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. Days 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. After more than twenty years of separation, Amanda is now married to Frank Reynolds and has a son, while Dawson has remained single.

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 ran away from his father's home and stayed overnight in Tuck Hostetler's garage. Tuck, a local mechanic who had lost his wife a few years ago, allows Dawson to live with him and eventually considers him a son of his own.

During this time, Amanda and Dawson, two high school seniors, start dating and quickly fall in love with one another. The day of their high school senior prom, Dawson's father and cousins savagely beat up Tuck and ruin his garden and the tulips his wife planted with their truck. Furious, an upset Dawson goes to his father's house with the intent of killing him with Tuck's rifle. Instead, Bobbie, Dawson's cousin and best friend, is accidentally killed with the rifle in a rough scuffle between Dawson and his father. Dawson is arrested and cooperates with the authorities, leading to a police raid on the Coles' property and all the other Coles are arrested. In exchange for a lighter sentence, Dawson testifies against his father and cousins. However, Dawson is not given the chance for parole before four years and he decides to cut ties with Amanda to allow her to move on with her life and to follow her ambitious dreams of becoming a lawyer.

Meanwhile in the present, 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. The lawyer hands them separate letters that Tuck wrote to them individually in the hospital. Broken and hurt, Amanda has no plans on spending any time with Dawson, but she changes her mind after reading Tuck's letter.

Dawson and Amanda eventually reconcile and spend a passionate night together at Tuck's cottage. Although they are still deeply in love with each other, Dawson and Amanda agree that she must return to her family, despite her strained marriage. Her husband became an alcoholic after the death of their young daughter, Bea, many years ago.

Dawson meets with Bobbie's old girlfriend and apologizes for killing the father of her unborn child. She consoles Dawson by telling him that Bobbie's death was not his fault, and she thanks him for anonymously sending money in the mail over the years to support her son. She then confesses to Dawson that her son Aaron is in trouble by hanging out with the Coles and living with Dawson's horrible and abusive father. Dawson drives to his father's filthy property to persuade Aaron to leave with him. He confronts his father and tells him that he's a coward and a weak old man.

In the meantime, Amanda tells her husband that their marriage is broken and that she wants to leave. She then calls Dawson and leaves him a voicemail, professing her love to him.

Later in the night, Amanda receives a call from the hospital. Her son was in a very serious car accident and needs a heart transplant in order to survive. Amanda is devastated and cannot imagine losing her other child. Miraculously, a heart donor is found the same night and the heart transplant surgery is a success.

The next morning, Amanda wakes up from a dream in which she saw Dawson sitting on the edge of her bed, watching her sleep. Her mother arrives and somberly informs Amanda that Dawson has died. He was attacked the previous night by his cousins at a railroad crossing after listening to her voicemail, and is ultimately shot in the chest by his father. Amanda crumples to the floor in huge sobs. Grief-stricken, she attends his small funeral along with her mother, Bobbie's old girlfriend and Aaron.

One year later, Amanda is a new divorcee and is finally realizing her teenage dreams by working at a paralegal office focused on helping children. She receives a call from her son in college who just found out that his heart donor was Dawson Cole.

She later visits Tuck's cottage and finds a heartfelt letter written by Dawson the day of his death, expressing his profound love for her and how the best days of his life had always been with her. She then walks into the garden, and is taken aback; Dawson had restored it to its original beauty. Amanda sits on the wooden bench in the garden, taking in the moment as she realizes that Dawson 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

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

Chart performance

Chart (2014–15) Peak
US Billboard 200 52
US Top Country Albums (Billboard) 11
US Top Soundtracks (Billboard) 4


Box office

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

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

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 [1][dead link]
  23. ^ Matt Bjorke (October 15, 2014). "Country Album Chart Recap: October 15, 2014". Roughstock. 
    • "10 Country Albums - October 15, 2014 - Google Sheets". Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  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. 

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