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The Best Actress Race Without Julianne Moore

What do you when your presumed frontrunner is no longer in the Oscar race? It’s been announced that Focus World will not give Maps to the Stars an Oscar run (what a shame) and thus, Julianne Moore will not be a contender. I personally think the role and her overdue status give her the stuff to drive it home to a win (think: Charlize Theron in Monster). I also think it’s premature to assume the Oscar voters are too soft to handle a movie like this. Most of them came of age during Ken Russell and Robert Atlman, for chrissakes.

Anne Thompson:

Julianne Moore can kiss goodbye to any hopes she was nursing for an Oscar campaign for David Cronenberg’s Cannes Best Actress winner “Maps to the Stars,” which is set to play Toronto and New York festivals. Canadian distributor eOne was going to distribute the film stateside, but it has now sold U.S. rights not to Universal specialty distributor Focus Features–the arm that would handle an Oscar effort–but Focus World, their digital distribution arm, which plans an early 2015 release.

It’s moments like this that I feel embarrassed spending so much time investing in a race that must cater to soft-palmed, comfort-seeking upper class wimps who can’t handle the truth. How in the world can anyone be in the business of rewarding best when best must always come with a disclaimer: “When we say best we don’t really mean that. We certainly don’t mean highest achievement in film. We mean something on the order of it makes us look good. It makes us FEEL SOMETHING and it sends us out into the world feeling happy about our lives.”

While I can understand the urge to always lean towards idealizing the human condition, I can tell you that nothing scratched off the top layer of Hollywood like Maps to the Stars. Bruce Wagner’s script is easily one of the year’s best and two performers – Julianne Moore and Evan Bird are spectacular. Years from now no one will believe why Maps to the Stars was not Oscar nominated. They probably figured that Moore plays a character so unlikable her chances of winning were slim. I disagree with that assessment as it is often the darkest turns by the nicest actors that win Oscars.

Or to put it another way: Maps to the Stars is the movie Hollywood deserves.

With Julianne Moore out of the race that opens up the Best Actress race considerably. We’re still looking at the following potential nominees:

Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl – with Julianne Moore out of the race this will put Pike squarely in the spot of the darkest female anti-hero in the mix.
Amy Adams for Big Eyes – an overdue actress the pundits have much faith in winning.
Jessica Chastain for Eleanor Rigby or Miss Julie – again, very much overdue for a win and having another spectacular year of performances
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Hilary Swank now a slam dunk for The Homesman
Reese Witherspoon in her most raw and challenging performance to date.

There are several borderline actresses would could make a run in lead – Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood. These are roles that could go either way.

Other names include:
Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars
Anne Hathaway for Interstellar

52 Comments on this Post

  1. That sucks for Julianne moore I was really looking forward to seeing her performance in Maps to the Stars!!! Let me give you a dark horse for best actress: Najarra Townsend for ‘The Toy Soldiers’ its a fabulous movie with a riveting performance from Townsend

  2. And of course perennial nominee Meryl Streep.

  3. Eoin Daly

    Sadly Moore was never going to win for this role because voters were never going to get the movie like you Sasha and many others have. I am sad she will not be possibly in the race because if the film plays well in the upcoming film festivals they could decide to put her in the running. I will be seeing the film on September 26th and am so excited because Moore is the best and has been passed over time and time again. Without Moore giving her overdue status it seems that love should go to Adams who will be on her sixth nomination but maybe they’ll crown the newcomer of Pike who really has never had the role that Amy Dunne is. Best Actress looks so weak this year and without someone like Moore adding drama to the race the category continues to be short on possible nominees.

  4. I highly doubt that producers agreed to such a shitty deal considering all the international acclaim, star power, buzz and hype surrounding their movie. I am willing to bet it will get an Oscar qualifying run and then – depending on its success during Awards Season – either a limited+VOD, or only VOD release in January.
    .
    If they put her in supporting, Julianne Moore could win. She could also receive a lead nod for Still Alice, it will be interesting to see how that one will fare at Toronto this (next?) week.

  5. I agree she could win phantom if she’s in supporting, but it would suck if its not released until 15 and no Oscar qualifying run in 14

  6. It’s such a thin year for the actress category. Too bad.

    The film will be released in Canada this year so perhaps she can win a Screen award.

  7. Way to treat a master director (and, of course, actress).

    Here’s hope the distributor changes their mind.

  8. Simon Warrasch

    Are they kidding me??? What’s wrong with them? I mean, Julianne Moore had a relly great chance to win the Oscar next year! It doesn’t matter if they had compaigned her in the Lead or in the Supporting Category! She really had a great chance for the win!

