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Ordinary People is a 1980 American drama film that marked the directorial debut of actor Robert Redford. The film stars Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch, and Timothy Hutton.

Ordinary People
OrdinaryPeople.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Redford
Produced byRonald L. Schwary
Screenplay byAlvin Sargent
Based onOrdinary People
by Judith Guest
StarringDonald Sutherland
Mary Tyler Moore
Judd Hirsch
Timothy Hutton
Music byMarvin Hamlisch
CinematographyJohn Bailey
Edited byJeff Kanew
Production
company
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • September 19, 1980 (1980-09-19)
Running time
124 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$6 million
Box office$54.8 million

The story concerns the disintegration of an upper-middle class family in Lake Forest, Illinois, following the death of one of their sons in a boating accident. The screenplay by Alvin Sargent was based upon the 1976 novel Ordinary People by Judith Guest.

The film received six Academy Awards nominations and won four: the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director for Redford, Adapted Screenplay for Sargent, and Supporting Actor for Hutton. In addition, it won five Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director (Redford), Best Actress in a Drama (Tyler Moore), Best Supporting Actor (Hutton), and Best Screenplay (Sargent).

Contents

PlotEdit

The Jarretts are an upper-middle-class family in suburban Chicago trying to return to normal life after the death of one teenaged son and the attempted suicide of their surviving son, Conrad. Conrad has recently returned home from a four-month stay in a psychiatric hospital. He feels alienated from his friends and family and begins seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Berger. Berger learns that Conrad was involved in a sailing accident in which his older brother, Buck, whom everyone idolized, died. Conrad now deals with post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor's guilt.

Conrad's father, Calvin, tries to connect with his surviving son and understand his wife. Conrad's mother, Beth, denies her loss, hoping to maintain her composure and restore her family to what it once was. She appears to have loved her older son more, and because of the suicide attempt, has grown cold toward Conrad. She is determined to maintain the appearance of perfection and normalcy. Conrad works with Dr. Berger and learns to try to deal with, rather than control, his emotions. He starts dating a fellow student, Jeannine, who helps him to begin to regain a sense of optimism. Conrad, however, still struggles to communicate and re-establish a normal relationship with his parents and schoolmates, including Stillman, with whom he gets into a fist fight. He cannot seem to allow anyone, especially Beth, to get close. Beth makes several constrained attempts to appeal to Conrad for some semblance of normality, but she ends up being cold towards him.

Mother and son often argue while Calvin tries to referee, generally taking Conrad's side for fear of pushing him over the edge again. Things come to a climax near Christmas, when Conrad becomes furious at Beth for not wanting to take a photo with him, swearing at her in front of his grandparents. Afterward, Beth discovers Conrad has been lying about his after-school whereabouts. This leads to a heated argument between Conrad and Beth in which Conrad points out that Beth never visited him in the hospital, saying that she "would have come if Buck was in the hospital." Beth replies, "Buck never would have been in the hospital!" Beth and Calvin take a trip to see Beth’s brother in Houston, where Calvin confronts Beth, calling her out on her attitude.

Conrad suffers a setback when he learns that Karen, a friend of his from the psychiatric hospital, has committed suicide. A cathartic breakthrough session with Dr. Berger allows Conrad to stop blaming himself for Buck's death and accept his mother's frailties. Calvin, however, emotionally confronts Beth one last time. He questions their love and asks whether she is capable of truly loving anyone. Stunned, Beth decides to leave her family rather than deal with her own, or their, emotions. Calvin and Conrad are left to come to terms with their new family situation.

CastEdit

ReceptionEdit

Ordinary People garnered three big Oscars for 1980, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. The picture was Robert Redford's debut at directing, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director, and Alvin Sargent won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Timothy Hutton won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in his first film role (he had previously appeared on television). The film marked Mary Tyler Moore's career breakout from the personality of her other two famous roles as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Moore's complex performance as the mother to Hutton's character was well-received and obtained a nomination for Best Actress. Donald Sutherland's performance as the father was also well received, and he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. He was not nominated for an Academy Award along with his co-stars, however, which Entertainment Weekly has described as one of the worst acting snubs in the history of the Academy Awards.[1]

Judd Hirsch's portrayal of Dr. Berger was a departure from his work on the sitcom Taxi, and drew praise from many in the psychiatric community as one of the rare times their profession is shown in a positive light in film.[2] Hirsch was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor, losing out to co-star Hutton. Additionally, Ordinary People launched the career of Elizabeth McGovern who played Hutton's character's love interest, and who received special permission to film while attending Juilliard. The year 1980 was also a break-out one for Adam Baldwin, who had a small role in Ordinary People while starring in My Bodyguard the same year.

Ordinary People received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 90%, based on 42 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Though shot through with bitterness and sorrow, Robert Redford's directorial debut is absorbing and well-acted.".[3] Roger Ebert gave it a full four stars and praised how the film's setting "is seen with an understated matter-of-factness. There are no cheap shots against suburban lifestyles or affluence or mannerisms: The problems of the people in this movie aren't caused by their milieu, but grow out of themselves. [...] That's what sets the film apart from the sophisticated suburban soap opera it could easily have become."[4] He later named it the fifth best film of the year 1980.[citation needed] Gene Siskel ranked it the second best film of 1980.[5] Vincent Canby writing for The New York Times called it "a moving, intelligent and funny film about disasters that are commonplace to everyone except the people who experience them."[6]

Pachelbel's Canon, used as thematic and background music, enjoyed a surge in popularity as a result.[citation needed]

The film was a box office success, grossing $54 million in theaters and $23 million in rentals.[citation needed]

AwardsEdit

Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
53rd Academy Awards Academy Award for Best Picture Ronald L. Schwary Won
Academy Award for Best Director Robert Redford Won
Academy Award for Best Actress Mary Tyler Moore Nominated
Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay Alvin Sargent Won
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor Judd Hirsch Nominated
Timothy Hutton Won
35th British Academy Film Awards BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role Mary Tyler Moore Nominated
BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer Timothy Hutton Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film Robert Redford Won
38th Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama Ronald L. Schwary Won
Golden Globe Award for Best Director Robert Redford Won
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Donald Sutherland Nominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Mary Tyler Moore Won
Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay Alvin Sargent Won
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Judd Hirsch Nominated
Timothy Hutton Won
Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor Timothy Hutton Won
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards 1980 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film Won
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director Robert Redford Won
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor Timothy Hutton Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 1980 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor Timothy Hutton Won
National Board of Review Awards 1980 National Board of Review Award for Best Film Won
National Board of Review: Top Ten Films Won
National Board of Review Award for Best Director Robert Redford Won
National Society of Film Critics Awards 1980 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress Mary Tyler Moore 2nd place
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor Timothy Hutton 2nd place
1980 New York Film Critics Circle Awards New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director Robert Redford 3rd place
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress Mary Tyler Moore 3rd place
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor Timothy Hutton 3rd place
Writers Guild of America Award Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay Alvin Sargent Won

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "25 Biggest Oscar Snubs Ever: Donald Sutherland, Ordinary People". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  2. ^ Martin, Linda B. (25 January 1981). "The Psychiatrist in Today's Movies: He's Everywhere and He's in Deep Trouble". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2006.
  3. ^ "Ordinary People (1980)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (1 January 1980). "Ordinary People review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Siskel and Ebert Top Ten Lists (1969-1998)". innermind.com. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent (19 September 1980). "Redford's Ordinary People". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2018.

External linksEdit