Best Picture Winners Part 56 (of 91): Terms of Endearment

Title: Terms of Endearment
Year: 1984
Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson
Director: James L. Brooks
Runtime: 2 hr 12 mins

Is It Any Good?: It’s actually quite good. Shirley MacLaine playing the widow Aurora Greenway is splendid. Playing a woman who keeps a few men at arms reach willing to give it all up for her hand. Instead, she’s focused on her daughter Emma, played by Debra Winger, Emma…not so much. A retired astronaut may change that whole thing. This is a really well put together romantic-drama with a great script. Not much else to say besides perhaps bring the tissues because this thing has some turns to it. Some that you may not see coming.

Memorable Quote: Emma Horton: You don’t know how lucky you are, you know. Everybody wants to go to Des Moines. People come from all over the world just to get one look at Des Moines before they die.

How’s the Competition?: Pretty damned good. With The Big Chill, a group of friends (portrayed by a stellar cast) meet for the funeral of a friend they were all envious of. Now, all together they must face hard truths and reality. Not the best film of 84 on its own it struggles to tell its tale. Lawrence Kasdan really doesn’t do a great job of handling all the characters. The soundtrack though is absolute fire. Albert Finney returns to the Oscar stage in The Dresser and brings Tom Courtenay with him. Here he’s a Shakesperean actor during World War II who hopes to put together a ragtag group of aging actors and servicemen. Peter Yates does magic unraveling it all. Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction novel The Right Stuff about the first decade and a half of America’s space program. We get John Glenn among all the other pioneers of space travel. We get to know them as more than just astronauts. No, we see their fears and crises both existential and in reality. The evolution both politically and technologically. A truly great piece from the early ’80s. In Tender Mercies Robert Duval won an Oscar for Best Actor for his domination of the screen as country singer Mac Sledge. As the hard-living vagabond is short on cash he takes a job with a young widow. He quickly falls for her. At only 90 minutes this isn’t a bad film but it is one that without its tremendous lead performance belongs nowhere near here.

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