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Plot: Kelly and Evelyn Ryan live in Defiance, Ohio with their 10 children. At first glance their life seems idyllic; they call each other "Mother" and "Father" and seem to dote on the kids. But Kelly was a garage-band crooner whose voice was ruined in an auto accident. He's resigned to a dead-end factory… Runtime: 99 min Release Date: 28 Sep 2005
Don't mean to be too exuberant, BUT this was a heart-warming movie. Woody Harrelson is perfect in his pathetic role as loser. Consider "Palmetto" and "The Money Train." He is a winner at this type of role. Yet, in his portrayal of this father of a large family and the husband of a "stand by your man" and "look to the sunny side of life" woman. Woody manages to evoke our pity and makes us reach for understanding. A terrific supporting role.Julianne Moore, the star of the movie, is the heroine, the mainstay who keeps everything together. Never been <more>
out of her little town of Defiance, Ohio it's real, look it up! until one of her daughters drives her to Goshen, Indiana. What an adventure! 100 miles from home. A different state, even though its hard to tell. This daughter is the story teller, the author of the best selling book that became a movie. She captures the 1950s, the silly excitement of writing a catchy commercial phrase, and the heroism and humor of a large family growing up in an era long gone.It will not be a blockbuster. Opening night, which we wouldn't have missed, was in a large, mostly vacant theatre. Everyone clapped their approval at the close. I'm guessing that most of us had read the book before going.If you're one of those who haven't read the book, don't worry about it. The movie is like a "To Kill A Mockingbird," in that it captures the book beautifully. Doesn't deny you the pleasure that comes from reading the book; but let's you in on the wonder of it all. I have a feeling this movie will fade from view within a few weeks. It may also be one of those movies that ends up in the Academy Awards for best screenplay, best supporting actor, best actress. So, don't let it slip away without YOUR seeing it tomorrow or next weekend. These are the kind of movies, and the caliber of performances that are so rewarding you really need to give it a look see. Then, buy the book!
I saw this Movie and it takes you back to the days before women really had domestic rights. It is not only about a strong and bright woman's struggle to keep her family fed and together it is about why woman started standing up and demanding fair treatment. This is a must see for all. The acting is exceptional. I liked the magic between Julianne Moore and Ellary Porterfield. She is one to watch. A star in the making. Woody was also very good. He played the simple, powerless husband to a tee. That had to be a very hard part to play. Lets get this movie out in full circulation so others can <more>
Chick Flick Yes, but I like it too! (by jgrosspjc)
As much of The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio relates to a bygone era, the visual elements beginning the film are critical in transporting the viewer to 1956.Julianne Moore herself is inserted perfectly among the other time pieces in the role of Evelyn Ryan, America's model "Mom" who now exists in conceptual form only. If this is the same Julianne Moore who played 'Amber Waves'opposite or should we say underneath 'Dirk Diggler' in Boogie Nights, we may be witnessing the greatest actress of our time,as these roles traverse not only the decades, but the spectrum <more>
of motherhood itself. The stylization of key characters, costumes and sets envelop us to the degree that it boggles the mind that this is a true story.It's hard not to compare 'Prize Winner' to Angela's Ashes given the overlap of a father's moral impotence against a large brood who he deprives by drinking his wages.Evelyn by contrast makes lemons from lemonade. Perhaps the only shortcoming was the suggestion of conflict between this good catholic family and the deficiency of the Church since the only religious inferences we are to draw are negative and overly obvious too many children,the drunk, chastising priest,and kids in the closet rattling their rosaries . The evaporation of contesting was delivered as tastefully as any other cultural vanishing portrayed in Tin Men, or A League of Their Own. This is Americana at its finest.
This is one of those films lost in the "tracking" gutter of film marketing. In other words, it was not registering with the public so it got a very small release, and a very small audience. This is a shame because it is a "thinking person's Cheaper by the Dozen". It is a very fine movie that leaves you teared up at the end without a contrived plot. It is a true story with real people and they have real faults-yet they bring out the great and wonderful joys of life found by a woman in what most would consider a terrible circumstance.If you see one film on sheer <more>
recommendation this year, this is the film to see. I own a movie theatre in Kansas City and I am playing the film. We had 7 for the matinée that I sat in on one Saturday afternoon-I emailed my customers on Monday and implored them to see this wonderful film. The next Saturday I had 116 for the matinée! It goes on and on and I hope that it will be one of those undiscovered gems for many people this year.
