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Julianne Moore’s Oscar shines light on Alzheimer’s Disease

Oscar win for Julianne Moore

Her character in Still Alice, a linguistics professor and a mother of three who begins to forget words and is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, is one of her most compelling. The 54-year-old played Alice Howland with a full range of emotions and fashioned a performance that resonated for anyone who has experienced Alzheimer’s Disease up close.

The anger, frustration, sadness and loneliness, and the need for the love of family, were all there. It is a devastating illness that robs people of their lives by increment, stealthily take more day by day. It was a role tailor-made for Moore and in addition to her Oscar win for Still Alice, she also won a Golden Globe, a British Academy of Film and Television award (Bafta) and a Screen Actors Guild award.

The role enabled Moore to play a character inhabiting a world that matters to people, which is what matters to her. “I like stories about real people and real relationships and real families,” she said backstage. “This movie had all of those things in it. It’s about a real issue and relationships and who we love and what we value.

“I’m so happy, I’m thrilled, that we were able to shine a light on Alzheimer’s disease. So many people who have this disease feel marginalized. People who have Alzheimer’s disease deserve to be seen so we can find a cure.”

Shining a light on Alzheimer’s

The film did shine a light on Alzheimer’s and it comes at a time when there is unprecedented research in diagnosing the illness and treating it. Some 36 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s or related dementia and it is estimated that $605 billion is spent annually caring for the victims, fully one percent of the gross domestic product of the entire planet.

Moore’s portrayal of the victim and the film itself come at time of hope and the light she and the film directed at Alzheimer’s can only improve funding in the quest for that cure. So much new research shows promise.

An example is the work being done by Dr. Joy Yu of the U.S. biotechnology company Genentech Inc. Dr. Yu and her colleagues are working on a way to deliver antibodies to brain tissue via regular injections, injections that could in essence provide a cure for the illness.

Moore did four months of heavy research to play Alice and spent time with victims, their families and doctors. She also visited facilities that treated Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The authenticity and integrity she was able to bring to the character is a reflection of not simply her talent but also her incredible work ethic.

In addition to her Oscar win for Still Alice, Moore was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress for Boogie Nights (1997) and The Hours (2002) and for a Best Actress Award for The End of the Affair (1999) and Far From Heaven (2002).

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