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“I think Julianne Moore is perhaps the greatest American actress never to have received that award,” Still Alice director Wash Westmoreland said when the topic of the Academy Awards came up during the Rome Film Festival. “I think that’s widely understood.” Moore has been nominated four times, three of those for best actress and once for best supporting actress, but has never won.
In Still Alice, Moore plays an accomplished linguist diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She is forced to deal with feeling her words slip away from her, as well as the disease’s implications for her family, played by Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart. Moore’s incredible performance has most critics pegging her as a shoo-in for a best actress nomination.
Westmoreland and co-director Richard Glatzer first met Moore when she was in talks for a role on another project. “It took her two months to decide and she said no and we were heartbroken. But we had her email,” said Westmoreland. They decided to send her the script for Still Alice. She read it immediately and called back within two hours saying this was the role for her.
Read more ‘Still Alice’: Toronto Review
Moore researched the part extensively, including consulting with doctors as if she were being diagnosed, going to support groups, and meeting with patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, one of whom she formed a very close bond with. “I think one of the reasons Julianne’s performance is so nuanced is that she made this very personal connection with someone dealing with the reality of the disease,” says Westmoreland.
“When we were making the film we weren’t really thinking about the Oscar campaign. We were just all blown away by the performance,” says Westmoreland. “Everyone on the set, even the guys loading the trucks, they knew that Julianne was really delivering something special.”
The director says he was overwhelmed by the response after the film’s premiere in Toronto. “We did have the filmmaker’s dream scenario of showing the film and suddenly there was this swell of critical appreciation but also this sudden Oscar buzz as people realized that Julianne could be a serious contender,” said Westmoreland. “Obviously this is tremendously exciting.”
“The attention that that brings to the film is a huge positive, both for the film itself and for Alzheimer’s awareness,” he said. “Of course as a filmmaker I want Julianne Moore to win this Oscar. I think she’s earned it. I think she deserves it for this performance.”
Sony Pictures Classics will release the film next January and is planning a major Oscar campaign.
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