Winner of the 1980 Academy Award
for Best Picture
, beating out Apocalypse Now
. Also won oscars for Dustin Hoffman
and Meryl Streep
as a divorcing couple. The storyline was about Hoffman trying to gain custody of their child -- an unusual and controversial idea, back then.
The movie also shows how Hoffman nearly destroys his life by being an upwardly-mobile workaholic, a lesson that goes unheeded in today's hyperactive Silicon Valley lifestyle.
Now ... I do plan to flesh out this E1
node someday, assuming I get time, but for now, let me just comment on the Academy Award
win. In hindsight, you might thing Apocalypse Now
should have been the hands-down winner, but you have to consider two things going on in 1979. First, A.N.
was way over budget and way past deadline. It had become a Hollywood
joke. As spectacular as the movie is, it's conceivable that Hollywood insiders were just sick of the thing and didn't want it to win the Oscar
Second ... Kramer vs. Kramer touched on a relevant and tough social issue. It may be hard to understand today, but back in 1979, the idea of a man taking custody of a child was unheard of. Single fathers were around (as in The Courtship of Eddie's Father), but it was rare for fathers to get the kids after a divorce.
Despite women's lib, the '70s were still a very sexist time. ABC was on top of the TV ratings with juvenile T&A programming -- no ER or West Wing here. And mothers, even if they had jobs, were expected to take care of the kids. Kramer vs. Kramer probably challenged some people's idea of family, and that's a good thing.
Random aside: Dustin Hoffman's boss was played by Saturday Night Live alumnus George Coe, which is uninteresting except that I happen to have noded Coe just the other day. :-)