• PG-13, 1 hr. 39 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Jane Anderson
    In Theaters:
    Sep 30, 2005 Wide
    On DVD:
    Mar 14, 2006
  • Dreamworks Distribution LLC

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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio Reviews

Joe Leydon
Variety
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February 23, 2012
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
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Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B-

September 7, 2011
Bob Longino
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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It makes for a nice Mother's Day card. But not enough for a complete movie.

Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Original Score: C+

November 10, 2005

Houston Chronicle
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October 29, 2005
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
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Rarely do you have a movie in which both lead actors give Oscar-worthy performances, but Defiance, Ohio is one.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 4/5

October 20, 2005
Susan Walker
Toronto Star
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For once, a true story gets no romanticizing or needless embellishment to become a captivating movie.

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 3/4

October 14, 2005
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
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An uneven but loving tribute to a remarkable woman -- who would, undoubtedly, have wished to rewrite it herself.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 2.5/4

October 14, 2005
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
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What distinguishes Anderson's work is her obvious empathy with all of her characters, including Kelly Ryan, whom she does not demonize.

| Original Score: 3/4

October 14, 2005
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
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Anderson can't do much with the inherent limitations of the hagiopic, which demands a repetitive litany of sacrifice and sanctity, with each hill and every valley designed to further enhance the landscape of inspiration.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 2/4

October 14, 2005
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
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There's not much to the film's story, but the characterization of a family's life is vivid and rich.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 3.5/4

October 14, 2005
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
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It has its own subversive power, as it elevates one family's struggle for working-class survival and valorizes a woman of simple faith and inner strength.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

October 13, 2005
Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
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A mixed bag of goods. A bag of goods, it definitely is, but without a consistent point of view.

Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News | Original Score: C+

October 13, 2005
David Edelstein
Slate
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An honest tear-jerker.

Full Review Source: Slate

October 4, 2005
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
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A bit thin and uninvolving.

Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper

October 3, 2005

AV Club
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October 1, 2005
Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
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Smiling through adversity, Moore is the heart and soul of Prizewinner and worthy of prize consideration come Oscar time.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 3/4

September 30, 2005
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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The prize in this movie is Moore, a first-rate actress who finds layers in Evelyn that the script fails to investigate.

| Original Score: 2/4

September 30, 2005
Peter Debruge
Miami Herald
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It's time someone awarded Julianne Moore a prize.

Full Review Source: Miami Herald | Original Score: 3/4

September 30, 2005
Carina Chocano
Los Angeles Times
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Leaves a bitter little aftertaste.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 2/5

September 30, 2005
Claudia Puig
USA Today
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A poignant look at a family overcoming adversity, the film also provides a glimpse of past popular culture many of us know little about.

Full Review Source: USA Today | Original Score: 3/4

September 30, 2005
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
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The basic, based-on-a-true-story plot -- plucky '50s homemaker provides for her family by entering jingle contests -- is pure Lifetime weepie.

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Original Score: 1.5/4

September 30, 2005
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
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Depicts the Eisenhower years as a golden era when women had the good sense to ditch their careers and endure horrible marriages for the sake of having lots of kids.

| Original Score: 1.5/4

September 30, 2005
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
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The alternating scenes of giddiness and violence create a sense of irreconcilable differences, both for the couple and the audience.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 2.5/4

September 30, 2005
Stephen Holden
New York Times
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Jane Andersons bittersweet, satirically savvy film tells the true story of a 1950s housewife (Julianne Moore) who helps feed her family by writing jingles.

| Original Score: 4/5

September 29, 2005
Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
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Evelyn's behavior just seems surreal, and it doesn't help that the movie never settles on a consistent tone, looking back from an ironic distance at first, then moving in for a painfully close look at the Ryans' tribulations.

| Original Score: 2/4

September 29, 2005
Jan Stuart
Newsday
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The only thing that stands between this woman and canonization is death.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 2/4

September 29, 2005
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
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The film is mild and tentative, as if Anderson and company had inadvertently given in to the wrong sort of 1950s influence.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 2/4

September 29, 2005
Tim Grierson
L.A. Weekly
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There's potential for a poignant metaphor about the sacrifices so many mothers make for their homestead, but Anderson and Moore are so busy creating a blandly perfect domestic goddess that they never stop to wonder about the human being inside.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly

September 29, 2005
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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Prize Winner, written and directed by Jane Anderson, avoids obvious sentiment and predictable emotion and shows this woman somehow holding it together year after year, entering goofy contests that for her family mean life and death.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 3.5/4

September 29, 2005
Rex Reed
New York Observer
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Let us praise Julianne Moore, who lifts it above and beyond the banality of a TV sitcom until it sprouts wings.

Full Review Source: New York Observer

September 28, 2005
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
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Even though Prize Winner ultimately asks us to swallow that golfball-size happy pill, Anderson and her not-so-secret weapon Moore are actually clawing their way toward something deeper and far more complex than a cheerful, embroidered slogan.

Full Review Source: Salon.com

September 28, 2005
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
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[It's] light on conveying any real feelings of Eisenhower-era darkness the prizewinner herself might have felt during her decades of marriage to an abusive, drunken man.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: C-

September 28, 2005
Melissa Anderson
Village Voice
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Shameless Eisenhower-era corn.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

September 27, 2005
Robert Koehler
Variety
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A true account of how a woman's intelligence and stoicism saves her huge family, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio sensitively presents an unvarnished view of the 1950s and early '60s through the subtle filter of the present.

Full Review Source: Variety

September 22, 2005
Sheri Linden
Hollywood Reporter
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A spirited comic drama.

September 21, 2005
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