A friend and I saw Crazy Heart last night, and if there is a God, Jeff Bridges will win the Best Actor Oscar.
Not that those stupid awards mean anything. But still. Bridges, playing an alcoholic country singer, is mesmerizing, and he deserves the nod. A gifted actor with an astonishing range, he is a five-time nominee. He has never won.
One nomination was for the 1984 film Starman, in which he played an alien come to earth in the form of a young widow's husband. In that film, Bridges' character is a non-human learning to be human. It sounds awful, but the film is touching, and Bridges, as usual, is luminous.
In Crazy Heart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, another actor with awesome range, serves up a superb performance as a young single mother burned by past relationships. It's markedly different from her witty walk-on in Away We Go, in which she played a professor and wife/mom cauterized by self-righteous New Age delusions.
Crazy Heart is not an unusually inventive movie. The story line (which, out of deference to those who've yet to see it, I'll not outline) is predictable. It's the performances by Bridges, Gyllenhaal and, in lesser roles, Robert Duvall and Colin Ferrel that keep the movie from sinking into down-and-out-man-finds-redemption cliches.
It would be fine to watch it on DVD when it's released later this year. But it's worth seeing in a theater. There's nothing like losing yourself in a Bridges performance, and this is one of his best.