There are few sure bets in awards races, but Julianne Moore’s Oscar nomination for “Still Alice” is the closest thing to a certainty this year.
Some are already declaring her the winner, but it’s too early for that. Still, it seems like the perfect Oscar recipe: A terrific actress, with four noms and no wins, playing a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Plus, she has the awards savvy of distributor Sony Pictures Classics, which bought the film when it debuted in Toronto.
At a screening at the Egyptian on the penultimate night of the AFI Fest Thursday, the actress confirmed the positive word from Toronto. She gives a moving and nuanced performance in a smart and tender film directed and written (from Lisa Genova’s novel) by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.
Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin give excellent supporting performances and are worth some consideration. But the awards focus for the film seems centered on Moore.
However, at the Q&A after the screening, Glatzer was the one who charmed the audience most. Diagnosed with ALS in 2011, he speaks through his iPad. Westmoreland introduced Glatzer as “my life partner and, as of a recent change in California law, my husband,” which got much applause.
Glatzer said working with the cast and crew on the set, “I felt very much heard….it’s important with a disease like this to feel you still matter.”
Westmoreland said the film is “about what it means to be alive — what you lose and what you hold onto.” Also on the panel were exec producer Maria Shriver, producer James Brown and Stewart, who had to be coaxed to speak. Expressing nervousness, Stewart said to her, the film is about the fact that “in losing someone, you discover so much.” She concluded, “This movie makes you open your eyes to what’s in front of you… Family, man!”
Moore said she wanted everything her character did to be true, based on the extensive research she did. Some of the ideas and lines were directly taken from Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers. And Glatzer said “We thought of her as a full creative partner in the process.”
While the actor and director races are crowded, Moore is one of the few safe bets in the uncrowded actress race. Aside from her, strong contenders include Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”; Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”; and Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl.” There is good buzz on Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods,” and other serious possibilities include Jennifer Aniston (“Cake”), Shailene Woodley (“The Fault in Our Stars”) and Hilary Swank (“The Homesman”). There are also stellar performances in little-seen films, such as Annette Bening in “The Face of Love,” that are worth attention.