Still Alice

I LOVE Julianne Moore. There have been so many times over her career when she should have won an Oscar. She was WAY better in 1997’s “Boogie Nights” than Kim Basinger was in “L.A. Confidential”.

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In 2002 she was better in “The Hours” than Catherine Zeta-Jones was in “Chicago” and she was better in “Far From Heaven” than Nicole Kidman was in “The Hours”. Her most recent snub was in 2010 when her great work in “The Kids Are Alright” did even get a nomination and she was overshadowed by her co-star Annette Benning and a newcomer named Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”. Yet year after year she’s continued to give great performances.

When I saw that she was in the awards conversation again this year for “Still Alice” I was intrigued.

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The role of a Columbia professor stricken with early onset Alzheimer’s disease has Oscar written all over it. I was lucky enough to get to see the film last weekend ahead of its wide theatrical release.

The centerpiece is Julianne Moore’s performance. She gets a chance to use every tool in her acting toolbox and she truly acts her ass off. We get to see Alice go from a highly intelligent very articulate woman to somebody who can barely speak. During each stage of Moore’s performance you see the humanity and struggle of Alice. The most heartbreaking scene is when a failsafe Alice has set up for herself fails robbing her of any chance of dealing with her disease on her own terms.

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It really is a great performance and I’d say she has a very real chance at finally winning her Oscar. It’s just too bad the movie isn’t as good as she is. That isn’t to say the movie is bad, it’s not, it’s just not great. You know it’s going to be sad given the subject matter and it is. But there are times when the movie, not Moore’s performance, feels a little TV movie of the week.

There are well known actors in supporting roles. Alec Baldwin is fine, if underused, as Alice’s husband. Hunter Parish and Kate Bosworth play two of her children to good effect. The surprise of the movie is Kristen Stewart. She is the third child who Alice doesn’t have a great relationship with but it’s the mother/child relationship that gets the most development and growth. I DO NOT like Kristen Stewart but she is surprisingly passable here.

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It’s possible that maybe, just maybe, she could have a post “Twilight” career ahead of her.

Although it’s not the best movie of the year do recommend “Still Alice” for the strength of Julianne Moore’s performance alone.

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