The 7 Best Julianne Moore Movies
Julianne Moore has been in more than a fair share of culturally significant films. From the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski to Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights to Todd Haynes’ Far from Heaven; Moore is iconic. She gives every role her all and has a lot of roles great to show for it. Over the course of her acting career, she has earned five Academy Award nominations and eight Golden Globe nominations, with one win from each, both for Still Alice, a film in which she played a woman plagued with early onset alzheimer’s disease. Indeed, Julianne Moore is talented. Here are her seven best films to date.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Big Lebowski is one of the most oft-discussed films in American pop culture. Jeff Bridges plays Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a man who is sick of strangers coming into his house and ruining his stuff because they think he is—the much wealthier—Jeffrey “The Big” Lebowski (David Huddleston). When he and his reactionary Vietnam War veteran bowling buddy Walter (John Goodman) seek retribution, they only seem to make matters worse, but always in comedic fashion. Moore plays the key role of Maude, “The Big” Lebowski’s estranged bohemian daughter. I would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not seen The Big Lebowski—and deservedly so. It’s a bona-fide classic.
Children of Men (2006)
In Alfonso Cuaron’s powerful dystopian film Children of Men, it is 2027 and society is near collapse. The human population is infertile. The world powers that still exist are increasingly repressive and extremely hostile to outsiders. Moore plays Julian Taylor. She and her husband Theo Faron (Clive Owen)—who have been estranged since the death of their son many years ago—find themselves protecting a woman named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), an undocumented refugee from Africa, the first pregnant woman in nearly two decades. It is a bleak masterpiece, perhaps Cuaron’s best to date.
Boogie Nights (1997)
Boogie Nights is assuredly Paul Thomas Anderson’s breakout film and—along with The Lost World: Jurassic Park and The Big Lebowski—it helped make Moore a household name as well. The film tells the rise and fall of a fictional golden age porn star Eddie Adams a.k.a. Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg). By chance, he falls into the orbit of famous adult film director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). Among the people he meets are another adult film actor, Rollergirl (Heather Graham), actor-director Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) and a shy boom operator named Scotty (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who harbors a crush for Eddie. It continues to be one of Anderson’s best to date, as well as one of Moore’s.
Far from Heaven (2002)
Thirteen years before he directed Carol, Todd Haynes helmed another dreamy period piece, Far from Heaven. Both films deal with similar themes of violating the social mores of the mid-20th century America. Carol deals mostly with mores in the realm of sexual orientation, while Far from Heaven deals with those with regards to sexual orientation as well as racism and, more specifically, interracial relationships. Moore and Dennis Quaid play Cathy and Frank Whitaker, a married couple. The latter of the two struggles with homosexual urges while the former steadily builds an intimate relationship with their black gardner’s son, Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert). It is a beautifully-directed melodrama.
Short Cuts (1993)
Robert Altman’s Short Cuts is a grand ensemble tale about the people who occupy Los Angeles, California. Two of the many characters are Dr. Ralph and Marian Wyman (played by Matthew Modine and Moore, respectively). The film operates more as a series of short stories than an outright film. The cast of the series of stories includes Lily Tomlin, Anne Archer, Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davidson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Waits, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr. Tim Robbins, Lyle Lovett, Huey Lewis, Jack Lemmon and more. It is a worthwhile film for any Altman completionist.
Maps to the Stars (2014)
David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars is an interesting piece. Focused on broken lives in Hollywood, Moore plays Havana Segrand, an actress who isn’t doing so hot. Her career is on the downturn. She is trying to snag the starring role in the remake of a film which starred her late mother all while being haunted by hallucinations of her ghost. Havana’s assistant Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) is an estranged member of the Weisses, a prominent but strange Los Angeles family. Even for Cronenberg it is a dark, bizarre film with Robert Pattinson, John Cusack and Olivia Williams in supporting performances.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s follow-up to Boogie Nights is something much more saccharine. Magnolia tells a wide variety of interconnected stories, including that of a dying old television producer, an estranged pick-up artist son, a grieving trophy wife, a committed health care worker, an unlucky-in-love police officer, a grown man scarred by his childhood career as a quiz show whiz kid and more. It is a sprawling, affecting film starring Moore, as well as the likes of Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, John C. Reilly, Melinda Dillon, William H. Macy, Melora Walters, Luis Guzman, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Philip Baker Hall.