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TENDER MERCIES (1983)

The fourth time was the charm for Robert Duvall, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of a washed-up country singer after three earlier nominations. The role fit him like a glove, partly because of his long association with screenwriter Horton Foote, who also took home an Oscar for the film. Duvall had appeared in the premiere of Foote’s play The Midnight Caller in 1957, and Foote had helped him land his first film role as Boo Radley in the playwright’s adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). The pair worked together on this film from an early stage, recruiting documentary producers Philip and Mary-Ann Hobel in hopes that their expertise would help the picture feel more authentic. Tender Mercies was shot in Texas, where Duvall recorded local accents and performed with country bands as part of his research. As the widow with whom Duvall falls in love, local actress Tess Harper makes her movie debut, while Ellen Barkin plays a key role as his estranged daughter. (d. Bruce Beresford, 92m, Digital)