AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards Saturday in Beverly Hills, California was full of big stars making memorable moments as they accepted and presented honors for films made in 2019.
Conan O’Brien’s tribute to his friend of three decades, Adam Sandler, became an impromptu comedy show. O’Brien presented Sandler with the best actor award for his performance as a self-destructive gambling addict in Uncut Gems.
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“He is not acting, this movie is a documentary,” O’Brien joked, “and a desperate, desperate cry for help.” When O’Brien announced the award, Sandler immediately got up to collect it but he’d jumped his cue — O’Brien wasn’t done explaining the movie to the audience.
“Don’t come up yet, what’s wrong with you?” O’Brien said in mock outrage, ordering Sandler back to his seat. “You paused!” Sandler protested. “You take pauses in comedy!” retorted O’Brien. “How long have you been in show business? You were like a chimp that saw a banana! You are way too eager for an award!”
One award involved a moving mother-daughter bonding session. “Four years ago I was privileged to win this [AARP] award, and my daughter Laura Dern surprised me as presenter,” said Diane Ladd, “and now the award is hers, and I get to present to her!” Ladd presented her daughter, whose father is actor Bruce Dern, the award for best supporting actress as a hard-bitten divorce lawyer in Marriage Story.
Dern returned the love with a tribute to her mom. ”Diane Ladd is my muse. She taught me everything I understand, not only about acting, about being honest and about being fearless.” With such a role model for a long career and a good life, Dern said entering her 50s has been a boon. “I’m having the time of my life — it’s sexy, it’s fun, it’s creative.”
The most thunderous of the evening’s multiple standing ovations was for legendary singer Linda Ronstadt, introduced by Maria “Midnight at the Oasis” Muldaur. Ronstadt accepted the best documentary award for the film about her life, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice. “I met Linda in 1967, when we were both young thrushes,” said Muldaur. “In a male-dominated industry, she stood up to the powers that be. Although Linda stopped performing live in 2009, three years before revealing her [Parkinson’s] diagnosis to a reporter for AARP, her songs, her story, and the sound of her voice continue to inspire.”
Ronstadt said, “In the rock 'n' roll generation we never thought we’d get to be 73. Not everyone has the privilege of complaining about the problems of old age. It’s a great privilege to finally become a grownup, to accept this AARP award honoring movies for grownups.”