The Best of Me (film)

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The Best of Me
The Best of Me poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Hoffman
Produced by Justin Burns
Denise Di Novi
Alison Greenspan
Ryan Kavanaugh
Nicholas Sparks
Written by Will Fetters
J. Mills Goodloe
Based on The Best of Me 
by Nicholas Sparks
Starring James Marsden
Michelle Monaghan
Luke Bracey
Liana Liberato
Music by Aaron Zigman
Cinematography Oliver Stapleton
Edited by Matt Chesse
Distributed by Relativity Media
Release dates
  • October 17, 2014 (2014-10-17) (United States)
Running time
118 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million[2]
Box office $44 million[2][3]

The Best of Me is an American romantic drama film directed by Michael Hoffman and written by Will Fetters and J. Mills Goodloe, based on Nicholas Sparks' 2011 novel of the same name. The film stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan with Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato.

Shooting began on March 6, 2014 in New Orleans. The film was released on October 17, 2014 by Relativity Media. Previews in selected test markets were shown on October 15.


Dawson Cole works on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. One day, an explosion on the rig nearly kills him. throwing him into the water. Miraculously, he survives. Months later, Dawson learns that his close friend and surrogate father, Tuck Hostetler had died. Dawson returns home for the first time in twenty years to carry out Tuck's final wishes. Amanda Collier, a married housewife, also gets a call to be a part of the proceedings. Her overbearing husband tries to get her to stay but she goes anyway.

After Dawson arrives and settles in, he is surprised to learn that Amanda, who he hasn't seen in twenty-one years, also got a call. He greets her warmly but she awkwardly makes excuses and leaves.

In the past Dawson was a shy, kind boy while Amanda was a part of the popular group in school. She attempts to get to know Dawson but he quietly shrugs her off and is yelled at by his cousin, Bobby, for doing so. Later on, Amanda apparently sabotages her car to get Dawson to help her and after she points out his lack of skill in flirting, they make plans to meet up for dinner. At home, Dawson is beaten by his abusive father, Tommy, when he refuses to help him with criminal work on the night of his date with Amanda. He runs away and finds shelter from the rain in a random garage for the night. The next morning Tuck Hostetler finds him and lets him stay after learning about his situation.

After being stood up by Dawson, Amanda tracks him down to the garage to yell at him for it. Dawson tries to hide his injuries but when she is about to leave he explains that his black-eye is the reason he didn't want to go out in public. Amanda gives him a second chance and they spend their date eating ice cream and talking about their lives and futures on top of a water tower. Amanda wants to be a lawyer in a nonprofit organization for underprivileged children and a daughter named Bea, but Dawson doesn't think he'll be able to go to college. At the end of the night, they passionately kiss outside of Amanda's house after Amanda makes the first move.

In the present, Dawson and Amanda are in the attorney's office. Tuck didn't want anything to be spent on "frivolities" or a funeral. Dawson and Amanda could take whatever they wanted from his things and everything else except, for his cottage, to be donated to the American Pediatric Cancer Society. The cottage was to be shared by them and that's where he wanted his ashes to be scattered as well. He also left them individual letters to be read privately.

Afterwards Dawson tries to learn about Amanda's life and her family but she cuts him off and seems to want everything over with quickly. As she walks away Dawson quietly says he's sorry. Amanda reads Tuck's letter where he asks her to forgive Dawson and herself to relieve the emotional pain and wounds she's been living with.

In the past again Dawson and Amanda are playing around in the garage when Dawson's family pulls up. He forcefully makes Amanda leave, going so far as to shove her into her car. Tommy beats him again and tells him to come home. Tuck arrives and threatens Tommy with a rifle. He shoots up Tommy's truck and nearly shoots off his hand when he tries to touch the flowers his wife grew. Once they leave Tuck tells Dawson to move his stuff inside the house to be safe. Dawson goes to Amanda's house and tries to warn her away from him to keep her safe. She won't budge and they end up kissing happily in the rain.

Back in the present, Dawson is in a hardware store and runs into his brothers and Bobby's son. At Tuck's house Amanda helps Dawson pack up his things. She sums up her life for him. She got pregnant her sophomore year of college and never finished, got married, had another kid, and lives in a big house. She never accomplished any of her plans but is happy being a mother. Dawson finds a framed picture of Amanda, Tuck, and her daughter and she seems emotionally affected by it.

Amanda's thoughts drift back to when she was pressing Dawson to apply for college while they bring in groceries for dinner at Tuck's house. Problem is he needs a home address. Amanda immediately rushes in and asks Tuck if Dawson can use his without hesitation. In the kitchen Tuck tells them about his wife's passing. At dinner the couple argue about the existence of destiny. Tuck tells them a story about a song he sang when he was gravely injured during the war and how about the same time his wife had a dream of Tuck singing the same song to her. Later that night, Dawson and Amanda intimately dance to the song.

