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2013 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards

And the winners for best picture, actor, actress (and more) are ...

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Best Movie for Grownups

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" features Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy. — Courtesy Fox Searchlight

Best Movie for Grownups

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 

En español |A group of British retirees (an all-star cast including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and Tom Wilkinson) takes off to live in a "restored" luxury hotel in India, only to find themselves pummeled by culture shock, dashed expectations and the cold reality of their own mortality. The concept of silver-haired characters finding strength in numbers was explored in several films last year — including Dustin Hoffman's Quartet and the French language film All Together (starring Geraldine Chaplin and Jane Fonda). But none hit the rich vein of humor and pathos mined so effectively here. Every laugh, each tear, is authentically earned thanks to Ol Parker's knowing script and John Madden's smart direction — which consists largely of pointing the camera at his amazing cast and letting 'em go.

WE ALSO LOVED: Hitchcock | Lincoln | Les Misérables | The Sessions

Steven Spielberg, Best Director for Lincoln

Steven Spielberg. — 20th Century Fox Licensing/ Everett Collection

Best Director 50+

Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)

Lots of great directors have taken sentimental stabs at depicting Lincoln — John Ford and D.W. Griffith among them. But we've always suspected we were watching Sunday school versions of Honest Abe. Only Spielberg could deliver both a warm personal portrait of Lincoln and a fierce look at a wily politician gaming the system in the name of a moral imperative. With his dynamic performance, Daniel Day-Lewis provides the instrument, but Spielberg is clearly plucking on Lincoln's strings from start to finish. 

WE ALSO LOVED: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty | Ang Lee, Life of Pi | David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook | Gus Van Sant, Promised Land

Denzel Washington, Best Actor for Flight

Denzel Washington in "Flight." — Paramount/Everett Collection

Best Actor 50+

Denzel Washington (Flight)

Whip Whitaker is a drugged-out frayed wire who shows up plastered for work every day yet somehow manages to pilot a jet for a major airline. Ordinarily, we'd find that hard to swallow — after all, every few weeks we learn about some pilot somewhere who's been grounded for blood alcohol levels lower than those permitted for drivers. But in a career-crowning role, Washington convinces us that Whip can hide his addictions from the world through bravado and instinct, even as we can see he's really flying blind. 

WE ALSO LOVED: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln |  John Hawkes, The Sessions | Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock | Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour

Judi Dench, Best Actress of Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Judi Dench in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." — Alamy

Best Actress 50+

Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

It's an ensemble film, for sure, but that just makes Dench's standout performance as recently widowed Evelyn all the more remarkable. She's the character we meet first, and the one through whose prism we view the misadventures of her expatriate comrades. Too often in recent years Dench has been asked to play stoic, steely-eyed authority figures — most notably in one James Bond film after another. But here, her eyes agleam with hope (mixed with girlish insecurity), Dench has us rooting for vulnerable Evelyn.

WE ALSO LOVED: Ann Dowd, Compliance |  Helen Mirren, Hitchcock | Emmanuelle Riva, Amour | Meryl Streep, Hope Springs

Next page: A comedy you may have missed. »

Bernie, Best Comedy

Shirley MacLaine and Jack Black. — Courtesy Millennium Entertainment

Best Comedy 

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.

WE ALSO LOVED: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel | Moonrise Kingdom | The Oranges | Parental Guidance

John Goodman

John Goodman in "Flight." — Paramount/Everett Collection

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.

WE ALSO LOVED: Tom Cruise, Rock of Ages | Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook | Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln | Tom Wilkinson, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Silver Linings Playbook, Best Supporting Actress

Jackie Weaver and Robert De Niro. — Weinstein Company/Everett Collection

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. 

WE ALSO LOVED: Sally Field, Lincoln | Catherine Keener, A Late Quartet | Shirley MacLaine, Bernie | Frances McDormand, Promised Land

The Sessions, Best Screenwriter

John Hawkes in "The Sessions." — Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

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.

WE ALSO LOVED: Michael Haneke, Amour; Tony Kushner, Lincoln; Richard Nelson, Hyde Park on Hudson; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Next page: A great actor's breakthrough role. »

Quartet, Best Breatkthrough

Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith,Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins in "Quartet." — Courtesy The Weinstein Company

Breakthrough Accomplishment

Dustin Hoffman (Director, Quartet) 

It's hard to believe that the consummate movie actor had never before directed a film. His sensitive portrait of the residents of a home for retired classical musicians makes us wonder what took him so long. Of course he had the good sense to enlist a cast that includes Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon. But Hoffman doesn't just cut his cast loose; he guides them through a minefield of possible missteps to create a film bursting with sentiment, yet stubbornly dry-eyed.

