The Museum of Moving Image paid tribute to Julianne Moore’s career on Tuesday in New York to a crowd populated by close family friends, famous faces and dedicated admirers. Steve Buscemi, Ethan Hawke, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sarah Paulson and other industry veterans raised a glass to Moore’s fearless choice in roles, boundless empathy, and rich contribution to the world of independent film.
“So, what was it that led me here?” Moore said while accepting her award. “A lot of it was luck, but most of it was my interest in story. It took a very long time to be a film actor. I worked for ten long years without even making a dent in the film world. But suddenly everything changed for me with independent film. There were opportunities to work with astonishing, adventurous filmmakers on these amazingly original stories. Through indie film, I became a film actor.”
1. “I know Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. And they are assholes compared to Julianne Moore.”
Michael Barker: “The people in this room are family to me. I have worked and known so many people in this room for the last 35 years. It’s the New York independent film community. Our honoree tonight, as a talent and as a person, is at the center of it all, and has been for many years. There are spirits hovering over this room tonight. Spirits in awe of Julie’s acting and her humanity. Spirits who predicted for her well-deserved evenings like this a long time. Spirits like Robert Altman and our dear friend Philip Seymour Hoffman. They’re with us to celebrate an actress of prodigious skill and sincerity. As Steve Carrell said at Palm Springs a couple weeks ago: ‘Julianne Moore is not only a great actress, but the nicest person I know. You don’t understand. I know Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. And they are assholes compared to Julianne Moore.'”
2. “Julianne Moore gets everything right.”
Ellen Barkin: “Julianne Moore is the only American actress to have won the trifecta of Berlin, Venice, and Cannes. What award hasn’t she won? I would simply call her the best actress of her generation. I also get to call her one of my closest friends. For over 20 years, I’ve seen up-close and personal, the passion and the fierce intelligence that drives her success. It has been fascinating to me to watch how hard Julie works. Julie’s career works not just onscreen but offscreen as well because Julie has a point of view. She makes very careful, deliberate choices. It’s those choices as well as her prodigious gifts that have formed a very neat and very singular career. She is the most determined and maybe the most courageous actor I know. I can tell you times when Julie has said to me, ‘I’m doing it. I’m scared, I might not get it right, but I’m doing it.’ Julianne Moore always gets it right. You can see from her impressive body of work that one of Julie’s main motivators is her need to be challenged as an artist.”
3. Ethan Hawke: “You don’t know how many awards you haven’t won until you Google ‘Julianne Moore.'”
4. “She taught me to make decisions on movies from your heart, never for fame or money.”
Chloe Grace Moretz: “I’ve known Julie since I was fifteen years old. I feel so, so, so lucky because she’s been incredibly fundamental to my upbringing as a young woman in this industry. She taught me to make decisions on movies from your heart, never for fame or money, because you have and what you can stand for in your career are the projects you put onscreen. Seeing the fruitful career she’s had, that rings true.”
5. “I love you with all of my heart. I think you’re one of the great, great artists working today.”
Mark Ruffalo: “Your work is touching, delicate, and beautifully conceived. They say that playing with the best raises the bar of your own talent, and I have to admit that sharing the screen with you and Annette Bening is the equivalent of sharing the court with Michael Jordan. I love you with all of my heart. I think you’re one of the great, great artists working today. I’m honored to know you.”
6. “She’s incapable of having a false moment.”
Sarah Paulson: “In working with her, I’ve walked off with some invaluable lessons I’ll always carry with me. Julie’s generosity as a scene partner is exceeded only by the honesty she breathes into her performances. She’s incapable of having a false moment, and that makes you better because it means you can’t get away with anything less. For that, I will be forever in her debt.”
And then there was Candice Bergen, who had the best quote of the night: “Julianne Moore had no impact on my youth whatsoever. Or no foundation in my growing up. In fact, I barely know her. I’ve met her three times. I haven’t seen ‘Still Alice,’ because at 68, it’s just too close. I have no idea why I’m here. I got dragooned into it by the museum. But I revere Julianne Moore because her work is meticulous.” (We hope Bergen gets recruited to present at the Oscars.)
Moore concluded the ceremony by revealing the impetus for her acting career: “I never, ever imagined that I would be a movie actor. When I was kid, I liked to read. I was pretty good at school, but I wasn’t athletically inclined. I had no hobbies. So I ended up trying out for the school play with the rest of the nerds. To my surprise, I could do it, and it didn’t feel any different than reading out loud. I just liked how acting made me feel, and I loved stories, and I thought that was a good enough reason to do something for a living. I received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year and I made a lot of jokes to my family about how now I don’t need a tombstone, and now I feel like I don’t need a memorial service, either.”
Visit the Museum of Moving Image to watch Julianne Moore’s most lauded performances, on display January 14-25.