the i-D guide to the best of julianne moore

As her Oscar winning performance in Still Alice hits cinemas this weekend, i-D charts the actress’s best roles on the big screen.

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06 March 2015, 10:30am

Short Cuts
In a novel way to divert your husband's attention from the fact you've been sleeping with another man, Moore's character, artist Mariah Wyman parades around their living space wearing no underwear. In fact she's wearing a long t-shirt she's conveniently cropped a chunk out of just above the panty line. 'You don't have any panties on,' exclaims her hubby doctor (played by Matthew Modine) mid row, to which Mariah shows him her the back of her cotton tee, also snipped out to expose a pert, white milk derriere. It was the memorable moment in Robert Altman's great interconnecting L.A. story.

Boogie Nights
Paul Thomas Anderson's backstage pass to the 70s porn scene proved a breakout for Mark Wahlberg and let Moore go wild as Amber Waves, drug addled porn veteran and mother of one. In her key scene, a coke binge with fellow starlet Rollergirl switches to Amber's custody battle for her son. Moore is tremendous at letting it all unravel, from the sweaty high hysteria to sympathy for her younger charge and then finally sadness for herself, weeping outside a courtroom. I'm sorry fans of Claire Danes crying in Homeland, but no one beats JM for a five star meltdown.

The Big Lebowski
Severe fringed feminist daughter of a cranky old millionaire, Maude Lebowski uses the opportunity of mistaken identity to seduce The Dude, also called Lebowski, in the Coen Brothers' cult hit. In her clipped English accent and fur coat, Maude educates The Dude in the way of her vaginal art and Julianne Moore more than hams it up with the boys. Respect.

Far From Heaven
Todd Haynes' trick in Far from Heaven - to inject 50s style melodrama with contemporary issues of race, sexuality and class - was a difficult one to navigate. But he pulled it off, helped in no small measure by Moore, as Cathy Whitaker, a seemingly perfect Stepford housewife whose world is about to become less than the Technicolor dream it appears. The scene where Cathy discovers her husband in fragrante delicto with another man is perfectly restrained; Moore's face moves from shock to confusion and then somewhere in between, a sort of 50s WTF. Top stuff.

The Hours
A tough call, to stand out in a film where Nicole Kidman plays Virginia Woolf and Meryl Streep, a modern day version of one of the author's most enduring characters, Mrs Dalloway. But Moore, as Laura Brown, articulates her struggle to remain a homemaker with simplicity and grace. The bathroom scene - where she's trying to keep from crying as her loving husband calls her to bed - is a thing of quiet despair.

Savage Grace
Savage Grace weirded everyone who saw it out and if it hadn't been based on the allegedly true story of an American heiress Barbara Daly Baekeland's incestuous relationship with her son, it might have been difficult to keep faith with. It's worth it for the three-in-a-bed fumblings between mother, son (a fawn like Eddie Redmayne) and Hugh Dancy. After those shenanigans, breakfast round the Daly Baekelands was pretty awk.

A Single Man
Moore played a gin soaked ginger called Charley with aplomb in Tom Ford's gorgeous directorial debut. It's a supporting act but beneath the drunken mess, there's one of Moore's many draws at work again: showing her character's inner turmoil as she dances and drinks away the fear. Also: tremendous hair; makes smoking look cool.

The Kids Are All Right
Moore's clearly drawn to work that deals with the messy edges of human sexuality but she really queered the space in The Kids Are All Right, by going gay and then copping off with the sperm donor. It might not have been the lesbian-for-life story some would have wanted from one of the few Hollywood outings for female sexuality, but it was more interesting for it.

Map to the Stars
Moore's turn as a has been Hollywood starlet looking for another shot at any cost was overshadowed this year by the Oscar win for Still Alice. But is her part as Havana Segrand, the best she's ever done? It's certainly the most appallingly funny as Segrand does her chakras, dances on a dead boy's grave and, in her shitting-all-over-other-actresses moment, bitches out her PA while farting on the bathroom toilet. Incredible.

Still Alice
It was Moore's fault the Oscars were such a bore off; there was no way any other actress was going to top this performance as a university professor with early on-set Alzheimer's. No surprise when the part plays to Moore's strengths as an actress. Her characters often struggle to pretend normality as their inner life crumbles; this film sees Alice physically collapsing from the inside out. She deserved the gong all right; it's an incredibly dignified portrayal.

Still Alice is in cinemas from Friday 6 March

Credits


Text Colin Crummy