Hitchcock, Best GrownUp Love Story

Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins. — Courtesy Fox Searchlight

Best Grownup Love Story 

Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock)

He's the public face of their combined genius; she's the devoted wife who overlooks his peccadilloes. True, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock bicker in both the living room and the editing room, and at times we wonder what she sees in him. But above all, the two settle into each other with reassuring comfiness. In one thrilling scene, as the two labor over the infamous Psycho shower sequence, we see them in their element: best friends and gleeful partners in crime.

WE ALSO LOVED: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel | Hope Springs | Lincoln Quartet

Silver Linings Playbook, Best Intergenerational Movie

Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker — The Weinstein Company/Everett Collection

Best Intergenerational Movie

Silver Linings Playbook 

The world already conspires to keep generations from understanding each other; throwing mental illness onto the pile just doesn't seem fair. Still, in this gritty-but-warmhearted story of a Philadelphia family in crisis, parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) and their grown son (Bradley Cooper, who plays opposite a much-nominated and winning performance by Jennifer Lawrence) bravely grasp for each other, defying the odds. In practical terms, they don't stand a chance. But this is family, and in the end, of course, they do.

WE ALSO LOVED: Moonrise Kingdom | Parental Guidance | Starlet | Trouble With the Curve

Searching for Sugarman, Best Documentary

Rodriguez. — Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

Best Documentary

Searching for Sugar Man (directed by Malik Bendjelloul) 

Surely you remember that '70s Detroit rocker named Rodriguez, don't you? Well, maybe not, but two of his biggest fans in South Africa sure did. Deeply touched by reports that the singer, down and out, had committed suicide while performing onstage, the pair decided to get to the bottom of their hero's sad story. The discovery that changed their lives is an inspiration for anyone who's ever asked, "Whatever happened to …?" 

WE ALSO LOVED: Betting the Farm | Charles Bradley: Soul of America | How to Survive a Plague | Surviving Hitler: A Love Story 

Next page: The title is a dirty joke; the film is a winner. »

Argo, Best Time Capsule

John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck. — Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Best Time Capsule

Argo (1970s) 

From the circa-1970s Warner Bros. logo to the shaggy haircuts to the Star Wars–rip-off "fake movie" at its center, this story of how Hollywood and the CIA teamed up to rescue six Americans in Iran gets every little Carter-era thing just right. Production designer Sharon Seymour — whose keen eye gave authenticity to such films as The Men Who Stare at Goats and Gone Baby Gone — seems to have enlisted a time machine to bring back enough corduroy and oversized eyeglasses to supply an entire episode of Lou Grant.

WE ALSO LOVED: Hitchcock | Hyde Park on Hudson

Amour, Best Foreign Film

Emmanuelle Riva. — Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

Best Foreign Film

Amour (Austria) 

As stark as it is artful, writer-director Michael Haneke's story of an octogenarian couple's final months together takes no sentimental detours — but it triggers an emotional torrent. Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant, criminally overlooked by the Oscars) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva, who should win hers) are an active, happy couple until a devastating illness takes hold. Haneke, with the help of his astonishing actors, finds beauty in the long decline that follows.

WE ALSO LOVED: Footnote (Israel), The Intouchables (France), Jiro Dreams of Sushi (United States, in Japanese), Lucky (South Africa)

Robot and Frank, Best Buddy

Frank Langella and his buddy. — Samuel Goldwyn Films/Everett Collection

Best Buddy Picture

Robot and Frank (Directed by Jake Schreier) 

Sure, one of the buddies is a little white helper robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard). But to an ailing loner (Frank Langella), he embodies all the elements of a good friend: patience, companionship and a nonjudgmental ear. Also, Robot helps Frank get the girl (a radiant Susan Sarandon). Langella recently complained that at his age all he gets to play are gangsters and crooked businessmen; here he gets to be both playful and profound.

Moonrise Kingdom, Best Movie for Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up

Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton and Bruce Willis. — Focus Features/Everett Collect

Best Movie for Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up

Moonrise Kingdom 

Director and cowriter Wes Anderson's trademark quirkiness (think The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) is in full bloom. His story of a preteen romance — and the grownups who don't understand — snuggles its way into the hearts of anybody who remembers the terrific, terrifying first time they fell in love. The kids (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) are adorable, but no less so than the befuddled adults (Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton).

WE ALSO LOVED: The Hobbit | Mirror Mirror | The Three Stooges | Wreck-It Ralph

President Abraham Lincoln movie review, directed by Steven Spielberg

Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. — Courtesy DreamWorks Studios

Readers' Choice


First, there are the arresting performances of Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field as Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Then there's the direction of the masterful Spielberg. Add to that the compelling story of the last days of our 16th president's life and you've got our readers' favorite movie. Lincoln is a story for all ages and plenty of families have been filling theaters. The film is filled with contentious debate, but when it comes to the top vote getter in our Movies for Grownups poll there was no question: Lincoln is a winner.

All about our 2013 Movies for Grownups Awards, including a tribute to Dustin Hoffman, and links to our 10 Best Grownup Movies of 2012

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