Pundits like to compare the
Every once in a while, though, a candidate lands from out of nowhere, jolting the race and seizing momentum like
Directed by the indie helmers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (and inspired in part by the former’s own battle with ALS), the film centers on Moore, an accomplished professor of 50 who early in the film experiences troubling neurological symptoms. Soon her doctor has diagnosed her with early-onset
Most striking about the film is Moore’s performance, which hits emotional notes effortlessly and captures the feeling of a person losing her faculties without any of the broad or easy signposts of such on-screen declines. We’ve seen Moore dazzle in rich roles before—as a troubled porn star in “Boogie Nights,” as a glued-tight housewife in “Far From Heaven,” as a coming-undone
But the role is also notable for how it was revealed to tastemakers: as an utter surprise. Coming into Toronto we pretty much knew about the big candidates--
That changed shortly after the screening, when
There is a playbook for this sort of gambit. Every few years a drama comes into Toronto without distribution but, powered by a strong actress turn, leads to an acquisition and a kind of insta-candidacy. It happened to Julie Christie in “Away From Her” at the '06 festival, and
It's almost a certainty at this point Moore will follow suit. Can she go all the way and win? There are plenty of reasons to think so. Her performance offers the hook of a big transformation plainly visible over the course of a film—always catnip to voters—but also, in its understatement, comes with a subtlety that will rally critics to its side as well.
There's an equally seductive narrative off-screen. Unlike Witherspoon, who has won an Oscar before (in 2006 for "Walk The Line"), Moore never has taken the podium, despite four nominations. The always-a-bridesmaid narrative plays well in Oscar-land, and Moore frequently tops the list of those who don the dress but end up catching the bouquet. This especially hit home in 2003, when she was nominated twice—for her lead turn in "Heaven" and supporting role in "The Hours"--and came away empty-handed.
There are other contenders still to premiere—Amy Adams in “Big Eyes” and