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Crazy Heart is a 2009 American drama film, written and directed by Scott Cooper, in his directorial debut. Based on the 1987 novel of the same name by Thomas Cobb, the film centers on a down-and-out country music singer-songwriter (Jeff Bridges) who tries to turn his life around after beginning a relationship with a young journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Other supporting roles are played by Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, and child actor Jack Nation. Bridges, Farrell, and Duvall also sing in the film.
The novel on which the film was based was inspired by country singer Hank Thompson. Filming took place during 2008 in New Mexico (Albuquerque, Española, Galisteo, Santa Fe), in Houston, Texas, and in Los Angeles, California. Original music for the film was composed by T Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton, Ryan Bingham and others.
The film was produced for $7 million by Country Music Television, and was originally acquired by Paramount Vantage for a direct-to-video release, but was later purchased for theatrical distribution by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It opened in limited release in the U.S. on December 16, 2009. From its meager budget it amassed domestic earnings of $39.5 million plus $7.9 international for aworldwide total of $47.4 million. The film ends with a dedication to musician Stephen Bruton, who died the same year the film was made.
The film was met with acclaim and was nominated for three Academy Awards at the 82nd Academy Awards, winning two: Best Actor for Bridges and Best Original Song for The Weary Kind written by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.
Otis Bad Blake is a 57-year-old alcoholic singer-songwriter who was once a country music star. He now earns a modest living by performing in small-town bars across the southwestern United States. Having a history of failed marriages (four that he admits to, although a reference is made to a fifth he does not discuss), Blake is without a family. He has a son, aged 28, with whom he has not had contact in 24 years. He is mostly on the road performing, staying in cheap motels, and travelling alone in his 1977 Chevrolet Suburban. The film opens with his arrival at a bowling alley for a show.
In Santa Fe, he meets Jean Craddock, a young journalist after a story, divorced and with a four-year-old son, Buddy. She interviews Blake one evening after his gig, and then as they become close, Jean visits again ostensibly to gather more material, and the two enter into a relationship. Jean and her son become a catalyst for Blake to get his life back on track. In doing so, he lets himself be pushed into renewing a professional relationship with Tommy Sweet, a popular and successful country music star he once mentored, and plays as the opening act at one of his concerts, despite his initial balking and wounded pride at being the opening act to his former student. He asks Tommy to record an album with him, but Tommy says his record company insists on a couple more solo albums before a duet project can be recorded. He instead suggests that Blake concentrate on writing new songs that Tommy can record solo, telling him he writes better songs than anyone else.
Blake s drinking soon gets out of control and he ends up running off the road while driving drunk. In the hospital, the doctor informs him that although he only sustained a broken ankle from the crash, he is slowly killing himself, and must stop drinking and smoking and lose 25 pounds if he wants to live more than a few more years. Blake s relationship with Jean makes him start to rethink his life. While in Houston, he calls up his son to make amends, only to have his son tell him that his mother, Bad s ex-wife, has died. His relationship with Jean starts to look up, with her visiting him with her son Buddy. After a situation where Blake loses Buddy briefly at a shopping mall while drinking at a bar, Jean breaks up with him.
After the breakup, Blake resolves to quit drinking. After going through a treatment program at a rehab center, and with support from an Alcoholics Anonymous group and old friend Wayne, Blake finally manages to get sober. Having cleaned up his act, he tries to reunite with Jean, but, despite congratulating him on getting sober, she tells him that the best thing he can do for her and Buddy is to leave them alone. Later, Blake finishes writing a song that he thinks is his best ever, The Weary Kind , and sells it to Tommy.
Sixteen months later, Tommy plays The Weary Kind to an appreciative audience while Blake watches backstage, as his manager presents him with another of the large royalty checks for the song. As Blake is leaving, Jean approaches him, saying she has come to the show as writer for a large music publication. As they catch up, Blake sees an engagement ring on Jean s finger and tells her that she deserves a good man. He offers her the money from the royalty check for Buddy to have on his 18th birthday, which Jean initially refuses but eventually accepts after Blake says the song would not exist without her, and states that it isn t money . Jean asks if Blake would like to see Buddy again, but Blake declines, saying it might be too unsettling for the boy. The film ends with Jean asking Blake for another interview, after which they walk away happily, chatting with each other with the Santa Fe hilltops in the background.
