Oscar contenders come and go, and before long they’ve reached a point where it seems like nothing they can or will ever do will give them the win. For women it’s worse than it is for men.  Of course, for minorities it’s near impossible.  The endless celebration of the talents of Jennifer Lawrence say everything about how Hollywood views successful actresses now. Bring them up as quickly as possible, earn every last dollar you can from them, throw roses at their feet. Women have the best chance to win in their 30s, second best in their 20s but by their 40s and 50s things drop considerably.  If you are Katharine Hepburn you’ve won three Oscars after you hit the age of 60, incredibly.  Meryl Streep also won in her 60s. By the time they hit 40, their chances for winning Oscars drops  — partly because there are fewer and fewer good parts for them and partly because the Oscar celebration itself, for women anyway, always tends to lean younger.

How many wonderful actresses have we seen come and go and miss that window of opportunity for no other reason except age, and timing? Michelle Pfeiffer, to name one. Glenn Close to name another.  Sure, there is always the chance they can break into the race and win at a much older age, like Jessica Tandy, for instance. But you can count the times that has happened on one hand. pieChart_jpg Julianne Moore seems to defy many of these rules.  Is there any other actress in her 50s, working today, who continues to take the kinds of risks Moore does? Sure, it must be said that she still looks like she’s in her 20s — that bone structure, that skin, that hair.  She’s a timeless beauty, through and through. But there is more to her and much of that is her willingness to get naked — physically and emotionally — but mostly emotionally.  She is limited only by the boundaries others set for her, not by those she has set for herself.

Julianne Moore has been nominated twice for lead, The End of the Affair and Far From Heaven, and twice for supporting, in The Hours and Boogie Nights.  She was not nominated for Safe, Short Cuts, Children of Men, The Kids Are All Right, or The Big Lebowski (Do you like sex Mr. Lebowski?).

The only reason Moore has not won the Oscar is because she is far too humble, too gracious and has never really gone after it in that ferocious way a winning campaign requires. Moore has seemed to really be in it for the work. Now she’ll have another chance to be recognized with her latest role in David Cronenberg’s extraordinary Maps to the Stars. Moore gives another brave, even shameless performance as, ironically, the one thing she hasn’t become: a desperate, aging actress clinging to the tiny window of fame that is still left available to her.  Moore knows that place, of course, because all actresses do — hell, all women do — but the character she plays lives in that place at the expense of every other aspect of her life. Of course, now Moore will be up against the old likability factor.

Everyone loves her but will they love her character? They will fear her character, probably loathe her.  It will hit most of them in places they can’t even to bear to admit are there.  This will be one where there will be the famed “Academy walkouts.” The brilliant Bruce Wagner pulls no punches, and Cronenberg doesn’t feel like pulling them either. They therefore needed actors who were willing to take a walk on the wild side and they found them in Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson and the exceptional Evan Bird.  Journalists will talk about it the way some parents talk to their kids about drugs. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

But if they’re grownups, if they take their jobs seriously as artists, they will not flinch at the kind of truths this film tells. But there will be no doubt what an expertly built portrayal it is. Moore will be going up against other actresses who have already won — like maybe Hilary Swank, like maybe Reese Witherspoon. She’ll also go up against formidable performances of non-winners, like Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl or Patricia Arquette in Boyhood, and then there’s Jessica Chastain who will deliver, once again, three performances in a year.  That is some mighty competition for Moore.

Still, heading into the race she probably remains the most overdue among them all.  She’s in her 50s now, which statistically puts her lower on the list for potential winners. It’s worth noting, however, that any year where Julianne Moore has turned in yet another brilliant performance is a good year for actresses overall, a good year for storytellers, and a good year for audiences.

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  • murtaza

    The only competition she’ll face will come from Jessica Chastain and Amy Adams.
    I don’t think her age will ruin her chances to win, she’s Julianne Moore in a dynamite performance, too big to ignore. But her character might come as a threat.

  • UBourgeois

    Are we /sure/ that Moore is running as Lead though? Like, you’ve seen the film and I haven’t, but by the trailers, plot synopses, etc, it seems that she could and should go Supporting, which I’d wager would give her a stronger chance.

  • Travis

    Good read, Sasha. Thanks 🙂

  • Nicely put, and I hope it happens. I just don’t have much hope that it will. Julianne always seem to be the bridesmaid…although I will say that I think the Academy attitude changed towards her after her double loss in 2003. I think the Academy is ready and waiting to award her.

    And you forgot her Oscar-worthy work in Magnolia and A Single Man! 🙂

  • keifer

    I always felt she should have won the Oscar for her heart-breaking supporting performance in “The Hours”. They gave it to the much-overrated hoofer/singer Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago – a role for which she cake-walked! It was nothing all that special really and, indeed, the role belonged in the lead actress category that year, along with her co-star Renee Zellwegger. Moore was the best that year. No doubt about it.

  • Jeff

    I was also under the impression that Julianne Moore’s role in “Maps to the Stars” will be campaigned in supporting. If she gets nominated in lead she’ll have to contend against another overdue actress in Amy Adams, and if she gets nominated in supporting would face a hard time overcoming Jessica Chastain (I assume her “A Most Violent Year” performance will probably be campaigned in supporting).

    I’m generally of the opinion that the majority of Academy Award actress nominees are in their 20s and 30s because the majority of scripts, with female roles, are written for female characters within those age brackets. I disagree it’s because Academy voters just want to vote for the “hot young actresses” (as Tom O’Neil professes)because when awards season comes along obviously the female performances nominated will reflect the roles that are available for actresses to portay (which tend to be for actresses in their 20s and 30s).

