Movie: Tender Mercies
Nominations: Best Actor (Robert Duvall) Original Screenplay, Best Director (Bruce Beresford), Original Song "Over You", Best Picture
Wins: Duvall won his only Oscar in 6 nominations, and the Screenplay won too. Terms of Endearment took the other awards, and Flashdance, "What a Feeling" took best Song.
I was inspired to check this movie out for two reasons. First, there was a lot of talk about Duvall getting snubbed for his performance in Get Low (which I haven't seen yet) and I really like Duvall, and second, I finally saw Country Strong and wanted to see another "drunk, washed-up, country singer" movie. A simple film, with great writing, and acting. Duvall wakes up from a 2-day drunken stupor and can't pay his bill at a rural Texas motel. He agrees to work to pay it off, and falls for it's widowed proprieter, Tess Harper, and they get married and keep working and raising her son. However, his old life keeps coming back to haunt him. His ex-wife, Dixie (Betty Buckley), comes to town to play a concert and he shows up because he's written a song for her to sing and so he can see his grown daughter (Ellen Arkin). Duvall is trying hard to stay on the straight and narrow and keep his life together. A bus-load of fans shows up at the motel gushing over him, and his new wife plays one of the songs he wrote for her and they end up recording it. There's definitely a story of redemption, and loss and finding a new path, but in that great way that 80s dramas can be soft and a bit melodramatic, it works (Crimes of the Heart and Places in the Heart being other good examples of the genre). There are obvious comparisons to Crazy Heart and since both men won an Oscar for Best Actor, the story works for the men. 4.5 of 5 stars/lambs
Movie: Country Strong
Nominations: Original Song, "Coming Home"
Wins: Probably not since it's up against 3 proven Oscar winners.
I think Country Strong was set up as Gwenyth Paltrow's return to Oscar, but when the studios realized that was never going to happen, they just shuffled it around. They started it with Paltrow playing the title song at the Country Music Awards in October, and making the talk show rounds, and then a late December limited release with a January slow roll-out (it JUST opened here this weekend). I don't think any of that marketing benefited what just wasn't a great film. Paltrow plays an alcoholic Grammy-winning country singer, Kelly Cantor (a drunk, younger Reba or older Leann Rimes maybe? famous and beloved is what we get). However, she had a big accident at a concert a year ago and went into rehab to save her career. That's when it starts resembling Lindsay Lohan's career a bit too much when she's taken out of rehab by her husband/manager Tim McGraw, to go perform and rebuild her career. She wants to bring with her a guy she met in rehab (*cough, slept with) who also plays great country music, Beau (Garrett Hedlund), but McGraw wants a new beauty-queen singer Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester) to open (*cough because he wants to sleep with her). They compromise and both go on tour, in a seriously dysfunctional foursome.
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