My Podcast Episode on the Film
While there are parts of Awakenings that are relatively middling: the cinematography and the composition, it still is a really well crafted based on a true story drama. The direction from Penny Marshall is very strong, and even though the shots don't look the best, every shot has little things placed inside of them that add to the overall world the film builds.
On top of strong direction, you get an absolutely astonishing performance from Robert De Niro, quite possibly my favorite of his roles. Robin Williams is for the most part excellent, but unfortunately he plays a few scenes off a bit too far into the goofy side. But when he does dramatic scenes, he nails them. On top of these two starring roles, the film is backed up by great supporting roles from Julie Kavner, Max Von Sydow, John Heard, Penelope Ann Miller, and many more.