I think it’s time to forgive Ordinary People for winning the 1980 Best Picture Oscar, and thereby denying that honor to Martin Scorsese‘s Raging Bull. I’m not arguing that the Scorsese isn’t a much bolder, richer and less schematic film. Everyone reveres it. I own a Raging Bull Bluray and have watched it a good nine or ten times. It’s just that I saw Redford’s film this evening and to my surprise it really got me. I’d forgotten how sad some of the scenes are. It’s too tidy and well-ordered, okay, but so well acted.
If nothing else Ordinary People taught the entire world to hate Mary Tyler Moore, the frigid, buttoned-down bitch of the suburbs. It defined her career. Her Beth character all but wiped out everything she’d done before on TV and certainly everything she did after. Beth’s example probably did a lot to open things up with all the real-life Beths out there. A lot of them probably said to themselves during a tough moment, “Wow, I’m turning into Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People.”