Most of the year's outstanding films seem to share a uniformly high standard of acting, and frequently ensemble acting, ranging from settings as vastly removed in time, place and mood as the domestic battleground inhabited by the family in "Shoot the Moon" to the submarine inhabited by the crew of "Das Boot," or the children's rooms and hiding places in "E.T." to the boot camp of "An Officer and a Gentleman."
The increased reliance on the cast as a filmmaker's fundamental creative resource may or may not explain the fact that 1982 has also been the most impressive year for American film actresses in some time. Meryl Streep's magnificent performance in "Sophie's Choice" crowns a year that already seemed unusually rich on the feminine side.
Other notable women's performances: Krystyna Janda in "Man of Iron," Maggie Smith in "Quartet," Diane Keaton and the extraordinary juvenile Dana Hill in "Shoot the Moon," Sissy Spacek in "Missing," Ellen Barkin in "Diner," Rae Dawn Chong in "Quest for Fire," Dyan Cannon and Irene Worth in "Deathtrap," Patrice Donnelly and Mariel Hemingway in "Personal Best," Susan Anspach in "Montenegro," Jobeth Williams and Zelda Rubinstein in "Poltergeist," Dee Wallace and Drew Barrymore in "E.T.," Carol Burnett in "Annie," Debra Winger in "An Officer and a Gentleman," Glenn Close in "The World According to Garp," Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Ridgemont High," Karen Black and Sandy Duncan and Cher and Kathy Bates and Marta Heflin in "Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" and the great comic secret weapon of the year, Lainie Kazan in "My Favorite Year" and the otherwise dreary "One from the Heart."
Perhaps significantly, it was also a year without any Brooke Shields or Bo Derek movies.