Saturday, January 31, 2015

Top 5 Movie Guide: Julianne Moore

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we take a look at some of our favorite films featuring Julianne Moore, who's nominated this year for her work in "Still Alice". After graduating from Boston University with a degree in acting, Moore started her professional career on the stage in off-Broadway productions. She spent most of the 1980's doing soap operas and TV movies, and didn't get her first role in a feature film until 1990, when she was 30-years-old. Her first leading role came in 1995's "Safe", for which she earned praise throughout the industry. After "Safe", she quickly landed prominent roles in notable films such as "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997), "Boogie Nights" (1997), "The Big Lebowski"* (1998), and "Psycho" (1998).


She's so far appeared in 58 feature films, earning five Academy Award nominations along the way, including two in 2002 (Leading Role: "Far From Heaven"; Supporting Role: "The Hours"). She's yet to win, but it appears likely she'll finally take home to prize this year. Among other roles she's won, lost or turned down throughout her career, she lost out on the lead roles in "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" (to Frances O'Connor) and "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" (to Cate Blanchett); she turned down the roles of Audrey in "Unbreakable" (the role went to Robin Wright) and Kate in "Fair Game" (the role went to Cindy Crawford); she beat out Helen Hunt and Cate Blanchett to reprise the role of Clarice Starling in 2001's "Hannibal".

*"The Big Lebowski" was enshrined by this site on October 10, 2012 (John Goodman). As such, it was not eligible for our lists below. Please reference this link for more details on how that system works. Otherwise, hit the jump to see which films each of us selected as our favorites!

Alex Schopp -
This list sure was a nice change of pace from the last couple we've done. I've long been a fan of Moore's work, and she has such a diverse filmography. Narrowing this down to only five selections was a tough task, even with "The Big Lebowski" being unavailable.

     1. Boogie Nights (1997)
Selecting the film for the #1 spot, however, was not. This is one of my favorite movies of all time (recently updated). I mean, the era, that soundtrack. All of the amazing characters. I could spend days talking about everything I love. I know it's a movie "about" the porn industry, but in my opinion, this is a masterpiece.
     2. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
The tone of this film is right in that sweet spot - genuinely emotional at times, but funny enough and light enough that it's always easy to watch. I think this movie hit me at the perfect time when I was transitioning into becoming a "real adult", and I just loved its story. Life is always messy and complicated. Doesn't matter how old or young you are. We're all lost. And that's actually reassuring to me. Also, Mark Ruffalo is just the coolest in this movie.
     3. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
Speaking of those dramedies with perfect tones that highlight how messy life is no matter what age you are... I definitely don't feel for all of the characters in this one as deeply as the film above, but it's still a story told very well and that has a lot of heart. Also, that backyard culmination scene - I had no idea that was coming the first time I saw it. Brilliant.
     4. The Shipping News (2001)
I'm a sucker for movies about the news, so that aspect of this film pushed it ahead of the rest of the crowd. It's a little sappy at times, but it's a cute story. Moore is adorable in this, but how good is Cate Blanchett looking? I mean, kind of trashy, but I'm into it...
     5. Blindness (2008)
I'm not saying this is among some of her "best-ever" work, but this was an interesting film that I feel was probably under-seen by most. In the film, people around the world, in mass numbers, start going blind for seemingly no reason. We pick up on a large group that's been quarantined, all of whom except Moore's character are blind. It's fascinating to see how the world goes on when no one can see. How groups form, how people survive, how they form make-shift governments, etc. The movie is also very memorable for its visuals - when no one can see anymore, very few care about cleanliness and/or hygiene.

Ben Foutch -
I think Julianne Moore is an amazing actress. She can act in any type of film, whether supporting or lead, and will most likely nail it - even in mediocre genre films (see: #'s 3 & 4).

     1. Boogie Nights (1997)
An often tense drama with loads of dark humor. Mix in a cast of great actors with a visionary director and you get one of the best films of the 90's.
     2. Hannibal (2001)
Far below the quality of The Silence of the Lambs, but I still felt immersed in the continuation of this universe. Truth being said, while parts are little over the top, there are some memorable scenes in this film.
     3. Evolution (2001)
Total guilty pleasure. Even though it's an obvious misfire, it makes me laugh. Sometimes that's all you need.
     4. Assassins (1995)
This feels like it just escaped the late 80's/early 90's and never found its footing. Another guilty pleasure, but I grew up watching these low-brow action thrillers.
     5. Cookie's Fortune (1999)
The small town genre where you're sure to find some odd characters finding themselves in a pickle. Maybe it is the small town vibe or the direction of Robert Altman, but it doesn't feel like a late 90's dramedy. Maybe that adds to the charm.