    So i think that means, Amy Adams will win for “Big Eyes” next year! Because i don’t think, that the Academy will give Reese Witherspoon for “Wild” her 2nd Oscar! And Amy Adams will loose again! She will get her 6 Oscar Nomination next year! And her 4 nomination in 5 years! So i guess we can call Amy Adams also as overdue!

  9. The producers didn’t agree to deal, it was between 2 distributors.
    “In a deal that closed last week, Focus World picked up U.S. distribution rights to the Cronenberg drama from Canadian outfit Entertainment One (eOne), sources tell Variety exclusively. “Maps to the Stars” won’t premiere stateside until early 2015.”

    http://variety.com/2014/film/festivals/maps-to-the-stars-acquired-by-focus-world-for-2015-release-exclusive-1201295581/

  10. I hope that the Oscar winner is either Amy Adams or Jessica Chastain. Both have been great over the last few years. I thought Jessica should have won in 2013 for Zero Dark Thirty.

    Too bad about Maps to the Stars not getting a theatrical American release in 2014, but I have been leaving this one off my list, because I kept checking IMDb, and it kept not having a USA release date yet.

  11. oscarsnub

    Correction: Woodley for the Fault in our stars

  12. Brian Susbielles

    Universal clearly has no faith in this movie doing well with Oscar voters or even with the box office. Especially with its director having a lack of recognition by Oscar voters.

  13. Will Rosamund Pike definitely be submitting as lead for Gone Girl? I’ve had a feeling for a while that if she delivers the goods, she’ll be the runaway favorite for Supporting. The part is just that good in Gillian Flynn’s book, but who knows how exactly the novel’s twists will translate to screen. Pike stands a good chance for either Lead or Supporting, but just like Carell in Foxcatcher, I think they’d be slam dunks in Supporting but have a tougher go in Lead. Exciting beginning to the season, either way!

  14. Pj

    Fair enough, that article also sort of backs up my prediction : ““Maps” could get an Oscar qualifying theatrical release at the end of 2014, so that it would at least be eligible for Academy Awards nominations, according to one individual with knowledge of the deal, but a movie with that kind of strategy can sometimes get lost in the slew of December contenders.”

  15. The Best Option to Oscar Best Actress race is MARION COTILLARD with her magnificent and insuperable performance in Two Days One Night.

  16. Doesn’t Marion Cotillard also have Macbeth? Is that still a 2014 release, like imdb says?

    Fact is, Julianne Moore needs to be in this race. This will be a great shame if she doesn’t receive the campaign attention her cred as an actress deserves.

    If Meryl gets yet another nomination, while other performers are pushed for the fringes for their more challenging and probing work in better films, I will puke. Her count is utterly ridiculous…six more than Jack Nicholson and no classics to count for it, puh-lease.

  17. Richard B

    I’m of the different opinion that Pike will be the runaway winner at this point. I would love to see Adams win, but will Big Eyes really deliver?

  18. Igor Sousa

    Fuck the race

    Just watch the damn film!

  19. cinephile

    Sasha: Spot-on analysis, but how do you know “Maps” will not get an awards-qualifying run at the end of 2014?
    It would be utterly ridiculous to release a film that won the best actress award in Cannes for a long overdue star only at the beginning of 2015: that would be as if they purposefully wanted it to be forgotten. Why the hell would they do that?

    I hope they will do an awards-qualifying run. Everything else would be a disgrace for an auteur like Cronenberg. So please, don’t count Moore out yet.

  20. Igor…kind of hard to “fuck the race” when that’s what the site is all about. If the race be fucked then the site would just be called Daily.

  21. I think Phantom is right. All it needs is a quick qualifying run to be eligible for critics awards to put it in the running for Oscar noms. It’s probably a smart business decision not to bury it in the Oscar avalanche at the end of the year – nobody will see it.

    And Igor gets bonus points!

  22. This new distributor is simply creating professional suicide.
    I wonder if Cronenberg will make a stink about this and issue a statement?

  23. Bryce "Cauã's sidepiece" Forestieri

    Fucked-up news. I guess I’ll be getting that French Blu after all. I still think we were in a sort of bubble regarding this one. With 16 reviews in the film is at 56% on RT, and based on the reactions from Cannes that I surveyed, that “score” is more or less what it’s going to end up with when most of the critics have their say. That’s way too divisive. Of course this means absolutely nothing and even less so when we talk about a Cronenberg, but films like that don’t get Academy Award nominations. They just don’t, right?

    What I’m dreading now is having to wait until 2015 for 99 HOMES too and it sure looks that way.

    Just another thing. Am I way off-base about this or do the critics really not get THE HOMESMAN? Everyone I trust about westerns seem to at least like it very much, and the reaction at large is much less enthusiastic. Do we have a classic MISSOURI BREAKS case? Makes me all the more interested.

