Saturday, January 7, 2012

Battle Of The Oscar Stars: Best Picture 1979

In between the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Years, distraction has become a key word in my every day phraseology; where have the last two exciting weeks gone to?

With my mind in a zillion directions, the fact that I had another Best Picture winner under my belt had completely spaced my brain.

I watched it, enjoyed it, and then promptly forgot about it. Though, this has no connection to the quality of the movie, just me being a space case.

Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, and the kid who grows up to be  Molly Ringwald's hilarious younger brother in Sixteen Candles, bring you a movie that has been sitting in my Netflix queue for over five years.

Being a Streep mega-fan, Kramer Vs. Kramer was one of those classics I always meant to watch, never did, and there it sat in movie purgatory patiently waiting for me to wake up one day and give it a chance.

For this reason alone, all movie appreciators out there should start their own film watching adventure; it seems this Best Picture challenge might be why I finally watched it. Don't, however, hesitate as long as I did to catch this endearing, incredibly acted, movie.

Beginning with the dissolution of the marriage between Joanna and Ted Kramer (Streep and Hoffman), leading to Joanna, unsatisfied with being a wife and mother, promptly stepping out and running off to California to discover her true passions. The bulk of the rest of the story revolves around Ted trying to balance the pain of his break-up, sustaining the passion for his job, and being a single parent to their son.

Obviously, Ted had never been solely responsible for their son, Billy (Justin Henry). He puts out an honest effort from the start, creating many hilarious father/son antics, and one in particular, shows his lacking skills in making his sons favorite, french toast.

A sticky situation arises once Streep, over a year after leaving, decides she got her crap together and tries to step back in and gain custody of their son. What, after they mastered making french toast together? How dare she!

Starring Streep and Hoffman delivering top notch performances (garnering them both their first Academy Awards), is reason alone to catch this film. They tackle emotional topics of divorce, change and moving on in family life, which was more taboo when the film was first released. As these issues are growing more commonplace by the day, a lot of people seeing this for the first time now could still relate.

However, the kid ends up stealing much of the movie away from both of them.

Much deserved, Justin Henry was also nominated for his supporting performance. It's tricky with children actors, but whoever found that gem deserved a big bonus, and it's too bad Henry didn't make many more movies. He's as crucial of a character as the two adult leads, and he gets right in there being mischievous, adorable, and tugging at your heart, as we see through him how painful it must be for kids to deal with the dramas of life.
In 1979, years before the big blockbusters of today, Kramer Vs. Kramer was the highest grossing movie of the year. Here I thought only in recent years that the opinion of the Academy and the general public have overlapped on their choices of the best movies of the year.

Do yourself a favor, join the masses of the late 1970's, and check out Kramer Vs. Kramer this weekend.
(Netflix subscribers have it easy, you can queue it up right now, as it is streaming instantly!)

This is definitely another Best Picture winner to add to the list that has held on to its enjoyment factor and quality over the years.

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