66. Terms of Endearment

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Movie: Terms of Endearment

Release Date: December 9, 1983

Director: James L. Brooks

Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, John Lithgow, Jeff Daniels.

Tag Lines: “Come to Laugh, Come to Cry, Come to Care, Come to Terms.”

Relevance: ‘Terms of Endearment’ was released in December of 1983. I was twelve and had no knowledge of who was in it or what it was even about. Basically, I just didn’t care. Over the Christmas holiday, my sister was asked to go to see the film with some family members who happened to be all female. She did and I was super jealous, more so for missing a night at the movies than the actual movie itself. I don’t remember much of what they said about the movie when they got back except how much they loved it and that it started and ended with a funeral. I was twelve, jealous and all of a sudden intrigued about a movie I knew very little about.

‘Terms of Endearment’ was a success both in the eyes of critics and audiences. It was a huge box office hit, eventually becoming the second highest grossing film of 1983. It also received numerous accolades and awards, including eleven Academy Award nominations of which it won five, including Best Picture. I don’t remember exactly when I saw the movie, maybe sometime in 1984, but I knew that it was when it premiered on HBO. I watched the movie with my parents and my sister, who was watching it for the second time. I still wasn’t sure what to expect and had no idea if I was even going to like it, but there I was watching it.

I honestly don’t remember how I felt about the movie that first time through. All I do remember is that every time it was on HBO, I sat down and watched it. It was probably a movie that went over my head, as I was only thirteen at the time, but it was one that I was definitely curious about. The more I watched it, the more I liked it, but I wouldn’t say it became a “favorite” at that time.

I revisited the movie again in college after taking a few acting classes and became infatuated with Shirley MacLaine’s performance. I seemed to watch it over and over again, each time becoming more and more impressed by her portrayal as Aurora Greenway. While admiring her performance, I started to really appreciate not only the other actors in the film, but the direction and story itself. Despite its tearjerker of an ending, it was a movie that I watched a lot as I appreciated its artistry so much. The older I got, I started to appreciate its themes and meaning a lot more than when I was thirteen. Since then, it did become a favorite and has remained so for many years.

As mentioned already, ‘Terms of Endearment’ won the Best Picture Academy Award, so of course I own it on DVD as I collect all of the Best Picture winners. It’s one of the most watched movies in that collection. Believe it or not, the movie also gets referenced quite a bit in my household. If my husband and I are ever in situations where we are getting a tad dramatic, we will often say, “Do you want me to go all Shirley MacLaine?” Obviously it’s in reference to her “Give my daughter the shot!” scene in the film. Just mentioning it lightens the situation. ‘Terms of Endearment’ was a beautiful film and I am so grateful that I eventually grew into its themes and appreciate it as the true piece of art that it truly was.

Today’s Thoughts: “I know you like me. I know it. For the last year or two, you’ve been pretending like you hate me. I love you very much. I love you as much as I love anybody, as much as I love myself. And in a few years when I haven’t been around to be on your tail about something or irritating you, you could… remember that time that I bought you the baseball glove when you thought we were too broke. You know? Or when I read you those stories? Or when I let you goof off instead of mowing the lawn? Lots of things like that. And you’re gonna realize that you love me. And maybe you’re gonna feel badly, because you never told me. But don’t – I know that you love me. So don’t ever do that to yourself, all right?”

‘Terms of Endearment’ is still a gorgeous film and one that I love watching. I probably haven’t watched it in over a year, but it is one that I know very well and one that never gets old for me. It’s also definitely a Kleenex movie and I had a box nearby me today when I sat down to watch it.

James L. Brooks is a great director and is work on this film is nothing short of perfection. The performances he got out of all of his actors, right down to the three children, is truly remarkable. This movie is definitely more character driven but it moves at a remarkably quick pace as if it were an action film thanks to his brilliant guidance. The two hours still zoom by when I watch it as I am always enamored by its talented cast. Ms. MacLaine, of course, but also Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, John Lithgow and Jeff Daniels are all fantastic.

‘Terms of Endearment’ often gets tagged a “chick flick” but it is so much more than that (not that there is anything wrong at all with “chick flicks”). It is a smart, tender, emotional drama with also a lot of humor that can be appreciated by all sexes. Sure, it’s sad, but overall it’s a heartfelt tale with a gorgeous story of the strong love and bond between a mother and daughter. It comes highly recommended.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (winner), Academy Award for Best Director, James L. Brooks (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Shirley MacLaine (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Jack Nicholson (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, James L. Brooks (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Debra Winger (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, John Lithgow (nomination), Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Polly Platt, Harold Michelson, Tom Pedigo, Anthony Mondell (nomination), Academy Award for Best Sound, Donald O. Mitchell, Rick Kline, Kevin O’Connell, James R. Alexander (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Richard Marks (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Michael Gore (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Shirley MacLaine (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Jack Nicholson (winner), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, James L. Brooks (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, James L, Brooks (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Debra Winger (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Shirley MacLaine (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, James L. Brooks (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, James L. Brooks (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, Shirley MacLaine (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, Jack Nicholson (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay, James L. Brooks (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, John Lithgow (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Best Film (winner), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Director, James L. Brooks (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Actress, Shirley MacLaine (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, Jack Nicholson (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, Debra Winger (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, Jack Nicholson (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, Shirley MacLaine (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay, James L. Brooks (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, Shirley MacLaine (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, Jack Nicholson (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, Debra Winger (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, John Lithgow (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay, James L. Brooks (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium, James L. Brooks (winner).

Ways to Watch: Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, Showtime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, Showtime, DVD Availability.

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