On the heels of her second Golden Globe win and fifth Academy Award nomination, Julianne Moore, flanked by her husband and two children, sat back and soaked up the Museum of the Moving Image’s salute in her honor.
“You know when you’re young, you’ll pursue things without any knowledge of where they’ll lead, and not knowing how they’ll shape your life,” Moore professed to the crowd. “But because this is a retrospective, it’s forcing me to look back and consider what it was that led me here. A lot of it was luck, (and) it was almost certainly my interest in story.”
The 29th annual MMI Salute served as a monument to her own story.
The event came at a time of change for the museum, which in 10 days will welcome Sony Pictures Classics founder and co-president Michael Barker into the co-chairman role previously assumed by Herbert S. Schlosser since 1985.
“Following Herb is daunting, and I know I’ll always be chasing him,” declared Barker in his introduction to the audience at 583 Park Avenue. “Community is what this event is all about.”
Barker moved on to extol Moore. “Our honoree tonight, as a talent and as a person, is at the center (of the New York independent film community) and has been for years. As Steve Carell said as he gave Julianne an award at the Palm Springs Film Festival a couple of weeks ago, ‘Julianne is not only a great actress, but she’s a great person. You don’t understand… I know Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, etc., and they’re a–holes compared to her,’” he quoted.
Several of Moore’s famous friends and former co-stars (such as Ellen Barkin, Billy Crudup, Sarah Paulson, Rebecca Miller, Steve Buscemi, Ethan Hawke and Chloe Grace Moretz), along with her husband, Bart Freundlich, graced the stage with anecdotes about the guest of honor. Friend and co-star Mark Ruffalo even sent a special video message from Canada.
Nearly each one of the speakers described the actress’s fearlessness and bravery in her craft, demonstrated in a montage of clips from several of her films, including “A Single Man,” “Boogie Nights,” “The Big Lebowski” and “The Kids Are All Right.”
“One of Julie’s main motivators is her need to be challenged as an artist,” raved Moore’s good friend Barkin.
“You don’t realize how many awards you haven’t won until you Google her,” said Hawke, who found it ironic to be introducing clips from the Todd Haynes films “Far From Heaven” and “Safe,” when “the one thing (Moore’s) never done is play it safe.”
Candice Bergen got a laugh out of the crowd when she confessed to having no idea why she was here. “I barely know her… I met her three times,” Bergen said. “But I also haven’t seen ‘Still Alice,’ because, at 68, it’s still too close.” She agreed to attend because Barker, whom she loves, invited her to a gala for Moore, “who I revere because I think her work is meticulous,” she praised.
When it was time to hear from the honoree herself, Sara Bareilles’ triumphant song “Brave” came over the speakers as Moore, glimmering in gold, accepted the prestigious award from Schlosser.
“I thought I was going to get ‘All About That Bass,’ like Chloe did,” Moore joked, before getting reflective. “It’s kind of crazy because my children are here, and they haven’t seen any of my films — except for the ones that I’ve made with their dad, just little parts of them. And ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love,’ because they both love Steve Carell,” she relayed.
“This is not something that I ever expected to happen to me — certainly not while I was alive to see it,” she continued. “I received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year, and I made a lot of jokes to my family, and to anyone else who would listen, about how I don’t need a tombstone. Now I feel like I don’t need a memorial service, either. Thank you,” she said passionately. “You’ve saved my family a lot of money.”