  • Eoin Daly

    I feel Moores oscar chances depend on how her Mockingjay perfoanxe is received and I’d the critics fight for her. I feel a supporting campaign is best for Moore and while I want her in at this point it’s not likely but she will win an oscar most likely for Freeheld.

  • steve50

    Might this be Julianne Moore’s year? Let’s see here:
    – She should have won for Boogie Nights, Far From Heaven, and The Hours – minimum – and didn’t. Look who won instead. They like other people more.
    – She doesn’t do the whole dog ‘n pony show to campaign.
    – Her character isn’t likeable. Oscar only likes troubled if it’s pleasantly quicky, too. First, just ask the Bardems and Tony Hopkins; now ask Ralph Fiennes and Michael Fassbender. To confirm, I’d suggest asking Ruth Gordon, but she’s dead and you’d need a psychic and that Withers person has gone underground.
    – It really helps supporting if the film is a hit. Will Maps of the Stars rake it in? hmmm.

    So the answer is nope, ‘fraid not. She’s another great actor who shall remain Oscarless.

  • steve50

    *QUIRKY, not “quicky”, although there’s probably merit to the latter.

  • Jeff

    Julianne Moore probably has a more realistic chance of being nominated in lead actress, and possibly winning, at the 2016 Academy Awards for “Still Alice”.

  • Devon

    It seems odd to claim it’s anyone’s year in July. Wasn’t last year a year with several best actress nominees over 40? Maybe tastes are changing, or the good drama is becoming so rare that there will be more age diversity automatically due to fewer choices. I love Julianne Moore. Fearless and graceful.

  • Iván


    Cate Blanchett / Carol
    Michelle Williams / Suite Francaise
    Julianne Moore / Maps to the Stars
    Jessica Chastain / Eleanor Rigby
    Rosamunde Pike / Gone Girl
    Reese Witherspoon / Wild
    Amy Adams / Big Eyes
    Hilary Swank / The Homesman
    Mia Wasikowska / Tracks
    Patricia Arquette / Boyhood

  • Scott

    I know the likability factor is important. Like last year which I believe helped McMatthew to his win but in that very year Cate Blanchett was far from likable. Far, and she had the Woody mess to deal with. Was Charlize Theron? It may not be as important for women to be likable because there are fewer great roles written for them. If ever there was a talent overdue compared to many female winners it’s Julianne Moore. I can only hope she wins. Far From Heaven. Short Cuts. Safe. Boogie Nights. She always delivers because she has the acting chops…plus this movie sounds amazing.

    Julianne Moore would never be a bad vote on the ballot. She has enough to back it up to make sense.

  • Bob Burns

    she’s doing great without an Oscar.

  • Ethel

    No actress won a best actress Oscar for a performance given while in their 50s? Shirley Booth was 49 when she filmed Come Back, Little Sheba, which was astonishingly her 1st feature film. Sissy Spacek surely came very close to winning her 2nd oscar for In the Bedroom. But the 50s are often a dry spell for actresses… usually the downward spiral of an A list career or a waiting period before a 60+ run for a few lucky ones (Mirren, Dench, Maggie Smith and of course Streep).

  • Sonja

    Shirley Booth was 54 when she won the Oscar, the only actress to win in her 50’s.
    5 actresses won in their 60’s, 5 because Hepburn won twice in a row.
    She, Helen Mirren and of course Meryl won for playing real persons, although The Lion in Winter is not a biopic.
    It’s still very rare for actresses to win beyond 49. For Shirley MacLaine and Susan Sarandon it was even a nomination stop.
    I think if she’s campaigned in Supporting Moore would be a real treat, but can the film’s distributor actually finance a huge Oscar campaign? I doubt it…

  • David Lindsey

    Julianne Moore was also overlooked for a nomination in A SINGLE MAN, a nod many people thought she had in the bag.

  • Genadijus

    It’s something really strange with Julianne Moore. So many great performances, but no wins. I thought Julianne will be nominated for ‘A Single Man’, ‘The Kids are All Right’, ‘Children of Men’, but Academy showed doors for other actresses. I have doubt about the chances for the nomination with “Map to the Stars”. Cannes prize for Best Actresses doesn’t create a big buzz, it requires additional affective campaign, and movie should really be strong among the audience and critics. I suppose Cannes selected Julianne for the Prize jsut because she’s so respected in the industry, festival-friendly, works both in huge studio films and prefers independent filmmakers.
    “Far From Heaven” is the best performance of her carrier so far, and one of the best performances by female actresses overall.

  • Moore/Cronenberg 2015

    I want recognition for both of them.

  • Bob Burns

    entirely agree about A Single Man.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    I still find it hard to believe (in June) that AMPAS won’t find *at least* five other more suitable alternatives to a weird performance in a Cronenberg movie.

  • Drood

    It seems unlikely that Moore will get one of those five slots with eOne as a distributor…

  • Jonny

    I still can’t believe she lost for boogie nights and far from heaven. Her performance in magnolia not getting a nomination is still shocking. She is a brilliant and brave actress.

  • Roel

    Julianne was ignored by the Academy for Magnolia, Single Man, and the Kids are Alright! She should have been recognized for Far from Heaven or the Hours. Her role in the Hours, especially, should have been honored. Nicole Kidman should have been nominated for supporting as well and actually, Meryl Streep should have won Best Actress for “The Hours,” easily one my favorite performances by her; she was so natural and the kitchen crying scene was Oscar-worthy!

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