Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

When it comes to films that win the “Best Picture” Oscar, the Academy tends to have a specific taste as to which film should deserve that honor. Over the years, winners have included sweeping romances, historical epics, or adaptations of literary classics filled with drama. When it comes to drama, though, some people in the real world want to avoid drama as much as possible (especially if they do not want to be involved with crimes or misdemeanors). Therefore, it is very interesting that the Academy would honor a dramatic film with its most prestigious award which has characters who have to deal with a domestic court case. That was the case (pun intended) for Kramer vs. Kramer, which was hailed as the “Best Picture” of 1979.

A Toast

This film features the first Oscar-winning performances from both Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. Meryl Streep was obviously amazing in her supporting role as Joanna, a mother who has to deal with the tension and drama of wanting to claim ownership of her son. Justin Henry also did a great job in his first film role, and he was the youngest person to earn an Oscar nomination at the age of eight (as of 2018). Dustin Hoffman was also fantastic as a patriarch within a crumbling family. This film openly displays the hardships associated with being parents, which might be why Streep and Hoffman both won Oscars in such a compelling film. The screenplay is also a brilliant adaptation of the original novel, and it deserved its Oscar win in part since the idea of a courtroom drama deviates significantly from other films that have won the “Best Picture” Academy Award.

The American Film Institute (AFI) has also ranked this film as #3 in the best “courtroom drama” list when they compiled the lists of the best of the best within a variety of film categories in June 2008. The four performers that received Oscar nominations in this film (the other person being Jane Alexander) were very lucky because they were able to star in not just the highest-grossing film of that year, but also in one of the most famous and important films ever made within the entire history of cinema.

Verdict

Kramer vs. Kramer remains one of the most iconic and culturally significant films ever made. Dustin Hoffman was very fortunate to have won Oscars for two “Best Picture” winners (the other film being Rain Man). Pretty much everybody already knows that Meryl Streep is a superb actress, especially since she acquired three Oscars out of twenty-one nominations as of 2018. The cultural influence of Kramer vs. Kramer is so strong that there was even an episode of the Nickelodeon show Rugrats entitled “Pickles vs. Pickles” that could be viewed as a parody of this powerful film. Not all people win court cases, but Kramer vs. Kramer is definitely a winner when it comes to its importance within the ever-changing landscape as to which film could (or should) win the “Best Picture” Oscar.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) Bonus Drinking Game

Take a Drink: during the famous ice cream scene (that was totally improvised from Dustin Hoffman and Justin Henry)

Take a Drink: for every reference to parenting (including the words “mother,” “father,” etc.)

Drink a Shot: for every scene that takes place in court

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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