Early Oscar buzz for two films with ALS issues — on both sides of camera

SHARE Early Oscar buzz for two films with ALS issues — on both sides of camera

Julianne Moore in a scene from the upcoming “Still Alice,” playing a woman dealing with the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Next February’s Academy Awards could have a couple of nominated films — and performances — where ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a factor. One is about someone famously battling the degenerative illness. The other involves a filmmaker who has ALS.

There’s an added poignancy to all this as “Still Alice,” starring Julianne Moore is about a woman who is struck with early onset of Alzheimer’s. Moore plays a brilliant and feisty 50-year-old professor of linguistics at Columbia University in New York who develops the dreaded disease, more commonly present in people much older. Her performance already has rated raves and includes a strong supporting cast, including Alec Baldwin (who plays Moore’s husband) and Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish as her daughters.

Here’s the ALS twist, “Still Alice” is co-directed by ALS patient Richard Glatzer, a wheelchair user who helmed the film using an iPad and his still-operative single index finger.

†The other ALS-themed film is “The Theory of Everything,” starring Eddie Redmayne (just in Chicago Monday and Tuesday to promote the film) as genius physicist Stephen Hawking. There’s tons of Oscar buzz both for the James Marsh-directed film, based on Hawking’s first wife, Jane’s book, and for the performances by Felicity Jones (who plays Jane Hawking) and especially for Redmayne for his amazing transformation into Hawking’s persona.

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