Oscar Vault Monday – The Right Stuff, 1983 (dir. Philip Kaufman)
This was one of those movies that just completely blew me away when I first saw it. Partly because it’s one of those “great American stories” type movies about heroic everymen, but also because it is so visually stunning and packed with great performances. I will say right off that it has a pretty hefty ensemble cast and instead of trying to write about all of the performances, I’m going to focus on the five main men. But I do want to say that the women (specifically, Barbara Hershey, Kim Stanley, Veronica Cartwright, Mary Jo Deschanel and Kathy Baker) are all marvelous as they try to support their men, and sometimes try to come to terms with their own fear as their husbands become pioneers in this thing we called The Space Race. I also want to mention that Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer add some much appreciated levity to the film as befuddled NASA recruiters meeting with the various pilots as they try to convince them to join this new program. The Right Stuff was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning four: Sound Effects Editing (won), Best Film Editing (won), Best Original Score (won), Best Sound (won), Best Supporting Actor Sam Shepard, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were The Big Chill, The Dresser, Tender Mercies and winner Terms of Endearment.