Amanda calls Dawson into the kitchen and tells him about her daughter who Tuck loved. She was diagnosed with leukemia two weeks after the picture Tuck had was taken. Amanda and her husband started drinking but he never stopped. Dawson expresses his wish that he could have been there for her. Her daughter's name was Bea, and she died of leukemia at age two.

Twenty one years later the two are in Tuck's kitchen again, making dinner. Dawson's cooking has drastically improved and Amanda still wants him to go to college even though he doesn't want to. Dawson confesses that he hasn't found a woman who can match up to what he had with her. Amanda wants to leave because of the wine she's had and the fact that to her annoyance, Dawson has become even more attractive over the years. In a direct parallel to their first date, Dawson hands Amanda a flower and she kisses him before quickly leaving. Another flashback is revealed in which Dawson and Amanda's first night together is depicted. Dawson has gone to Vandemere to complete some yard work for Tuck, when Amanda surprises him in nothing but a blanket. The two then make love for the first time.

Before graduation, Dawson's father and brothers brutally beat up Tuck and destroy his garden. Dawson, angered, goes to his father's house with the intent of killing him with Tuck's rifle. However, they scuffle, and Dawson's cousin Bobby, an expectant teen father, is accidentally killed. In exchange for a lighter sentence, Dawson testifies against his father and brothers. However, since Dawson will not be paroled for several years, he cuts ties with Amanda, forcing her to choose college over staying with him.

In the present, while having dinner at Tuck's house, Amanda asks Dawson why he refused to see her every day for a month, and every week for a year after he was jailed. Dawson and Amanda spend a passionate night together. The following day, Amanda decides to return to her family and her strained marriage.

However, she later decides to split up with her husband, and she leaves Dawson a voicemail expressing her love. Before anything more can happen between them, Dawson is attacked and almost killed by his brothers, and is almost pushed in front of a moving train. Dawson knocks out his brothers, but after calling 911, he is spotted by his father across the railroad tracks and shot.

Meanwhile, Amanda's son was in an accident and receives a heart from a donor. Amanda's mother in tears tells her of Dawson's tragic death, and Amanda is heartbroken. The movie ends with Amanda's son calling from college saying that since it has been a year since the accident, he has learned the identity of his donor and wonders if Amanda knew Dawson. Amanda starts to cry happily, says yes, and hangs up. She has become a paralegal for a children's nonprofit.




On June 17, 2011, Warner Bros. acquired the film rights to the novel The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks.[10] On March 15, 2012, it was announced that the studio had tapped screenwriter J. Mills Goodloe to adapt the book.[11]

On September 27, it was reported that Warner Bros. was in final talks with Michael Hoffman to direct the film, Will Fetters was set to rewrite the screenplay, marking his second adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, and Denise Di Novi was set to produce the film, along with Sparks and Sparks' agent Theresa Park as co-producers, marking Di Novi's fifth film collaboration with Sparks, Sparks' second time producing a film adaptation of one of his novels and Park's production debut.[12] On July 25, 2013, Relativity Media acquired the distribution rights from Warner Bros., marking the studio's third film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel.[13] On October 22, Michelle Monaghan was cast to play Amanda Collier, and Ryan Kavanaugh was to co-produce the film.[6] On October 24, the studio set the film for an October 17, 2014 release.[14]

On January 9, 2014, the studio offered James Marsden to play the lead, Dawson Cole, replacing Paul Walker, after his death.[4] On January 28, Liana Liberato joined the film's cast as the younger version of Monaghan's character, Amanda Collier.[7] On February 12, Luke Bracey was added to the cast to play young Dawson Cole.[5] On March 12, Sebastian Arcelus and Gerald McRaney joined the cast of the film. Arcelus played Frank Reynolds, Amanda's husband and father of her children, while McRaney played Tuck, a widower who takes in young Dawson and becomes a friend and father-figure to him.[8] On March 25, Jon Tenney was added to the cast to play Harvey Collier, father of Amanda.[9]


Principal photography began on March 6, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana for a 42-day shoot.[15][16] On April 30 and May 1 the filming took place in the downtown Covington area.[17]


On June 27, 2014, it was announced that composer Aaron Zigman would be scoring the music for the film.[18]


The Best of Me: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released October 7, 2014 (2014-10-07)[19]
Genre Country[20]
Label EMI Nashville, Relativity Music
Singles from The Best of Me: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  1. "I Did with You"
    Released: September 8, 2014 (2014-09-08)[21]

The Best of Me: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, the soundtrack album for the film, was released on October 7, 2014.[22] The soundtrack features original music primarily from the genre of country music, recorded by artists such as Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, David Nail, Colbie Caillat, Kip Moore, Eli Young Band, Eric Paslay, Thompson Square, and Thomas Rhett.[22] "I Did with You" by Lady Antebellum was released on September 8, 2014 as the first promotional single from the soundtrack.[21] The band's other contribution, "Falling for You" is also available on the deluxe edition of their fifth studio album, 747.

