Winona Ryder May Have Lost The Golden Globe, But She Won At Hollywood

Photo: Curtis Baker/Netflix.
Hollywood has finally freed Winona.

The 45-year-old actress may not have picked up a Golden Globe tonight (that honor went to Claire Foy for The Crown). But Ryder's performance as the frayed, tenacious mom to a missing son in Netflix's breakout hit Stranger Things marked a major comeback for the '90s screen queen. So let's not wallow in the award passing her over. Well, maybe we can a little — Winona has never been one to shy away from a bit of angst.

After years out of the spotlight, Ryder's return doesn't mark some kind of grand reformation. She didn't transform herself for a role that no one would've thought she could play, winning back hearts with an unexpected turn. As Joyce Byers, that wild-eyed woman clutching an axe on the couch, she gave us exactly the kind of off-kilter, emotionally fraught performance that's 100% signature Winona. It's hard to imagine anyone else manically painting the alphabet on a wall and stringing it with Christmas lights so her son can commune with her from another dimension.

Ryder's résumé proves that she's rarely, if ever, strayed from taking on this kind of twisted, outside-the-box role, so many of which have become inspirations for weird girls everywhere. In fact, it's easy to imagine Joyce as the grown-up version of any number of Ryder's early, career-defining roles. She might be Heathers' Veronica, after she watched Christian Slater's J.D. go up in smoke, made an equally questionable match, and raised a couple of great kids. Or she could be Lelaina, after she put down the camera to discover just how much reality — not to mention gooey, terrifying monsters — actually bites.
Photo: Curtis Baker/Netflix.
The career triumph is even sweeter given Ryder's steep climb out of the PR disaster that was her 2001 arrest for shoplifting at Saks in Beverly Hills. As Ryder told Porter magazine last year, "It wasn’t like the crime of the century!" But is was enough to shock fans, and give Hollywood the impression that she'd gone off the deep end, or worse, hit rock bottom.

The extent of the backlash she faced highlights a glaring double standard for celebrity transgression. Ryder's fellow '90s star (and former love interest) Johnny Depp is enjoying one of the most lucrative careers in the business, despite facing allegations of domestic abuse from ex-wife Amber Heard.

But Ryder seized the incident as an opportunity to step back from public scrutiny and remain true to herself. "In a weird way, it was almost like the best thing that could have happened," she told Interview magazine in 2009. "Because I’d never asked myself the question before of, 'Is it okay if I’m not going to act? Is there anything else?'"

The answer was yes: 'There were all of these very interesting paths in life that I could explore — so I started to do that." Fortunately for us, Ryder's journey eventually led her back to our screens, in all her weird, wondrous glory. All hail the queen! (Sorry, Claire.)

Stranger Things
season 2 can't come soon enough.

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