Derek Clem -

     1. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
This is my favorite movie of the bunch. I feel like it gets a lot of hate. I don’t really think it deserves any of it. Plus, Moore serves as a nice addition to the Jurassic Park franchise, unlike everyone in Jurassic Park 3.
     2. Evolution (2001)
This may sound silly, but this is my favorite Julianne Moore performance. I’m a sucker for her pratfalls, I guess. It’s a cheap joke but it makes me laugh - in this movie anyway.
     3. Far from Heaven (2002)
I think I’d have to say this is her best performance. An alternative look on an often idealized era in American history.
     4. The Hours (2002)
Moore’s performance, again, provides an alternative look at an often idealized time. She’s pretty good at these types of roles. The film is inventive in how it weaves/ties together three time periods - all very different, but unified through various commonalities. Plus, that score! Oh man, Philip Glass is amazing! I tell ya, I can’t even!
     5. Benny & Joon (1993)
Prom Queen Mutilator, that old horror movie her character is in… it’s funny.

Nathan Hinds -
Julianne Moore is an actress whose roles I've always enjoyed. I tend to like more films where she plays more of a supporting role, although she has always been someone who can do a lot with a little. I have yet to see "Still Alice", although I'm really looking forward to it not only for her performance, but also because Alzheimer's disease is a medical condition I find fascinating and terrifying.

     1. Boogie Nights (1997)
I've only seen this film once at the recommendation of Alex, although once was all I needed. This film is an absolute masterpiece. I might even go as far as to say that it's perfect. I say once was enough, because when I watched it the first time, I just felt like the movie really clicked for me. I could see a purpose in every shot, every line, every action. I really could go on for a very long time about this film. Instead, I'll just say if you haven't seen it yet and you consider yourself a movie buff, this is one of those don't watch another movie till you see this one type films.
     2. The Fugitive (1996)
A smaller role for Julianne Moore in this film. But there is just too much nostalgia for me with this film to have it any lower. I've easily watched this movie more times than all the other films on this list combined. It's simple, fast, and lots of fun.
     3. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
While I should admit, I put almost no thought into figuring out for sure if this is a true statement, I think this is my favorite Rom-Com since "Love Actually". These type of ensemble films are very hit or miss, mostly the latter, but this film is a great example of when the genre goes right. Every role is believable for the most part, and if it isn't, the humor is good enough to not really make you think about it too much. Is the point of these movies ever to get you thinking a whole lot? The answer to that is no, but this one is enjoyable to watch.
     4. Children of Men (2006)
When I added this film to my list, I realized that I really need to go back and watch this again. It's not the typical film you see within this genre, but it doesn't need to be. It is one of the better dystopian future films, especially when it comes to the writing and its story. It's too often that the special effects and not the story become the main focus in futuristic films like this. Luckily this one broke the usual pattern.
     5. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
While the whole dramedy category isn't my favorite genre, it's definitely up there, and probably has a better track record of consistently producing good films to seek out more than any other genre of film. This is another strong entry into that genre. The reason it doesn't get ranked higher is because there are so many good films in this genre, I feel like a lot of these movies don't have lot of staying power. Because there are constantly new and good films like it being produced, I just don't find these movies getting a lot of multiple viewings. Still, if you're a fan of the genre, this should definitely be a film you check out. Julianne Moore has the best role in this film in my opinion.

Andy Schopp -
I decided to take another route while making this particular list. Instead of going based on performance or quality of movie, I decided to base my decisions on how much I enjoy the movies themselves. So here it is:

     1. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Easy first when basing my list on enjoyment. It's nearly impossible to lose when dinosaurs are involved...unless you're Jurassic Park 3.
     2. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
Well-crafted and easy to re-watch and enjoy. It's a good dramedy that keeps things smooth, in a good way.
     3. Blindness (2008)
This is one here simple for what you start thinking about as you're watching this movie - what would really happen if everyone went blind? It's a fascinating concept. Though I've said it before, and I will say it again: you throw this sort of sci-fi sub-genre at me and I will gobble it up!
     4. The Fugitive (1993)
I have seen this movie many, many times, and it continues to hold up as a classic in my mind. I know that if and when I have children this will be something they are exposed to more than once.
     5. Boogie Nights (1997)
A fun movie with a lot of great players, it just starts to feel long to me, so my re-watching of it tends to be fairly infrequent. It's a great all-around film though.

So there we have it. Another really nice collection of films this week. I'll point out again that "The Big Lebowski" was not eligible for this list, as it was previously enshrined on this site. Who knows how that might have changed things above, but as it was, 15 different films were mentioned. No film appeared on all five lists, but one, "Boogie Nights", did hit on four. Not only was it the most represented title above, it also appeared in the #1 spot three times. "Crazy, Stupid, Love." was the only film to appear on three lists, while five others filled out the content above with two mentions: "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (which received the other two #1 votes), "The Kids Are All Right", "The Fugitive", "Blindness", and "Evolution".

Overall, a really nice sampling above, and hopefully a nice base to work from if you're not too familiar with Moore's work. The titles that all received multiple votes especially feel like strong entries to acquaint yourself with if you haven't yet.

Thanks for reading. All of us at this site will be rooting for Moore to finally win that Oscar statue next month. Be sure to check back to the site next Saturday for some of our favorite Michael Keaton films.

Happy watching!