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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 Comedy: The Artist


The Artist

Written and Directed by Michel Hazanavicius

Set in the era when silent pictures gave way to sound, The Artist is positively Chaplinesque: It serves up slapstick, sentiment and a happy ending snatched from the jaws of tragedy. We dare you to name another comedy that so patiently builds its entire narrative toward a single last-second joke. We Also Loved: 50/50, Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris, and Tower Heist.

Best Time Capsule: J. Edgar

Time Capsule

J. Edgar

Directed by Clint Eastwood

When we first meet J. Edgar Hoover, Bolshevik terrorists are bombing U.S. cities. By film’s end, Richard Nixon is beginning his presidency. In between, Eastwood and company starkly portray not only how the world changes in the span of a lifetime, but how a single life can define those changes. We Also Loved: The Help, The Iron Lady and Midnight in Paris.

Best Foreign Language Film: The Names of Love (France)

Foreign Language Film

The Names of Love (France)

“Okay, we’re half-breeds,” the Arab-French woman tells her French-Greek-Jewish lover. “We should go forth and multiply. The day there’s nothing but half-breeds, there’ll be peace.” Writer-director Michel Leclerc’s tale of unlikely love between a 50-something conservative man and a young liberal woman does not merely address the bridging of generational and cultural divides; it also envisions the likely future face of Europe — and, possibly, the world. We Also Loved: 80 Days, In Darkness, Queen to Play and The Skin I Live In.

Best Documentary: Bill Cunningham New York


Bill Cunningham New York

Directed by Richard Press

When Press told the 82-year-old Cunningham he’d make the perfect subject for a documentary, Press recalls, “Bill thought it was the most ridiculous idea imaginable.” Thank goodness Press prevailed — this portrait of a genius, living alone in a cluttered Manhattan apartment and photographing street fashions for The New York Times from his bicycle, is a tribute not only to a man but to individualists of every age. We Also Loved: Hot Coffee, The Interrupters, Project Nim and Undefeated.

Breakthrough Accomplishment: Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Breakthrough Achievement

Martin Scorsese


He gunned us down in Goodfellas and led us through corridors of madness in Shutter Island. But nothing prepared us for the marvels of Hugo, the director’s magical fantasy about an orphan who lives in the walls of a 1930s-era Paris train station. Seldom has a child’s-eye view of life’s wonders and worries been so lushly, lovingly rendered. Scorsese’s first-time use of 3-D technology transforms the screen into the most spectacular pop-up book you’ve ever seen.

Best Grownup Love Story: Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent, The Iron Lady

Grownup Love Story

Meryl Streep & Jim Broadbent

The Iron Lady

They toddle about the quiet house after dark, playfully jabbing each other’s hot buttons, recalling fond memories, fretting about the future. As Margaret Thatcher and her husband, Denis, Streep and Broadbent embody our hopes for old love: comfortable, affectionate, and undying—even beyond death. We Also Loved: Emily Watson and Peter Mullan, War Horse; Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson, The Beaver; and Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer, J. Edgar.

Reader’s Choice: The Help

Readers’ Choice Award 2012

The Help

The story of a black maid in 1960s Mississippi and her unlikely friendship with a privileged young white woman was the overwhelming selection in an online poll of AARP the Magazine readers. Depicting an era that lives in the memory of all but the youngest boomers, The Help reminds us all of how far America has progressed in the past half-century … and of the brave, nameless millions who helped bring change about.

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Your Scoop on Cinema

Movies for Grownups is focused on films with distinct relevance to a 50-plus audience. In reviews, previews and interviews, we look for actors and themes that speak to the experiences of older moviegoers. Find more about us on:


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A treasure trove of delightfully offbeat recommendations for discerning moviegoers, from the beginnings of film right up the present.

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