Party Coverage: Scene City
By JACOB BERNSTEIN
Over the years, Julianne Moore has appeared in more than 60 movies, where some of her more memorable roles have included a despairing porn star, a pretentious artist, an articulate academic, a lightheaded lesbian, a boozy Briton and a stilted New England housewife.
She has been a mother fighting for custody of her child (“Boogie Nights”), a mother who abandons her child (“The Hours”) and a mother who has a sexual relationship with her child (“Savage Grace”). Two of those performances earned her Oscar nominations.
On Monday night, she was asked what the through line was. She was decked out in Chanel at the Museum of Modern Art’s annual benefit for its film program, where she was being honored.
“There’s none,” she said, joined by her husband, the filmmaker Bart Freundlich. “That’s really it.”
To the left was the director Todd Haynes, whom Ms. Moore first collaborated with in 1995, when she starred in “Safe,” playing an attention-starved hypochondriac. To the right were Elizabeth Banks and Kristen Stewart, who starred with Ms. Moore in “The Hunger Games” and “Still Alice.”
Ms. Stewart specializes in chronic nonchalance. She seems to be her generation’s spokesmodel for black eyeliner. Yet she cannot speak of Ms. Moore without reaching for superlatives. “I bow down to her,” she said.
Same for Ms. Banks, who first met Ms. Moore around 2010 when they were guest stars on “30 Rock.”
“She’s a genius,” said Ms. Banks, recalling her favorite Moore performances and even going so far as to do an impersonation of Ms. Moore’s trans-Atlantic accent in Joel and Ethan Coen’s “The Big Lebowski,” drawing out the r in “perfect” like it was taffy.
“Short Cuts,” the 1993 Robert Altman movie that helped establish Ms. Moore, was mentioned in numerous speeches during the evening ceremony, which took place in the downstairs theater at about 9 p.m.
This was a little strange for Ms. Moore, since her children were in attendance and perhaps the most memorable scene from “Short Cuts” has Ms. Moore’s character naked from the waist down, getting into a fight with her husband.
“I was like ‘Oh my God! Oh my God,’” Ms. Moore said, after guests moved upstairs to the atrium for a late dinner. “My kids have never seen any of my movies so they had no idea what anyone was talking about.” Her daughter’s reactions to mentions of her mother’s pubic hair? “She was like, ‘What?’”
After dinner, Lauryn Hill, the Harper Lee of hip-hop (she has yet to release a follow-up to her 1998 debut album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”), tore through a greatest hits reel. Her voice seemed to be buried (perhaps intentionally) at first, but by the time she got to her cover of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” its power carried through.
The high-caliber audience, which also included Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, Anh Duong and Michael J. Fox, rose from their seats, giving her a standing ovation. Among the first up was Ms. Moore.
“What a lovely evening,” she said to Rajendra Roy, the chief curator of MoMA’s film department.