Country music has been making a splash in movies for years, and this year is no exception.
The Oscars may be centered on honoring films, but over the years music has had a place in the prestigious awards, too. Country music, in particular, has made an appearance at the Oscars quite often, and this year the new Glen Campbell hit “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” is nominated for Best Original Song.
The song was featured in the documentary about Campbell’s life, Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me, and even though the living legend can’t be there to sing, a worthy delegate—Tim McGraw—will be performing in his absence.
Tim and Faith are no strangers to the Oscars
It’s his first time singing on the show, but Tim McGraw is no stranger to the Oscars. He starred in The Blind Side, which was nominated for Best Picture in 2009. His wife, Faith Hill, has graced the Oscar stage twice.
In 2000, she replaced Whitney Houston at the last minute in a large ensemble for a tribute performance. Two years later, Hill was back again to sing “There You’ll Be,” a piece written by Diane Warren that was nominated for Best Original Song after being featured in Pearl Harbor.
Country stars always are in the mix
Faith Hill was one of many country stars to perform or have a song nominated. Here are a few others that have been nominated in the category of Best Original Song:
- Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” featured in the film Honeysuckle Rose (1981)
- Trisha Yearwood’s “How Do I Live,” written by Diane Warren and featured in the film Con Air (1998)
- Two Alison Krauss songs, “The Scarlet Tide” written by T. Bone Burnett and Elvis Costello, and “You Will Be My ‘Ain True Love,” written and performed by Kraus and Sting for the film Cold Mountain (2003)
- “Coming Home,” song written by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges, and Hillary Lindsey for the 2011 film Country Strong and performed by actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
Workin’ 9 to 5
The catchy Dolly Parton song, “9 to 5,” was written specifically as the theme song for a 1980 movie with the same name. The song was nominated in the category of Best Original Song, and it later became one of her biggest hits of the decade. She not only wrote the film’s most prominent song— she also starred in the film. Parton was fortunate enough to receive a second Oscar nomination in 2006 for “Transamerica,” a song she wrote and recorded for the film Travelin’ Through.
Country on the silver screen
Honoring country music at the Oscars hasn’t been limited to recognizing only country songs, writers and performers. Films about real country history-makers have sprinkled the Oscar nomination list over the years, and several have even taken home wins.
In 2005, the world saw country legend Johnny Cash’s life story in Walk the Line. The actor that played Cash, Joaquin Phoenix, took home the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The turmoil of Cash’s life made for an intense role to play, but Phoenix certainly did not disappoint. Becoming Johnny Cash wasn’t the only feat he accomplished for the film—he also recorded several songs originally sung by Cash for the movie’s soundtrack.
Actor Jeff Bridges portrayed a country singer in the 2009 film Crazy Heart, and for that performance he, too, won Best Actor in a Leading Role. Although his character didn’t carry the name of a real-life country star, a novel about the life of country singer Hank Thompson inspired the film’s storyline and the work contained very true-to-life elements of the country music industry and lifestyle.
It’s not just the guys
The men of country music have certainly been honored and remembered at the Oscars, but who could forget the lovely leading ladies?
In 1980, Sissy Spacek played Loretta Lynn in the film Coal Miner’s Daughter. Spacek, a clear Lynn lookalike and extremely talented actress, won the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, but the film itself was also nominated in the category of Best Picture. Although it didn’t win, Coal Miner’s Daughter is still respected more than 30 years later as the incredible story of Loretta Lynn’s rise to country music fame.
Actress Jessica Lange took on the complicated role of crooning cowgirl Patsy Cline. In the 1985 film Sweet Dreams, the roller coasters of Cline’s professional and personal lives are documented, and Lange’s spot-on performance earned her a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Most recently, Reese Witherspoon was recognized for her role in the film Walk the Line alongside Joaquin Phoenix. Her portrayal of June Carter Cash won her the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the 2006 awards. Like Phoenix, she also recorded music for the film’s soundtrack in order to make her depiction of June Carter Cash more complete.
Country music has created a culture all its own, but it’s obvious that country music has an important place in pop culture, particularly at the Oscars. Countless talented artists grace the country scene today, so there’s no doubt that country music will continue to make waves in the realm of films for many years to come.