Country Singers Have an Edge at The Oscars

Jeff Bridges did his own singing and won an Oscar for playing country-western singer Bad Blake in the movie "Crazy Heart" The 61-year-old actor has signed a deal with EMI's Blue Note Records and will reteam with Grammy-winning producer T Bone Burnett, who co-wrote the music for Crazy Heart. Bridges is expected to write some of the songs for the new album, which is set due out in summer. Fox Searchlight

Play a country singer, win an Oscar.

Country-crooning actors have a good track record at the Academy Awards, and Jeff Bridges seems poised to join the winning crowd for "Crazy Heart."

With previous wins at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Bridges is the best-actor front-runner for "Crazy Heart," in which he plays boozy singer Bad Blake, a guy who's showing the years and the mileage but still puts a lot of soul in his music.

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Six past performers playing country singers have been nominated for Oscars, and three have won: Sissy Spacek for best actress as Loretta Lynn in 1980's "Coal Miner's Daughter"; "Crazy Heart" co-star Robert Duvall for best actor as fictional singer Mac Sledge in 1983's "Tender Mercies"; and Reese Witherspoon for best actress as June Carter in 2005's "Walk the Line."

"Walk the Line" star Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for best actor for his role as Johnny Cash, but he lost, as did Jessica Lange, nominated for best actress as Patsy Cline in 1985's "Sweet Dreams."

Playing fictional country star Barbara Jean in 1975's "Nashville," Ronee Blakley earned a supporting-actress nomination but lost.

With a .500 batting average, country has a better track record than other music genres at the Oscars. Soul has produced a string of Oscar losers, including Eddie Murphy for supporting actor as the fictional James "Thunder" Early in 2006's "Dreamgirls" and Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne in the lead categories as Tina and Ike Turner in 1993's "What's Love Got to Do With It."

Jazz and standards singers also have a spotty Oscar history, the losers including Michelle Pfeiffer for best actress as fictional torch singer Susie Diamond in 1989's "The Fabulous Baker Boys" and Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in 1972's "Lady Sings the Blues."

As French songbird Edith Piaf, Marion Cotillard won best actress for 2007's "La Vie en Rose."

Jamie Foxx could be an honorary winner for the country crowd with his best-actor triumph as Ray Charles in 2004's "Ray." Charles' music drew on soul, blues, jazz, country and other genres, and he did a two-volume series of albums titled, "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."
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