It’s the 20th anniversary of the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards, and you’re invited! The star-studded special, hosted by Alan Cumming, was broadcast on PBS’ Great Performances on Friday, March 18, 2022 — and you can still watch it here and on the PBS Video app. It’s like having a Zoom party with the stars as they emotionally accept their honors and spill secrets about their movies and TV shows.
Best film actor Will Smith confesses that the performances of the youngsters who play his tennis-star daughters in King Richard brought him to tears, while Kenneth Branagh thanks grownup viewers for making Belfast a hit — and explains why he cut the film’s last scene. Best TV actress Jean Smart says she learned something by playing an aging stand-up comic who refuses to be washed up in Hacks: “The key to longevity in your career, and maybe also in your life, is to just keep at it — she just isn’t gonna go away!” And you’ll chuckle when our Career Achievement Award winner Lily Tomlin re-creates an Oscar speech by a famous grownup actress from long ago.
You can see for yourself by watching the show now.
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PHOTO BY: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Friends of Hudson River Park
The Host: Alan Cumming
The Movies for Grownups Awards host is a three-time Emmy nominee for TV’s The Good Wife, a star of James Bond and X-Men blockbusters and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and an Emmy-nominated host of the Tony Awards. But Cumming is also a famously entertaining song-and-dance man. He spoofs Cabaret in one of his Movies for Grownups Awards parody tunes, and he’s got the right — he won the Tony for best actor in Cabaret on Broadway.
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PHOTO BY: Saeed Adyani/Netflix
Career Achievement: Lily Tomlin
She’s a star of hits ranging from Laugh-in, where she played a youngster named Edith Ann, to Robert Altman’s Nashville, for which she earned an Oscar nomination, to Grace and Frankie, which depicts issues of aging with respect, hilarity and precision. Using Edith Ann’s catchphrase, Tomlin told AARP, “I feel I am not only a grownup, but I am mature for my age — and that’s the truthhhhh!”
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PHOTO BY: Rob Youngson/Focus Features
Best Picture/Best Movie for Grownups: Belfast
Inspired by writer/director/star Kenneth Branagh’s childhood in civil-war-torn 1969 Northern Ireland, Belfast is a coming-of-age story told through a child’s eyes. The movie makes you feel part of the tragically torn town and the unbreakable family, including the hero’s waggish grandparents (Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench), whose hearts still skip for each other.
Don’t miss this: Kenneth Branagh on the secrets of ‘Belfast’ — and aging
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PHOTO BY: Chiabella James/Warner Bros.
Best Actor: Will Smith (King Richard)
He’s been a rap, TV and movie star. But Smith has never crafted a more complex, nobly flawed and inspiring character than “King Richard” Williams, who coached his daughters Serena and Venus Williams to become, against all odds, champions.
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Best Actress: Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos)
How authentic is she in the I Love Lucy backstage drama Being the Ricardos? Lucille Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, said Kidman “became my mother’s soul.”
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PHOTO BY: Warner Bros. Pictures
Best Supporting Actress: Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)
Just as Richard got the lion’s share of credit for the Williams sisters’ success, the justly celebrated Will Smith has been the focus of much of King Richard's huge buzz. But Ellis’ subtler, quieter performance as the tennis stars’ wise mom — who stands up to Richard’s iron will and coaches them as well — is an equally profound achievement.
Don’t miss this: Aunjanue Ellis’s 7 tips on life and success after 50
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PHOTO BY: Fabio Lovino/MGM
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto (House of Gucci)
In a movie that’s like The Godfather with sequins, he plays a Fredo — the family’s treacherous black sheep. At the Movies for Grownups ceremony, Leto, who just turned 50 and is AARP eligible, said that what he learned from working with his fellow grownups Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Sir Ridley Scott in House of Gucci was this: “Creativity and imagination have no age. Dreams belong to everyone, not just the young.”
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PHOTO BY: Jesse Grant/Getty Images
Best Director: Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)
In one of the biggest Hollywood comeback stories ever, Campion returned to filmmaking after 13 years of being essentially shut out — despite her Oscar for The Piano — and at 67, she soars higher than ever with The Power of the Dog. Was there ever a more emotionally haunting Western?
