During the 2015 Academy Awards ceremony, versatile actress Julianne Moore was presented with her first Oscar win for her role in the movie "Still Alice." Moore played the film's lead, a linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. In her acceptance speech, Moore made a point of discussing the widespread challenges for those suffering from this disorder, which is often unrecognized despite affecting millions of Americans.
In Moore's speech, she expressed, "So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalized, and one of the wonderful things about movies is they make us feel seen and not alone."
Moore has long been renowned for her ability to act in both critically-acclaimed indie films and movies with mainstream appeal. Furthermore, it's not her first time getting nominated for an Academy Award. The actress past received Oscar nominations for Boogie Nights, The Hours, Far From Heaven and The End of the Affair. The fact that her win upon her fifth nomination seemed long overdue only adds to the importance of her taking time on stage to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease to millions of viewers around the world.
"Alzheimer's disease affects more than 13 million women in the U.S."
Alzheimer's Association praises Moore
In an official press release congratulating Moore, the Alzheimer's Association states that scientists, care experts and volunteers from the organization worked closely with the actors, writers and filmmakers to ensure the disease was represented accurately in the film. "Still Alice" is particularly important in showcasing the high rate at which Alzheimer's disease affects women. The AA notes that women make up more than two-thirds of people living with the disease and that about 3 of 5 unpaid caregivers are women as well.
Angela Geiger, the Alzheimer Association's chief strategy officer, said, "On behalf of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease and their 15 million caregivers, huge congratulations to Julianne Moore for winning an Academy Award. Her beautiful and thoughtful performance in 'Still Alice' resonated with filmgoers and helped to elevate awareness and foster much needed conversation about Alzheimer's disease."
The AA highlighted several other women integral to the film's success, including supporting actress Kristin Stewart, executive producer Maria Shriver, "Still Alice" bestselling author Lisa Genova, producers Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns and Pamela Koffler and several staff from the organization itself. The AA expressed hope that the "Still Alice" will also help garner awareness of its My Brain Initiative, which hopes to use a network of 1 million women to help wipe out Alzheimer's disease. The initiative emphasizes the need for more research, improved care and promoting brain health in order to provide more comprehensive treatment for Alzheimer's.
According to the AA, Alzheimer's disease affects more than 13 million women in the U.S. alone. For Sandy Oltz, Alzheimer's Association Early-Stage Advisor, Moore's work on "Still Alice" was particularly important. Oltz was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease at age 46 and worked closely with Moore while the film was being made. In the press release she expressed her praise for Moore:
"I am so proud and impressed by how she brought the Alzheimer's disease experience to life with 'Alice.' As someone who is on the same journey, all of the awards and accolades that have come to Julianne for her performance, including the Oscar, are so well deserved and so important to all of us with Alzheimer's disease."
"Still Alice" was distributed by Sony Picture Classics, and the company held screenings to benefit the Alzheimer's Association, according to Bloomberg. While the film was small-budget, Moore's winning the Oscar has truly brought "Still Alice" into the limelight. Ideally, with the film's critical acclaim, it can reach new audiences unfamiliar with Alzheimer's disease and raise awareness of the Alzheimer Association's mission.