This one came to me in the form of an Academy screener so it's eligible for Oscars - but I had never heard of it - nor read anything about it. So, it's a true sleeper. It's not perfect, but it's a really lovely movie nevertheless and deserves to be better known - certainly by Oscar voters who otherwise might give it a miss. If you are an Academy voter reading this please don't disregard this movie - once again it proves that so many of the smaller American films are the really good ones - small budgets give the director/writers a much better chance, and to have producers <more>
looking after you like Steve Starkey & Robert Zemeckis in this case is enormously helpful - but one fears that the distributors have decided to bury this gem.....come on guys, give it the chance it needs.
Very true, nostalgic and entertaining (by eyedwillie)
I am probably prejudiced since I grew up in Defiance, and even played Little League with "baby" Dave, but this movie was terrific. I did in fact read the book first and I couldn't put that down. I was expecting the movie to not do it justice. The book certainly has more stories to tell than the movie has time for, but some of the best stories are still presented on the big screen for you to enjoy.This lady was a legend. Her kids were exceptional though I remember them as a bit quiet but with the boys being incredible baseball players. Yes, the mother may initially seem too <more>
"polyantic", but after a while you realize she is still human, and simply has a love that was contagious to her kids and will be to the audience as well.Woody is tremendous as the self loathing, but unintentionally funny father. And Julianne shows her great versatility in her character by evoking both empathy AND admiration for her strength and genuineness.I am sure this movie will get sent straight to DVD and become unjustly overlooked I blame the title a little bit for that . But, it's a good family movie, an intelligent movie, and will evoke a lot of feel good emotions which are the hallmarks of any really good movie. Go see it!
I went into a screening of this film cold. I didn't know anything about it except that it starred Julianne Moore. I walked by a poster of the film on the way into the theater and was horrified, thinking it was going to be a chick flick.Well, folks. When I go into a theater and I can't take my eyes off the screen and the movie goes by without me ever even checking my watch, I know I've seen a good movie.Moore plays a woman with 10 children. Although her husband works as a machinist, she basically provides for the family by winning all sorts of contests for all kinds of big prizes, <more>
including big cash prizes. The woman is a master of winning these things. It's the one thing that's keeping her family together. She's definitely the hero and the one person everyone looks up to. Definitely an inspiration. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll stop at that, but I will say that Moore does a great job with her role.Moore's husband in the movie, played by Woody Harrelson with emotional conviction and healthy dose of humanity, has a drinking problem and is a big source of tension inside the household. To the movie's credit, it doesn't paint the father as the typical one-note, evil, hateful,abusive, drunken father. There's a real character in there who loves his wife and kids and the movie does its best to portray him as fairly as possible despite his drinking problem and fits of rage.The movie does bring out strong emotions from its audience, not quite a tear-jerker but close. It's not the sort of movie I would watch again and again because it's not my type of film, but I was glad for having seen it.There's good acting, good pacing, a good story and possibly most important of all, it is told in an entertaining, gripping fashion. I wouldn't be surprised to find out if there is an Academy Award nomination in store for Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson.At the end of the movie, there was a nice round of applause from the audience. I told one lady, "Wow, the two hours just went..." and I snapped my fingers. She said, "It just zipped by." I also heard several different people talking as I left the theater, "Did you like it?" "Yeah, it was great." Go see it.
