Best Supporting Actor 50 and Over
Bill Irwin, in Rachel Getting Married
A powerful portrait of powerlessness, Irwin's father of the bride in Rachel Getting Married is a heartbreaking look at a man tortured by loss. A shattering chapter in his past is inevitably brought to the surface when his daughter Kym (Anne Hathaway) is released from rehab to come home for her sister's nuptials. In director Jonathan Demme's freeform style, Irwin's character tries valiantly to tamp down his distress, but his expressive face and subtly shifting body language give him away. Still, Irwin presides over the funniest scene ever written about men's nearly universal preoccupation with the one and only correct way to load a dishwasher.
We Also Loved: Bill Murray in City of Ember…John Malkovich in Burn After Reading…Dennis Quaid in The Express…Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia!
Best Supporting Actress 50 and Over
Christine Baranski and Julie Walters, in Mamma Mia!
We've never split this award before—hope they don't mind sharing—but there's no way to separate the stars who play Meryl Streep's best pals in Mamma Mia! Baranski stops just short of stealing the show with her brassy broadsides. And while at first it seems a mistake to entrust Walters with the signature ABBA song "Take a Chance on Me," what she lacks in pipes she more than makes up for in panache.
We Also Loved: Kim Cattrall in Sex and the City: The Movie…Bette Midler in Then She Found Me…Debra Winger in Rachel Getting Married…Cloris Leachman in The Women.
Best Director 50 and Over
Gus Van Sant, Milk
For all his inspired casting decisions—particularly the chameleonlike Sean Penn in the title role as California's first gay man elected to major office—Van Sant's smartest move was to cast the city of San Francisco as itself. The actual Haight Street barbershop where Milk's campaign was born is rife with subversive democracy in action. The foyer of City Hall becomes an arch of triumph. And when a candlelight vigil illuminates the intersection of Market and Castro streets, the locale seems to sob gently with a sense of loss.
We Also Loved: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire…Jonathan Demme for Rachel Getting Married…Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon…John Patrick Shanley for Doubt.
Best Screenwriter 50 and Over
J. Michael Straczynski, Changeling
He's already one of television's top writers of fantasy and science fiction; and although Changeling is based on a true story, Straczynski's tale of a mother's search for her kidnapped son—and the corruption it uncovers—churns with an eerie sci-fi atmosphere and dizzying sense of disorientation.
We Also Loved: John Patrick Shanley for Doubt…Eric Roth for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button…Woody Allen for Vicky Cristina Barcelona…Joel and Ethan Coen for Burn After Reading.
Best Grownup Love Story
Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman, Last Chance Harvey
He's short, 60-ish, and miserable; she's gangly, 40-something, and adrift. Yet there was no more appealing screen couple last year than this superstar pair, fumbling through the missteps and epiphanies of later-life love.
We Also Loved: Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia!…Diane Lane and Richard Gere in Nights in Rodanthe…Karen Allen and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull…Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins in Step Brothers.
Best Intergenerational Film
The Visitor, written and directed by Tom McCarthy
In the breakout performance of his career, Richard Jenkins stars as a professor who plans to stay in his underused Manhattan apartment—and finds a young illegal-immigrant couple (he's from Syria, she's from Senegal) living there. Everyone's angry and distrustful at first, but soon the three forge a fragile friendship, tentatively bridging cultural and chronological divides that resonate far beyond the apartment's four walls.
We Also Loved: Rachel Getting Married…Gran Torino…The Curious Case of Benjamin Button…Smart People.