Coal Miner's Daughter: 25th Anniversary Edition Michael Apted

While biopics like Ray rely more on title characters and music than imaginative storytelling to engage audiences, Coal Miner's Daughter still stands tall as a groundbreaking celebrity bildungsroman. The amazing story of Loretta Lynn's rise to stardom continues to resonate with audiences and British director Michael Apted hit all the right notes in bringing her book to the screen. Sissy Spacek earned an Oscar for her depiction of Lynn, who fled her large, impoverished family at the age of 14 to marry Doolittle Lynn (an endearingly irascible Tommy Lee Jones) and begin a family. Though she is always connected to her father Ted (played by charismatic rookie actor Levon Helm), Loretta is swayed by her new husband's direction and leaves Kentucky for Washington State. With four kids born in quick succession, Lynn finally took to singing in public after Doo's insistence that she might be onto something. Her father's passing further motivates her to succeed as a country star and she sets herself on an exhausting course that finds her struggling to balance life on the road with her role as a mother and wife. The characters are rich and genuine in their own ways and the music of Loretta Lynn ranks second in the tale, after Apted's careful study of what made Lynn herself so compelling. In Apted's view, Lynn's surroundings — her geography, family and friends — are essential props in understanding her as a humble, determined artist. The director addresses the clichés (i.e., substance dependency, career burnout, etc.) but focuses the story on what makes the artist unique rather than what makes her stereotypical. It's a rare feat in biopics and, 25 years later, Coal Miner's Daughter still has lessons to teach audiences. Plus: commentary. (Universal)