When the Oscar nominations are announced Tuesday, look for Jeff Bridges to be at the top of the Best Actor list.
After years of being Oscar's best man, he's finally going to walk down the aisle. His partner? An independent film called "Crazy Heart" that's just beginning to find its way around the country.
In the film, Bridges plays a washed-up country singer named Bad Blake who's so down on his luck he has to play bowling alleys. He's friends with a Kenny Chesney-like star but, for the most part, his best days are behind him.
On one of his stops in the Southwest, Bad meets a journalist played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. She listens to his story, falls in love and tries to get him back on the road to redemption. But alcohol is jealous mistress.
Like Charlize Theron in "Monster," Bridges has the kind of scenes that win awards. He's great in the role - in a Kris Kristofferson kind of way - and his voice is pretty good. When he sings some of T. Bone Burnett's songs, we discover a Jeff Bridges we barely knew.
Gyllenhaal is miscast in an underwritten role but Colin Ferrell is just great as the superstar willing to give Bad a hand up.
"Crazy Heart" may not have the staying power of a film like "Tender Mercies" but it's Jeff Bridges' ticket to immortality. While he should have won an Oscar for playing the Dude in "The Big Lebowski" it's "Crazy Heart" that'll make him an Academy Award winner.
On our four star scale, "Crazy Heart" gets: 3 stars.