Still Alice *** 1/2
Dir: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth
I generally don’t put much store in film awards – the Oscars or any other – since pure merit is hardly the only criteria on which these are judged or conferred. Many other factors come into play – PR machineries, popularity, career achievements, political imperatives, and so on and on – when judging or voting. For that reason, I stopped watching film award shows a long time ago. That being said, I still think the fact that Julianne Moore, one of the finest actresses of her generation, is yet to win an Oscar despite some incredible performances over the years is a travesty. Nobody can convince me that she didn’t deserve an Academy Award for her exquisitely understated performance as a frustrated suburban housewife in 1950s America in Far From Heaven the year that she lost out to Nicole Kidman in The Hours.
In fact, Moore was better than Kidman for her efforts in the very same movie – both actresses had roles of equal length in The Hours but Kidman was nominated for Best Actress while Moore was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category while also winning a nomination for Best Actress for Heaven. But Hollywood doesn’t always appreciate subtlety and Kidman’s fake proboscis for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf won over the Academy voters.
But justice may finally prevail next year as Julianne Moore is currently the leading contender for the Best Actress award for 2014 for her beautifully restrained turn as a linguistics professor at Columbia who becomes a victim of early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The ravages of the diseases and its effect on Alice (Moore) and her family members is acutely and sensitively observed by directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, working off the 2007 novel of the same name by Alice Genova.
The scene where, speaking at a public forum, Alice articulates her terror at the thought of the eventual loss of her cognitive senses is as powerful as they come. Any weaknesses or contrivances in the script are smoothed over by Moore’s brilliance.
Cut to chase: Moore’s powerfully understated performance elevates this touching and effective movie.