Julianne Moore

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Welcome back to the Lucky 13 Film Club. A friend of mine asked me recently which working actress today who has a prolific career could give Meryl Streep a run for her money?

I watched Still Alice (2014) and realized how much of a fan I am of Julianne Moore. Her best asset is her body language to show emotion. She has found a wide variety of flawed characters to stretch her acting abilities. In a recent interview, she said she picks women characters who are not usually discussed at the dinner table–everyday women. Her unique gift is her ability to find the humor and sympathy within the shallow, the manipulative, and the most misunderstood of females. You can’t take your eyes off her.

There’s not a film she’s in where her presence doesn’t lift up even the banal or mediocre of productions. Her performances are authentic whether playing the timid mouse or the vindictive tigress. Those expressive eyes! She brings out the beauty in the ugliest of characters.

Here are a few of my favorite scenes (profanity warning!) in no particular order: 

The tragic tale of lost souls who will do anything to become a star — Boogie Nights.

I hated the romanticization of the porn industry, but Julianne was electrifying.  

“Amber Waves” was a mother lost in a life of addiction and porn. She was the only character I cared about.

Maybe one of the reasons she touches hearts is her ability to cry?  

What do you think? Is she as good as Meryl Streep? I would rank Julianne in the same league and place her in the elite top five actresses working today. Would you? Which of her films moved you? 

35 thoughts on “Julianne Moore

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  1. I think Meryl has her moments, certainly. But I reckon quite a few of her contemporaries can compete as far as talent goes. I have often thought that Julianne Moore has the ability to lift a so-so film into something worth seeing. One example of that would be ‘The Forgotten’ (2004), a pretty low-par sci-fi that is only worth watching because she is in it.
    When she steps up into a ‘quality film’, she is as good as anyone. I’m thinking here of ‘A Single Man’, ‘The Hours’, and ‘Still Alice’.
    But my favourite film of hers by far is ‘Far From Heaven’. She is perfect in that period film, and fits that ‘Douglas Sirk era’-feel like nobody else I could think of, except maybe Cate Blanchett. (Who I rate above Streep, by the way.)
    Nice theme, Cindy.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. From ‘Hannibal’ to the ‘Carrie’ remake, those are some films that are bad films made better because she is in them. Better films made great include ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘Far From Heaven’. I would rather watch Cate than Meryl, too.

  2. Well, I love Julian Moore. I don’t think she has the range of Meryl Streep or Cate Blanchett but she turns in just as good performances. I guess I’d have to go top three performances: 1.Boogie Nights (the cocaine crack up is stunning) 2. The Big Lebowski (I don’t know how she got through her role without cracking, but she did. Not so with Philip Seymour Hoffman, but he made it work, such was his genius.) 3. Magnolia (Her portrait of grief, of not just regret but soul searing remorse is nothing short of real–she has become one with art and reality.)

    1. Thanks, Pam, for chiming in. Try Still Alice. There is a brilliant scene when the healthier Alice is talking to her sicker version. They are two distinct women in one scene.
      Would you rank Jodie Foster up there with Meryl and Cate?

      1. I’ve seen Still Alice, I thought she was very good in it but not exceptional…I wouldn’t put Jodie Foster on that tier but I’d put her on the one just below it. I would put Catherine Keener on the tier with Blanchett, Streep and Moore.

          1. I think Emma Stone was superb in La La Land. Liza Minnelli in Cabaret. Perhaps my favorite performance is Giulietta Masina in Nights of Cabiria. Jane Fonda in Klute comes to mind. There are so many great female leads and supporting roles too…

  3. Oh Dear Lord, I ♥︎ Julianne Moore! I do like Meryl, but for me Julianne is the more honest, I don’t see her when I watch her movies. My favorite is Cookie’s Fortune. Damn, now I have to watch it again. Nice post, Cindy.

      1. she was in my girlfriends acting program at boston university, so i saw her on stage when she was in her early 20s and have followed her career every step of the way. what struck me about her at first was that she was such a plain lookng girl and as such could be make up to look like anybody. very advantageous for an actor. she was far from a beauty yet looked very beautiful on stage..ad even more so on the screen. merl streep has held onto her crown only because nobody has tried to take it away. she is a fine actor, bt not, in my opinion, one of the highest order. glenn close was just as good, as is cate blanchette…but meryl as preservered. julie is better than all of them because she transcends type. she is Everywoman..and heracting is so subtle that it seems she is playing herself. but that is far from the truth. She is a treasure, but an innate shyness keeps her from stepping up to the throne and knocking the crown off meryl head.

  4. Yes I agree. Maybe it’s just me, but I often feel that I can SEE Steep Acting. Do you know what I mean? She’s not really the character – just portraying her. I don’t get that when I watch Julianne.

    Yeah, she’s great.

  5. No disrespect to Meryl, but Julianne has been as good as her and has been in a wider variety of roles the American grand dame wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. She’s been so underrated for so long, and I’d also agree that she’s elevated whatever she’s been in. And arguably took on what was probably the hardest sequel and role with Clarice Starling in HANNIBAL and more than held her own with it. Loved her take with the then more seasoned character. I’ll watch whatever she’s in, bar none.

    1. You know, I wish Hannibal was a film on a singular plane. It was the worst decision to make her the successor to Jodie’s character. But if you took out of the trilogy, it is a decent film and Moore does a fine job. I am glad we agree!

    1. She is wonderful. She seems to be pretty adept for finding good roles, for the most part. That long a history, there is sure to be flops. But as I have said, she brings even the most boring film to a higher level. I can’t get enough of her.

  6. Great post 🙂 Since Short Cuts is more of an ensemble piece, not to mention Magnolia, I would have to say that some of her best roles (great films too) would be Safe, Far from Heaven (both directed by Todd Haynes) and Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Big Lebowski. But that is just me. As for Boogie Nights and Magnolia, those are films that I admire If not adore – I prefer Paul Thomas Anderson’s later work beginning in 2007 with There Will Be Blood. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

      1. Oh I almost forgot to add David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars to that one. If you have not seen it, here is a trailer for the film below (it came out in 2014 internationally, but in 2015 for U.S. release)

  7. I can’t say enough good things about Meryl but she’d be the first to mock the kind of shorthand of greatest actor we have that has built up around her following huge box office over 50 with Mamma Mia and Prada. Remember before she was still getting Oscar noms but wasn’t in the zietgeist the same way. I think she has many equals, Viola, Laura Linney is a personal fave, Glenn Close, Angela Bassett, and what about Cate Blanchett!

  8. Julianne Moore is definitely in that conversation as is Annette Benning, Emily Watson, man the list goes on. There’s plenty of performances I admire of Julianne and I enjoyed your post celebrating her work.

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