1979 • Kramer vs. Kramer

Kramer vs KramerSaturday night, Lauren and I finished out the 1970s decade with the 1979 Best Picture, Kramer vs. Kramer, starring Dustin Hoffman, who won the Oscar for Best Actor, and Meryl Streep, who won for Best Supporting Actress, in their roles as the Kramers.

In the movie, Joanna Kramer is unhappy in her marriage with Ted Kramer, leaving him and their seven-year-old son Billy.  Ted, a workaholic who had done a poor job of parenting up to that point, must now take over as a full-time single parent, and ends up being very good at it.  But what happens when 18 months later, Joanna suddenly shows up and tries to reclaim Billy?

Poor Billy is used to hanging out with his stay-at-home mom all the time after school, and then she just disappears and he’s completely distraught.  Especially with that big head of blond hair, I could see a very young Ryan Glanzer bawling if Mom was out of my sight.  Of course she never left Dad to raise me alone, but I could feel that kid’s pain in some scenes!

Kramer vs. Kramer was undoubtedly one of, if not the saddest movie so far, but in a much different way than the last movie we saw, The Deer Hunter. No one went to fight in a war and then became horribly disfigured or pointed a gun at their own skulls, but like The Deer Hunter, lives were changed and tears were shed.

Though the movie shows Joanna abandoning the family, I still didn’t feel like she was necessarily “the bad guy.”  Ted was clearly failing as a husband and father.  While I was rooting for Ted to win custody of Billy, I still felt bad for Joanna.

Overall, I really liked Kramer vs. Kramer. I think it had very strong acting, a great story/script (especially at the time), and had one of the best endings of any movie on the list so far.  I will have to take a good look before I officially rank it, but I could see it landing in the top 12.

I find movies based from this time period (late 70s and early 80s) to be very interesting, seeing it was around the time I was born, getting an authentic look into what products were on the shelves and stuff like that, though only a few of the movies from this time were also based in this time.  The 1970s are without question my favorite decade of this project so far.  I would be very surprised if the 80s, 90s, or 00s end up being more enjoyable.

Next up, we begin the 1980s with Ordinary People.  Hopefully with the baseball season starting, we don’t completely abandon the project for months at a time like last year.

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