As country music becomes more popular on an international stage and a more mainstream genre, country music movies have also enjoyed critical acclaim and success at the box office. In recent times, two movies stand out as showcasing and profiling country music – Walk the Line and Crazy Heart.
Walk the Line. Released in 2005, this biographical drama profiles famous country music star Johnny Cash. Directed by James Mangold, Cash is played by Joaquin Phoenix, and the film focuses on Cash’s younger career and his rise to fame. The plotline centres on his romance with June Carter (Reece Witherspoon) and his struggle with drugs and alcohol as he entered the limelight.
Both Phoenix and Witherspoon perform a number of their respective characters’ songs throughout the movie, making the music a primary focus of the film and reigniting the legendary and much-loved country music of Johnny Cash. During their early days, June Carter and Johnny Cash toured together, and the film recreates the touring country music stars from that time and their life on the road. Cash’s rise to fame (and the movie) culminates with Cash’s infamous concert at Folsom Prison in 1968.
Walk the Line grossed $186.4 million internationally; a figure that suggests the film probably had some sway in prompting more people to buy country music. Reece Witherspoon won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Walk the Link. Joaquin Phoenix was nominated.
Crazy Heart. Directed by Scott Cooper and based on the 1987novel of the same name by Thomas Cobb, Jeff Bridges plays a washed up country music singer-songwriter (Otis Blake) who gets swept up in an inspiring but doomed romance with a young journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal). The film follows Blake’s ups and downs as he struggles with alcoholism and attempts to get his musical career back on track.
Crazy Heart received critical acclaim, and Bridges received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film. At the 53rd Grammy awards, the soundtrack for the film won Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media.
Both Walk the Line and Crazy Heart have placed renewed focus on country music through their critical acclaim and success. Both movies are available and can be bought in the form of Blu-rays or DVDS online.