2013 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
And the winners for best picture, actor, actress (and more) are ...
Best Movie for Grownups
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
En español |A group of British retirees (an all-star cast including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and Tom Wilkinson) takes off to live in a "restored" luxury hotel in India, only to find themselves pummeled by culture shock, dashed expectations and the cold reality of their own mortality. The concept of silver-haired characters finding strength in numbers was explored in several films last year — including Dustin Hoffman's Quartet and the French language film All Together (starring Geraldine Chaplin and Jane Fonda). But none hit the rich vein of humor and pathos mined so effectively here. Every laugh, each tear, is authentically earned thanks to Ol Parker's knowing script and John Madden's smart direction — which consists largely of pointing the camera at his amazing cast and letting 'em go.
WE ALSO LOVED: Hitchcock | Lincoln | Les Misérables | The Sessions
Best Director 50+
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Lots of great directors have taken sentimental stabs at depicting Lincoln — John Ford and D.W. Griffith among them. But we've always suspected we were watching Sunday school versions of Honest Abe. Only Spielberg could deliver both a warm personal portrait of Lincoln and a fierce look at a wily politician gaming the system in the name of a moral imperative. With his dynamic performance, Daniel Day-Lewis provides the instrument, but Spielberg is clearly plucking on Lincoln's strings from start to finish.
WE ALSO LOVED: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty | Ang Lee, Life of Pi | David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook | Gus Van Sant, Promised Land
Best Actor 50+
Denzel Washington (Flight)
Whip Whitaker is a drugged-out frayed wire who shows up plastered for work every day yet somehow manages to pilot a jet for a major airline. Ordinarily, we'd find that hard to swallow — after all, every few weeks we learn about some pilot somewhere who's been grounded for blood alcohol levels lower than those permitted for drivers. But in a career-crowning role, Washington convinces us that Whip can hide his addictions from the world through bravado and instinct, even as we can see he's really flying blind.
WE ALSO LOVED: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln | John Hawkes, The Sessions | Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock | Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour
Best Actress 50+
Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
It's an ensemble film, for sure, but that just makes Dench's standout performance as recently widowed Evelyn all the more remarkable. She's the character we meet first, and the one through whose prism we view the misadventures of her expatriate comrades. Too often in recent years Dench has been asked to play stoic, steely-eyed authority figures — most notably in one James Bond film after another. But here, her eyes agleam with hope (mixed with girlish insecurity), Dench has us rooting for vulnerable Evelyn.
WE ALSO LOVED: Ann Dowd, Compliance | Helen Mirren, Hitchcock | Emmanuelle Riva, Amour | Meryl Streep, Hope Springs
Bernie (Written and directed by Richard Linklater)
Jack Black is Bernie, a funeral director in small-town Carthage, Texas, who moves in with the domineering local matriarch (Shirley MacLaine), then kills her accidentally on purpose and hides her in a freezer. When the townsfolk start asking about her whereabouts, Bernie desperately tries to convince everyone she's alive and well. What's so funny about that? The stars are wildly appealing, and writer-director Linklater springs one glorious surprise after another.
WE ALSO LOVED: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel | Moonrise Kingdom | The Oranges | Parental Guidance
Best Supporting Actor 50+
John Goodman (Flight)
As an ever-chipper, always supportive drug dealer, he plays the architect of the hero's downfall. So why is he still so darned lovable? Only Goodman could pull it off. For Goodman, it was a banner year of essential supporting roles: He also played Ben Affleck's cynical, ingenious Hollywood connection in Argo and Clint Eastwood's heart-of-gold baseball buddy in Trouble With the Curve. Our rules require that we honor him for just one role, but this year Goodman won us over ... over and over again.
WE ALSO LOVED: Tom Cruise, Rock of Ages | Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook | Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln | Tom Wilkinson, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Best Supporting Actress 50+
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Her son (Bradley Cooper) is a basket case; her retired husband (Robert De Niro) is trying to make ends meet as a bookie. Still, as Dolores, Weaver smiles bravely, perhaps just a bit insanely. Even after she's had to stand between the two men screaming at each other in the middle of their living room, she turns away and reassures herself that everything will be fine. Common sense tells us Dolores is delusional. But in Weaver's masterful hands, her endless hope is infectious.
