That women exist primarily to support men on their journey through life is an outdated patriarchal impulse that unfortunately continues to inform the majority of modern filmmaking. It is pandered to particularly luridly in The Voices, where all female characters - whether full-bodied object of desire or severed head in a fridge - are there to support protagonist Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) in his quest for self-acceptance.
While Susanne Bier's latest may share similar themes with her previous work, Serena, not least the extreme behaviours born out of desperation and the life-changing nature of parenthood, the two could not be more different in their approach. With Serena, Bier's freedom of expression seemed stifled by an overwritten screenplay and an overwrought romance, not to mention the fact that it was so cloying constructed to showcase its two stellar leads, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. A Second Chance, by comparison, is a force of nature, demonstrating an unflinching honesty both of subject matter and style.
Given her remarkable body of work, which takes in the stellar likes of Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), Far From Heaven (2002), Children of Men (2006), A Single Man (2009) and Maps to the Stars (2014), it's somewhat unbelievable that Julianne Moore has only been nominated for a total of five Oscars, and has previously always left empty handed. That she should have finally won this year for Still Alice is more than deserved, not just as recognition for that truly exceptional career but also one of her most astonishing performances to date. She is nothing short of perfect here, anchoring an extremely emotional subject - the shattering impact of dementia - with subtlety and grace.