Wil Burton
Before I make my bold claim, I should probably offer up a disclaimer: I have only seen The Big Lebowski once (and, gasp, I didn’t really like it). Having said that, I submit that Jeff Bridges gives the best performance of his career in the newly released DVD, Crazy Heart.

His character is named Bad Blake and is a combination of three country music legends: Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, and Waylon Jennings. It is the latter that Bridges seems to channel the most as he tours the Southwest on a string of shows at bowling alleys and honky-tonks. Based on the novel by the same name, Crazy Heart was chosen by Scott Cooper to turn into a film after he was unable to secure the rights to direct a film based solely on Merle Haggard.

The film is all Bridges. He plays the alcoholic, washed-up former country star as if he had once led the life himself. From the faded denim jeans and leather vests, to the smooth vocals and soft finger-picking, Bridges puts on an acting clinic and leaves the audience truly rooting for Blake to find a way to turn his life around.

Aside from Bridges’ screen-stealing effort, a highlight of the film also belongs to Ryan Bingham. Bingham along with music production/songwriting legend T-Bone Burnett, earned both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for best original song. Bingham, who also plays a sideman in the film, received his first break and acclaim with his performance of “The Weary Kind.” A track worth downloading on its own laurels.

A supporting role by Robert Duvall (as well as a production credit) is only fitting given his performance in the 1983 film, Tender Mercies. Similar to Bridges and Crazy Heart, Duvall earned an Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of a recovering alcoholic in search of resurrecting his life through his relationship with a single mother and her young son.

Regardless of your taste in music or film, Bridges makes the picture a worthwhile two hours and solidifies himself a place among the upper echelon of Hollywood.