Academy Award-winner Renee Zellweger (“Cold Mountain,” “Chicago”) drops a house on the acting competition this year, portraying one of our most beloved film icons. “A blip” is what Bridget Jones would have called Zellweger’s soft return in the third installment of the Jones character, but “Judy” isn’t simply a comeback, it redefines the Texan’s career.

Since winning that surprise Golden Globe for “Nurse Betty,” Zellweger has overcome whatever limitations critics and the public set for her, singing and dancing, gaining weight for roles, equally balancing comedy and drama. Whatever the reason for her “sabbatical,” as she called it at Telluride, cinema is a richer place with Zellweger in it. “Judy” is one of the rare films in Zellweger’s career, where she truly disappears into the character. This was a role that required strength and stamina, both vocally and physically, to nail Judy Garland at the end of her life.

Dustin Chase is a film critic and associate editor with Texas Art & Film, which is based in Galveston. Visit

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