"Still Alice" arrives in Columbus theaters this weekend on the wings of Julianne Moore's Oscar-nominated performance, but it also is a case study in Hollywood's gender problem.

“Still Alice” arrives in Columbus theaters this weekend on the wings of Julianne Moore’s Oscar-nominated performance, but it also is a case study in Hollywood’s gender problem.

In this critic’s opinion, not only are there not enough good, smart roles for women, the movies that do contain those roles are too often one-dimensional. Movies like “Still Alice” seem so carefully constructed around providing one great role for an actress, they sacrifice the greater good of the story. Case in point: Of the five films that contain Best Actress performances this year, only one also got a Best Picture nominee (“The Theory of Everything”). You can fairly point out that there’s some gender-bias at work there, too, but many of those movies fall under good-not-great.

And in this case, Moore’s performance is not only the best reason to see this movie; it’s practically the only one.

Alice Howland (Moore) is a successful Columbia linguistics professor and mother of three. When she suffers from some minor bouts of memory loss and confusion, she and her family are stunned with the diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Co-writers/director Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland — working from a bestselling novel by Lisa Genova — set up a chance for Moore to shine, but sadly little else. The subject matter holds its own emotional heft — in recent years I saw my much-loved grandparents in the throes of this sort of dementia, so, yeah, it hits the heartstrings.

But the movie at large doesn’t build into that as much as it hopes to. The casting of Alice’s family magnifies its hyper WASP-iness — Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart (still not landing far from her “Twilight” range) — and the supporting cast does little to humanize the story.

But we still have Alice, and Moore’s performance is a thing to behold. It’s more subtle than the direction of the film. She has a nuance in depicting the inner workings of an intelligent woman whose mind is failing her. It’s a terrifying prospect, and she captures every stage. She’s one of the finest actresses in the world and seems likely to finally win the Oscar that has eluded her.

If “Still Alice” were nearly as good overall as her performance, this one would be a must-see.