Best Supporting Actor – 1980

Official Nominations: Timothy Hutton. Judd Hirsch. Michael O’Keefe. Joe Pesci. Jason Robards.

On the surface, this isn’t the most interesting category for casual movie viewers. There aren’t many big names or big movies mentioned but that shouldn’t diminish the quality of the performances or movies. Hutton was the youngest ever winner in this category at the time, winning for his pained performance as the alienated and suffering son of the Conrad family, struggling to deal with loss, guilt, and change. While I would still argue that Ordinary People is a little too close to a Soap Opera than a movie, there’s no doubting the performances. Judd Hirsch picked up a nomination for the film too, playing the sympathetic doctor working to help Conrad through his trauma. Michael O’Keefe I can dismiss immediately under my rules, because The Great Santini was a 1979 movie. Joe Pesci didn’t quite debut in Raging Bull but it’s the first film where people took notice. He’s in the shadow of De Niro for much of the film, but as Jake’s brother Joey, he gets plenty of mileage from being a more meek, less unstable version of the boxing anti-hero. His journey is less pronounced than Jake’s, but is worthy of a film all of its own with Pesci as the star. Finally, a further nomination for Jason Robards to round out his golden trilogy of successes of the late 70s and early 80s. He stars as Howard Hughes in the little remembered Melvin And Howard and while he’s not in the movie much, it may be the pinnacle of his support work.

My Winner: Joe Pesci

Raging Bull" and the Rise of Joe Pesci | The Spool

My Nominations: Joe Pesci. Jason Robards. Rodney Dangerfield. Anthony Hopkins.

As much as I love the 80s as a movie era, the first few years are quite shaky in quality, at least in terms of my personal preferences. 1980 in particular… I don’t think it’s a very strong year in general, but definitely weak where my preferences are concerned. I bring two over from the main field and add one snub and one cult hero. Rodney Dangerfield as a unique comedian known for his whip-smart one-liners as well as his physical presence, bug eyed and on the brink of lunacy. Caddyshack was his first real attempt at breaking through the big screen, and his success within the film led to a variety of future supporting and lead roles. In an ensemble of all time great comics, he’s one of the standout performers. Anthony Hopkins may have felt peeved at not receiving a nomination for his work in The Elephant Man. While obviously overshadowed by the lead, Hopkins is at his best as the conflicted Doctor who ‘discovers’ Merrick and realises that by exposing him to the medical community he is still treating him as an object rather than a man.

My Winner: Joe Pesci

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Leathal Weapon 2: We Don’t Need A Nuther Hero!

Burtdog and Hicks return with some guns blazing in this film called Lethal Weapon 2. Buddy movies and sequels were all the rage in the 80s, and this is amongst the best or the worst depending on which way your wind blows. Crazy Gary Busey and Patsy Klinesit also co-star with Crazy Joe Pesci in this crazy romp. Crazy cop Melanie Gibson goes off the rails when his wife is killed by drowning. He teams up once again with Danny Glove to get into action and kill all the water in the world. The problem is, Fanny Lover is also scared of water and keeps getting stuck on toilets so isn’t much help. It turns out that Tyrannical (Saurus Rex!)Busey is a surfer who can send tidal waves at sunbathers. He has been steadily growing this power so that he can unleash a huge wave at San Fransico and kill everyone (when he was younger he was rejected by the flighty San Fran crowd for not being flamboyant enough). Rather than going for the logical solution and calling the coast guard or Superman’s cousin Water (man) Mel Griffith and Danny Glick decide to take on the wet Bush meister themselves.

This film ups you auntie from the first film, and is bigger, better, and not as good. There are plenty of quips and spark between all the cast members (in actual life they are all related to each other and grew up in the same house), and we have car chases, boat chases, surfy chasings, and lots of guns and bombs. This should all add up and equal a good film, but for some reason it doesn’t. Maybe they forgot to carry the one. They seem to have done something like 3 + 5 + 5 + 4 = 10. Don’t not do not get me wrong, right? Because it is still good, just not as good as it should have been. They would reach new highs with the third film, which is easily the worst of the Octology.

Best Scene: When Riggs and Barry are chasing Bushell in the water and he suddenly leaps out at them, yelling paranoid conspiracy theory rhetoric at them before sinking back into the gloomy depths. Gibson turns to his lover and delivers one of the great movie one-liners: ‘We might need a bigger boat!’

Home Alone

Home Alone

Easily the best Christmas movie for kids growing up in the eighties and nineties, and deserves to be mentioned along side the classics from previous decades. It is no small feat that this has already become for many, traditional Christmas viewing, given that it is still a fairly recent film, at least in comparison to The Snowman, It’s A Wonderful Life, Santa Claus The Movie etc. For kids, the movie has everything- action, excitement, humour, and for everyone else the story and acting are engaging.

The idea of being left Home Alone for a while, especially after your relatives have been so annoying, will appeal to kids as they will have peace to do anything they want and let their imaginations fly. Cue lots of ice cream and sled rides down stairs. The film shows depth by letting us see the initial down side to being alone- the house can be scary even for the most resourcful and confident child when it gets dark, and you know your parents are not there to help. The plot sees the massive Mcallister family planning to go on holiday for Christmas. After an unfortunate pizza incident at the dinner table, young Kevin is sent to bed and locked in. The next morning there is a rush, and the family leave for the airport without Kevin, only realising what has happened when they are on the plane. They try to find a way home, but this is not easy as it’s Chritmas, meeting snotty clerks and unhelpful fools before John Candy steps in. Meanwhile, two crooks plan to rob the Mcallister house, knowing it’s empty, but soon realise that Kevin is inside. Kevin sees that it is up to him to protect his house, and begins setting up traps for the intruders. What follows is great entertainment.

Yes it may at times be soppy, but it is a family Christmas film and much of the scmaltz is covered by some great invention and quite painful slapstick. It is much smarter than you may think, probably accounting for much of its great success, and the acting, particularly from Culkin and Pesci is impressive. O’Hara is also good while the rest of the cast, in small roles do well. The set pieces are ingenious, ensuring that every 10 year old boy will come up with their own ways to stop bad guys.

The special features are non-existent, which is poor for such a successful film. A commentary would have been good, and a making of or documentary showing where some of the ideas came from could have been interesting and full of nostalgic goodness. It may be better to buy a set with the sequel for better value.

Feel free to leave your comments on the movie-where should this appear on the list of best Christmas movies?