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Movies for Grownups Awards 2004

A sexy woman over 50? A midlife crisis with no convertible?

Best TV Movie
Angels in America
(HBO), Directed by Mike Nichols

Only a subject as compelling as the 1980s AIDS epidemic—and a script as intellectually demanding as Tony Kushner's (from his play)—could draw us in for six hours. Sobering and spiritual, Angels refuses to blink at either the pain of death or the reasons for living.

Runner-up: My House in Umbria, in which Maggie Smith, magnificent as usual, portrays a terrorist bomb victim who invites her fellow survivors to her Italian villa.

Best Screenwriter (50 and Over)
Jim Sheridan (With Naomi and Kirsten Sheridan), In America

For his painfully intimate script about raising his family in New York City, he had his now-grown daughters first write their own 100-page screenplays about their experiences living in the family's Hell's Kitchen tenement.

"I wasn't even mentioned in either one of their scripts," the writer-director recalls. His synthesis, though, created a priceless look at children living in an adult world.

Runners-up: Nancy Meyers, daring to explore love over 50 in Something's Gotta Give; Anthony Minghella, faithfully tracking the odyssey of Cold Mountain; John Sayles, giving an authentic voice to his all-woman cast in Casa de los Babys.

Best Intergenerational Movie
Secondhand Lions
, Directed by Tim McCanlies

An awkward city boy (Haley Joel Osment) is dropped off with two South Texas good ol' boys (Michael Caine and Robert Duvall). He helps smooth their rough edges (especially their habit of shooting at salesmen), but they have wisdom to share, too. "In this youth-driven culture, I don't think generations are around each other enough," writer-director McCanlies says.

Runners-up: Bend It Like Beckham (soccer kicks up a family conflict); In America (sorrow and happiness seal a family's love); Whale Rider (generations accept tradition and change).

Best Grownup Love Story
Something's Gotta Give
, Written and Directed by Nancy Meyers

Granted, Diane Keaton is a bit young for Jack Nicholson. She's 58; he's a Neanderthal. Even so, they seem so…dare we say it…sexy. When, after a romantic night, they need eyeglasses to check the time, you know this is for real. As Meyers says, "I'm not going to write a movie about people this age and have them act like they're 32."

Runners-up: Love Actually's Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson; A Mighty Wind's Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara.

Best Director (50 and Over)
Joel Schumacher, Phone Booth

He took a story that was first pitched decades ago to Alfred Hitchcock, hired a then-unknown actor as his star, set virtually all the action within a three-square-foot area, and shot the whole movie in 10 days. Schumacher's advice for a younger director who might try to imitate his feat? "Don't do it," he says. "This movie works, but it's pure luck!"

Runners-up: Clint Eastwood, great and gritty with Mystic River; Alan Rudolph, still shunning the studios to make indie classics such as The Secret Lives of Dentists; Ridley Scott, keeping us guessing with Matchstick Men; Jim Sheridan, proving that family knows best with In America.

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