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Movies for Grownups Award Winners

The Descendants, Win Win and The Artist score big in our annual look at the best in motion pictures

Best Director: Stephen Daldry, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


Stephen Daldry

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

A troubled young boy ventures into the world of grownups to make sense of his father’s death on 9/11 — and learns that grownups are as clueless as he is. Daldry tells his story from two perspectives: that of a desperately confused, tender-aged innocent and that of life-weary adults who manage to see past their own sorrows to offer a child their gift of clear-eyed kindness and hard-won wisdom. We Also Loved: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; George Clooney, The Ides of March; Cameron Crowe, We Bought a Zoo; Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life; and Martin Scorsese, Hugo.

Best Writer: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris


Woody Allen

Midnight in Paris

We’ve long suspected that Woody Allen would be happiest rubbing shoulders with Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein in 1920s Paris. Sure enough, here he dispatches Owen Wilson as his proxy, and the result is Allen’s funniest and most imaginative film in nearly a decade. We Also Loved: Alexander Payne, The Descendants; Eric Roth, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Roger Simon, A Better Life; and Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball.

Best Movie for Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up: The Muppets

Movie for Grownups who refuse to grow up

The Muppets

Directed by James Bobin

Does Kermit the Frog have an AARP card? (He’s 56, after all.) He makes a handsome leading “man,” and this charming comedy, jam-packed with more Muppets than you can shake a pig at, effects a jubilant juncture of those who grew up with the gang and a new audience just discovering them. We Also Loved: Dolphin Tale,
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,
and Hugo.

Best Intergenerational Movie: Win Win

Intergenerational Movie

Win Win

As if the impending failure of his law practice isn’t enough, attorney Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) also coaches a wretched high school wrestling team. Enter a new kid (Alex Shaffer), escaping an awful home life, who just happens to be an awesomely talented wrestler. The story of their budding relationship, where each finds the ingredients for success in the other, makes Win Win a winner for all ages. We Also Loved: The First Grader, Hugo, and The Music Never Stopped.

Musical Achievement: Alexandre Desplat, The Tree of Life

Musical Achievement

Alexandre Desplat

The Tree of Life

It was a sonically sensational year for Desplat, who also scored A Better Life, Carnage and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. For Terrence Malick’s big-budget art film, which explores nothing less than the meaning of life and the origin of the universe, Desplat’s haunting orchestral score — accompanying images of young love, family tragedies and interstellar explosions — soars, rumbles, sings and grumbles. We Also Loved: John Williams, War Horse. His majestic score bears his trademark swelling strings and fanfares, this time infused with cleverly applied folk tunes.

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