6.9/10
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Second Best (1994)

PG-13 | | Drama | 30 September 1994 (USA)
Trailer
1:58 | Trailer
Graham, a lonely Welsh postal worker, adopts James, a troubled ten-year-old boy. Graham always wanted a son, but James loves his biological father too much to give Graham a chance. Will the two be able to accept each other as family?

Director:

Chris Menges

Writers:

David Cook (novel), David Cook (screenplay)
Reviews
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Hurt ... Graham Holt
Nathan Yapp Nathan Yapp ... Jimmy
Keith Allen ... John
Chris Cleary Miles Chris Cleary Miles ... James
Doris Irving Doris Irving ... Adoption Shop Volunteer
James Warrior James Warrior ... Senior Social Worker
Jane Horrocks ... Debbie
Alfred Lynch ... Edward
Rachel Freeman Rachel Freeman ... Elsie
Gus Troakes Gus Troakes ... Jeffo
Mossie Smith Mossie Smith ... Lynn
Martin Troakes Martin Troakes ... Colin
Shaun Dingwall ... Graham, age 20
Paul Wilson Paul Wilson ... Colin, age 20
Alan Cumming ... Bernard
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Storyline

Graham Holt is a lonely middle-aged man who runs a postal substation in a small village in England. He decides to adopt a son. James is the troubled youth he gets with the assistance of social worker Debbie. James has been in an orphanage for years since his mother committed suicide. He adores his outlaw father John, sent to prison not long after the mother's death. Can James learn to love Graham? Can Graham settle for being second best? Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 September 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Difícil elección See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$19,190, 2 October 1994

Gross USA:

$86,115

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$86,115
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final theatrical movie of Alfred Lynch (Edward). See more »

Quotes

[Remembering his mother's death]
Graham: Dad wasn't making much sense. His hands were like injured birds looking for a safe place to roost.
See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Only You/Second Best/Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Imagination
Written and Performed by Simon Boswell
Published by Sunfun Ltd.
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User Reviews

 
First Greatest Father-Son Love Story Ever Shown
17 March 2002 | by ricrisciSee all my reviews

This is an exquisitely poignant tale of a love-starved, troubled orphan boy and an emotionally incomplete man who has decided to reach out for what he wants most in life: a son. Jamie very much wants to love the kind man who wants to adopt him but is prevented from doing so by the promise he made to his biological father just before dad went to jail: to love him "best in the whole world forever." In what may just be the greatest dramatic performance by a child ever captured on film (surpassing even that of Freddie Bartholomew in "Captains Courageous" who had held that title for that past 60 years), Chris Cleary Miles demonstrates a precocity which makes one wonder if he hasn't already overcome some great tribulation(s?) in his short life in order to give such a compelling performance. Alternately masochistic, loving, violent and affectionate, the range and depth of emotion he portrays are nonpareil. I am still having trouble believing it was only a movie! It is unfortunate that Miles never acted in another movie; on the other hand, when you start at the top you can only go down.

Others have called this William Hurt's greatest role and I would have to agree. While his transformation from the stiff, detached loner to loving father was beautifully written in the book by David Cook, Hurt interprets this flawlessly. In fact you might say the film's brilliance was relatively easy on the heels of Cook's depictions. Nevertheless every scene in the movie is significant and the editing with the multiple flashbacks was excellent. Why this film did not win all kinds of awards is beyond me.

"Second Best" is second best to none in its genre.


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