Meryll Streep Dustin Hoffman

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Click on one of these decades to read about the major stars and movies of the time:

Intro | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

Films are listed as winners in the year the ceremony was held

The big Oscar-nominated films of the decade lacked the bite and edge of the 1970s. Sentimental films such as Driving Miss Daisy, Rain Man, Working Girl and On Golden Pond were all nominated for best picture.

But there were gems also - Missing, The Right Stuff, Platoon, The Color Purple, Children of a Lesser God, Hope and Glory and Mississippi Burning, all films with a sense of history and social conscience, found their way onto the nominations list.

1981 also marked a mini-revival for British film - Chariots of Fire won four awards from seven nominations. The following year, Gandhi took eight awards from 11 nominations.

Chariots of Fire had also completely overshadowed 1981's favourite - Warren Beatty's Reds received a mighty 12 nominations but only three awards, although one of them was for best director.

Two of the most important actors of the era won Oscars in the first year of the decade.

Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman won statuettes for their roles in Kramer vs Kramer.

Streep, the second most successful actress in Oscar history after Katharine Hepburn, would receive five more nods in the decade. Hoffman received a nomination in 1983 for Tootsie and would win a second best actor Oscar at the start of the 1990s.

Elsewhere the decade began inauspiciously for the Academy with Robert Redford's family drama Ordinary People beating Martin Scorsese's masterpiece Raging Bull to the best picture and director awards.

In 1984 Terms of Endearment produced a classic Oscar sweep - five wins, including three for James Brooks, as director, producer and writer. It is a feat matched only by four other directors: Leo McCarey in 1944, Billy Wilder in 1960, Francis Ford Coppola in 1974, and would later occur for James Cameron in 1997.

In 1981 Robert De Niro finally won his first best actor Oscar with his fourth nomination, in his fourth film with director Martin Scorsese. The Oscar was for his performance as brutal, washed-up boxer Jake La Motta in Raging Bull.

Jack Nicholson remained a favourite with the Academy, becoming the first actor to win a best supporting actor Oscar (in 1984 for Terms of Endearment) following a best actor win (in 1976 for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).


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