After getting on in those aforementioned smaller roles, Moore shared the screen with Hugh Grant in the solid romantic comedy Nine Months. Still relatively unknown, the role opened a few doors for Moore, and her next role in the action thriller Assassins showed her penchant for diversity. It also showed her shaky decision making. Assassins, starring Sly Stallone and Antonio Banderas (never a good sign), is a ridiculous movie. Nevertheless, Moore would continue to stay diverse. Her next role was in Steven Spielberg’s big-budget sequel, The Lost World. While it was a solid sequel, The Lost World had nowhere near the impact of the original Jurassic Park, and wasn’t really a vehicle for actors like Moore to show their dramatic prowess. That, however, would change with her next role.
Moore’s breakout role was in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights, a brilliant ensemble film about the 70s porn industry. Moore played Amber Waves, wife to Burt Reynolds’ director Jack Horner and the seasoned, motherly figure of the porn industry. Moore gave an edgy, sometimes heartbreaking performance as Amber, and this is where her shocking “cry face” was revealed. For all of Moore’s talents, it is almost impossible to watch her cry. Moore took the success from Boogie Nights, her first supporting actress nomination, and turned it into a career of starring in smaller independent features, all the while showing up in bigger films. But the bigger films were never as good as the smaller ones. She flexed some comedic muscle as Maude Lebowski in The Big Lebowski, earned another Oscar nomination for The End of the Affair in 1999, meanwhile starring in poor films like the awful Gus Van Sant remake of Psycho.
Aside from her nomination in 199 for The End of the Affair, Moore would again be a piece of a PT Anderson puzzle, this time playing Linda Partridge, wife to a dying man in Magnolia. As Linda, Moore played a tortured adulteress who realizes too late that she does love her older dying husband, Earl, played by the late Jason Robards. For my money, this was Moore’s finest role as the destructive personality, and her conflicted soul is one of many in one of the best films of the decade. Not long after Magnolia, Moore would take the reins from Jodie Foster, playing agent Clarice Starling in Ridley Scott’s sequel to Silence of the Lambs. While exciting and more mainstream, Hannibal was nothing more than a marginal sequel to a spectacular picture, and Moore was again struggling with bigger films. Luckily, she stayed true to her indie roots and in 2002 would earn a double nomination.
Moore starred as one part of a trio of damaged women in The Hours. In the film, which earned Nicole Kidman her Oscar, Moore played Laura, a fifties housewife contemplating suicide, a role that would get her a supporting actress nomination (her third overall). That same year, Moore would earn her fourth nomination, as another fifties housewife in Far From Heaven. Here, Moore played Cathy, a woman whose husband (Dennis Quaid) is struggling with his sexuality. While the roles were similar in time and place, the situations were diverse and Moore shines in both. Although she didn’t win either time, 2002 would show everyone that Moore was one of the better actresses of this new generation. If only she could find consistency.
Over the next years, Moore would succeed in independent fare like I’m Not There, and would shine in Children of Men as the leader of a resistance organization and the former wife of Clive Owen’s character. Last year, Moore flirted with another Oscar nomination in A Single Man, designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut. Moore, again playing a character in the mid 20th century, was excellent in support of Colin Firth’s heartbroken college professor. Meanwhile, Moore struggled as the lead in films like Freedomland, The Forgotten, and Blindness. Nothing can stick for Moore as the lead, but seemingly everything works for Moore in a supporting role. However, more recently, Moore stars alongside Annette Bening in The Kids are All Right and is getting excellent reviews.
Always the bridesmaid at the Academy Awards, Julianne Moore has found her footing in that same role in her career. She is a fine actress, one of the best, in smaller films as either part of an ensemble or a supporting character. It is when she decides to go mainstream, or she makes a stab at leading lady that she falters. Moore can be melodramatic when she needs to be, and she can be cold when it is asked of her, and she can also be genuinely soulful, happy, and often times emotionally devastating. She deserves a spot in GENERAL ADMISSION.