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PHOTO BY: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for 20th Century Studios
Best Screenwriter: Tony Kushner (West Side Story)
The Angels in America playwright, who has written the screenplays for some of Spielberg’s finest films (Munich, Lincoln), helped make West Side Story more diverse, more historical and more timely for today. Plus he invented a role to bring back original West Side Story star Rita Moreno in a career-capstone performance.
Don’t miss this: Tony Kushner gives AARP the inside story on ‘West Side Story’
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Best Intergenerational Film: CODA
In this poignant, feel-good film, a CODA, or child of deaf adults (Emilia Jones), helps her irascible folks (Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur) in the family fishing business and pursues her singing-career dream. When she sings “Both Sides Now,” her parents can’t hear it, but they can feel it, bridging the gaps of both generation and hearing.
Don’t miss this: Marlee Matlin’s 10 lessons for life
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PHOTO BY: Kerry Hayes/20th Century Studios
Best Ensemble: Nightmare Alley
Guillermo del Toro’s scary circus fable boasts the year’s most inspiring cast in roles vivid enough to trouble your dreams: Bradley Cooper’s con artist, David Strathairn’s magician who’s run out of tricks, Toni Collette’s mind reader, Willem Dafoe’s carnival barker and Cate Blanchett’s terrifying femme fatale psychiatrist.
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PHOTO BY: Pablo Larrain
Best Time Capsule: Spencer
Kristen Stewart plays Princess Diana in a film that’s neither a documentary nor a conventional biopic, but rather a dreamy, poetical, melancholy “fable from a true tragedy.” Its fantasy captures a vivid sense of Diana and her times, with a killer ’80s soundtrack and a stunning performance by Timothy Spall as her sinister royal supervisor.
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Best Grownup Love Story: Cyrano
In a fresh reimagining of Edmond Rostand’s oft-adapted 1897 play, Game of Thrones standout Peter Dinklage plays the romantic poet whose physical disadvantages are redeemed by his silver tongue. It’s a great big whirligig of a musical that tells truths about grownup romance.
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PHOTO BY: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures/Hulu
Best Documentary: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
For the year’s top directing debut, Ahmir Khalib (Questlove) Thompson unearthed about 45 hours of performances by B.B. King, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Fifth Dimension and Stevie Wonder at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. It’s a sure cure for the summertime blues.
Don’t miss this: The rediscovered story of the ‘Black Woodstock’
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PHOTO BY: Karen Kuehn/Apple TV+
Best Buddy Picture: Finch
Tom Hanks plays the last man on earth, an engineer who builds a robot (Caleb Landry Jones) to care for his beloved pooch, and sets out with them on a perilous trek through the American West. Who says a best buddy has to be human?
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PHOTO BY: Artsploitation Films/Courtesy Everett Collection
Best Foreign Film: Sheep Without a Shepherd (China)
Last Emperor star Joan Chen plays a very bad cop in an international smash hit that’s more than just another skillful crime drama. As Chen says, “The film is a taut mystery. But I believe the reason for its wide appeal is because it’s also a story about parental love and sacrifice, a theme that resonates with audiences across age groups and nationalities.”
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Best Actress (TV): Jean Smart (Hacks)
At 70, Smart aces the role of a lifetime, as a sardonic Las Vegas stand-up comic in a funny, profound meditation on aging and intergenerational bonding. “The opportunities I’m being given the last 20 years have become more and more gratifying and challenging,” she told AARP. “It’s a sweet spot in my life.”
Don’t miss this: Jean Smart on peaking after 60
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Best Actor (TV): Michael Keaton (Dopesick)
The master of ripped-from-the-headlines dramas plays a doctor caught up in the opioid epidemic. Brilliant entertainment, Dopesick also makes a statement. As Keaton said at the Movies for Grownups Awards, “Just because we’re all grownups doesn’t mean we kind of sit back and relax and retire. We have jobs to do, which is to move the ball forward on a lot of issues — and this is one of them.”
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Best Limited Series/TV Movie: Mare of Easttown
The year’s greatest murder mystery is also an absorbing portrait of a small town full of unkeepable secrets, with indelible performances by Kate Winslet, Jean Smart and Julianne Nicholson.
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Best TV Series: Ted Lasso
An infinitely cynicism-free comedy about an unstoppably optimistic U.S. football coach hired to coach an eccentric U.K. soccer team. Ted knows naught about soccer but all about pleasing people — and grownup audiences.
Don’t miss this: 10 things you need to know about ‘Ted Lasso’
Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.