By Amy Ryan
October 16, 2008 at 12:00 PM EDT

Today in Recall the Gold: It’s time for a Terms of Endearment rematch! Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger famously clashed on the set as they portrayed mother and daughter. Winger downplays their conflict now, acknowledging “We were wild,” but saying that both she and MacLaine were tough gals who could take care of themselves. For her part, MacLaine recalls she got so upset at one point that she quit the picture. “And I said as I walked off the set, ‘You can take this Oscar I’m notgonna win now, and shove it up your keister, I’m leaving!'” Of course, she returned and did win the Oscar, though Winger remained her fiercest competition throughout the race. (Terms ultimately won five Oscars, including Best Picture.) Seen today, MacLaine’s Aurora looks like one of her typical feisty dames, the type she’s been playing for the past quarter-century or so. Winger seems, to me, to have the trickier role, keeping Emma sympathetic even during her adulterous affair and depicting her demise with poignancy without being maudlin.

Also up that year: Meryl Streep gave a typically polished, accented performance in Silkwood as the title heroine who becomes a reluctant whistleblower at an unsafe nuclear plant. Testament (a movie made for PBS that proved so strong it was released to theaters) starred Jane Alexander in a haunting performance as a suburban mom trying to hold her deteriorating family together in the wake of a nuclear war. (Alas, I couldn’t find any clips of her performance in a film that is only dimly remembered today.) And Educating Rita introduced Julie Walters to moviegoers via an utterly charming performance as a hairdresser who years to learn about literature. (Too bad the Academy seldom rewards comedy, though Walters’ Rita has her share of dramatic moments, too.)

Looking back from today’s perspective, which of these performances doyou think is the best? Vote in our poll, and list your comments below.(For a refresher, watch the clips embedded after the jump, which may contain some NSFW language.) Remember, we’ll be running the Recall the Gold surveys every Tuesdayand Thursday until January, so you may go back at any time and vote inthe other polls (click hereto see them all), reexamining the Oscar races of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25years ago. On Tuesday, Oct. 21, we’ll look at the 1998 Best Supporting Actorcompetition. Watch also for commentary and context throughout,including on Dave Karger’s new Oscar Watch blog.

addCredit(“Everett Collection”)

Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment

Meryl Streep in Silkwood

Julie Walters in Educating Rita

Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment