It’s the movie that made Sissy Spacek a star, and who to this day remains unchallenged for having won every Best Actress award that year. The film faced tough competition in the Best Musical or Comedy category. Besides the nominees Airplane!, The Idol Maker, Fame, and Melvin and Howard, also released that year were Private Benjamin and Nine to Five. But Coal Miner’s Daughter triumphed, as did Sissy Spacek claiming her Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.
When the film went into production it was just another low budgeted Universal release. British director Michael Apted had been chosen to direct. At the time he had only one major credit to his name although he had been lauded for his documentary Up series, which he began filming in 1964 and which continued for 50 years documenting the lives of f14 British children picking them up every seven years.
He brought that same gritty realism to Loretta Lynn’s story, and as a result, he quickly became an A-list Hollywood director. Among his later works were Gorillas in the Mist and Enigma. The film was both a critical and box office success and ended grossing over $70 million. It cost only six. Spacek’s casting was Loretta Lynn’s idea based on a photograph she had seen of her. Spacek was at first reluctant to play the role but allowed to do her own singing she accepted. Tommy Lee Jones played her husband, a role once intended for Robert Redford. Prior to this, Spacek had played only unconventional characters in Carrie, Three Women, and Badlands.
Also nominated that year in the Musical or Comedy category were Irene Cara for Fame, Goldie Hawn for Private Benjamin, Bette Midler for Divine Madness, and Dolly Parton for Nine to Five. The Golden Globe winner for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy was Ray Sharkey, for another low budget sleeper The Idol Maker. His competition was Neil Diamond for The Jazz Singer, Tommy Lee Jones for Coal Miner’s Daughter, Paul Le Mat for Melvin and Howard, and Walter Matthau for Hopscotch.
The Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe went to Mary Steenburgen for Melvin and Howard.
Fame was the Golden Globe winner for best song, and it went on to win the Oscar as well.