I’m not even going to say “please.” Let’s dispense with niceties and make this point as firmly as possible. Julianne Moore: If you want to do the right thing this Oscar season for “The Kids Are All Right,” your costar Annette Bening and yourself, you will immediately quit the Best Actress race and campaign in supporting.
You and Bening have the best shots at winning Oscars as a result. Stay in the lead race and you may ruin both of your hopes.
Frankly, you have no realistic chance of winning the lead actress contest. According to the collective opinions of the 11 experts polled by Gold Derby as well as our editors, you won’t even be nominated.
However, there are some pundits we polled who DO believe you’ll be nommed there, including Dave Karger (Entertainment Weekly), Guy Lodge (In Contention) and Scott Feinberg (Scott Feinberg). But that’s not the common view when all opinions are averaged together. (Gold Derby will feature these Best Actress predictions in the next few days – hold your horses, Derbyites!) None of the pundits who say you’ll be nominated believe you’ll win. However, if they’re correct and you nab that bid, after all, you’ll end up competing against Annette Bening, who most of our experts believe WILL win. Since her Gold Derby odds are that good (11 to 5 compared to zero for you), you’ll only end up splitting the vote for fans of “The Kids Are All Right.”
Over the course of Oscar history, five sets of costars were nominated for Best Actress: Anne Baxter and Bette Davis in “All About Eve” (1950), Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor in “Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959), Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine in “The Turning Point” (1977), Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger in “Terms of Endearment” (1983) and Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in “Thelma and Louise” (1991). Only MacLaine won (for “Endearment”).
Yes, you probably have more screen time than Annette Bening — and even the more emotionally showy role, but you can’t win for the same reason Anne Baxter had no prayer of beating Bette Davis in a similar situation. Davis was the sympathetic center of “All About Eve.” Baxter was the bad-girl spoiler both on screen and off. Had Baxter moved down to supporting, she wouldn’t have drawn away “Eve” votes and Davis might’ve triumphed, deservedly, for one of her greatest performances. Instead, she’s one more of many stars who won Oscars for the wrong roles (“Dangerous,” “Jezebel”). Granted, the Best Actress race of 1950 was complicated by Gloria Swanson being nommed for her magnificent gargoyle turn in “Sunset Blvd.,” but Judy Holliday ended up nabbing the prize for frothy “Born Yesterday” instead.
In “The Kids Are All Right,” you portray the spoiler of a happy lesbian family because you hop in the sack with Mark Ruffalo. Oscar voters are not going to side with you over your betrayed lover (Bening). Ain’t gonna happen.
However, if you drop down to supporting, you have a decent chance to win. That race is wide open and you’ll be campaigning with a lead-role advantage. That resulted in past victories for Rachel Weisz (“The Constant Gardener”), Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), Marcia Gay Harden (“Pollock”) among others.
It hardly seems fair, I know. You’ve lost more Oscars than Annette Bening (four to her three), so, if anybody should be stepping out of the way, theoretically it should be Bening so that you can finally prevail. But, sorry — that’s not how the dynamics of this particular situation stack up.
You know what to do now, Julianne. You did it in 2002 when you had more screen time than Nicole Kidman in “The Hours.” Of course, you were really forced to compete in supporting for “The Hours” because you had a far better chance to win in lead with “Far From Heaven.” Alas, you lost both races.
Tom O’Neil (Editor, GoldDerby.com)
Photo: Julianne Moore in “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)