Jeff Bridges, who has been starring in movies for the past four decades, was finally and rightfully recognized with an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Otis ‘Bad’ Blake, a drunken country singer seeking redemption, in ‘Crazy Heart.’
After being nominated for Oscars four times before, for the movies ‘The Last Picture Show,’ ‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,’ ‘Starman’ and ‘The Contender,’ Bridges was seen as the front-runner in the Best Actor category this year. He set the precedent by winning the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.
Bridges also had the best chance of winning because he was up against two actors who have already won Oscars: George Clooney for ‘Up in the Air,’ a dark horse going into the awards, and Morgan Freeman for ‘Invictus.’ Also nominated were Colin Firth for ‘A Single Man,’ which fared better in his native England; and Jeremy Renner, who has been acting for 15 years but just recently gained widespread fame, for ‘The Hurt Locker.’
The win was deserving, as Bridges has not shown his diversity in comedies and dramas, but action and animated movies as well, including ‘Tron,’ ‘The Big Lebowski,’ ‘Stick It,’ ‘Surf’s Up’ and ‘Iron Man.’ He has also perfected characters that are not only naturalistic, but unpredictable and unstable as well. Bridges even showed his musical side by singing all of his own songs in ‘Crazy Heart.’
Also, ‘Crazy Heart’ isn’t a biography, so Bridges only had a novel to base his character on, as opposed to a real person. Other recent nominees and winners based on their performances on real people, including Feeman, who starred as Nelson Mandela in ‘Invictus.’ Joaquin Phoenix played Johnny Cash in an Oscar-nominated role in 2005. Last year’s Best Actor Academy Award winner Sean Penn portrayed Harvey Milk in ‘Milk.’
What made the win even more noteworthy was that ‘Crazy Heart’ was produced for $7 million by Country Music Television. Paramount Vantage originally picked it up for a direct-to-video release, but Fox Searchlight Pictures later purchased it for a limited theatrical release. The movie only ended up making a little more than $29.5 million at the box office, against a $7 million budget.
The win would have made Bridges’ parents proud, and he thanked them first in his acceptance speech. His mother, Dorothy, was an actress, writer and drama teacher, who died a year before her son’s win. Bridges’ father, Lloyd, an actor, died in 1998.
Written by: Karen Benardello