, she makes very stupid statements and becomes the target of many jokes along the campaign trail. Feeling insecure, her ego spins out of control as a means of protecting herself, but instead is her undoing. An unsettling drama about how close she came to the White House, Moore is sublime.
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6. Boogie Nights (1997)
This powerful study of the porn industry, over fifteen years is a remarkable film, made more so by its ensemble of actors. Moore is haunting as porn star Amber Waves, who had a normal life before she became entrenched in this world. She has children the courts will not permit her to see, which guts her and is the chief reason for her drug use. Moving through her world like a surrogate mother to the younger men she will have sex with on camera is a strange contradiction, but one we begin to understand. The actress has never been shy about nudity or her sexuality on screen, and there is much of that but something deeper. There are bonds forged within this strange collection of people, bonds held together by a strung out porn actress longing to be a mother, again. Again, an astounding ensemble in which Moore shines brightest.
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7. The End of the Affair (1999)
This huge sprawling romance is set during and after the Second World War. Moore is a married woman having an affair with Ralph Fiennes, which after an accident she abruptly cuts off with no explanation. Years later he finds her and realizes, as does she, that the love never died. He remembers the night one way, we see to her it was quite something else. She swore if he survived an explosion that she would end the affair. Loyal to God, she did, but at the expense of a deep love for a man who never understood her faith. Moore was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress.
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8. The Hours (2002)
In portraying this fifties despaired house wife and mother, Moore is one third of a story who spills into another. Bored and unhappy with her life, she one day Books a hotel room, drops her son at day care and goes to the room with full intent of committing suicide. Yet something keeps her from doing it. Instead she leaves her husband and son, just walks out the door never to return. Her son grows into a gifted writer who writes about her, as a monster, in his celebrated work, and when he dies, ironically by suicide she returns to his world for the funeral. It is here she reveals what her marriage was doing to her, and the only way she could be a true mother to her children was to leave them. Subtle, quiet, it is a powerful piece of acting, exploring how depression and absolute despair can be the undoing of a person.
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9. Still Alice (2014)
Yes she finally won her Oscar for this performance but as you can see, I feel there are eight greater performances she has given through the course of her career. Now I need to be clear, she is very good in the film, excellent as a college teacher stricken with Alzheimer’s much earlier than most. We see it hitting her, the forgetting, getting lost, confusion, all mounting very quickly in front of her husband and grown children. Terrified, she feels more than losing those around her, she is losing herself, which is part of Alzheimer’s is it not? It is a quiet little film, and without Moore would have slipped just as quietly in and out of theatres. But with the actress shining, it became something elevated, worthwhile.
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10. The Shipping News (2001)
Moore was well cast in this vastly under appreciated film version of the best seller, co-starring with Kevin Spacey. She is Wavey, a young widowed mom with a terrible secret.Her son in mentally challenged but she does the best she can in the small community on the rock of Newfoundland in Canada. She befriends Quoyle, new to the area with a young daughter who becomes her son’s best friend. Slowly her guard lowers and she falls for her new friend, even sharing her secret with him. Moore positively nails the difficult East Coast of Canada accent, sort of harsh Irish though less musical. Far too few have seen this strange film with the beautiful performances. More should.
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