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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 42

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Anderson's adaptation is heavy on production numbers in which jingles come to life and 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.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Sheri Linden

    A spirited comic drama, toplined by Moore's lovely performance.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    An engaging film bolstered by the stellar performance of Julianne Moore.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

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  • See all The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Charming but a bit disturbing; ok for teens.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie includes several tense family scenes, specifically when the father is inebriated and the mother must smooth over his anger and ugliness in front of their children. At one point, furious that a son has had a car accident, the father starts hitting and chasing him through the house; and in an especially disturbing scene, following a brief struggle, the mother falls on glass milk bottles she's carrying, spilling milk and her blood (from the broken glass) all over the floor, as children look on and cry. The kids reveal their own fears and resentment, fretting that Mom will leave even for a day, and once singing a version of "Row your boat" where they imagine throwing Dad overboard "just to hear him scream."

  • Families can talk about Evelyn and Kelly's relationship, as she repeatedly takes care of him. Why would this couple stay together when it's clear they and their children are miserable? Would things be different if this movie was set in the present? Why or why not?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Dad is a terrible model, depressed and abusive; mom is a "saint," kids are confused.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Mom is injured during a fall in the home (alarming her kids); dad becomes violent against furniture when drunk.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not an issue

  • language false3

    Language: Some cursing, out of frustration and anger (including the f-word).

  • consumerism false5

    Consumerism: All about advertising: brands named include: Dial, Beechnut gum, Frigidaire, Parkay, Ritz crackers, Samonsite, Black Label beer, Dr. Pepper.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Dad is an unhappy, belligerent alcoholic.