Ordinary People

1980 Drama

Robert Redford's directorial debut ended up the 1980 Oscar winner for Best Picture. It is a simple but painfully emotional story of the disintegration of a "perfect" family. Teenager Conrad (Timothy Hutton) lives under a cloud of guilt after his brother drowns after their boat capsizes in Lake Michigan. Despite intensive therapy sessions with his psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch), Conrad can't shake the belief that he should have died instead of his brother; nor do his preoccupied parents (Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore) offer much in the way of solace. The boy is brought out of his doldrums through his romance with Jeannine (Elizabeth McGovern). A winner in every respect, Ordinary People (adapted from the novel by Judith Guest) scores highest in the scenes with Mary Tyler Moore, who superbly and perceptively portrays a blinkered, ever-smiling suburban wife and mother for whom outward appearance is all that matters. more..

Director: Robert Redford

Starring: Mary Tyler Moore,Timothy Hutton, Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch, M. Emmet Walsh


  • A moving, intelligent and funny film about disasters that are commonplace to everyone except the people who experience them. Not since Robert Benton's "Kramer vs. Kramer" has there been a movie that so effectively catches the look, sound and temper of a particular kind of American existence.

    Vincent Canby - The New York Times

    26 April 2013

  • Each character in this movie is given the dramatic opportunity to look inside himself, to question his own motives as well as the motives of others, and to try to improve his own ways of dealing with a troubled situation. Two of the characters do learn how to adjust; the third doesn't. It's not often we get characters who face those kinds of challenges on the screen, nor directors who seek them out. Ordinary People is an intelligent, perceptive, and deeply moving film.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    26 April 2013

  • An austere and delicate examination of the ways in which a likable family falters under pressure and struggles, with ambiguous results, to renew itself. This is not very show-bizzy stuff, but for once, a movie star has used his power to create not light entertainment or a trendy political statement, but a work that addresses itself quietly and intelligently to issues everyone who attempts to raise children must face.

    Richard Schickel - Time

    26 April 2013

  • A powerfully intimate domestic drama, Ordinary People represents the height of craftsmanship across the board.

    Todd McCarthy - Variety

    26 April 2013

  • An outstanding start to the fall season, reassuring in its quest for excellence and its deep concern for the family. It's a fine and touching piece of work for any season; in 1980, it is rain after drought.

    - Los Angeles Times

    26 April 2013


  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role

    Academy Awards (1981)

  • Best Foreign Language Film

    Awards of the Japanese Academy (1982)

  • Best Actress

    BAFTA Awards (1982)

  • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures

    Directors Guild of America (1981)

  • Best Director - Motion Picture

    Golden Globes (1981)