Julianne Moore was excellent in her role of Evelyn Ryan. The movie is inspirational and thought provoking for women everywhere. A great family story. Woody Harrelson was perfectly cast as her alcoholic husband. He portrayed his character Kelly Ryan with just enough intensity and a touch of humor to not take the spotlight away from Julianne's character. The movie was taken from the book by the same name. It was written by Terry Ryan the daughter of Evelyn Ryan. You can sense the genuine connection between each character. Definitely see this one you will not regret it. There is none of that <more>
over the top Hollywood glitz and effects just a great story and excellent acting.
how can you not love Julianne Moore? (by jknight-17)
Contesting, a trend popular in the 1950's and 60's, is now all but forgotten. Women across the country used their wit and wordplay to win thousands of dollars by writing slogans for companies to promote their products. Julianne Moore stars in "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio," as Evelyn Ryan, one such contester who uses her talents to keep her family fed despite their abject poverty. The film co-stars Woody Harrelson as Evelyn's husband Kelly Ryan, a man struggling with alcoholism and his ill-begotten fate as a factory worker. Unlike most, Evelyn is not just an <more>
occasional contest winner. Her knack for jingle writer provides for her family of twelve and her winning is proportional to her families needs. Throughout the course of the film, her role as breadwinner creates friction between she and her husband, which Evelyn Moore manages with incredible grace and constant optimism. Indeed, Moore is radiant in this role and perfectly cast. Harrelson's performance is equally engaging and his moments of depression and rage are the ideal compliment to Moore's steady courage. Oscar Nominee Laura Dern gives an notable performance as a member of the Affadaisies, a group of contesting mothers which Evelyn befriends. Dern is quirky and lovable, despite her very small role."Prize Winner" is adapted from a book of the same name, a real life account of Evelyn Ryan's life. The book is authored by Ryan's daughter Terry, who appears in the film and is also re-incarnated as her younger self in the character Tuff, played with strength by Ellary Porterfield who makes her feature film debut. Terry Ryan admits thats her book's "intent was to bring her mother back to life..." and certainly the film is also a vehicle for this. Thankfully, and unexpectedly, the movie does not suffer from over sentimentalization, thanks to brilliant script adaptation and direction on the part of Jane Anderson who, although lacking feature film experience, creates honest and captivating scenes that beautifully depict the Ryan's family life. Anderson is so expert at using symbols within the film to shape an audiences opinion of the characters, it is barely perceptible on the first viewing. The film is beautifully layered with symbols of motherhood and Catholicism, none of which are so obvious as to interfere with the lighthearted moments that make the film captivating. Anderson deftly transitions from the high points of the family's success to the terrible depths of their despair, capturing the audience as they share in the Ryan's joys and sorrows. Anderson's hard work in showing the families dynamic is most evident however in the cohesiveness of the Ryan children, all of whom look like a potential genetic pairing between Moore and Harrelson, and all of whom seemed enthusiastic about their work in the film. when asked what he learned from his more experienced co-stars, Robert Clarke, who plays the Ryan's oldest son Dick, mentioned Harrelson's multitude of approaches to a scene and Moore's constant professionalism. Ellory Potterfield Tuff commented that for her, working with Moore emphasized that "there is no acting, only reacting." Writers, Directors, and child stars aside, it is Julianne Moore who brings the role of Evelyn to life and real humanity to the film. "She was an extraordinary woman who lived an ordinary life," Moore said of the real life Ryan at the movie's premier in Manhattan, "I think anyone can relate to trying to raise a family." The Prizewinner also bears the distinct mark of Producer Robert Zemeckis, and this film is moderately reminiscent of the Academy Award winning Zemeckis feature, "Forest Gump." As seen in Gump, Zemeckis is fond of the triumphant underdog, the everyman who perseveres thanks to their unique outlook. Zemeckis's initial reaction to the book was that "it seemed like an almost impossible but wonderful story...it was Evelyn's unshakable optimism and her love of life- the spiritual quality that allowed her to get through a life of hardships."While Prizewinner is certainly not a new take on the BO-flick , the film relies heavily on it's more than capable cast and is a very sensitive portrayal of what must have been a remarkable woman. Although there are a points at which the storytelling is inefficient, and the exposition clunky, at points it borders on downright awkward I left the theater feeling as the though the movie could have told more stories of the Ryan's. I wanted to know more of their lives, and it was that fascination with the characters and events of the film that left me satisfied. The film is as pithy and poignant as one of Evelyn's jingles. Ultimately, Julianne Moore's stoic portrayal of Evelyn is so breathtaking and passionate that any audience member left unmoved should check their pulse.