Julianne Moore is having a good year. The gorgeous 54-year-old actress just received her fifth Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a college linguistic professor afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice,” an independent film written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, which opened last Friday.
The Museum of the Moving Image celebrated the iconic actress’s career achievement with a gala Tuesday night in midtown Manhattan attended by A-listers who showered her with tributes and support as they introduced clips from a dozen or so of her more than 60 films, which illustrated the diversity and complexity of her many roles in movies that ranged from Hollywood blockbusters to independent film.
She has worked with first-time directors whose scripts she liked – including writer-director Bart Freundlich, who was to become her husband 20 years later – along with legendary directors Louis Malle and Robert Altman, who launched her career.
After her Golden Globe victory last week it is a forgone conclusion that she will finally waltz off with the little gold statuette this year.
On the red carpet, Moore, who looked fabulous in a shimmering metallic short gown, said of her role in “Still Alice,” that the film forced her to consider what constitutes our “central selves.” She added, “Who are we if we start to lose the things that people use to redefine us … are we still there? Who do we still love? I think the thing this movie posits is that a human life is more than what we think it is. It encompasses more than we know.”
Moore’s friend Sarah Paulson described for me what she felt was so special about Moore’s screen presence. “I think there’s something about Julianne where you can almost see her emotions. You can see that her skin color changes when she’s having an emotional reaction. She’s very alive and present on film.”
The movie star received a two-minute standing ovation before being feted by actors and directors, who included Bart Freundlich; Mark Ruffalo (via video); Michael Parker, Sony Pictures Classics chief and new Museum co-chairman, and outgoing Museum co-chairman, Herb Schlosser; along with Billy Crudup, Rebecca Miller, Sarah Paulson, Ethan Hawke, Steve Buscemi, Candice Bergen and Chloë Grace Moretz.
They introduced clips from some of Moore’s many celebrated films, which included “A Single Man” (2009), “The Big Lebowski” (1998), “Boogie Nights,” (1997), “The Kids Are All Right” (2010), “The Myth of Fingerprints” (1997) and “Short Cuts” (1993).
It was very much a family night that Moore celebrated with her husband and children, Liv, 12, and Caleb, 17. “I have a very special insight into Julianne Moore,” said her husband from the podium. “I’ve known her for 20 years. I’ve been married to her for 11 and had kids with her for 17. Directed her three times,” Freundlich said. “I’ve been with her through numerous sunburns. Four Oscar ceremonies, five to come,” everyone cheered. “I don’t consider Julianne an actor. I consider her an artist. She conjures people off the page with her intelligence, boundless empathy, and unparalleled hard work. I always felt the success of our relationship was in part because the writer in me speaks to the actress in her. However, I’ve come to understand, every writer whose words she’s read, believes that.”
Moore’s husband reminisced about their first meeting, which naturally came about because of a film role. “I was naïve enough to think that Julianne Moore would do my first movie. I was lucky enough that she read the script and decided that she would meet me. We met at the Peninsula Hotel. She was very late and I was very nervous. And we sat down and she said, ‘I liked your script, man, but it’s too long and something needs to be cut down. If it’s my part, I wouldn’t be interested,’ to which I replied, ‘Will you marry me?” The audience laughed.
Other highlights included 17-year-old Moretz, who said she’s known Moore since she was 15, when they co-starred in “Carrie” in 2013. “I feel, so, so lucky to have met her at such a young age,” Moretz said. “She taught me to always make decisions on movies and what characters you want to be from your heart and you never choose it for fame or money.”
From the podium, Ethan Hawke joked, “It’s funny, you don’t know how many awards you haven’t won until you Google Julianne.” And Steve Buscemi mentioned Moore’s 1990 film, “Tales From the Dark Side.” “I think this is one maybe you kids can see … if they had a VCR. You played Christian Slater’s sister. You were killed by a mummy and came back to life. Good times!”
Candice Bergen said Julianne Moore has had no impact on her career but was there at the request of Michael Barker. Of course Bergen’s late husband, Louis Malle, directed Moore in “Vanya on 42nd Street,” the 1994 film that launched her career. As for Moore’s latest film, Bergen quipped, “I haven’t seen ‘Still Alice’ because at 68, it’s just too close.”
Moore’s eloquent and funny speech ended the evening on a high note. She thanked her many representatives, fellow actors and directors, but focused on her family.
“It’s kind of crazy because my children are here, and they haven’t seen any of my films, except the ones I’ve made with their Dad, and just parts of them,” Moore laughed. “It’s all pretend,” she told them. “The cigarettes were fake.”
“This is not something I ever expected, certainly not while I was alive to see it,” she joked. “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 that now I don’t need a tombstone. Now I feel like I don’t need a memorial service either. Thank you! You saved my family a lot of money.”
The actress ended her speech on a serious note and reminisced about her career and her work with directors who impacted her professional and personal life. “I’ve been so privileged to be in so many exciting, interesting narratives, with so many tremendous filmmakers and so many unbelievably talented people, so many of whom are here tonight. But really it’s my own story, my own family story, Bart and Cal and Liv, who have given my life so much meaning.”