- Jeff Bridges as Otis Bad Blake
- Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jean Craddock
- Colin Farrell as Tommy Sweet
- Robert Duvall as Wayne Kramer
- Paul Herman as Jack Greene
- Jack Nation as Buddy, Jean s son
- Ryan Bingham as Tony of Tony and the Renegades, backup group at bowling alley
- Rick Dial as Wesley Barnes, Jean s uncle, Santa Fe piano player
- Tom Bower as Bill Wilson
Development of original novel
The New York Times said the novel, written by Thomas Cobb, also functions as a shrewd and funny running critique of contemporary country music. Cobb based the character Bad Blake on country music entertainer Hank Thompson, Ramblin Jack Elliott and Cobb s doctoral advisor in graduate school, Donald Barthelme; Cobb studied with Barthelme in a creative writing class in the University of Houston in the 1980s. When Cobb struggled between using an upbeat ending and a downbeat ending, Barthelme suggested that Cobb use the downbeat ending. The nickname Bad came from a sentence that popped into Cobb s mind, Bad s got the sweats again. The name Blake came from W. Glenn Blake, a friend from graduate school who is now a senior editor at Boulevard magazine, and some people Cobb knew in Tucson, Arizona. The book, which was out of print since its original publication, went into print again when the film was released.
The process of creating a film adaptation took many years because the concept was optioned, but was never produced into an actual adaptation until director Scott Cooper produced the film. Cobb assumed that the film would use a more upbeat ending, because the Hollywood film industry often prefers things that are generally positive . According to Cobb, he had nothing to do with the making of the film. The shooting of a sequence depicting the novel s ending – in which Bad falls off the wagon and dies of a heart attack – occurred; Cooper wanted to use it as the ending, but he did not get final authority to do so. A sequence of Bad Blake visiting his son in Los Angeles was also cut from the final film.
Bridges initially passed on the role when he was first offered it. He explained to Vanity Fair that although he liked the script, he realized that the songs would make or break it and at the time the film had no musical attachments. A year later he talked with T Bone Burnett, who was approached to work on the film s soundtrack; together they both agreed to work on the film, and Bridges joined the project.
The album entitled Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released in 2009 to accompany the film. The 23-track album contains many songs written by Burnett, Bruton, and Bingham, but also some by John Goodwin, Bob Neuwirth, Sam Hopkins, Gary Nicholson, Townes Van Zandt, Sam Philips, Greg Brown, Billy Joe Shaver, and Eddy Shaver.
The songs are performed by various artists including actors Bridges, Farrell, and Duvall, as well as singers Bingham (who sings the theme song The Weary Kind and plays Tony in the film), Buck Owens, The Louvin Brothers, Lightnin Hopkins, Waylon Jennings, Townes Van Zandt, and Sam Philips.
At the 82nd Grammy Awards, the theme song The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham won for Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media and the soundtrack also won for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media.
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 90% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 211 reviews, with an average score of 7.40/10. The consensus reads, Thanks to a captivating performance from Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart transcends its overly familiar origins and finds new meaning in an old story. On Metacritic the film holds a score of 83 out of 100, indicating universal acclaim .
Critics mainly praised the performance of Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, with many claiming he elevated the film above its seemingly conventional story and languid pace. Tom Long from Detroit News writes, It s a bit too easy, a bit too familiar, and maybe even a bit too much fun. But the easy magic Bridges brings to the screen makes it all work. The Toronto Star s Linda Barnard attests that some goodwill evaporates in the final reel, when a few false endings lead to a choice that s not the best one for Crazy Heart, but the generosity of Bridges performance puts us in a forgiving mood.
