Among the memorable moments from the red carpet and the show, which will be televised Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on PBS’ Great Performances (check your local listings), pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps:
Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig, at their table waiting to present their Lady Bird colleague Laurie Metcalf with the best supporting actress award, were clapping and swaying to the music as host Alan Cumming sang parodies of show tunes — and then pretended to call security to have Ronan ejected for being underage. She’s 23.
Speaking of underage. “People talk about ‘the coveted 18-34 demographic,’ ” said Doug Jones, who plays the sea monster in The Shape of Water, which won best director for Guillermo del Toro. “What’s so coveted about that? I was there. Now I’m 57. I like this better.”
On the red carpet, Mark Hamill, who presented his Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson the best grownup movie award, raved about del Toro. “The first time I met him, he said, ‘We must go to Disneyland!’ George Lucas never asked me to go to Disneyland.”
Before the show began, Annette Bening, best actress winner for Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, was table-hopping to visit old friends.
Jane Seymour asked Richard Jenkins, best supporting actor winner, to have his photo taken with her. Willem Dafoe, giving a noogie to young star Christopher Rivera, said "He's the star of The Florida Project."
Host committee member Wendie Malick sought out former Royal Navy officer Ken Sturdy, 97, at his table just before dinner to pay her respects. Sturdy, who had rescued soldiers at Dunkirk, was rehearsing his speech to accept the best time capsule award for the World War II movie.
Best actor winner Gary Oldman, who was petting a dog in his wife, Giselle’s, handbag, joked about his knees. “I’m nearly 60. When I get out of a chair — ‘Oof!’ — my wife says, ‘Are you all right?’ and I say, ‘I’m just standing up.’ ” Oldman also declared his love for Dame Helen Mirren, who won the career achievement award. “Dame Helen, it is such a joy to be in a room with you. I saw you as Nina in The Seagull in 1975. And I fell in love with you, actually.“
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Mirren shouted out from her table.
“Well, I was a shy 14-year-old,” said Oldman.
Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount Pictures and Movies for Grownups Awards host committee chair, was touched by a standing ovation. Then she hailed Mirren because she “made aging look effortless and joyful.”
Host committee member Frances Fisher said the event keeps growing every year “because people are accepting the fact that people who have maturity have something to say. We’re not the elderly, we’re the elders — that word implies a wisdom and respect.” Added Seymour, also a committee member: “The older you get, the more complex your story is. The more experience you have, the better you are as an actress.”
There was more talk about aging.
“After 50, it just got better,” said Oldman about his life and career, hailing the cast of Darkest Hour for having a collective age of 884. Del Toro said, “As we age, we have a single duty, and that is to tell our stories.”
“It’s so wonderful to grow old, because I’m getting many more parts than I ever have!” said Blythe Danner.
"We don’t want to be vain and self regarding," Mirren confessed after her Winchester costar Jason Clarke paid her tribute, "but gosh, it’s so nice to be flattered like that!" She advocated an approach to the creative life that is open to experience. "History doesn’t really repeat itself, life keeps surprising us. That’s what makes it so rich with possibility. If it were all truly known and planned and determined, it wouldn’t be worth living, just a giant to-do list waiting to be crossed off. When something is unknown — why, anything can happen!”