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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)

Julianne Moore , Woody Harrelson , Jane Anderson  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)

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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio + The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less
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Product Details

  • Actors: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Trevor Morgan, Ellary Porterfield
  • Directors: Jane Anderson
  • Writers: Jane Anderson, Terry Ryan
  • Producers: Jack Rapke, Marty P. Ewing, Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Dreamworks Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000DZIGEO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,838 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by actress Julianne Moore
  • Commentary by director Jane Anderson
  • Still gallery

Editorial Reviews

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 Award® nominee Julianne Moore stars as Evelyn Ryan, a devoted housewife and mother, who uses her knack for words to win thousands of dollars in jingle contests to keep her family together. Also starring Academy Award® nominee Woody Harrelson, this witty and engaging comedy celebrates the power of a winning spirit.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Julianne Moore's Best Performances March 18, 2006
Format:DVD
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. Read more ›
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Julianne Moore is a "Must See" in PRIZE WINNER February 26, 2006
By Jan
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Overlooked Gem March 14, 2006
Format:DVD
I loved this movie, which didn't get near enough mention on the "year's best" lists. It is a delightful mixture of sweetness and harsh reality and does a wonderful job of showing the 50's and 60's at its best and at its worst. Evelyn, the mother, despite the limitations imposed by her society and her religion, fights back valiantly, using all the talent and brains she has been gifted with, both to win contests and to mother her family. The movie uses a number of little gimmicks that could be overly cute, but aren't, because it doesn't hesitate to show the pain either. The movie vividly portrays the plight of the family beset by alcoholism, when it was a shameful secret that, of course, rarely ended up being a secret. But instead of crying, or using the resulting anger to poison her family, or passively allowing the destructive forces of another's addiction to work its will, Evelyn does what she can to save her family, both emotionally and practically. Julianne Moore does a splendid job of portraying a woman who could be a Pollyanna, but instead shows greater strength than if she tossed the drunken bum out and went outside the home to work. Bravo to her and to the real Evelyn Ryan, and to those who appreciate this great little film.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio May 16, 2006
Format:DVD
My family lived next door to the Ryans in their early years. After they moved, we also kept in touch with Evelyn and several of the children. My mother used to tell us about all the prizes that Evelyn would win. She really was gifted. The alcoholism of her husband was only slightly known, however. That sort of thing was kept quiet. My mother said the film was very real and close to the facts. Evelyn was a modern-day "Super-Woman!"
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
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
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Prize Winner
Awesome movie, brought three copies and shared them with my family. Very Very memorable movie!
Published 2 days ago by EyeHunt
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I liked it.
Published 2 days ago by a
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie!
Published 11 days ago by Louise E Kello
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Movie.
Wonderful movie. I saw it when it originally came out and rented it again today. The story, the acting and the film itself bring a true feel for the 50s and 60s in great detail. Read more
Published 16 days ago by JLL
4.0 out of 5 stars Based on a true story
A mother who raised her 12 children by entering contest , Woody Harrelson (Cheers) plays the alcoholic father. Author is their oldest daughter.
Published 1 month ago by Norma Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
Julianne Moore did a fantastic acting job. The story was very believable for that place in time. I would recommend this movie to anyone - it was very entertaining and it did have a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by movie buff
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic
This movie is a clever little gem of a film! The acting is terrific (the child actors and actresses are exceptional), and the story, very good. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Deborah DeJean
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie-True Story
If you have a chance, also read the book this is based upon. The mother in this, terrific actress, very insightful movie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
Awesome movie - i like it because it is based on a true story and it shows how strong women have to be back in that era, my grandmother was one of those ladies
Published 2 months ago by DeLinda
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Gem of a Movie!
The acting was superb, and the small, telling details gave this movie a level of depth. The style and structure were unique; although at times Julianne Moore's character can come... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Geoffrey Halston
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