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
Screenplay 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 date
  • October 17, 2014 (2014-10-17) (United States)
Running time
118 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million[2]
Box office $35,926,213[2][3]

The Best of Me is a 2014 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.


Dawson Cole works on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. One day, an explosion on the job nearly kills him, throwing him into the water. Months later after recovering, Dawson learns that his close friend and surrogate father, Tuck Hostetler, has died and returns home for the first time in almost twenty years to carry out Tuck's final wishes. When he arrives at his house, Dawson is surprised to find that Tuck also arranged for Dawson's high school girlfriend, Amanda Collier, to join him. It seems that Tuck's intention was that Dawson and Amanda would perhaps rekindle their former romance. However, after more than twenty years of separation, Amanda is now married to Frank Reynolds and has a son while Dawson has remained single his entire life.

Dawson was born into a notorious backwoods criminal family with an abusive father and more than a dozen abusive cousins. In flashbacks, it is revealed that as a teenager, he left his father's home and stayed overnight in Tuck Hostetler's garage. Tuck, a local mechanic who had recently lost his wife, allows Dawson to live with him and eventually considers him a son of his own.

Dawson and Amanda attended the same high school and began dating, soon falling in love in a matter of weeks. A few days before the prom, Dawson's father and cousins beat Tuck. An angry Dawson goes to his father's house with the intent of killing him with Tuck's rifle. However, they scuffle to gain possession of the rifle, resulting in Dawson's cousin Bobbie, an expectant teen father, accidentally getting shot in the head. The police launch a raid on the Coles' property, arresting all the Coles except for Dawson, who turns himself in a few days after the incident. In exchange for a lighter sentence, Dawson testifies against his father and cousins. However, since Dawson will not be paroled for another four years, he cuts ties with Amanda, forcing her to choose college over staying with him.

After Tuck's death, Amanda and Dawson meet with Tuck's lawyer and learn that they are to scatter Tuck's ashes at a cottage he owned with his wife. They have lunch and discuss their plans, during which Amanda learns that Dawson knew she had continued to try to visit him in prison. Later, Dawson and Amanda spend a passionate night together. The following day, after Amanda gets a phone call, Amanda decides to return to her family and her strained marriage, to meet her family commitments.

When Amanda goes home, Dawson remains at Tuck's to restore the garden. He is then informed by his deceased cousin Bobbie's wife that his young son and Dawson's nephew Aaron Cole has been hanging around with Tommy Cole lately. Except for Aaron, Tommy, and a few of Dawson's cousins, most of the Cole family had left the property. Dawson arrived at the property to pick up Aaron, and when Tommy Cole confronts him, Dawson coldly tells his father that he would always be a weakling and a coward. Meanwhile, Amanda later plans to split up with her husband, who had been drinking heavily since the death of their daughter Bea, and she leaves Dawson a voicemail on his phone expressing her love.

After she left the voicemail, she receives a call from which she learns that her son had been in an accident and needs a heart transplant. Having lost her daughter already, she feels miserable on hearing this news. Soon her son gets a heart transplant surgery donor. The next morning when she wakes up, she sees Dawson sitting by her side watching her sleep, though he was not actually there. Her mother arrives at the house and is informed that Dawson was attacked by his father and cousins. Though he managed to trick his cousin Abee into shooting Ted in the leg with his Glock and knocked Abee unconscious with a crowbar, Dawson was shot in the chest by his father when he was calling the sheriff. Even though Dawson's father and cousins were later arrested, Dawson died shortly thereafter of his gunshot wound. Devastated with grief over the loss of Dawson, Amanda attends his funeral along with Aaron Cole and his mother.

One year later, she receives a call from her son, who finds out that the name of the donor whose heart he received was Dawson Cole. She later visits Tuck's house and finds a letter for her written by Dawson in which he says that he understands that she has her commitments and she wants to keep them and he could only love her more for that. She walks in the garden, which has been restored by Dawson, and realizes that he had given her the best of himself.

In an alternate ending on the DVD, Amanda leaves her husband and she and Dawson get together and enjoy walking through Tuck's garden and the end credits roll.




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 the female lead 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 from the 2004 adaptation of Sparks' 1996 novel The Notebook to play the male 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 the younger version of Marsden's character, 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, the 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. Also filming took place in parts of Pearl River, Louisiana.[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[21]

The soundtrack album for the film, released on October 7, 2014,[22] 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 (2014–15) Peak
US Billboard 200 52
US Top Country Albums (Billboard) 11
US Top Soundtracks (Billboard) 4


Box office[edit]

The Best of Me opened in North America on October 17, 2014 across 2,936 theaters. It has grossed $26,766,213 in North America and $9,160,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $35,926,213.[2]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $10,003,827, finishing fifth at the box office behind Fury ($23,702,421), Gone Girl ($17,511,956), The Book of Life ($17,005,218) and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day ($11,456,954), making it the worst opening for a Nicholas Sparks' novel adaptation.[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] 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]

Home media[edit]

The Best of Me was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 3, 2015.


  1. ^ "THE BEST OF ME (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. October 3, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Best of Me (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Best of Me (2014) - International Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo". 
  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. ^ "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]