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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio
Actors: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Trevor Morgan, Ellary Porterfield
Director: Jane Anderson
Genres: Drama
PG-13     2006     1hr 39min

Anything is possible with a little laughter and a lot of heart in this incredible true story of an extraordinary woman who raised 10 kids on 25 words or less. Academy AwardŽ nominee Julianne Moore stars as Evelyn Ryan, a d...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Trevor Morgan, Ellary Porterfield
Director: Jane Anderson
Creators: Jonathan Freeman, Jane Anderson, Jack Rapke, Marty P. Ewing, Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey, Terry Ryan
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Studio: Dreamworks Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/14/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 39min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

Terry D. (tmdaviss) from FLORENCE, KY
Reviewed on 3/19/2016...
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio is a snapshot in time... These are the neighbors down the street who you didn't know what to think about, and a time in America where those neighbors were supposed to fit a stereotype. This story is about a dysfunctional family whose matriarch was the true strength and the children that knew it.

I held onto this film for a long time before watching it. Why? I wasn't sure whether it would feel like many of the stereotypical or clinical made for television movies I have turned off over the years. I am pleased to tell you that script writer and director Jane Anderson made sure it didn't turn into that. Her use of 1st person narrative to the viewer took the sting out of feeling like you were out of place in some awkward situations. The acting by Julianne Moore leaves you wishing you really knew her.

Knowing people from Defiance, Ohio means I have been there many times and wondered whether the location and sets would leave me feeling like I was watching the Cosby Show. Instead I began to wonder if I recognized the houses and streets in the film. True to life and authentic.

If you have not watched this film, you should. While it evokes a love/hate relationship with the characters, you will come away feeling like you want to share what you saw with others. This is not a film for children, due to some family situations and language, but your teens should see it with you.

Mary-Jo W. (mjowest) from SHELBYVILLE, MI
Reviewed on 1/1/2012...
Yep- it's a good one!
Julianne MOore and Woody Harrelson make a wonderful set of parents, and the acting is great- kinda predictable at the end, but since it's a real story, Happy ending!
Well worth watching.
Roberta S. from PORT ORCHARD, WA
Reviewed on 2/2/2011...
Wonderful story - my very favorite movie!
Jeannine L.
Reviewed on 7/21/2010...
This movie is really good--refreshing, inspiring, somewhat educational. I can't really call it a family film, as it does have some serious profanity, but it is a great movie for adults.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

One of Julianne Moore's Best Performances
B. Niedt | Cherry Hill, NJ United States | 03/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Add me to the list of fans who think the wonderful Julianne Moore deserved an Oscar nod for this film. This is a fairly faithful adaptation of Terry Ryan's memoir - both my wife and I have read and enjoyed the book. Ms. Moore portrays Evelyn Ryan, a strong and intelligent "housewife" of the 1950's and mother of ten, who uses her writing talents to win contests, literally keeping her family together and the wolf from the door. As presented in the book, her timing in winning prizes of cash, cars and appliances was uncannily timely. Woody Harrelson does a fine job, too, portraying her alcoholic and explosive husband, Kelly. Laura Dern appears also in a small role as Evelyn's contesting friend Dortha. And the supporting cast of kids are great, too, especially the young actress who portrays daughter "Tuff" (who grew to be the author of the book). I have only minor quibbles with the film. First, I found the "fourth-wall" effect of Ms. Moore talking to the audience with her own character in the same scene a little surreal (I would have thought having "Tuff" as the narrator would have been a better, though conventional, choice); and as expected, some liberties are taken with the book. For instance, in the scene where Kelly ends up with a bowl of Jello mold all over him, I believe it was accidental in the book, while in the film it's quite intentional. While one can understand Evelyn's rage, her character would have never wasted food that way. Otherwise, though, the film does a good job in depicting a housewife's plight in those days, from financial (her husband being the sole signer of the house they purchased with her cash prize), to domestic abuse (the attitude that she just had to put up with an abusive, alcoholic husband, even the implication by a priest that it was her fault). Ms. Moore, as usual, is luminous in the role, and lifts the whole film above the level of an average big-family drama. Other than some occasional profanity from Mr. Ryan, it's a family-friendly film."
Julianne Moore is a "Must See" in PRIZE WINNER
Jan Huttner | Chicago, IL USA | 02/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If I ruled the world, this year's list of Oscar nominations for Best Picture of 2005 would include THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO. PRIZE WINNER is based on Terry ("Tuff") Ryan's best-selling 2001 memoir THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO: HOW MY MOTHER RAISED 10 KIDS ON 25 WORDS OR LESS. It's an Eisenhower-era haunted house movie in which the monsters are bankers, milkmen, priests, and policemen, while the damsel-in-distress is a tenacious Catholic housewife.

This could have been grim stuff, but filmmaker Jane Anderson (who won Emmy and WGA awards in 1993 for THE POSITIVELY TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE ALLEGED TEXAS CHEERLEADER-MURDERING MOM, and received Emmy, WGA, and DGA nominations in 2003 for NORMAL), takes her lead from Tuff, adopting Tuff's triumphant tone as her own. As "Evelyn Ryan," Julianne Moore gives a performance of incredible depth and nuance: smiling on the outside, screaming on the inside. Woody Harrelson also succeeds in giving husband "Kelly Ryan" a soul, making it clear that Kelly is just as much a victim of societal expectations as Evelyn is.

I frankly don't know why this film didn't do better at box office, and I predict it will be very popular when it hits the DVD shelves on March 14th. It will, of course, be categorized as "a chick flick," and many men will therefore be loath to see it. That's a shame, because Evelyn Ryan was as uniquely American as Truman Capote, Edward R. Morrow and her other well-known male contemporaries, and even though she encased herself in girdles and dowdy dresses, the heroic dimensions of "a life well lived" are clear for all to see."
Another Role for which Julianne Moore Deserved an Oscar
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO probably went unnoticed in the theaters because of the title and because of the sappy posters that accompanied its release. Sounds like a silly little flick, but in reality it contains a fine re-creation of the 1950s, of the way women were viewed in that era, of the indomitable spirit of a mother who must raise ten children without the help of an inadequate husband - and a finely wrought performance by one of our bets actresses on the screen today.

Julianne Moore gives one of her signature understated roles as Evelyn Ryan, creating an unlikely character in whom the audience finds a depth of substance and durability. Living in Defiance, Ohio with her machinist cum alcoholic husband Kelly (Woody Harrelson) who is unable to bring home money after his purchases of booze to support his large family. Evelyn copes by entering contests of jingles and poems put out by advertising companies and with her earnings supports her family physically as well as emotionally. Though often thwarted by her husband's actions, she still manages to keep the boat afloat, to maintain her dreams, and to make the best of a bad situation.

Moore is radiant as usual, but in this role she is even more subtle in creating an unlikely character than in even her best films. She is a stunning actress and deserved at least an Oscar nomination for her strong work. The story is based on truth and that helps its credibility as a film. But though the story lacks magnitude, Moore brings it to a level of excellence with her extraordinary gifts. Recommended. Grady Harp, March 06"