Renee Zellweger takes home best actress Oscar for 'Judy'

Los Angeles, Feb 10 (PTI) Renee Zellweger's poignant portrayal of yesteryear actor-singer Judy Garland in her twilight years helped the actor win the best actress at the 92 Academy Awards here.

It was a second Academy Award for Zellweger who previously won a best supporting actress Oscar 15 years ago for her role in 'Cold Mountain'.

The actor was presented with the trophy by Rami Malek, last year's best actor winner.

In her acceptance speech, Zellweger gave a shout out to her fellow nominees -- Charlize Theron ('Bombshell'), Scarlett Johansson ('Marriage Story'), Cynthia Erivo ('Harriet') and Saoirse Ronan ('Little Women') -- as well as the cast and crew of her film.

The actor said 'our heroes unite us and inspire us to find the best in ourselves' as she went on to name the people who have been motivating others to follow their dreams.

'The best among us who inspire us to find the best in ourselves. When they unite us, when we look to our heroes, we agree. And that matters. Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, Delores Huerta, Venus and Serena Williams, Bob Dylan, Martin Scorsese, Fred Rogers and Harriet Tubman.

'We agree on our teachers and we agree on our courageous men and women in uniform who serve. We agree on our first responders and firefighters. And when we celebrate our heroes, we're reminded of who we are, as one people, united,' Zellweger said.

The actor lamented that Garland, despite being a pioneer in the cinema history who has delivered memorable performances in movies such as 'The Wizard of Oz', 'A Star Is Born' and 'Judgment at Nuremberg', remained unrecognised during her lifetime.

'I'm certain that this moment is an extension of the celebration of her legacy that began on our film set and is also representative of the fact that her legacy is of unique exceptionalism and inclusivity and generosity of spirit. It transcends any one artistic achievement.

'Miss Garland, you were certainly among the heroes who unite and define us. And this is certainly for you. I am so grateful,' Zellweger said.

The 50-year-old actor led the award season right from the start and she was a frontrunner in the category despite competition from stars such as Theron and Johansson.

In Rupert Goold's 'Judy', Zellweger not only captured the spirit and voice of the Garland, but also offered a captivating account of what happened in the last few months of her short life.

Garland, who started her career as a child artiste in Hollywood, was exploited by the studio executives who controlled many aspects of her life, including eating habits. Her personal life was also full of upheavals with five marriages. She died at the age of 47 in 1969.

Zellweger channelled the vulnerability and strength of Garland.

'Judy', which is based on the West End-to-Broadway stage play 'End of the Rainbow', had a modest start in August last year when it premiered at the Telluride Film Festival.

The overwhelming response from the critics had catapulted Zellweger to frontrunner position for the award season and she went on to claim trophies at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and the SAGs.

Like Matthew McConnaughey and Ben Affleck, Zellweger broke out with Richard Linklater’s 'Dazed and Confused' but it was Cameron Crowe’s 'Jerry Maguire' that established her as a Hollywood star.

Her line from the Tom Cruise-starrer 'You had me at hello' is still considered one of the best dialogues in the cinema history.

She found wider success with 'Bridget Jones Diary', a reinterpretation of Jane Austen’s classic novel 'Pride and Prejudice', and 'Chicago'. Both the films earned Zellweger her first two nominations at the Academy Awards.

Zellweger was nominated once again for playing chatty farmer in the epic drama 'Cold Mountain', also starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, but this time the actor was able to lift the trophy.

'Judy' was a return to form for Zellweger as the actor had only made a comeback to acting after a gap of six years in 2016. PTI RB SHD SHD