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Renée Zellweger Deserves An Oscar Nomination For “Judy”

Judy Garland has a special place in Hollywood. The legend is largely beloved, even to this day. From her early days until her last, she was always embraced by at least part of the world, and sometimes…the entire world. This week, after blowing away audiences at the Telluride Film Festival, the biopic Judy brings the last part of her life to the screen. Buoyed by an amazing performance by Renée Zellweger, the movie is better than your garden variety industry tale. Oscar is going to come calling for this one, mark my words. Luckily, it’s solidly entertaining and never once feels like homework.

The film is a biopic, centered on the final year of the famous actress/singer’s life. When we meet her, Judy Garland (Zellweger) is essentially homeless, having been kicked out of her hotel room she stays in with her young daughter and son. Bringing them over to the home of her ex husband Sidney Luft (Rufus Sewell), she’s at a crossroads. Despite a potential new beau in Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), Judy knows that Los Angeles is shutting her out. Without any other options, and facing Sidney suing for custody, she opts to take a gig across the pond. Uninsurable and unreliable to act in Hollywood films, she instead arrives in London during the winter of 1968, set to perform a series of sold-out concerts for a still adoring crowd. Rosalyn Wilder (Jessie Buckley) is tasked with wrangling her, which proves difficult, considering Judy’s issues. Still, the show must go on. Rupert Goold directs a screenplay by Tom Edge, with cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkeland, as well as a score from Gabriel Yared. Supporting players include Gemma-Leah Devereux, Michael Gambon, and more.

This is the Renée Zellweger show, through and through. She’s terrific in the role and you almost instantly forget you’re watching her. Zellweger inhabits Garland perfectly. Moments in, you care deeply for her. It’s a good thing too, since Tom Edge and Rupert Goold really are relying on her to make the flick work. With her, it’s entertaining and invests you heavily in her tale. Still, without an actress who can give you that, this could have been a chore. Edge puts the material in there, but it needed the right performer to execute. Essentially, Zellweger not only outdoes herself, she makes the film itself stronger than it otherwise would have been. It’s a really impressive accomplishment to witness.

Judy is a clear cut Best Actress play for Zellweger, though the movie itself could be a bigger awards player than expected. To be sure, Zellweger is headed straight towards another Academy Award nomination, and could well end up winning Actress too. Not only that, but since she carries everything so well, as mentioned above, watch out for her to carry Tom Edge into the Best Adapted Screenplay race (it’s a weak field, so that could work in his favor too), as well as Best Picture itself. Especially if Zellweger is in the thick of it to win another Oscar, the movie itself should be embraced by voters.

Come Friday, Garland’s legion of fans can team up with Zellweger’s backers to give Judy the love it deserves. This is a flick that could have been completely bland and unnecessary, but that’s never the case. Again, Zellweger does a lot of the heavy lifting, but she’s so good, you never once care. See it for Zellweger, but know that’s not the only thing working here. Come for Zellweger but stay for Judy Garland, essentially. Make sure you give it a look and write her name into the Best Actress field with pen. She’s getting nominated, it’s a done deal.

Be sure to check out Judy, in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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