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Georgia Movie Review

leigh actress winningham awards

Addison DeWitt is alive and well and residing in the offices of Time magazine. His name these days is Richard Corliss, but his critical approach is the same, and one of his 1995 critiques is even semi-cobbled from All About Eve. Luckily, Richard Corliss was ineligible for 1995's Academy Awards. Unluckily he seemed to believe that he was on some sort of a mission from God to keep Jennifer Jason Leigh from winning an Oscar for her remarkable performance in Georgia. Leigh, claimed Corliss, is too “small” to deserve the critical raves she's received ever since Georgia was screened at Cannes in the spring of 1995. Such praise was like a “migraine” to Corliss and he insisted that “this racket must cease.” Because he said so, of course. Because Leigh is good enough for cable but not for Oscar. Because she's so “very, very bad.” Any poor dear who thinks otherwise must be delusional or at least “mistaken” about what constitutes good acting. Georgia, an outstanding independent release, was not made for the Addison DeWitts of this planet. Jennifer Jason Leigh is nothing short of electrifying as Sadie Flood, a down-and-out, not particularly talented singer who drinks and drugs up a storm while draining everyone who comes near her. Her far more gifted sister Georgia (beautifully played by Oscar-nominee Mare Winningham) wisely protects herself from Sadie's whirlwind existence, but at a price. Georgia is so self-contained that her life is blessed with every trapping of success but joy. When the sisters are together, their collective loneliness fills up the screen. Films that have attempted to show the lives of musicians at their grittiest always seem to miss several beats when it comes to conveying emotional honesty. Other writers and directors have tried to capture the Sadies and Georgias of the world, but never with such depth and passion. That's why Barbara Turner's skillfully constructed screenplay and Ulu Grosbard's scrupulous direction give the two stars such crucial support. Each and every character in Georgia brings a unique voice that supplies strong counterpoint to the hermetically sealed alliance between the sisters. Particularly fine performances are contributed here by Ted Levine and Max Perlich as the men in their lives. And Leigh and Winningham will tear the heart out of any innocent audience member who still has a pulse. Whichever way you look at it (unless you happen to be a latter-day Addison De HALF Witt!), Georgia is a tremendous achievement. I've already seen it six times (and counting!).

1995 (R) 117m/C Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mare Winningham, Ted Levine, Max Perlich, John Doe, John C. Reilly, Jimmy Witherspoon; D: Ulu Grosbard; W: Barbara Turner; C: Jan Kiesser. Independent Spirit Awards ‘96: Best Supporting Actress (Winningham); Montreal World Film Festival ‘95: Best Actress (Leigh), Best Film; New York Film Critics Awards ‘95: Best Actress (Leigh); Nominations: Academy Awards ‘95: Best Supporting Actress (Winningham); Independent Spirit Awards ‘96: Best Actress (Leigh), Best Director (Grosbard), Best Supporting Actor (Perlich); Screen Actors Guild Award ‘95: Best Supporting Actress (Winningham). VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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