From the Wikipedia article “Ordinary People”
Intensely emotional, the film found resonance with many in its audience who had gone through emotional or family traumas of one type or another.
The film was shot in and around Lake Forest and Highland Park, and the school scenes were shot in Lake Forest High School.
Some attention to the film centered around its performance at the Academy Awards. Robert Redford and Timothy Hutton both won Academy Awards for their respective debuts: Redford as a director and Hutton as an actor. However, the producers were criticized for only nominating Hutton for Best Supporting Actor, since his role was the major role in the film. The movie marked Mary Tyler Moore’s career breakout from the stereotype of the light-hearted comedienne. Many felt that she did not win the Academy Award for this role solely because it was so out of character for her. Finally, the film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, beating Raging Bull, which is considered by many critics to be the best film of the entire decade.