Jeff Bridges performance earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor, as well as Best Actor prizes from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild and the Independent Spirit Awards. Bridges also received nominations from the Chicago Film Critics Association, London Critics Circle, Online Film Critics Society and the Satellite Awards. Gyllenhaal was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. The song The Weary Kind earned Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett the 2009 Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Golden Globe.
|2009||Satellite Award||Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture||Jeff Bridges||Nominated|
|Satellite Award for Best Original Song||The Weary Kind||Won|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association||Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor||Jeff Bridges||Won|
|Las Vegas Film Critics Society||Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Song||The Weary Kind||Won|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor||Jeff Bridges||Nominated|
|2010||Academy Award||Academy Award for Best Actor||Jeff Bridges||Won|
|Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress||Maggie Gyllenhaal||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Original Song||The Weary Kind||Won|
|British Academy Film Award||BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role||Jeff Bridges||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Film Music||T Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton||Nominated|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association Award||Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor||Jeff Bridges||Won|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Song||The Weary Kind||Won|
|Golden Globe Award||Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama||Jeff Bridges||Won|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song||The Weary Kind||Won|
|Independent Spirit Award||Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature||Scott Cooper||Won|
|Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead||Jeff Bridges||Won|
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role||Jeff Bridges||Won|
The film was released on April 20, 2010, on DVD and Blu-ray. The single-disc DVDs special features included six deleted scenes, while the Blu-ray 2-disc set contained eight deleted scenes (including one in which Bad reunites with his son), plus two alternative music cuts and a short documentary in which the stars discuss What Brought Them to Crazy Heart .
|Plot||A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.|
|Awards||Won 2 Oscars, 40 wins & 33 nominations total|
|Writers||Scott Cooper, Thomas Cobb|
|Stars||Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell|
|Produced by||Leslie Belzberg,Eric Brenner,Jeff Bridges,T Bone Burnett,Judy Cairo,Rob Carliner,Scott Cooper,Robert Duvall,Gina Scheerer,Michael A. Simpson,Alton Walpole|
|Music by||Stephen Bruton,T Bone Burnett|
|Cinematography by||Barry Markowitz|
|Film Editing by||John Axelrad,Jeffrey Ford|
|Casting By||Lindsay Graham,Mary Vernieu|
|Production Design by||Waldemar Kalinowski|
|Art Direction by||Ben Zeller|
|Set Decoration by||Carla Curry|
|Costume Design by||Doug Hall|
|Makeup Department||Enid Arias,Tarra D. Day,Mary Hedges Lampert,Jennifer Santiago,Geordie Sheffer,Sheila Trujillo,Danlee Winegar|
|Production Management||Dawn Todd Curfman,Alton Walpole|
|Second Unit Director or Assistant Director||Sarah Lemon,Chemen Ochoa,Kaaren F. Ochoa,Marcia Woske|
