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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. »

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Video Extra

AND THE WINNER IS: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is our pick for Best Movie for Grownups this year. In the film, Maggie Smith takes a while getting used to India. Find all our 2012 movie reviews here.

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