Julianne Moore Surges into Best Actress Race as STILL ALICE Gets Oscar-Qualifying Release from Sony Pictures Classics

One of the big surprises of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was a film called Still Alice.  Not many people I talked to saw it, but those that did were raving about Julianne Moore’s performance as a linguistics professor who begins showing the signs of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  The consensus was that if a studio picked up the independent film and set it for release before the year was out, they would have very good odds of landing a Best Actress Oscar for Moore.  And that is just what Sony Pictures Classics has done.  The studio confirmed today that it will release co-directors and co-writers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s adaptation of the Lisa Genova novel in New York and Los Angeles in December for a one-week awards qualifying run, officially entering Moore into this year’s Best Actress race.

Hit the jump for more on the Best Actress category as it stands now and Moore’s presumed frontrunner status for Still Alice.

Buzz on Moore’s performance in Still Alice is extremely positive, but she was actually pegged early on as an Oscar contender for a different movie: David Cronenberg‘s Maps to the Stars.  Focus World opted to hold that film until 2015, quashing those awards hopes, but now Still Alice puts her back in the race.  I’d argue she’s been due to win an Oscar for some time now after four previous nominations—including dual nods in 2003 for The Hours and Far From Heaven.  Word is also positive on Kristen Stewart’s supporting performance in the pic, though I haven’t heard enough to suss out her chances of securing a nod herself.

The Best Actress race as it stands now is frustratingly thin, as I pointed out in my previous Oscar Beat piece on Reese Witherspoon’s stellar turn in Wild.  She’s a likely nominee, and buzz has also been high on Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl and Amy Adams in Big Eyes.  Beyond that, we have Felicity Jones’ lovely and strong performance opposite sure-to-be Best Actor nominee Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, and a potential nod for Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year depending on how that film turns out.

The outside contenders include Meryl Streep in Into the Woods, Jenny Slate in Obvious Child, and even Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars, but the truth is that meaty lead roles for females are in short supply compared to the wealth of three-dimensional and complex male lead roles that dominate the marketplace.  It’s disappointing to say the least, but for now there are no doubt a few fantastic lead female performances deserving of praise.

Moore’s chances of actually winning will become clearer as more people see Still Alice (I have not), but as of right now the consensus seems to be that she’s the current frontrunner.  Of the performances I’ve seen thus far, I’m personally championing Witherspoon, Jones, and Slate to land some recognition.

What do you think of the Best Actress race at the moment, readers?  Do you agree that Moore is due for a win?  Sound off in the comments below, and click here to catch up on all of my Oscar Beat columns thus far.

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