Skip to content

The 10 Best Movies for Grownups in 2012

  • Ben Affleck in Argo.
    Courtesy Warner Bros.


    En español | Who knew the 1979 Iran hostage crisis would make for a crackerjack escape flick? Director Ben Affleck meticulously re-creates the late '70s in unspooling a little-known tale of international trickery that mixes diplomatic intrigue, spy agency bureaucracy and winking Hollywood satire.

    1 of 12
  • Jacki Weaver and Robert DeNiro in Silver Linings Playbook
    Courtesy The Weinstein Company

    'Silver Linings Playbook'

    It's being sold as a romantic comedy, but the real silver lining is that this movie is much more. Sterling performances from Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver as a dad and mom struggling with their adult son's bipolar disorder make it a touching, darkly funny family drama.

    2 of 12
  • 103587452
    Vision/Cordelli/Getty Images

    Explore Your World

    Explore Travel for tips and ways to plan the ultimate getaway.   Join AARP today for savings on airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises.

    Click "Next" to continue slideshow.

    3 of 12
  • Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln.
    Everett Collection


    Steven Spielberg has directed hit movies about aliens, sharks and dinosaurs, but Lincoln might be his most impressive trick. He turns a legislative procedural into something downright thrilling, featuring astounding work from Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

    4 of 12
  • Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour, 2012.
    Everett Collection


    In this unflinching French film, a long-married couple deals with the wife's brutal spiral toward death by a debilitating disease. Yes, it's difficult to watch. It's also rewarding and impeccably acted by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, 85, delivering the year's bravest performance.

    5 of 12
  • Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
    Fox Searchlight/Everett Collection

    'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'

    It's a trifle, really — but what a trifle! A Who's Who of seasoned British thespians form an impressive ensemble in this breezy story of retirees who, for disparate reasons, move to India to take residence at the neglected hotel of the title. Unexpected adventures and connections loom, plus a refreshing message: Growing older is far more rewarding than just getting older.

    6 of 12
  • Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock
    Courtesy Fox Searchlight


    Set around the making of Psycho, it's neither a biopic of Alfred Hitchcock nor a behind-the-scenes look at his famous horror film. It's a love story about the tempestuous relationship between the director and his wife and collaborator, Alma Reville. As Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins waddles about with creepy aplomb, but it's Helen Mirren who lingers as Alma, a strong woman whose life with the difficult Hitch was enough to make most of us scream.

    7 of 12
  • Helen Hunt and William H. Macy in The Sessions
    Courtesy Fox Searchlight

    'The Sessions'

    The plot sounds like an after-hours movie-of-the-week: A 38-year-old polio-stricken man who lives in an iron lung and is still a virgin hires a sex surrogate to remove him of the latter distinction. But wait: Beautiful performances by John Hawkes and Helen Hunt and a poignant screenplay by writer/director Ben Lewin, 66, (himself a polio survivor) turn The Sessions into one of the year's sweetest little films.

    8 of 12
  • Laurie Sparham/Universal Pictures/AP

    'Les Misérables'

    The well-loved stage musical of Victor Hugo's classic tale makes a rousing transition to the movie screen, with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in the iconic roles of Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, respectively. The singing is uniformly impressive, the CGI-aided staging gigantic; watch for Colm Wilkinson, 66, the original Valjean from the 1986 stage production, in a small but key role as a kindly bishop.

    9 of 12
  • Pauline Collins and Maggie Smith in Quartet
    Courtesy BBC Films


    Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut is a charming concoction set at a British retirement home for musicians and singers. It should be enough to simply list the fantastic actors who make up the singers in the quartet of the title — Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly — to convince you that you should see it, and soon.

    10 of 12
  • Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
    Courtesy Sony Picture

    'Zero Dark Thirty'

    Director Kathryn Bigelow, 61, follows up her taut, Oscar-winning military thriller The Hurt Locker with a mesmerizingly detailed, gripping tale of the post-9/11 hunt for Osama bin Laden. It's hard not to think that Bigelow — as an older, female director in Hollywood — sees some of herself in the film's heroine, Maya (Jessica Chastain), who challenges authority and conventional thinking on her way to acheiving what many thought an impossible feat.

    11 of 12
  • Entertainment End-Slide
    12 of 12