WE ALSO LOVED: Sally Field, Lincoln | Catherine Keener, A Late Quartet | Shirley MacLaine, Bernie | Frances McDormand, Promised Land
Best Screenwriter 50+
Ben Lewin (The Sessions)
The ick factor could have been deadly: A middle-aged polio victim seeks a sex surrogate for lessons in lovemaking. But Lewin, himself a polio survivor, draws unexpected empathy — and admiration — for both student (John Hawkes) and teacher (Helen Hunt). The scenes between Lewin's stars are infused with sweetly awkward affection — and the rapport between Hawkes and William H. Macy, as the hero's confessor/priest, crackles with wit and profound observations concerning the moral issues at stake.
WE ALSO LOVED: Michael Haneke, Amour; Tony Kushner, Lincoln; Richard Nelson, Hyde Park on Hudson; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Dustin Hoffman (Director, Quartet)
It's hard to believe that the consummate movie actor had never before directed a film. His sensitive portrait of the residents of a home for retired classical musicians makes us wonder what took him so long. Of course he had the good sense to enlist a cast that includes Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon. But Hoffman doesn't just cut his cast loose; he guides them through a minefield of possible missteps to create a film bursting with sentiment, yet stubbornly dry-eyed.
Best Grownup Love Story
Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock)
He's the public face of their combined genius; she's the devoted wife who overlooks his peccadilloes. True, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock bicker in both the living room and the editing room, and at times we wonder what she sees in him. But above all, the two settle into each other with reassuring comfiness. In one thrilling scene, as the two labor over the infamous Psycho shower sequence, we see them in their element: best friends and gleeful partners in crime.
WE ALSO LOVED: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel | Hope Springs | Lincoln | Quartet
Best Intergenerational Movie
Silver Linings Playbook
The world already conspires to keep generations from understanding each other; throwing mental illness onto the pile just doesn't seem fair. Still, in this gritty-but-warmhearted story of a Philadelphia family in crisis, parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) and their grown son (Bradley Cooper, who plays opposite a much-nominated and winning performance by Jennifer Lawrence) bravely grasp for each other, defying the odds. In practical terms, they don't stand a chance. But this is family, and in the end, of course, they do.
WE ALSO LOVED: Moonrise Kingdom | Parental Guidance | Starlet | Trouble With the Curve
Searching for Sugar Man (directed by Malik Bendjelloul)
Surely you remember that '70s Detroit rocker named Rodriguez, don't you? Well, maybe not, but two of his biggest fans in South Africa sure did. Deeply touched by reports that the singer, down and out, had committed suicide while performing onstage, the pair decided to get to the bottom of their hero's sad story. The discovery that changed their lives is an inspiration for anyone who's ever asked, "Whatever happened to …?"
WE ALSO LOVED: Betting the Farm | Charles Bradley: Soul of America | How to Survive a Plague | Surviving Hitler: A Love Story
Best Time Capsule
From the circa-1970s Warner Bros. logo to the shaggy haircuts to the Star Wars–rip-off "fake movie" at its center, this story of how Hollywood and the CIA teamed up to rescue six Americans in Iran gets every little Carter-era thing just right. Production designer Sharon Seymour — whose keen eye gave authenticity to such films as The Men Who Stare at Goats and Gone Baby Gone — seems to have enlisted a time machine to bring back enough corduroy and oversized eyeglasses to supply an entire episode of Lou Grant.
WE ALSO LOVED: Hitchcock | Hyde Park on Hudson
Best Buddy Picture
Robot and Frank (Directed by Jake Schreier)
Sure, one of the buddies is a little white helper robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard). But to an ailing loner (Frank Langella), he embodies all the elements of a good friend: patience, companionship and a nonjudgmental ear. Also, Robot helps Frank get the girl (a radiant Susan Sarandon). Langella recently complained that at his age all he gets to play are gangsters and crooked businessmen; here he gets to be both playful and profound.
Best Movie for Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up
Director and cowriter Wes Anderson's trademark quirkiness (think The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) is in full bloom. His story of a preteen romance — and the grownups who don't understand — snuggles its way into the hearts of anybody who remembers the terrific, terrifying first time they fell in love. The kids (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) are adorable, but no less so than the befuddled adults (Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton).
WE ALSO LOVED: The Hobbit | Mirror Mirror | The Three Stooges | Wreck-It Ralph
First, there are the arresting performances of Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field as Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Then there's the direction of the masterful Spielberg. Add to that the compelling story of the last days of our 16th president's life and you've got our readers' favorite movie. Lincoln is a story for all ages and plenty of families have been filling theaters. The film is filled with contentious debate, but when it comes to the top vote getter in our Movies for Grownups poll there was no question: Lincoln is a winner.
All about our 2013 Movies for Grownups Awards, including a tribute to Dustin Hoffman, and links to our 10 Best Grownup Movies of 2012