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The Top 10 Julianne Moore Films

By Maureen Brown · January 20, 2015

With one Golden Globe win for Still Alice already in the bag, another nod for her role in Maps to the Stars and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Still Alice, it’s shaping up to be a great awards season for Julianne Moore.

Over her thirty-plus years as an actress she has brought us a deeper insight into the plight of human existence. Her characters have been rich, tragic and overwhelmingly authentic. She has never shied away from portraying any part of the human condition and with that, she is courageous.

With all of the buzz surrounding her latest roles, we thought it was high time we take a look at her long and vibrant career and give praise to her past top ten performances.


10. An Ideal Husband (1999)

Conniving, backstabbing and manipulative can all be used to describe the character of Mrs. Laura Cheveley in this political period piece staring the always charming Rupert Everett. Yet clever, witty and inventive should be used to describe Julianne Moore’s portrayal of this villain. She brought much needed spice to the doldrums of high society and kept the intrigue going from start to finish.


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9. Magnolia (1999)

In Magnolia, an ensemble piece full of Paul Thomas Anderson regulars all facing certain crisis of character, Moore perfectly embodies a woman teetering on the edge of stability. She nails this complicated character who has such an immediacy to her pain and guilt, yet is noticeably absent from the reality of her husband’s inevitable death. Her inner turmoil rules her every movement adding complexity to the character that only Julianne could achieve, making her such a treat to watch.


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8. The Hours (2002)

The female talent in this film is extraordinary. Moore shares screen time with both Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman, each living in a different time period, connected through Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway and the ever-present theme of suicide. For Moore’s part, she plays a 1950’s housewife in the throws of a deep depression, barely able to function in everyday life. Her desperation is so palpable yet played so subtly that you feel her character truly did exist.


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7. The End of the Affair (1999)

In war-torn London in the 1940’s, Julianne plays Sarah Miles, the former lover and focus of Maurice Bendrix’s, played by Ralph Fiennes, obsession. Moore masterfully brings an air of mystery that automatically draws you in to the intimate life of an upper-class British Lady. She is the invisible wife that begs to be acknowledged. The slow unfolding of her character, in the capable hands of Julianne Moore, is a gift to the audience. For once she is fully known, there is no turning back.


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6. Boogie Nights (1997)

Amber Waves, Julianne’s character in yet another Paul Thomas Anderson film, is a veteran porn star and mother hen to the unholy bunch of lost souls who fill this world of depravity and sexual liberation.

On the surface, Amber embodies the glamour of an industry in its prime. Yet once you peel back a layer, you see the downfalls of drugs and a questionable career path take hold. Soon we become privy to the world of a lost and hopeless woman. She aches to mother her actual child, but must live with the consequences of her life choices. Her performance is gripping, full, tragic and most deserving of her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.


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5. The Big Lebowski (1998)

Julianne Moore’s performance was an absolute highlight of this cult classic. She was everything this character needed to be and more. Julianne was strong, quirky, and frighteningly confident as the artsy and independent daughter of millionaire Lebowski. Furthermore, her role as Maude Lebowski was such a refreshing retreat from her repertoire of tragic figures that it stands out as one of her most entertaining executions of any character she has taken on. From the first moment she flew (literally) into The Dude’s world I was hooked. And from then on, I never wanted her scenes to end.


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4. A Single Man (2009)

The makeup. The hair. The accent. Julianne Moore as an aging, British party girl was nothing short of mesmerizing. She brought a necessary levity to the sadness and suffering omnipresent in this film that follows an English Professor in the 1960's through the aftermath of the unforeseen passing of his beloved partner. Even when opposite the oh-so-talented Colin Firth, who received an Oscar nom for his lead role, she manages to steal the show and captivate despite her own personal failures. When she is on screen in A Single Man, nothing else seems to matter.


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3. Far From Heaven (2002)

We’ve all seen the stereotypes of the 1950’s poised and perfect housewife. In Far From Heaven, we get to see this facade slowly crumble. Cathy Whitaker deals with the upheaval of her perfect nuclear family through the discovery of her husband’s homosexuality. She is never a caricature but a genuine master of a woman trying to keep it together while also experiencing an enlightenment of her own that breaks unspoken boundaries and changes her life forever.


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2. Game Change (2012)

To play an individual who is still alive and very present in the public eye is daunting at the least. Julianne masterfully brought Sarah Palin to the screen through her journey on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. She encapsulated both the charisma that came with the early media frenzy of the hopeful Vice President and the sheer inadequacy of a woman unraveling under the pressure of a role she truly was not qualified to undertake.


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1. The Kids Are Alright (2010)

A personal favorite, this film was groundbreaking in its portrayal of a lesbian couple’s perseverance through ordinary life. Julianne Moore was so perfectly open with her existential wanderings and need for a purpose beyond housewife and mother. She brought levity, humanity and incredibly rich acting to the character of Jules, who for me, was the delight of the whole film. 


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