Last night the 92nd annual Oscar awards was on tv. Just like always, I hunkered down to watch the display of all the movies, clips, and songs that had been selected as being worthy of awards for this past year.
You might be a little like me in that as the year goes on you keep a list of your favorites and perhaps even have a list in your mind as who you think should win. For example, Chuck and I LOVED 1917 for its cinematography, but thought it’s story line wasn’t really worthy of Best Picture.
This year, we saw two amazing performances that we thought we so far above the rest that we didn’t see how that could be beat. In fact, I felt a little sorry for the other people in both categories Best Actor and Best Actress. What a bad year to go up against Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger (Am I the only one who didn’t know she had a thick Texas accent?) I will be honest, I cheered when she won.
When I saw “Judy” last year I meant to write a review, but I saw it so late in the run I decided that it was too late. So now I’m excited to share a few of my thoughts.
What can I say about the real Judy Garland? I loved her when I was a little girl watching her wistfully sing, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I then become enamored with her movies with Micky Rooney and then, “Meet me in St. Louis.” I watched her sing and dance as a guest star on many tv shows and to me, Judy was a perfect performer. I will never forget that I was sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car at my grandparent’s house when the radio announced that the world had lost this tragic soul.
I have since read books about her and seen interviews with her children and know what a troubled life she lived. Am I a Judy expert? No. But I have a vision and a knowledge that is pretty firmly routed.
When I saw the first trailer for “Judy” I started to count down the days until it came out, but then a heard a few more and the scenes that I saw didn’t really scream who Judy was to me. Then, I had a friend tell me how wonderful the movie was and when they described that it was more about the later years of her life instead of the beginning, I really lost interest. I knew the pain of those years and I didn’t want to immerse myself in Judy in her downward spiral years of drug abuse. (She was dependent on pills by the time she was 15.)
Start investigating Judy Garland’s life and you will quickly become outraged at her parents, directors, managers, castmates, husbands….
And, yet, I was a fan.
I sat down to watch Renee and thought…”She’s nothing like Judy. I wish they had used Judy’s voice…” and a thousands of other thoughts.
The Garland of this movie is the Garland close to her death. (She died from an overdose of barbiturates at the age of 47) She is fragile, at times unreliable and perhaps terrified. She is broke and goes to London to take a stab at performing in order to go home with enough money to provide for her children. Zellweger shows up with a performance that shows all the pain, sadness, insecurity and bad behavior with exactly the transparency that we’ve read about. Watching her moved me in a way that surprised me and my heart went out to Judy Garland just as it always has.
It reminds me of quotes from the real Judy.
“Being a living legend is lonesome. It’s like a Statue of Liberty, or something like that, who doesn’t breathe. And so no one calls you on the phone and asks you to dinner. So I just sit by the phone.”
“I’ve sung, I’ve entertained, I’ve pleased your children, I’ve pleased your wives….I tried my…. to believe in the rainbow that I tried to get over and I couldn’t. So What!”
By this time I’m all in with my fascination with the movie. Then comes the moment. Judy has been fired from her London gig, but she goes back to say good-bye. This crowd who had thrown things at her and heckled her not sits enraptured by her raw beautiful performance. I listened as the words “if tiny little bluebird fly then why oh why can’t I?” and I began to cry….and I mean cry…real ugly sobs. It was a moment that I will never forget.
Did Renee deserve to win that Oscar. I say, yes 100%. If you haven’t seen “Judy“–please watch it. If you want to know about the real life of Judy Garland, here are some possibilities:
Rainbow: The Stormy Life of Judy Garland by Christopher Finch
Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland By Sid Luft
Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir by Lorna Luft
Judy Garland: A Biography by Anne Edwards
All of these are available on Amazon (and if you buy them on Amazon smile you could select Overshadowed as your charity😀)
Are you a fan of Judy’s? Did you see the movie? What are your thoughts? Join me again next week for more thoughts on acting and the pain behind the mask.
Until next time!