7.1/10
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21 user 6 critic

Second Best (1994)

PG-13 | | Drama | 30 September 1994 (USA)
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?

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Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Nathan Yapp ...
Jimmy
...
John
Chris Cleary Miles ...
James
Doris Irving ...
Adoption Shop Volunteer
James Warrior ...
Senior Social Worker
...
Debbie
...
Edward
Rachel Freeman ...
Elsie
Gus Troakes ...
Jeffo
Mossie Smith ...
Lynn
Martin Troakes ...
Colin
...
Graham, age 20
Paul Wilson ...
Colin, age 20
...
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:

|

Language:

Release Date:

30 September 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Difícil elección  »

Box Office

Gross:

$86,115 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debuts of Chris Cleary Miles, Nathan Yapp and Jake Owen. They all played Jimmy/James at different ages and this role remains as their only acting film work. See more »

Quotes

Debbie: If he gets ya practicing knots, just remember, untying them again's the hard part.
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Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: Only You/Second Best/Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Saturday Night Forever
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 (New York) – See 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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