  24. Maybe the lack of high-profile, prestige-y actress roles will open the door for someone in a smaller film to get in. I would die if Jenny Slate made it in for Obvious Child (I know that’s not going to happen). If only.

  25. I’d like Marion Cotillard wins her pretty deserved second Oscar with Two Days One Night.

  26. Clayton
    I agree totally it would be awesome if someone from a smaller film would get a best actress nomination the 3 that come to my mind
    1. Najarra Townsend the toy soldiers
    2. Jenny slate obvious child
    3. Zoe Kazan the pretty one
    All great performances all 3 are in my top 5 right now

  27. I can’t shake off the feeling that if Patricia Arquette is to be nominated for “Boyhood” (and she sure as hell deserves to be), it would be in the Supporting Actress instead of the Lead Actress category. Call it a hunch, I guess.

  28. Julianne Moore can still factor into the Best Actress race if ‘Still Alice’ is picked up by a distributor coming out of Toronto (should the movie receive decent reviews, and especially if Moore receives good notices for her role, then you would assume it will be).

    Moore’s role in ‘Still Alice’ seems like the sort of role that oscar voters usually gravitate towards, and considering that ‘Still Alice’ is complete and that Moore is clearly ‘over due’ should would have a great chance of being nominated, and possibly winning, with this role.

  29. Yeah, I wouldn’t rule out a qualifying run either; what’s your source for saying there won’t be one?

    I don’t see Swank getting in the race. Not impossible, but the film’s reception has been mixed, Westerns are an iffy Oscar proposition, and Swank has two Oscars–and I feel like there are those who think she didn’t deserve to win twice. Maybe in the industry it’s a different matter, but I get the feeling that Million Dollar Baby’s wins have not held up for a lot of people (another reason I’m not bullish on American Sniper making much of an impact).

    Basically, I’m thinking Adams and Chastain are in, Witherspoon is very likely, with Streep and Pike solid possibilities. And if they pass on Streep (and a lot depends on how Into the Woods pans out), I’m thinking Shailene Woodley could make a play for the fifth slot.

  30. If ‘Serena’ gets decent box office and reviews when it’s released in the U.K. on October 24th I would think that Magnolia would want to release it in the U.S. In either November or December. And, if ‘Serena’ is released this year in the U.S. then we’d have to consider Jennifer Lawrence as being a serious contender.

  31. Now leads a slot open for QWallis in Annie.

  32. Jeff

    The strange thing about that “if Serena is good” theory that it probably isn’t. If it were just half decent, major distributors would have sold their mothers to get it considering the enormous star power and in the end a tiny one was like “ehh, fine, we take it” Hopefully I’m wrong on this one, but early signs remind me of Diana last year.

  33. Yeah, this is a shame. But brush yourself down Sasha, and keep your chin up. You’ll be okay. Don’t let this affect how you dive head-first into the awards season coverage. We don’t want that chip on your shoulder for the next few months {though I suspect it will bring out that sharp, bitter tone in your writing I enjoy so much}.

    None of the above was intended as sarcastic, reading it back I can see how it might seem that way. :-D

  34. Igor Sousa

    Hey Kane,

    I was meaning that this is probably what David Cronenberg would say about it. Don’t watch it for the prizes but for the film itself

  35. Bob Burns

    Love the films Focus supports, but have been wary since the BBM loss. They always seem to under-perform with film awards, in this case throwing away a popular best actress campaign.

  36. Igor, right you are. Cronenberg would probably say that.

  37. Swank is far from a slam dunk. Just yesterday, In Contention’s take on Telluride was that nobody was talking about The Homesman.

    People seem to respect the film, but nobody seems to be wild about it.

  38. There is nothing in the public announcement(s) barring an Oscar qualifying run. Every year, there are movies that get an early (Jan. or Feb.) mainstream release that ALSO had an Oscar qualifying run in December.

    And, the rules are so vague that a movie only has to play in one small Valley screen for a week without ads or critics screenings to boot. Remember the whole ALONE YET NOT ALONE song debacle last year? That’s exactly how that movie got on the qualified list. So, did the Chilean film GLORIA and a number of smaller Animated and Documentary features.
    I would be genuinely surprised if MAPS didn’t get one of those rinky dink releases to qualify and then see how critics prizes and awards buzz go.

  39. Andy Hoglund

    What a weak looking line-up.

  40. I’m sure Cronenberg isn’t surprised, he knew he was making a shocking film when he made it. I’m gonna hold on to hope that they give it a qualifying run before the end of the year, it wouldn’t cost them much to run it in LA and NY for a week.

    As for Still Alice. it comes across as a Hallmark TV movie to me, I don’t see her getting any major nominations for that. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, she isn’t breaking new ground there, the way she does in MTTS.

