×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Julianne Moore Follows Oscar Win with Stirring ‘Freeheld’ Performance

Can the reigning best actress champ find room in an increasingly competitive leading lady race this year?

At this point last year the eventual 2015 best actress Oscar winner, Julianne Moore, was just making her way onto the map with her performance as a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in “Still Alice.” The film went into the Toronto International Film Festival looking for a buyer and walked out as part of the Sony Classics stable. The indie distributor ushered the overdue actress through the season and the rest was history.

This year Moore is back in Toronto with another portrayal of a woman afflicted. Only this time, it’s a true story with sociopolitical overtones. Peter Sollett’s “Freeheld” tells the story of New Jersey police officer Laurel Hester, who fought to have her pension benefits transferred to her domestic partner (played in the film by Ellen Page) after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was a bold and emotional fight already captured in one Oscar-winning film, 2007’s short docu of the same name. Now it could bring Moore back into the awards season arena.

A Lionsgate release set for theaters Oct. 2, the film is itself unremarkable. It carries across the story in a very matter-of-fact way, which is neither help nor hindrance, really. However, it does allow for Moore’s depiction of Hester to stand out. From a clenched and hard-hided detective very careful about not revealing her sexual orientation to a withering cancer patient losing energy amid countless political struggles (paid leave and insurance troubles on top of the county debate over pension equality), it’s another strong performance from an actress who is deep into the making-it-look-easy era of her career.

Can Lionsgate find room for her? That’s the question. The lead actress race is already stacking up with names like Carey Mulligan (“Suffragette”), Brie Larson (“Room”), Sandra Bullock (“Our Brand Is Crisis”), Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”), Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”), Emily Blunt (“Sicario”) and Saorise Ronan (“Brooklyn”) playing the Telluride-Toronto corridor alone. If any element can survive overall scrutiny, however, it’s Moore’s immersive and moving work. And like a number of examples this year of the message outweighing the movie, the zeitgeist could keep “Freeheld” afloat for voters looking to make a statement.

More Film

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Talent Agents, WGA Achieve Progress in Second Round of Talks

    Hollywood talent agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved some progress at their second negotiating session over agency regulations, according to sources close to the talks. The two sides met Tuesday, two weeks after their first meeting resulted in both sides criticizing each other, followed by the WGA holding a trio of spirited [...]

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as the winner of its Pioneer Award, presented by Variety for his [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content