Sometimes the appeal is the story, other times it's the effects. Consider "Crazy Heart" for the singular performance of Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, an aging, alcoholic country singer in need of reclamation. The story won't surprise you -- it's the classic "love of a good woman" as the solution for all that ails you. But Bridges so embodies Bad you can smell the stink rising off his body as he rolls from car to bar to stage. Now if that doesn't sound appealing, stay with him on this one because if you can't feel the pain, you can't feel the gain (sorry, just got country on my mind). With Bad, Bridges lets you walk every step of that road back to life with him. And if that's not enough, there is the music. Thanks to T Bone Burnett and the late Stephen Bruton, it's some of the most heartbreaking around.
-- Betsy Sharkey