Terms of Endearment

1983 Comedy Drama

Terms of Endearment covers three decades in the lives of widow Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger). Fiercely protected by Aurora throughout childhood, Emma runs into resistance from her mother when she marries wishy-washy college teacher Flap (Jeff Daniels). Aurora is even more put out at the prospect of being a grandmother, though she grows a lot fonder of her three grandkids than she does of her son-in-law. Flap proves that Aurora's instincts were on target when he enters into an affair with a student (Kate Charleson). Meanwhile, Emma finds romantic consolation with an unhappily married banker (played by John Lithgow, who registers well in a rare "nice guy" performance). As for Aurora, she is ardently pursued by her next-door neighbor, boisterous astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson). After 75 minutes or so of pursuing an episodic, semi-comic plotline, the film abruptly shifts moods when Emma discovers that she has terminal cancer. Terms of Endearment won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay for TV veteran James L. Brooks making his first feature film, Best Actress for MacLaine, and Best Supporting Actor for Nicholson. It was followed by a sequel, The Evening Star (1996), which again featured MacLaine as Aurora. more..

Director: James L. Brooks

Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger,Jack Nicholson,Jeff Daniels,Danny DeVito


  • This is a wonderful film. There isn't a thing that I would change.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    27 April 2013

  • It rates a resounding yes because it doesn't insult our emotional intelligence.

    Jay Carr - The Boston Globe

    27 April 2013

  • No film since Preston Sturges was a pup has so shrewdly appreciated the way the eccentric plays hide-and-seek with the respectable in the ordinary American landscape; no comedy since Annie Hall or Manhattan has so intelligently observed not just the way people live now but what's going on in the back of their minds; and finally, and in full knowledge that one may be doing the marketing department's job for them, it is the best movie of the year.

    Richard Schickel - Time

    27 April 2013

  • Lopsided comedy turned tearjerker, saved by excellent performances.

    - TV Guide

    27 April 2013

  • Terms of Endearment is a funny, touching, beautifully acted film that covers more territory than it can easily manage.

    Janet Maslin - The New York Times

    27 April 2013


  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role

    Academy Awards (1984)

  • Best Foreign Language Film

    Awards of the Japanese Academy (1985)

  • Best Actress

    BAFTA Awards (1985)

  • Best American Film

    Boston Society of Film Critics Awards (1984)

  • Best Foreign Actress (Migliore Attrice Straniera)

    David di Donatello Awards (1984)