|Art Department||Wil Albarez,Eric Arellanes,David D. Baumann,Patrick Boyles,Doug Butts,Shawn Caffrey,Thomas L. Caldwell,Lance Cheatham,Ralph Diaz,Steven Fode,Chris Gallegos,Lyn Gawron,Linda R. Gore,Doug Gray,Graham Griswold,Paul Harman,Jean Harrison,Mary Holyoke,Richard Hughes,Mari Kempes,Christopher Martin,Jose Mendoza,Jesus A. Murillo,Randy Ortega,Scott Plunket,Macario Rivera,Nicole Sahd,David Lee Servoss,Randy Severs,Phil Shirey,Juan Souter,David Thompson,Lawrence Tolle,Angelo Tomarchio,David Trujillo,Robert P. Trujillo,Alfredo Ventura,Robert A. Vigil,Gina Zaritsky,Colin Zaug,Carl Zeller,Evelyn Zeller|
|Sound Department||Rick Alexander,Robert Althoff,Paul Aulicino,Gregg Barbanell,Joe Barnett,Todd Beckett,Joe Cappelletti,Bayard Carey,Patrick Cusack,Andrew DeCristofaro,Paula Fairfield,Kimberly Jimenez,Jesse Johnstone,Rick Kline,Jeff Knudsen,Carla Murray,Nancy Nugent,Michael Payne,Troy Porter,Zac Sneesby,Patrick Stoltz,John C. Stuver,Lucy Sustar,Mathew Waters,Russell Farmarco,Justin Herman,Pamela Kahn,Jason Oliver,John Soukup,Greg Zimmerman|
|Special Effects by||Brett Cole,Scott Hastings,Joel Hobbie,Danny Maldanado,Mike Rogers,Adam Rosen,Dusty Webb|
|Stunts||Loyd Catlett,Ed Duran,Al Goto,Russell Solberg,Laurence Chavez,Ed Duran,John Koyama,Mark Rayner,Russell Solberg|
|Camera and Electrical Department||Troy Anderson,Liza Bambenek,Free Bear,Chip Byrd,Greg Byrd,Beau Chaput,Morgan Davis,Dwight Dollins,Harland Espeset,Tobin Espeset,Ryan Eustis,Frank Eyers,David Hammer,Ian Hanna,Greg Hewett,Trevor Howe,Aubrey Husar,Jack C. Jones,Steve Jones,Kurt Kornemann,Frank Larson,Steven Litecky,Lynn Lockwood,Jonathan N. Lutes,Sean Mallon,Brian Malone,Barry Markowitz,Lea E. Miller,Taylor Myers,Lee Nakagawa,Lorey Sebastian,Josh Steinberg,Jim Threadgill,Timothy N. Walker,Dale Glenn Waseta,Cody West,Sean Wright,Elizabeth Cash,Justin Hartery|
|Casting Department||Karin Aragon,Jo Edna Boldin,Lindsay Graham,Tina Kerr,Hannah Macpherson,Marie A.K. McMaster,Steven Raye Stanard,Joe Cappelletti|
|Costume and Wardrobe Department||Aleah Ames,Nancea Ceo,Michelle Duval,Jennifer Gingery,Hillary Higgins,Cherlyn Schaefer,Rosanna Dill,Suzanne Scott|
|Editorial Department||Tom Cross,Greg Curry,Paul Lavoie,Kiran Pallegadda,Erik Peterson,Rachel Varnell,Walter Volpatto,Dan Muscarella,Pablo Prietto,Bill Schultz|
|Location Management||David Manzanares,Lorenzo Vigil,Jason Wetter,Hilton Clay Peres|
|Music Department||Paul Ackling,Jay Bellerose,Ryan Bingham,Fernand Bos,Stephen Bruton,Tom Canning,Dennis Crouch,Elijah Ford,Rodney Gurule,Joel Guzman,Larry Jenkins,Robert Kraft,Greg Leisz,Roger Love,Gavin Lurssen,Murphy Maddux,Buddy Miller,Mike Piersante,Jeffrey Pollack,Corby Shaub,Ivy Skoff,Matt Smith,Adrian Van Velsen,Patrick Warren,Sara Watkins,Paul Bliven,Fernand Bos,Thomas Cavanaugh,Mike Knobloch|
|Script and Continuity Department||Joanna Kennedy,Mamie Mitchell,Benjamin Meade|
|Transportation Department||Robert Molitor,Marty Radcliff,Lyle Christensen,Jason Doutree,Walter J. Russell|
|Additional Crew||Niki Aukerman,Paul Baca,Carol Bach Rita,Jon Baran,Cory L. Bol,Robert Anthony Brass,Perry L. Coomans,J.J. Dalton,Don Draper,Tiffany Dyer,Susan Foley,Darin Foster,Eddie Frierson,Gregory Garcia,Colin Garza,Alina Gatti,Eric Gotthelf,Dia Hahn,Amy Hawkins,Scott Herrick,Jeanne Hertz,Kate Higgins,Lisa H. Jackson,Marabina Jaimes,Shea Kammer,Wendy R. Kennedy,Micki Lando-Brown,Johnny Lewis,Barbara Long,Ismael Martinez,Diane Min Fa,Walter E. Myal,Dale O Malley,Cindy Robinson,Al Rodrigo,Louise Spencer,Elaine K. Thompson,Robert Vertrees,Carlos Villareal,Claire Caldwell,John H. Euber,Mateo Frazier,Michael Haddad,Dan Muscarella,Ante Novakovic,Rebecca Pavlik,Josh Ricks,Adam W. Rosen,Christian Skibinski|
|Thanks||Andy Bowers,Frank Bowers,Stephen Bruton,Ava Cooper,Jocelyn Cooper,Stella Cooper,Tod Eason,Troy Gentry,Ernest Hammons,Tobi Elizabeth Ives,Garrett James,Toby Keith,Eddie Kilgallon,Kathern Kinsey,James Matejek,Eddie Montgomery,Kris Rabie,Jennifer Schwalenberg,Randy Sorrels,Lisa Strout|
|Genres||Drama, Music, Romance|
|Companies||Fox Searchlight Pictures, Informant Media, Butcher’s Run Films|
|Keywords||country music,alcoholism,musician,journalist,country western singer|