Runners-up: Jeff Bridges as the tormented—and tormenting—children's author in The Door in the Floor.
Richard Gere as the lawyer who learns it takes two to tango in Shall We Dance?…Dennis Quaid as the bewildered 50-something manager with a boss half his age in In Good Company…Kurt Russell as the hard-driving U.S. hockey coach in Miracle…Omar Sharif as the deli owner who befriends a Parisian boy in Monsieur Ibrahim.
Best Actress Over 50
Anne Reid, The Mother
You probably don't know BBC regular Anne Reid, but after The Mother, you will never forget her. Reid's is among the most fearless performances ever by an actress of any age.
Reid's character, May, is the doting 60ish wife of a jovial old man, something of an afterthought to her rambunctious grandchildren and vaguely resentful daughter. Her eyes seem hollow, her walk something just this side of a shuffle.
Suddenly, May is a widow. Slowly, she awakens to the world outside her comfy home, until somehow she falls into a torrid affair with a man half her age. Oh, yes: he also happens to be her daughter's on-again, off-again boyfriend. You see where this is going—or at least you think you do.
As she falls in love for perhaps the first time in her life, May's once-dead eyes glisten. Her forced, pinched smile loosens into a wide-open mix of delight and awe. And her walk morphs into an easy glide, floating on air with a schoolgirl's bounce.
Reid is courageous in the love scenes, unforgiving in their contrast of the lovers' bodies. In the entangled aftermath, she's heartbreaking as she confesses, "I didn't think anyone would ever touch me again…apart from the undertaker." May is far from sympathetic and often easy to dislike. By the end all we know for sure is May's been on the journey of a lifetime, and Reid has taken us along for the ride.
Runners-up: Cloris Leachman, boozy and brassy as Adam Sandler's wine-soaked but wise mother-in-law in Spanglish…Gena Rowlands, courageous and heartbreaking as a woman with Alzheimer's in The Notebook…Susan Sarandon, clueless, then confused, then confounded, as the wife in Shall We Dance?…Meryl Streep, channeling Hillary Clinton and Attila the Hun as the ambitious senator in The Manchurian Candidate…Lily Tomlin, sexy and screwy as an existential detective in I ♥ Huckabees.
Best Foreign Film
Good Bye Lenin! (Germany)
Alex is glad his mother has snapped out of an eight-month coma in a Berlin hospital, but there's one problem: she was one of the last true believers in Communism, and the Berlin Wall has fallen. What's more, Mom's doctor warns him, the slightest shock could kill her. Alex's solution, in director Wolfgang Becker's funny, poignant satire, is to reconstruct East Germany in his mother's bedroom.
Runners-up: The Motorcycle Diaries (Argentina): Che Guevara, the early years…Osama (Afghanistan): A girl tries to pass as a boy under Taliban rule…Monsieur Ibrahim (France): A Turkish shopkeeper befriends a troubled boy…The Sea Inside (Spain): A man's fight for the right to die.
Best Grown-up Love Story
James Garner and Gena Rowlands, The Notebook
Their embrace at the end of The Notebook may have unleashed more movie-theater tears than any scene since Leonardo DiCaprio sank slowly in the west in Titanic. This lifelong love story alternates seamlessly between a single couple's younger and older selves. The youngsters playing the roles (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) are sexy and pretty—but as the long-married couple fighting Alzheimer's, Garner and Rowlands are so compelling that we hate to leave them for even the shortest flashback.
Runners-up: Robert Redford/Helen Mirren in The Clearing…Dennis Quaid/Marg Helgenberger in In Good Company…Richard Gere/Susan Sarandon in Shall We Dance?