Melissa Leo Best Lead Actress 2009 Oscar 81st Academy Awards Nomination for her role as Ray Eddy in the movie Frozen River

This Melissa Leo's first Academy Award Oscar Nomination.

Melissa Leo plays Ray Eddy, an impoverished mother who becomes involved in a smuggling ring in an attempt to avoid losing her home.

Abandoned by her husband, Ray is left to raise their two sons in a broken-down trailer. When her efforts to buy a new home for her boys lead her to the brink of financial ruin, she allows herself to be drawn into a dangerous smuggling ring operating across the U.S.-Canadian border.

Frozen River is set in a real-life smuggling zone on a Native American reservation between New York State and Quebec where the lure of fast money presents a daily challenge to single moms who would otherwise be making minimum wage.

Strapped for money and having been deserted by her husband, working class Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo), reluctantly teams up with Lila (Misty Upham), a widowed Mohawk Indian, to smuggle illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River from Canada to the U.S. in the trunk of a Dodge Spirit.

Both women swear each trip will be their last, but one final run across the river leads to a showdown with the law on all sides.

Frozen River stars Melissa Leo (21 Grams, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Homicide: Life on the Street), Misty Upham (Edge of America, Skins), Charlie McDermott (The Ten), Michael O’Keefe (The Great Santini - Oscar nominee, Michael Clayton, The Pledge), and Mark Boone, Jr. (Tree’s Lounge, Batman Returns).

As a working actor for more than 20 years Melissa Leo is most widely known for her genius portrayal of Detective Kay Howard on HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS. Leo studied Drama at Mount View Theatre School in London, England and later at the SUNY Purchase Acting Program.


Melissa Leo credits also include: IMMACULATE CONCEPTION shot in Pakistan, LULLABY shot in South Africa, RIGHTEOUS KILL starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, and GRETA starring Ellen Burstyn and Hillary Duff. She also appeared in the same role in the short, FROZEN RIVER that premiered at the New York Film Festival in 2004.

Selected Filmography

  • 2008 Santa Mesa
  • 2008 Lullaby
  • 2007 Frozen River
  • 2007 Mr. Woodcock
  • 2007 Racing Daylight
  • 2006 Falling Objects
  • 2006 The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
  • 2005 Patch
  • 2005 Hide and Seek
  • 2003 21 Grams
  • 2000 Fear of Fiction
  • 1997 Under the Bridge
  • 1992 Immaculate Conception
  • 1988 A Time of Destiny
  • 1985 Streetwalkin'
  • 1985 Always

Melissa Leo - Best Lead Actress Oscar Nomination - Academy Awards