The Reel Review
Sissy Spacek stars in this 1980 biopic about country music superstar Loretta Lynn, based on her best-selling 1976 autobiography. The film follows Lynn’s impoverished, rural Kentucky childhood as one of eight children, the start of her musical career singing at fairs and honky-tonks, promoting her first hit single at radio stations across the country, and later, becoming one of the biggest stars in country music.
Coal Miner’s Daughter is one of the best biopics ever made. It is funny, intelligent and endearing, and features an incredible Spacek, who does her own singing in the film, as does Beverly D’Angelo as Lynn’s best friend, entertainer Patsy Cline. Their performances are mesmerizing, perfectly capturing the essence of both entertainers. Tommy Lee Jones is also outstanding as Lynn’s husband, Doolittle, who, recognizing Lynn’s talent, jumpstarted her musical career with the purchase of a pawn shop guitar. Country legends Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl even make cameo appearances as themselves.
Director Michael Apted took great pains to make the film as accurate as possible, even filming the first half of the movie where Lynn was raised in the mountains where Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia converge. But make no mistake – this is Spacek’s film, as she effortlessly plays Lynn as convincingly as a teenage child bride as she does the superstar well into her thirties. Oscar got this one right.
• Sissy Spacek won a Best Actress Oscar for Coal Miner’s Daughter, which also received six more Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound and Film Editing.
• Spacek, who Loretta Lynn handpicked to play her in the film, recorded conversations with Lynn sharing her life stories and joined Lynn on one of her tours prior to filming to emulate her unique mannerisms and speaking cadence. Lynn also helped Spacek learn to sing and play guitar in her style.
• Loretta Lynn claimed for decades that she married Doolittle Lynn when she was 13, but fact checkers discovered in 2012 that Lynn was actually 15 when she married.