Renee Zellweger's
Renee Zellweger's
(Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

Los Angeles: 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 from her role in "Cold Mountain".

"Miss Garland you are certainly among the heroes who unite and define us and this is certainly for you," 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 Charlize Theron ("Bombshell") and Scarlett Johansson ("Marriage Story").

Cynthia Erivo of "Harriet" and Saoirse Ronan of "Little Women" were the other contenders in the category.

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 and best known for her roles in "The Wizard of Oz" and "A Star is Born", 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. Garland 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 returned to acting after a gap of six years in 2016.

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