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Movies for Grownups Awards 2008

You'll love this year's list of thought-provoking films

Best Director 50 and Over
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton

For his first outing as a director, Gilroy really took a leap of faith: he decided to respect his audience. His complex tale of corporate greed, stricken consciences, and murder of the most cold-blooded kind tools straight ahead at a steady, enjoyable pace, like a well-tuned BMW. It’s a refreshing change for grownup moviegoers: a film that expects its audience to view each plot twist and turn with a critical eye.

RUNNERS-UP: Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men: It's a masterwork of suspense, violence, and unexpected beauty…Paul Haggis, In the Valley of Elah: This tale of a father seeking the truth about his son's death is surprisingly poetic…Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: He seals us into the body of a paralyzed man and makes us share in his reawakening to the possibilities of life…Mike Nichols, Charlie Wilson's War: Nichols infuses his trademark mix of humor and earnestness into this jaunty, irreverent, and slyly subversive political saga.

Best Screenwriter 50 and Over
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Impossible as it seems, the narrator of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly never speaks. A victim of a crippling stroke, he can only think, and blink with one eye. His thoughts play on the soundtrack like the words of an unseen companion, a prisoner in a nearby cell. Veteran screenwriter Ronald Harwood attacks the challenge of internal narration—in French, by the way—with a vengeance.

RUNNERS-UP: Christopher Hampton, Atonement: He cleverly assembles the varying points of view that lead to the story's great misunderstanding…Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men: Stripping down Cormac McCarthy's spare novel to its bones, the brothers find humor, pathos, and even beauty in mayhem…Paul Haggis, In the Valley of Elah: In classic Haggis fashion, regular people find a dignified voice as they sort out life's injustices…Steve Zaillian, American Gangster: His glimpse into the mind of a drug kingpin gives us chills while it thrills.

Best Grownup Love Story
John Travolta and Christopher Walken, Hairspray

Okay, half of this long-married husband-and-wife pair is John Travolta in drag. But we dare you to watch this duo dance and sing “You're Timeless to Me”—an ode to the wonderful predictability of longtime love—and tell us these two aren't hopelessly, endlessly in love.

Best Comedy for Grownups
The Darjeeling Limited
, directed by Wes Anderson

Three oddball brothers embark on a train trip across India in what's defined loosely as “a spiritual quest.” That slight plot leaves lots of room for exploration of the unique dynamics that churn among grown brothers, played here by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman. A feast for the eyes, Darjeeling also asks questions about brotherhood, parenthood, and whether it's wise to smuggle a poisonous snake onboard a train.

RUNNERS-UP: Dan in Real Life: Fortysomething widower Steve Carell discovers that the woman of his dreams (radiant Juliette Binoche) is his brother's girlfriend…Death at a Funeral: It's all veddy British and veddy funny when a dead aristocrat's gay lover (the hugely entertaining Peter Dinklage) turns up at the funeral…Juno: Her first mistake was looking for prospective parents for her unborn baby in the PennySaver…Wild Hogs: John Travolta is a stitch as the head of a middle-aged cycle gang.

Best Intergenerational Movie
The Namesake
, directed by Mira Nair

Raising their children in the New York 'burbs, two parents from India find their traditions clashing with U.S. culture. Both sides eventually awaken to a comforting understanding: where we're from, and where we live, are always trumped by who we are.

RUNNERS-UP: The Great Debaters: The debate coach at a black college (Denzel Washington) inspires his team to greatness…3:10 to Yuma: A father puts his life on the line to teach his son a life lesson…The Savages: Selfish grownup kids learn that a parent's mistakes are no license to screw up their own lives…Juno: A pregnant teen and an adoptive couple have a lot to learn from each other.

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