Well, we’ve gotten to the second film for this blog that won Best Picture at the Academy awards, the first being my review for No Country For Old Men. This time around we have 1983’s Best Picture, the tear-jerker family drama Terms of Endearment, which also picked up awards for direction, screenplay, and acting Oscars for Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson. Where I often have conflicted feelings towards No Country For Old Men as to whether it was truly a great film and worthy of that place in cinema history, I definitely know that I don’t think Terms of Endearment is the kind of film that I would name as the best picture of the year (unless the year was just really awful), but it wasn’t a bad movie either. It just wasn’t great, although the performances from Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson were absolutely fantastic and saved the film from utter mediocrity.

The movie is about a mother and a daughter, Aurora (the mother played to absolute perfection by Shirley MacLaine) and Emma (Debra Winger) Greenway. Aurora is a generally nasty, neurotic, and over-bearing woman, and her daughter is much more care-free and full of life. Emma marries Flap Horton (a very young Jeff Daniels). Jack Nicholson enters the fray as the lecherous, drunk, lout of a neighbor who was also a former astronaut by the name of Garrett Breedlove who starts to thaw the ice queen that is Aurora. The movie is almost 30 years old now so I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying that eventually Emma is diagnosed with cancer, and that is the heart of the last act of the film which is just absolutely heart-breaking. I was bawling my eyes out, but it’s not necessarily that difficult to make me cry.

The film’s story is nothing to write home about and it’s something that you’ve seen a million times. However, the writing is, during some scenes, actually pretty excellent. The movie can be riotously funny, especially when it focuses on the relationship between Aurora and Garrett. They both deserved every single accolade and award that they won for this film. Jack Nicholson is still at the top of his game and Shirley MacLaine gives the performance of her career. However, when the moment calls for incredible dramatic acting, Shirley MacLaine is able to deliver there as well. Probably the most famous scene of the film is her yelling to “give my daughter her shots”. She stands right now as having given the best female performance that I’ve reviewed for this blog so far. She was (in Aurora’s words) “fan-fucking-tastic”. I can’t say the same thing for Debra Winger. Every second she was on screen, prior to when she got sick, I just wanted to turn the movie off. Her story and plot was not interesting and her performance was not up to par with the rest of the cast. However, she did manage to do better when she was dying. The last scene with her and her children had me an emotional wreck.

Well, if you’re a woman, you’ll probably enjoy this movie more than I did. I hope that I didn’t come off as sexist, but this is a film about two women and their troubled relationships with men. Perhaps, I had some difficulty relating to the predicaments because of what chromosomes I have. But, this movie was ok. I was expecting it to be much worse and much more maudlin, and there was actually a lot more life to the film than what I was expecting. Obviously, if you’re a real movie buff, you need to watch it since it won Best Picture, but that’s really the only main reason I would give to watching it.

Final Score: B

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