The Robert Benton divorce drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep was the film of the year, hands down. But for the HFPA Kramer vs. Kramer also meant the very first award for Streep (Best Supporting Actress). Thereafter she would be nominated a record 29 times (including television), winning eight awards, plus the Cecil B. deMille Award in 2017 – an enduring love story with the Golden Globes, with no separation or custody battle in between.
Kramer vs. Kramer won four Golden Globes (Best Drama, Best Actor, Hoffman, Best Supporting Actress, Streep, and Best Screenplay by the same Benton – who was also nominated for Director but lost to Francis Ford Coppola for Apocalypse Now). The film later won five Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Actor for Hoffman). The 37th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and television for 1979, were held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, on January 26, 1980.
Hoffman, who had already won as Best Promising Newcomer in 1968 for The Graduate, won his first Globe for Best Actor – Drama with Kramer vs. Kramer. As of today, he has received 13 Golden Globe nominations, winning five times, and receiving the Cecil B. deMille Award in 1997. Three years after Kramer, Hoffman would win again for Tootsie, in the Best Actor in Comedy or Musical category.
Between Hoffman and Streep it was a real battle of talents, wit, and ambitions in the art of acting. Many are the stories told about the filming of Kramer vs. Kramer. For example, in the restaurant scene where the two divorcees (battling for the custody of their son Billy – played by Justin Henry) meet, Hoffman planned to throw his wine glass against the wall but the only person he warned in advance was the cameraman, to make sure he got the shot. Streep's shocked reaction is real, but she stayed in character long enough to make the cut. She later said she was taken aback by Hoffman’s daring improvisation. Two great actors at work!
When Justin Henry was nominated to the Globe (and then the Oscars) for Best Supporting Actor he was just 8 years old, becoming the youngest person ever to be nominated for this award and the youngest ever nominee in any category, a record which still stands today for both the Golden Globes and the Oscars.