Who doesn't love a little square dancing, guitar playing and cowboy hats? Here at Wonderwall.com, we've developed a love for all things country, including movies about the musical genre. In honor of the 10th anniversary of "Crazy Heart" on Dec. 16, we've put together a list of our favorite films about country music, starting with this classic that truly shows Jeff Bridges at his best. The movie is centered around Jeff's character, country singer Otis "Bad" Blake, and his road to redemption after beginning a relationship with a journalist played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. "Crazy Heart" — which is based on a novel — was praised by critics and audiences alike and earned $47.4 million worldwide. The 2009 film also scored Jeff his first best actor Oscar. It's definitely a must-watch! Keep reading to see more of our favorites…
What might arguably be the best movie about country music ever, "Walk the Line," definitely tops our favorites list. The movie, starring Reese Witherspoon as June Carter and Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, was released in 2005 to critical acclaim. Audiences loved the story of June and Johnny's relationship and Johnny's rise to fame, and so did the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. "Walk the Line" was nominated for five Oscars including best actor for Joaquin and best actress for Reese (which she won).
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"Coal Miner's Daughter" is definitely one of the all-time greatest films centered around country music. This 1980 classic tells the story of singer Loretta Lynn and her rise from poverty to fame and fortune. The movie boasts an all-star cast that includes Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. "Coal Miner's Daughter" was nominated for seven Academy Awards — including best picture and best actress for Sissy, who took home the Oscar.
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Critics might have hated "Broken Bridges," but audiences (us included) absolutely loved it! The 2006 movie tells the story of a fading country singer who returns to his hometown for his brother's funeral and reunites with his childhood sweetheart and daughter. The drama — starring Toby Keith, Kelly Preston and Burt Reynolds — truly tugs at your heart strings. "Broken Bridges" was universally panned but performed well enough at the box office, earning $34.7 million on an $11 million budget.
"Honkytonk Man" — a drama set during the Great Depression — is another one of our all-time favorites. The Clint Eastwood-directed film, which stars Clint and son Kyle Eastwood, centers on a man trying to live his country music dream before he dies. The movie got great reviews when it was released in 1982, with the New York Post praising its "slow, very country" pace. " [The film] is not all perfect by any means, but ultimately a story of occasional awkward truths," the newspaper wrote. We have to agree!
"Nashville" — a super-fun, super-satirical musical comedy — definitely makes the list! The 1975 movie tells the story of country music and gospel music businesses and the singers and politicians involved in them in Nashville, Tennessee. The flick has 24 main characters, over an hour of musical numbers and multiple storylines, so today's audiences should prepare for a one-of-a-kind experience. The critically acclaimed film is considered a masterpiece and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1992.
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" might not focus on country music 100 percent, but the plot is based around a country singer named Everett and his quest to escape a chain gang and reunite with his family. George Clooney took on the role and was joined by Tim Blake Nelson as convict Delma and John Turturro as convict Pete. This hilarious and interesting movie was released in 2000 to glowing reviews and earned two Academy Award nominations. And the film's soundtrack was so good that it took home a Grammy Award for album of the year in 2001!
Jessica Lange, Ed Harris and the tragic true story of country music singer Patsy Cline are what make "Sweet Dreams" one of the best country movies of all time. The 1985 film is centered on Patsy and her rise in the country music scene amidst a troubled marriage to Charlie Dick. The heartbreaking tale, which ends in Patsy's untimely death, earned critical acclaim and a best actress Oscar nomination for Jessica. Truly a tearjerker!
And now we transition from one 1980s superstar flick to another one: "Tender Mercies." This country music film stars one of the GOATs, Robert Duvall, in the lead role of Mac Sledge. Mac, a down-and-out country music singer, works to overcome his alcohol addiction with the help of a young widow and her son. Robert — who sang his own songs in the film — reportedly drove more than 600 miles throughout Texas recording local accents and playing in country music bands to prepare for the role. All that hard work paid off: He won the Academy Award for best actor in 1984.
Who doesn't love a John Travolta flick? "Urban Cowboy" definitely makes our list of faves thanks to John's memorable performance. The 1980 movie — which was only John's third feature-length film after "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease" — centers on the ins and outs of a honky tonk in Texas. It received positive reviews upon its release, with The New York Times calling the movie "not only most entertaining but also first-rate social criticism." The soundtrack was also a hit, producing several Billboard Top 10 country singles.
An all-star cast, great music and a heartfelt, dramatic storyline — what's not to love? Leighton Meester, Garrett Hedlund, Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow all starred in "Country Strong," a 2010 movie about an unstable country music star. Gwyneth received widespread praise for her performance as struggling alcoholic singer Kelly Carter and the film earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for best original song. Definitely check this one out!
What's country music without Willie Nelson? The 1980 film "Honeysuckle Rose" starred the country music legend in one of his first films. The movie tells the story of an up-and-coming married performer who's tempted when the daughter of his former guitarist joins his tour. "Honeysuckle Rose" grossed $17.8 million and was well-received by critics for being "sly" and "entertaining." Willie also earned an Academy Award nomination for best original song for "On the Road Again." Yee-haw indeed!
"Forever My Girl" is a romantic drama starring Jessica Rothe and Alex Roe, with Alex playing a country singer named Liam who's trying to woo his lost love, Josie (played by Jessica). In the film, Liam left Josie at the altar eight years prior and has a lot of work to do to get her back. Fun fact: Country legend Travis Tritt has a role in this film!