In Judy, Rene Zellweger portrays Judy Garland in the last months of her life as a woman whose body is at war against itself. Destabilized by a lifetime of uppers and downers (first forced upon her as a teen star at MGM); undernourished due to body-image issues she developed during that same time; ravaged by near-constant alcohol use; and stricken with performance anxiety, Garland is a ball of thrumming tension that shoots out through sudden shifts of the shoulder, kicks of the leg, or sudden twists of the neck. Then there’s her face. Each conversation is a performance of its own: a grim smile presents a surface geniality; lips contort as she decides whether she should say what she thinks or what’s expected of her; eyebrows express near-constant irritation. During a run of club performances in London—which she agrees to in a desperate effort to raise funds for a custody fight over her two younger children—Garland occasionally seems happy and in control (Zellweger does the singing). But even then her moments of triumph have an awkward jerkiness. Where there might have been joy when she was younger (which covered up the anxiety and exhaustion), now there’s a residue of anger. Judy is a better-than-average biopic—I like its condensed time frame, and there’s a lovely interlude at one point where Garland enjoys a quiet night of real connection with two gay fans—but its true distinction is Zellweger. I’d lost track of the actress (the last time I’d seen her was in 2006’s Miss Potter) and if I hadn’t known she was in this I wouldn’t have been able to identify her. She’s unrecognizable, in appearance and level of conviction. Even with the gaps I have in her filmography, I feel safe saying this is a career-best performance.