Best Director 50 and Over
Clint Eastwood, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima
We don't usually honor anyone for two films in the same year, but the sheer audacity of Clint Eastwood's vision for his bookend movies about the World War II battle for Iwo Jima—one from the American side, one from the Japanese—is simply too monumental to ignore. Flags of Our Fathers is ingeniously gritty and complex, yet Eastwood's crowning achievement is Letters From Iwo Jima. Filmed in Japanese with English subtitles, the movie burrows into the rocky tunnels that honeycomb Iwo. Harrowing as the battle scenes are, the film shifts to heartbreaking as the Japanese soldiers reminisce about life back home and finally come to realize they have been abandoned by their commanders. These films stand as not only Clint Eastwood's greatest directorial accomplishment but also two of the most nuanced and striking war movies ever.
Runners-up: Stephen Frears, The Queen: It could have been played as a burlesque or with mock solemnity. But Frears gets his sneak peek at Britain’s royal family just right…Peter Greengrass, United 93: With mind-blowing restraint, Greengrass navigates the torrent of emotion and pain from 9/11 to create the bravest movie of the year…Bill Condon, Dreamgirls: He takes a 1980s musical set in the 1960s and infuses it with new life…Martin Scorsese, The Departed: Still in pursuit of his first Academy Award, Scorsese pours his lifeblood into this cops-and-crooks story—and sheds a few gallons of other people's, too.
Best Screenwriter 50 and Over
William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis, Flags of Our Fathers
It took two of the screen's most accomplished writers to wrangle this complex vision of Iwo Jima, depicting both the bloody battle for a rock in the middle of the Pacific and the struggle back home to sustain Americans' support for the war effort. Their account reminds us that a nation’s greatest battle can be with its own sense of resolve.
Runners-up: Susan Seidelman, David Cramer, and Florence Seidelman, Boynton Beach Club: With their boldly written romantic comedy about love and sex among the 60-plus, they show, in Susan Seidelman's words, “older people getting to be funny and sexy and sad and silly and moving—all those things that Meg Ryan got to be in When Harry Met Sally”…Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, For Your Consideration: Their cast improvised the lines, but the writers constructed the skeleton of this story, a fable about the persistence of dreams…Richard Russo, Keeping Mum: Serial killers don’t often make for great comedy, but Russo is a master of that unique British brand of dark humor…Shawn Slovo, Catch a Fire: The daughter of anti-apartheid activists, she brings blunt authenticity to this tale of South African terrorism.
Best Comedy for Grownups
Little Miss Sunshine, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
“Everybody!” shouts this movies desperate dad, Greg Kinnear, to his family after they've been pulled over by a cop. “Just pretend to be normal!”
It's a tall order—this is one oddball crew. But the wonderful thing about the wildly dysfunctional family in Little Miss Sunshine is how their quirks, conflicts, and unexpected camaraderie seem to echo the weird chemistry that uniquely defines every family. It’s funny, tragic, jaw- dropping, and sometimes difficult to watch. Just like life.
Runners-up: Failure to Launch Even if your grown kid was Matthew McConaughey, you'd want him to move out someday, right?…For Your Consideration Hollywood is an easy target for satire; adding humanity to the mix is harder…Keeping Mum Bodies buried in the backyard have never been more amusing, nor a village full of eccentrics more endearing… Thank You for Smoking Christopher Buckley's subversively funny book about a tobacco lobbyist makes a perfectly subversive movie.