Fresh off her Independent Spirit and BAFTA Awards in the past week, Renee Zellweger became a two-time Oscar winner tonight, taking home the Best Actress prize for her portrayal of Judy Garland in musical biopic Judy. Zellweger previously won in the Supporting Actress category for 2003’s Cold Mountain. Her two other nominations were for Chicago and Bridget Jones’s Diary.
For Judy, Zellweger transformed herself into Garland at a time when the legendary actress/singer was struggling with addiction, money woes and her own fading star. Set in winter 1968, the story takes place 30 years after Garland played the iconic role of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz. When she arrives in Swinging London to prepare for a sell-out run at The Talk of the Town, she battles with management, finds new love and reminisces with friends and adoring fans. Yet Garland is fragile after working for 45 of her 47 years, haunted by memories of a childhood lost to Hollywood and gripped by a desire to be back home with her kids.
Zellweger tonight paid tribute to heroes in life, mentioning her “immigrant folks who came here with nothing but each other and a belief in the American dream.”
She added, “This past year of conversations celebrating Judy across generations and cultures has been a really cool reminder that our heroes unite us… inspire us to find the best in ourselves. When we look to our heroes we agree, and that matters.” Zellweger then listed “Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, Dolores Huerta, Venus and Serena and Selena, Bob Dylan, Scorsese, Fred Rogers, Harriet Tubman… We agree on our teachers and we agree on our courageous men and women who serve, on our first responders and firefighters. When we celebrate our heroes, we are reminded of who we are as one people, united.”
Speaking about Garland, Zellweger said that though she did not receive an Oscar in her lifetime, “I am certain that this moment is an extension of the celebration of her legacy that began on our film set and it also is representative that her legacy of unique exceptionalism and inclusivity and generosity of spirit transcends any one of our artistic achievements. Miss Garland, you were certainly among the heroes who unite and define us and this is certainly for you.”
Judy premiered at Telluride and went on to score wins for Zellweger at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards among others.
The film is directed by Rupert Goold, and loosely based on Peter Quilter’s stage play End Of The Rainbow with a screenplay by Tom Edge. Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment released domestically to $24.2M. Worldwide, the indie film has grossed $39.6M.