Julianne Moore has won the lead actress Academy Award for her understated performance in Still Alice as a sufferer of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She portrayed a 50-year-old linguistics professor at Columbia University, forced to deal with a steady decline in her cognitive skills.

Moore’s victory had been widely expected. She had dominated the field during the awards season, winning at SAG, BAFTA, the Spirits and the Golden Globes. Moore won the Oscar over Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night, Felicity Jones for The Theory Of Everything, Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl and Reese Witherspoon for Wild.

It was the first Oscar for Moore, who was nominated four times between 1998 and 2002 for Boogie Nights,The End Of The Affair, Far From Heaven and The Hours. Moore noted in her acceptance at the Spirits that Still Alice notes that it was shot for US$4 million in 23 days. “I brought my own bras and my own food,” she added.

The film was written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 bestselling novel of the same name. Glatzer is living with ALS. Moore said in her acceptance speech Sunday that health issues prevented Glatzer from attending the ceremonies.

Moore also said she was “thrilled” that Still Alice shines a light on Alzheimer’s patients. “People with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen,” she added.

Julianne Moore accepts the Oscar for Best Leading Actress for her role in Still Alice from Matthew McConaughey at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Feb 22, 2015. – Reuters/Mike Blake

Henry Cavill (L) and Chris Evans pose with Julianne Moore after presenting her with BAFTA award for best leading actress for Still Alice at the British Academy of Film and Arts ceremony in London, Feb 8, 2015. – Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

Julianne Moore was a late-bloomer who turned 30 before she hit the big screen – but has more than made up for it ever since. The 54-year-old redhead has played everything from a porn star to an FBI agent over a career spanning a quarter-century.

Her Oscar win came on her fifth nomination, and is the crown jewel in a career already rewarded with three Golden Globes – including one for Still Alice last month – and a BAFTA, also for her latest film.

“I read an article that said that winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer. If that’s true, I’d really like to thank the Academy, because my husband is younger than me,” Moore quipped as she accepted her award. She said she was “thrilled” to be able to shine a light on those suffering from Alzheimer’s, noting that “so many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalised”.

Moore’s best-known films include 1998’s The Big Lebowski, Crazy Stupid Love (2011), as well as The Hours and Far From Heaven, both from 2002. Those last two helped her join the elite club of actors to score two Oscar nominations for different films in the same year. She also scored Academy Award nods for Boogie Nights (1997) and The End Of The Affair (1999).

Moore also won a Primetime Emmy (and a Golden Globe) for portraying Sarah Palin in 2012’s Game Change, about Republican John McCain’s doomed 2008 White House run with the former Alaska governor as his gaffe-prone running mate.

Moore joined the cast of dystopian future blockbuster The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 out last year, and will appear in Part 2 due for release in November this year.

“My life may be a pretty crazy life at times, but it’s a very privileged one – being able to earn a good living doing what you love,” she told Britain’s Daily Telegraph last month. “Not many people have such an opportunity.” – Reuters/Variety.com; AFP