Best Actress 50 and Over
Julie Christie, Away From Her
It's one thing for a movie's script to tell us that a character is adored by her husband. It's quite another for the actress playing the part to make the audience fall in love with her, too…and then share in the sense of loss as she begins an inevitable decline. Julie Christie's heart-rending performance as Fiona, a woman stricken with Alzheimer's, takes the skeletal plot of Away From Her and makes it into something truly special. Fiona's husband (Gordon Pinsent) loves her to death, and so do we, but from the moment she matter-of-factly deposits a frying pan in the freezer, he and we know something is terribly wrong. And soon, so does she. “I think I may be beginning to disappear,” she tells friends. Even as she disappears, Christie's Fiona is unforgettable.
RUNNERS-UP: Sally Field, Two Weeks: As a dying mom, she paints a bravely painful portrait of a woman tying up loose ends…Vanessa Redgrave, Evening: Claire Danes plays her character as a young, flighty ingenue, but we'll take Redgrave's serene, elder version…Meryl Streep, Lions for Lambs: Head-to-head with Tom Cruise, she's a hoot as a no-nonsense reporter.
Best Supporting Actor 50 and Over
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Wilkinson spends much of the first half of Michael Clayton playing a crazed, delusional attorney, off his meds and off his rocker. Then, confronted by Clayton (George Clooney), his character suddenly snaps back to lucidity, dressing down Clayton with a withering, lawyerly discourse. In a flash we see why Wilkinson (winner of our first Movies for Grownups® Best Actor Award, back in 2002) remains one of our most reliably brilliant stars.
RUNNERS-UP: Philip Bosco, The Savages: His scared, silent eyes reveal the soul of a distraught father…Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild: Fatherly, yet vulnerable, he's profoundly moving as a widower reaching out in friendship to an angry young man… Homayoun Ershadi, The Kite Runner: As a demanding yet loving father, he creates an air of honor and integrity that infuses the entire film…Andy Griffith, Waitress: He brings unexpected nuance to a businessman who takes the heroine under his wing.
Best Supporting Actress 50 and Over
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Say what you want about Denzel Washington's ruthless drug kingpin in American Gangster—it's not his mother's fault. He was raised better than that. In one of the most powerful performances of her long career, Dee plays the adoring mom who first turns a blind eye to the ruthless way her son is getting rich. As her character comes to realize she can't ignore the truth any longer, Dee takes on an otherworldly power. Just watch her slap her beloved son and fairly spit out the words “I will leave you!” A classic case of a minor role setting the tone of an entire movie.
RUNNERS-UP: Olympia Dukakis, Away From Her: As a wife whose brain-damaged spouse falls for an Alzheimer's-stricken woman, her character's turmoil is palpable…Jane Asher, Death at a Funeral: Paul McCartney's one-time fiancée shines as the widow at the funniest funeral since Chuckles the Clown's...Fernanda Montenegro, Love in the Time of Cholera: As the mother of the handsome hero, she nearly steals the show…Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement: She appears only in the last few minutes, but her touching coda brings essential closure to the epic story.