I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Terms of Endearment, 1983

Rated PG

This movie is what some consider a “hybrid” comedy since it’s kind of a romantic comedy and a romantic drama. “Terms of Endearment” was based on a novel and stars Shirley MacLaine (Best Actress winner) and Debra Winger (Best Actress nominee) as the mother-daughter duo whose relationship is dysfunctional and co-dependent, but honest. The very first scene of the movie shows how smothering Shirley’s character, Aurora, is when she climbs over into the crib and wakes up her newborn daughter to see if she’s breathing. (But, to be honest, I’m pretty sure I climbed halfway into the crib at night to see if my first son was still alive too.)

Their relationship is one I cannot empathize with… and I speak from a little bit of experience having lived across the country from my Mommy for some years. I’ve NEVER wanted to curl up on my mom’s bed with a cup of tea and talk about her sex life.
Emma (Debra Winger) and Flap’s (Jeff Daniels) marriage is tumultuous from the start as they try to fend off Aurora’s constant interference, deal with financial hardships due to a growing family, and ultimately succumb to wandering eyes. The relationship puzzled me at times… it seemed that they were always honest with each other. Although Flap’s affair upset Emma, she wasn’t going to let it break apart her family. Hypocritically, she’s also having an affair and keeps it a secret even on her deathbed. Emma is dying from cancer in the last scenes of the movie and has a sincere conversation with Flap about the custody of their kids. How could she be so direct when talking about her boys’ future, but not release some of Flap’s guilt by admitting her own infidelity?? I also had mixed emotions about the goodbye scene with her sons in the hospital. It is heartbreaking to watch the youngest boy cling to his dying Mommy and say he misses her at home. But she tells the older boy never to feel guilty for not saying “I love you” to her before she died. She assures him that she knows he loves her. I guess as viewers, we’re supposed to hope that he grows up and understands her wisdom and doesn’t feel guilty, but all I wanted to do was reach in the TV screen, shake him, and yell, “Show some respect to your mother!!”

Jack Nicholson (Best Supporting Actor winner) plays the astronaut and next-door neighbor who eventually entices Aurora into bed. While he had moments that I thought he fit the role perfectly, there were other times that I literally cringed when watching him flirt. He was the stereotypical creepy and intoxicated uncle who invades your personal space while trying to talk to you at family functions… (side note: I’ve truthfully never had that uncle though.) His character comes through in the clutch though when he surprises Aurora at the hospital’s near-by hotel to offer his support. He even seems to start a bond with the older son at Emma’s funeral (although part of me flinched when the son denied his father’s attempt at bonding.)

Overall, I can’t say I was a big fan of the movie. It wasn’t the tear-jerker I read it to be, for me anyways. Of course, I got choked up at the end because I have children of my own now and can’t imagine having to say goodbye like that. But I don’t think I got incredibly invested in the characters- go ahead, call me cold and heartless. I can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s rated PG though. Although there were no sex scenes, there were plenty of innuendos and a use of the F word. I would have rated it at least PG-13, so please keep in mind that some definite parental guidance is necessary. I also can’t recall a single "term of endearment" that was muttered by any of the loved ones by the way…

“Terms of Endearment” was up against “The Big Chill”, “The Dresser”, “The Right Stuff”, and “Tender Mercies”. I haven’t seen any of the other movies or even recognize their names. “Terms of Endearment” was clearly the frontrunner in Box Office sales almost doubling what the next nominated film brought in. It still kind of surprises me though that a “chick-flick” won the award. I was shocked to discover that the movie/musical “Yentl” was not even nominated that year. I would watch that movie over in a heartbeat if given the option with this Best Picture winner. I believe Barbra Streisand got snubbed for the Best Picture, Best Actress, AND Best Director nominations. “Terms of Endearment” won 5 of its 11 nominations that night.


A scene that sticks out in my mind as especially endearing was near the beginning when Aurora comes into young Emma’s bedroom at night just after becoming widowed. She asks her daughter, “Do you want to sleep in my bed tonight?” Emma responds cutely, “No… would you like to sleep in my bed?” Aurora gets in and they snuggle up together. She already knew that her Mommy needed her too.


Don’t infer that people know what you’re feeling or thinking or that they even feel the same way as you. Every person is different. Say what you feel and be honest.

Tell the people who are close to you that you love them, no matter what. Even in hard times, love can keep you from sinking.

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