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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 1 June 2007 (Spain)
2:29 | Trailer
In order to support her ten children, Evelyn Ryan enters a commercial jingle-writing contest.


Jane Anderson


Terry Ryan (book), Jane Anderson (screenplay)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Julianne Moore ... Evelyn Ryan
Woody Harrelson ... Kelly Ryan
Laura Dern ... Dortha Schaefer
Trevor Morgan ... Bruce Ryan at 16 yrs
Ellary Porterfield ... Tuff Ryan at 13, 16 & 18 yrs
Simon Reynolds ... Ray the Milkman
Monté Gagné Monté Gagné ... Lea Anne Ryan at 17 yrs
Robert Clark ... Dick Ryan at 16 yrs
Michael Seater ... Bub Ryan at 15 yrs
Erik Knudsen ... Rog Ryan at 13 yrs
Jake Scott Jake Scott ... Bruce Ryan at 11 yrs
Jordan Todosey ... Tuff Ryan at 9 yrs
Ryan Price Ryan Price ... Mike Ryan at 6 yrs
Shae Norris Shae Norris ... Barb Ryan at 4 yrs
Abigail Falle Abigail Falle ... Betsy Ryan at 2 yrs


Kelly and Evelyn Ryan live in Defiance, Ohio with their 10 children. At first glance their life seems idyllic; they call each other "Mother" and "Father" and seem to dote on the kids. But Kelly was a garage-band crooner whose voice was ruined in an auto accident. He's resigned to a dead-end factory job that barely pays the bills, and is given to fits of alcohol-induced rage. Evelyn, a stay-at-home wife and mother, deals with this abuse by appealing to her priest, who is no help at all. She deals with their poverty by entering the jingle contests that were the rage in the 50's and early 60's, even sending in multiple entries in the names of the children. She is very clever at it, winning more than her share of prizes, but her successes aren't enough to keep the wolf from the door. Further, they trigger Kelly's insecurities and he retreats deeper into the bottle, using food and mortgage money to support the habit. Can the loving, optimistic Evelyn hold the family together? Is she ... Written by Joe Jurca

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The true story of how a mother raised ten kids on twenty-five words or less.


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some disturbing images and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

1 June 2007 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

La ganadora See more »

Filming Locations:

Brampton, Ontario, Canada See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$159,056, 2 October 2005, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$626,310, 20 November 2005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Robert Zemeckis ultimately decided not to direct, because he couldn't bear the thought of working with so many children. (There were twenty involved in the production.) He stayed on as a Producer. See more »


When Mother throws the Jell-o at Father, it runs down his chest in a narrow "V" shape. But in the later close-up, there is much more Jell-o, covering most of the front of his t-shirt. See more »


Leo "Kelly" Ryan: I wanted to make a nice dinner for the kids.
Evelyn Ryan: Why didn't you feed them?
Leo "Kelly" Ryan: I was crying and didn't want them to see me.
Evelyn Ryan: Why on earth were you crying?
Leo "Kelly" Ryan: I thought you decided to go away and never come back.
Evelyn Ryan: [sighs] For goodness sakes. You know I'd never leave the kids with you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Before the ending credits roll, updates are given of all the children and of Ms. Schaefer along with their real life photos. See more »


Sitting on Top of the World
Music by Ray Henderson
Lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young
Performed by Woody Harrelson
See more »

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User Reviews

Very true, nostalgic and entertaining
31 August 2006 | by eyedwillieSee all my reviews

I am probably prejudiced since I grew up in Defiance, and even played Little League with "baby" Dave, but this movie was terrific. I did in fact read the book first and I couldn't put that down. I was expecting the movie to not do it justice. The book certainly has more stories to tell than the movie has time for, but some of the best stories are still presented on the big screen for you to enjoy.

This lady was a legend. Her kids were exceptional though I remember them as a bit quiet but with the boys being incredible baseball players. Yes, the mother may initially seem too "polyantic", but after a while you realize she is still human, and simply has a love that was contagious to her kids and will be to the audience as well.

Woody is tremendous as the self loathing, but unintentionally funny father. And Julianne shows her great versatility in her character by evoking both empathy AND admiration for her strength and genuineness.

I am sure this movie will get sent straight to DVD and become unjustly overlooked (I blame the title a little bit for that). But, it's a good family movie, an intelligent movie, and will evoke a lot of feel good emotions which are the hallmarks of any really good movie. Go see it!

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