Julianne Moore wins best actress at Cannes

Julianne Moore attends the Maps to the Stars premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo / Getty Images
Julianne Moore attends the Maps to the Stars premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo / Getty Images

Julianne Moore has won the best actress prize at the 67th Cannes Film Festival for her role as a shallow starlet in Canadian director David Cronenberg's biting Hollywood satire Maps to the Stars.

In the film, the 53-year-old redhead plays an ageing actress feeling increasingly sidelined by an industry obsessed with youth.

When the young son of a rival for new film role is killed in a freak drowning accident, Moore does a dance of joy that remained one of the enduring shocks of this year's festival.

"Vive Los Angeles, Vive David Cronenberg, vive Julie Moore et vive la France," the film's screenwriter, Bruce Wagner, said as he picked up the trophy for Moore, who was not in Cannes.

Moore has played everything from a porn star to an FBI agent over a two-decade big screen career that has already brought four Oscar nominations, two Golden Globes and a Primetime Emmy to her name.

Her 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 won a Golden Globe and an Emmy 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.

Born Julie Ann Smith in December 1960 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Moore lived in 23 different cities during her childhood and adolescence thanks to her father's job as a military judge.

While her dad wanted his daughter to become a doctor or a lawyer, Moore took a degree in drama at Boston University and then headed for New York, where she launched into a career in theatre and television.

Her first big screen role came in 1990's Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, but it wasn't until three years later that she shot to fame with minor roles in Robert Altman's Short Cuts and The Fugitive with Harrison Ford.

Later she worked with Louis Malle in the 1994 movie Vanya on 42nd Street, then with Steven Spielberg in Lost World (1997) and with Paul Thomas Anderson in the successful Boogie Nights (1997), where her role as a porn actress won her her first supporting actress Oscar nomination.

Since then she has confirmed herself as one of only a handful of actresses who can make the transition comfortably between commercial cinema and art house.

She also easily moves between comedy and drama, as defined in 2002, in her roles in science fiction comedy Evolution and family drama The Shipping News.

In her leading role in Far from Heaven, Moore played the tormented wife of a gay sales executive in the 1950s who forges what was at the time an explosive inter-racial relationship with her black gardener.

In The Hours, she plays a mother desperate to break out of the constraints of being a suburban housewife, prompting her to ponder the meaninglessness of her life and to come close to committing suicide. The role won her a Silver Bear best actress prize at the Berlin Film Festival.

The roles stand in striking contrast to her character Clarice Starling in the 2001 movie Hannibal where she plays an FBI agent in the second in the thriller series that was launched with Silence of the Lambs.

In yet another register, she portrayed an English blackmailer in An Ideal Husband, or the slightly dim younger sister of southern murder comedy in Cookie's Fortune.

And her roles in Magnolia, in which she plays a wife who weds for money, or that of a mother whose daughter drowns in A Map of the World, bear no resemblance to her other work.

More recently she was seen in 2010's The Kids Are All Right, starring with Annette Bening as a lesbian couple thrown into turmoil when the father of their children (conceived by artificial insemination) re-enters their lives.

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