Bernie (Written and directed by Richard Linklater)
Jack Black is Bernie, a funeral director in small-town Carthage, Texas, who moves in with the domineering local matriarch (Shirley MacLaine), then kills her accidentally on purpose and hides her in a freezer. When the townsfolk start asking about her whereabouts, Bernie desperately tries to convince everyone she's alive and well. What's so funny about that? The stars are wildly appealing, and writer-director Linklater springs one glorious surprise after another.
Best Supporting Actor 50+
John Goodman (Flight)
As an ever-chipper, always supportive drug dealer, he plays the architect of the hero's downfall. So why is he still so darned lovable? Only Goodman could pull it off. For Goodman, it was a banner year of essential supporting roles: He also played Ben Affleck's cynical, ingenious Hollywood connection in Argo and Clint Eastwood's heart-of-gold baseball buddy in Trouble With the Curve. Our rules require that we honor him for just one role, but this year Goodman won us over ... over and over again.
Best Supporting Actress 50+
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Her son (Bradley Cooper) is a basket case; her retired husband (Robert De Niro) is trying to make ends meet as a bookie. Still, as Dolores, Weaver smiles bravely, perhaps just a bit insanely. Even after she's had to stand between the two men screaming at each other in the middle of their living room, she turns away and reassures herself that everything will be fine. Common sense tells us Dolores is delusional. But in Weaver's masterful hands, her endless hope is infectious.
Best Screenwriter 50+
Ben Lewin (The Sessions)
The ick factor could have been deadly: A middle-aged polio victim seeks a sex surrogate for lessons in lovemaking. But Lewin, himself a polio survivor, draws unexpected empathy — and admiration — for both student (John Hawkes) and teacher (Helen Hunt). The scenes between Lewin's stars are infused with sweetly awkward affection — and the rapport between Hawkes and William H. Macy, as the hero's confessor/priest, crackles with wit and profound observations concerning the moral issues at stake.
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