My Take on the Best Actress Category

julianne moore

Normally it is the Best Actress category that is the most contested category in the Oscars. In the last five years alone, there has been face-offs between Meryl Streep versus Viola Davis (2012), Jennifer Lawrence versus Jessica Chastain (2013), and Natalie Portman versus Annette Bening (2010). All of these were highly contentious races with outcome predictions being split down the middle. This is not the scenario this year regarding Julianne Moore and her heartbreaking performance in Still Alice. Moore is able to convey a mixture of fear and strength in her performance that illuminates it beyond being a role that demands the viewer to pity her character. Furthermore, Moore takes on the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease with such careful subtlety that there are instances that the viewer must remind themselves that it is in fact Moore conveying such a performance. Moore seems to be unstoppable in her path to win her first Oscar, but there is a Oscar trend that has been prevalent in the past that ought to be mentioned. In the past, there have been various nominees that have conveyed the awful onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and the emotional toll it places upon those who are close with the afflicted character. Judi Dench provided a heartbreaking portrayal of the real-life writer Iris Murdoch and her descent with Alzheimer’s in the 2001 film, Iris. Julie Christie provided a more subtle heartbreaking performance in which she forgets who her husband is in the 2006 film, Away From Her. In both instances these actresses lost, which asks the question: Could this happen to Julianne Moore as well? The answer is more than likely, no. This rationale stems from Moore winning the Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award, SAG and the BAFTA award. On paper, Moore is unstoppable and the obvious winner for Best Actress this year. But more glaring, Moore’s competition this year is rather lackluster and doesn’t seem to pose too much of a threat to her. Marion Cotillard’s performance in Two Days One Night was one the best elements of the film, but the Oscar backing of this film is so lacking that Cotillard ought to be solely grateful of even getting the nomination. Felicity Jones’ performance in The Theory of Everything is everything that could ever scream “Oscar,” yet her performance is overshadowed by her co-star, Eddie Redmayne, and the Oscar campaign is more focused too much upon him to give her enough traction to pull off a win. Concerning Reese Witherspoon’s performance in Wild, it is the sort of raw, coming-of-life performance that normally the Oscars go for, yet this film barely generated any excitement amongst viewers or critics that could give Witherspoon her second Oscar win. Yet, the Academy likes Witherspoon a lot, which places her on the second slot to win this year. Regardless of her performance, it can be argued that Witherspoon’s nomination had more to do with her name than her acting range in Wild. That leaves Rosamund Pike and her frightening performance in Gone Girl. This is the only performance that is on the same level as Julianne Moore’s, but for a different reason. While Moore’s role is subtle, Pike’s is highly expressive, almost maniacal. Yet Pike’s chances of winning are close to zero, especially when considering the lack of nominations the Oscars gave to Gone Girl. However, regardless of whether she wins or not, Pike will be placed in a category of extraordinary performances that will rank alongside other great nominated femme fatale performances, such as Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction or Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity. She may not win, but her performance will never be forgotten.

The Nominees:
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Will Win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Could Win: Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Should Win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice or Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

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