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My review of Ordinary People

May 14, 2014
Earlier tonight I watched Ordinary People, the Best Picture Oscar winner for 1980. I was actually engrossed in the sad tale of a family unraveling due to the accidental drowning of one son, and the attempted suicide of another. Timothy Hutton plays the surviving son, the survivor of the boating accident in which his older brother was killed, but also the survivor of the suicide attempt. He won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, even though his is really more of the lead role. He conveys such sadness throughout the movie in his every action, his every look, and his every intonation. The only times he doesn’t seem sad it is such a stark difference, yet you know his happiness is only short-lived because he has to go home to his cold, unfeeling mother, played by Mary Tyler Moore in an Oscar-nominated role. MTM is a revelation in this film. It’s sad that she didn’t do much more work like this after this movie. She is really great. If she had been nominated for Best Supporting Actress instead of Best Actress, she probably would have won. Her role is more of a supporting part. Judd Hirsch was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for playing Timothy Hutton’s counselor/psychiatrist. He does fine work, as does Donald Sutherland as the father trying to keep his family together. Some other familiar faces who would become slightly more famous later on are M. Emmett Walsh of Blood Simple fame, James B. Sikking of Hill Street Blues fame, Adam Baldwin of Firefly and Chuck fame, Dinah Manoff from Grease and the Golden Girls spinoff Empty Nest, and Elizabeth McGovern, better known as Lady Cora from Downton Abbey. McGovern plays Hutton’s burgeoning love interest in the movie, and seemingly his only source of happiness, and she is really cute in it. Robert Redford won the Best Director Oscar for this movie. This was his first film as a director, but he shows great maturity for a first-time director, and gets great work from everyone involved. I highly recommend this movie for the performances. Had 1980 not been the year that The Empire Strikes Back and Raging Bull came out, I would say that this movie definitely deserved to win Best Picture, but alas, “I love you.” “I know.” “Laugh it up, fuzzball!” “Luke! I am your father!” “No!!! That’s not true!!!! That’s impossible!!!!!!!” Nothing tops that. Next up: The music is going to get stuck in my head and drive me crazy as I watch the Best Picture winner from 1981, Chariots of Fire.
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