Starman [1984]

While most movie buffs are likely to call Halloween the best movie from John Carpenter, others--die-hard romantics and anyone who cried while watching E.T.--might vote in favor of the director's 1984 hit Starman. It's easily Carpenter's warmest and most beguiling film, and the only one that ever earned an Oscar nomination. That honor went specifically to Best Actor nominee Jeff Bridges for his performance as an alien visitor to Earth who is knocked off course and must take an interstate road trip to rendezvous with a mothership from his home planet. To complete this journey he assumes the physical form of the dead husband of a Wisconsin widow (Karen Allen) who responds first with fear, then sympathy, and finally love. Carpenter's graceful strategy is to switch the focus of this E.T.-like film from science fiction to a gentle road-movie love story, made believable by the memorable performances of Bridges and Allen. It's a bit heavy-handed with tenacious government agents who view the Starman as an alien threat (don't they always?), but Carpenter handles the action with intelligent flair, sensitivity, and lighthearted humor. If you're not choked up during the final scene, well, you just might not be human. --Jeff Shannon

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