What a way to end the 70s. Though I guess this did foreshadow what the 80s would be. I feel like many people would agree — even those who think it is a terrific film, like myself — that Kramer vs. Kramer is just not as strong a Best Picture choice as Apocalypse Now or All That Jazz would have been. And to be honest with you — I could have actually lived with the choice, had the Academy not also given the film’s director Robert Benton Best Director for it as well (talked about here). Had there been a split, I could have been okay with it. But since there wasn’t, I just can’t be.
The film also won Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman (talked about here), who, even though he was up against Roy Scheider, Peter Sellers, Jack Lemmon and Al Pacino, not only deserved it, but was terribly overdue by this point. So it was a fantastic decision, and Best Supporting Actress for Meryl Streep (talked about here), who, as she tends to often do, blew her competition out of the water. Best Actress this year was Sally Field for Norma Rae (talked about here), which is a fantastic decision (in a tough category, too. Bette Midler gave her a real run for her money). And Best Supporting Actor was Melvyn Douglas for Being There (talked about here), which is the single worst Best Supporting Actor decision of all time. Not that Douglas was bad, it’s just — how does he beat Robert Duvall for Apocalypse Now? Seriously?
So, overall, 1979 is a great year. With a terrible Best Picture choice. Again, could have been lessened by a different Best Director choice, but alas — we must deal yet again with the Academy being the Academy. (Shame, too, since it’s a really terrific film. It sucks when good films beat better films and have to live with it.)
BEST PICTURE – 1979
And the nominees are…
All That Jazz (20th Century Fox)
Apocalypse Now (United Artists)
Breaking Away (20th Century Fox)
Kramer vs. Kramer (Columbia)
Norma Rae (20th Century Fox) (more…)