  41. Here’s a beautiful new article in the New York Times about Moore:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/movies/fall-arts-preview-julianne-moore-plays-a-fading-diva-in-maps-to-the-stars.html
    “Ms. Moore’s performance is so vivid and daring, while also sad and at times extremely funny, that it earned her the best actress prize at Cannes this spring, and some forecasters are already speculating that it may finally win her the Oscar that has so far slipped just out of her reach.”

    I just can’t believe any distributor would read this and still release the film when awards season has just been over. I mean, that would be artistic and commercial suicide, wouldn’t it? Films like Maps to the Stars need awards-season-buzz to survive. If not Oscar, then at least critics’ mentions. And they have to use the heat of a Cannes Best Actress Win and of TIFF and New York Film Festival premieres — otherwise, there would be no point of such accolades.

    Could you maybe inquire, Sasha? I just can’t believe any distributor would behave this stupidly.

    Here’s a spot-on quote of Jeff Wells on the matter:
    “The only reason Focus wouldn’t give Maps to the Stars a qualifying run in support of Moore…well, there is no logical reason. They have to go there. If they don’t they’ll be cultivating a bad rep with talent — a distributor that doesn’t step up to the plate during award season.”
    http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/2014/09/54400/#more-54400

  42. People, let it GO!!. Even with the limited run to LA/NYC, AMPAS won’t touch “Maps to the Stars” even with Julianne Moore on line. That film took exactly all the terrible aspects of Hollywood. Considering Julianne Moore as a frontrunner for THIS film, is almost a selfblindness for AMPAS process.

    JoeS, yes but if you check close of these films, most of them were in consideration for marginal categories -Song, Foreign Language film-, not for the big categories. Normally these qualifying runs are the death kiss for films in big categories.

  43. KT, welcome to the Oscar race. Not fair but funny for reactions every year with only few surprises for a while.

  44. Watermelons

    “no classics”

    Don’t worry KT: I decree all of Meryl Streep’s films True Hollywood Brand Classics. There. Now that they have the requisite fake status you can stop puking.

  45. I feel like some of us are forgetting how long this race is and that most of the Lead Actress nominees will be from movies that do well with the box office ( or well compared to their budget). Having said that, noms look good (for now) for:

    Pike
    Streep
    Adams
    Woodley
    Witherspoon (Wild seems like it could find an audience)

    Im less convinced – at the point – with contenders like:

    Julianne Moore (even if she get a qualifying run)
    Chastain (vote splitting, box office prospects iffy)
    Cotillard
    Swank ( Western bias, box office prospects iffy)
    Townsend
    Arquette (prob supporting)

    Etc, etc.

  46. I agree Xas, that such a short run in a Valley theater wouldn’t actually garner an Oscar nod. BUT, it would gain attention in that if Moore was at least on the eligibility list, it will get more press and ‘consideration’ on websites like this one. That can only rebound for the better when the movie got it’s January or February release. Without the (admittedly unlikely) Academy Awards buzz, the movie would really look like it was being dumped unceremoniously.

    IF on the other hand, they changed their minds and gave it real one week qualifying run at the Landmark, a Laemmle or the Arclight, then they could legitimately put Moore and the movie up for a more serious run.

    Let’s all keep the pressure on the studio to give it a real run. And, that pressure would get very intense if MAPS does well at the Toronto and NY festivals.

  47. JoeS, nice wishes but too bad it won’t work, if there’s something the AMPAS hates is the press remarking how they must need to watch and yes they can reject as they did for years, the film is anti AMPAS and unless a gun in their heads, they won’t see it even if Moore gives he best performance of the decade.

  48. JoeS. Appologies I misunderstood your comment. In part I agree wih you.

  49. Alan of Montreal

    As a Canadian and Julianne Moore super fan, I am embarrassed and chagrined over this. What morons are running these companies?

    As for your replacement selections, something tells me someone’s going to come out of the blue at the last minute. I also would classify Jessica Chastain as “overdue” yet–she really hasn’t been on the scene all that long, and only has a handful of quality films to her name. I think now that Amy Adams will take it all the way (and I’m absolutely fine with that).

  50. Alan, though Chastain hasn’t been “on the scene” that long I can find a way to justify, at least on my part, why she is overdue. She has 2 Oscar nominations over the course of 2 years, which shouldn’t make one overdue. But, to me, she was nominated for The Help when she should’ve been nominated for, and won, Tree of Life. Also she should’ve won for Zero Dark Thirty, or at the very least been behind Riva. In that way I can see myself championing her for a win more than ever.

  51. Assuming it lives up to its potential critically and at the box office, Hathaway has always been an obvious choice.

  52. very weak year… so bad…. really so bad

    no new faces….

    no new talents…

    same names like meryl.. jessica…amy always and always….

    you really messed up Hollywood :)

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