The titles and performing artists were published by Taste of Country.[20]

No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "I Did with You"   Lady Antebellum 3:15
2. "Dream Girl"   Hunter Hayes 3:39
3. "Hold On"   SHEL and Gareth Dunlop 3:26
4. "In Love Again"   Colbie Caillat 3:31
5. "The Way Things Go"   Thomas Rhett 4:06
6. "Borrowed Time"   Thompson Square 4:12
7. "Lead Me"   Kip Moore 3:50
8. "Love Is a Liar"   Kacey Musgraves 3:15
9. "Falling for You"   Lady Antebellum 3:54
10. "Rain from Heaven"   Eric Paslay 3:58
11. "All the Way"   David Nail 2:56
12. "Unchanged"   Eli Young Band 3:35
13. "Sweet Jane"   Cowboy Junkies 3:27
14. "Crossroads"   Phoebe Hoffman 4:48

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number 54 on the Billboard 200, selling 6,200 copies in its first week.[23]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
US Billboard 200 52
US Top Country Albums (Billboard) 11
US Top Soundtracks (Billboard) 4


Relativity Media released the film on October 17, 2014.[14]


Box office[edit]

The Best of Me opened in North America on October 17, 2014 across 2,936 theaters. In its opening weekend the film earned $10 million debuting at #5 at the box office making it the worst opening for a Nicholas Sparks' novel adaptation.[24] In CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave The Best of Me an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[24]

Critical reception[edit]

The Best of Me has been panned by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 8%, based on 74 reviews, with an average rating of 3.5/10. The site's consensus reads, "At nine films and counting, the line between Nicholas Sparks film fans and detractors is clear, and The Best of Me will change few minds on either side of the divide."[25] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 29 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[26]


  1. ^ "THE BEST OF ME (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. October 3, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "The Best of Me (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Sneider, Jeff (9 January 2014). "James Marsden in Talks to Replace Paul Walker in Nicholas Sparks’ ‘The Best of Me’". Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "‘The Best Of Me’ Adds Luke Bracey". 12 February 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Ford, Rebecca; Kit, Borys (22 October 2013). "Michelle Monaghan Joins Nicholas Sparks Film 'The Best of Me'". Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Liana Liberato Joins ‘The Best Of Me’". 28 January 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c "‘The Best Of Me’ Adds ‘House Of Cards’ Sebastian Arcelus & Gerald McRaney". 12 March 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Jon Tenney Joins ‘The Best Of Me’". 25 March 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  10. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (17 June 2011). "Warner Bros Buys Nicholas Sparks’ Upcoming Romance Novel ‘The Best Of Me’". Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (15 March 2012). "Warner Bros Sets J. Mills Goodloe To Adapt Nicholas Sparks Novel ‘The Best Of Me’". Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  12. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (27 September 2012). "Warner Bros Romancing Director Michael Hoffman For Nicholas Sparks’ ‘Best Of Me’". Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  13. ^ Harmanian, Harout (25 July 2013). "Nicholas Sparks' 'The Best of Me' Goes to Relativity". Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Relativity Sets Nicholas Sparks Adaptation ‘The Best Of Me’ For Fall 2014". 24 October 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  15. ^ Scott, Mike (17 March 2014). "Filming in New Orleans: Actors sign on for 'American Ultra,' 'Best of Me' and more". Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  16. ^ Le, Sarah (11 February 2014). "FILMING IN LOUISIANA IN 2014: DINOSAURS AND ROBOTS". Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Chatelain, Kim (29 April 2014). "Scenes for "The Best of Me" to be filmed in Covington this week". Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  18. ^ "Aaron Zigman to Score ‘The Best of Me’". 27 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  19. ^ Bjorke, Matt. ""The Best Of Me" Soundtrack Tracklist & Cover Art". Roughstock. Cheri Media. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  20. ^ a b Vinson, Christina. "Country Music Featured on 'The Best of Me' Soundtrack". Taste of Country. Townsquare Media. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "I Did With You - Single by Lady Antebellum". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  22. ^ a b
  23. ^ Matt Bjorke (October 15, 2014). "Country Album Chart Recap: October 15, 2014". Roughstock. 
  24. ^ a b Ray Subers (October 19, 2014). "Weekend Report: 'Fury' Topples 'Gone Girl,' 'Birdman' Soars in Limited Release". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  25. ^ "The Best of Me". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  26. ^ "The Best of Me Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 

External links[edit]