"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Fox Searchlight jumps 'Crazy Heart' into Oscar season

The Big Picture
Patrick Goldstein on the collision of entertainment, media and pop culture

We knew Fox Searchlight was in love with "Crazy Heart," the low-budget country music drama that stars Jeff Bridges as a faded, booze-fueled singer named Bad Blake who's trying to get his career back on track. Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Scott Cooper, the film costars Maggie Gyllenhaal (playing a small-town reporter), Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell.

Searchlight acquired the film in July, taking it off the market with a low seven-figure bid, enamored by the film's acting and nuanced storytelling. Its original plan was to release the movie in the spring of 2010. But the studio must be smelling award-season gold, because my sources say the movie is moving into Oscar territory, with Searchlight now planning a limited Dec. 11 release in Los Angeles and New York before taking the film wider early next year.

Since Searchlight's only serious Oscar contender, as of now, is its well-reviewed summer release, "(500) Days of Summer," the studio must be betting that Bridges -- always a favorite with the academy, especially as he's aged into Nick Nolte-style gray-bearded grizzly guy -- could land some best actor nominations. Searchlight suddenly sent out screening notices today, another tipoff that the movie is looking for some early word-of-mouth enthusiasm from the blogosphere.

My favorite movie-music magician, T Bone Burnett, supervised the film's soundtrack, so I'm betting it will have some real C&W authenticity. As soon as I get a chance to see it, I'll report in on whether we've got another serious Oscar candidate or not.

Photo of Jeff Bridges by Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times.


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