Shirley MacLaine received her sixth Oscar nomination (and last to date) for her role as Aurora Greenway, an eccentric mother.
What I never understood about this movie, is they never explain why Aurora is so over the top, they just let it flow. From the first scene, we see Aurora isn't very fond of her daughter. From there, we get the sense these two have a complicated relationship.
Shirley MacLaine gets the lighter story, while Debra Winger gets the heavy storyline, and they both balance each story perfectly. Like I said in my review of Debra Winger, their chemistry is amazing. We really get the sense these two don't get along, but still have a deep love for each other.
Even the plot with Jack Nicholson is entertaining. Aurora is such an uppity *bleep* and to see her finally let loose and live a little, it's very entertaining to watch.
MacLaine's best scenes come with Winger. When she becomes sick, it really becomes all about Aurora and how will she deal with her daughter's illness. Her huge "GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT" is a brilliantly acted scene, not to mention my favorite scene, when she finds out Emma has died, and how she deals, it's just so quietly intense.
There are some problems I have with this performance, that I was afraid would arise after re-watching the film years later. I think Shirley MacLaine completely nails the strong and stubborn, but loving at heart Aurora, but again, we are really never explained why she's so off the wall.
Of course, Shirley was going to win the Oscar. She was overdue, she was in the Best Picture, and she gives the most interesting performance in the movie, but that doesn't mean she didn't give a good performance. It's an unforgettable portrayal of an eccentric character that continues to grow on me.