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Announcing AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards Nominees

Don't miss the 20th anniversary special on PBS March 18


spinner image film stills from our five best picture nominees the movies are king richard the west side story remake the power of the dog belfast and being the ricardos
AARP's Movies for Grownups Best Picture nominees (clockwise from top left): "King Richard," "West Side Story," "Being the Ricardos," "Belfast" and "The Power of the Dog."
Clockwise from top left: Chiabella James/Warner Bros; 20th Century Studios; Glen Wilson/Amazon Content Services; Rob Youngson/Focus Features; Kirsty Griffin/Netflix


It’s the 20th year of AARP’s annual Movies for Grownups Awards, and you’re invited! Screen and stage star Alan Cumming will host the star-studded special that will be broadcast by Great Performances in a 20th Anniversary Special on Friday, March 18, 2022, at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings), and the PBS Video app. This is a virtual event, like so many during this pandemic season — and it’s like having a Zoom party with a selection of Hollywood stars in their moment of triumph.

As every year, we spotlight films and shows that feature crucial issues, thoughtful storylines and the most talented grownup filmmakers and actors that speak directly to the 50-plus audience, which is the crucial demographic supporting the best work in film and TV. Without grownup audiences, arthouse films, indies and TV that qualifies as art would not survive. Thanks to AARP and its viewers, there's more to Hollywood than young stars in superhero spandex.

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But movies for grownups are thriving, on big and small screens. We saw another bumper year of masterworks — so many more than we had 20 years ago when Movies for Grownups started. Here are the ones to watch, the latest nominees for the Movies for Grownups Awards.

The complete list of the annual Movies for Grownups Awards Nominees:

Best Picture

• Belfast

A poignant film that evokes civil-war-torn 1969 Northern Ireland through a child’s eyes, and makes you feel part of the unbreakable family in this tragic era.

• King Richard 

The startling story of the L.A. parents who coached their kids Venus and Serena Williams to the pinnacle of the largely white tennis world.

• The Power of the Dog 

In 1925 Montana, two bachelor rancher brothers find their lives transformed and their souls revealed.

• West Side Story 

A reimagined update of the 1957 classic from Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein.

• Being the Ricardos 

A witty, compassionate drama about the I Love Lucy show in a crisis week for the stars' tattered marriage.​ 

Best Director

• Kenneth Branagh

His Agatha Christie and Shakespeare flicks​conquered Hollywood; his memoir-movie Belfast conquered hearts.

• Jane Campion

She soars at 67 with The Power of the Dog, her first film in 13 years. Was there ever a more haunting Western?

• Guillermo del Toro

His gorgeous noir Nightmare Alley is a stylish, tragic carnival fable.

• Denis Villeneuve

He infuses Dune’s sci-fi spectacle with brooding intelligence and deep emotion.

• Steven Spielberg 

His West Side Story is wild and bright. Who knew he could direct musicals, too?

Best Actress

• Nicole Kidman

How authentic is she in Being the Ricardos? Lucille Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, said Kidman “became my mother’s soul.”

• Frances McDormand

In The Tragedy of Macbeth, she gives Lady Macbeth some grownup gravitas.

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• Halle Berry

Directing her first film — the number 1 Netflix hit Bruised — at 55, Berry cast a brilliant actress as a martial artist: herself.

• Sandra Bullock

America’s sweetheart reinvents herself as The Unforgivable’s antihero, paroled after a 20-year sentence for killing a cop.

• Helen Mirren

In The Duke,​ she plays the tut-tutting wife of a semiretired cabdriver who heists a Goya from the National Gallery.

Best Actor

• Will Smith

He’s never crafted a more complex, inspiring character than coach Williams in King Richard.

• Denzel Washington

The Tragedy of Macbeth’s bloodthirsty thane is the baddest bad guy he ever played.

• Javier Bardem

He captures the energy of Lucille Ball’s unfaithful yet loving husband in Being the Ricardos.

• Jim Broadbent

He plays a thief who steals The Duke’s priceless portrait to force the government to offer seniors free TV. (True story!)

• Peter Dinklage

In Cyrano, he’s a wordsmith who pens love letters to a beauty he secretly pines for himself.

Best Supporting Actress

• Judi Dench

As Belfast’s Granny, she shows the hero how to live, with bantering wit and boundless love.

• Marlee Matlin

Her raucous CODA character can’t hear her gifted daughter sing, but she feels the good vibrations. So will you.

• Aunjanue Ellis

Her performance as the tennis stars’ wise mom in King Richard is as subtle as it is winning.

• Cate Blanchett

Her malevolent psychiatrist is the scariest character in Nightmare Alley.

• Rita Moreno

She sings the song “Somewhere” in West Side Story as if there’s a place for us all (even at 90).

Best Supporting Actor

• J.K. Simmons

He triumphs as the Ricardos’ drunken grump Bill Frawley, who played Lucy’s quarrelsome neighbor Fred on TV.

• Ciarán Hinds

As Belfast’s Pop, he dispenses twinkly-eyed wisdom.

• Jared Leto

Since House of Gucci is like The Godfather with sequins, he plays a Fredo-like character — the family’s treacherous black sheep.

• Timothy Spall

As Princess Di’s royal controller in Spencer, he radiates infinitely well-bred menace.

• David Strathairn

His unfortunate fortune-teller in Nightmare Alley is a soft heart in a hardboiled world.

Best Grownup Love Story

• 23 Walks

A poignant nod to retiree romance between dog walkers who discover a human they like as much as their pooches.


The grandparents in the story may have gray hair, but their hearts still skip for each other.

The Duke

A wild idealist and his sensible-shoes wife prove opposites attract, and somehow endure.

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Sure they’re killers, but they have the best marriage Shakespeare ever wrote.


Its love story rings true — maybe because it’s written by Dinklage’s wife Erica Schmidt.

Best Intergenerational Film

• C’mon, C’mon

Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman bond believably as an oddball uncle and nephew.

The Tender Bar

Ben Affleck plays a fatherless boy’s uncle in one of his most affecting performances yet.

King Richard

A portrait of a couple and their five ambitious kids.


The saga of a clan that finds it easier to communicate by sign language than connect emotionally.


Proof that three generations can live side by side in peace.

Best Buddy Picture

• Queen Bees

Ellen Burstyn, Ann Margret, Loretta Devine, and Jane Curtin star in a comedy that’s like a Mean Girls for grownups.

12 Mighty Orphans

The shamelessly uplifting true tale of a coach (Luke Wilson) who inspires his scrawny orphanage kids all the way to the Texas football championships. 

Off the Rails

Women in their 50s fulfill their late friend’s last wish: that they get go see a sunset in the Mallorca cathedral. 


Tom Hanks’ character has two buddies: his dog and his robot.

Best Ensemble

The Harder They Fall

Two rival Wild West gangs are gunning for each other — but they each really love their own outlaw crew.

• The Harder They Fall

There were few more star-studded movies in 2021, and none can match this vast Black cast playing fictionalized versions of actual Black characters from America's cowboy past.​​​

Don’t Look Up

Another starry romp, a comedy about the end of the world.​​

Nightmare Alley

The film has what they call in football "bench strength": great actors make every character resonate.

​​• House of Gucci

Al Pacino, Lady Gaga and Salma Hayek are just some of the stars in a show as stylish as the design clan itself.

West Side Story

It's like a gang war of terrific actors, and they all win — as does the audience.

Best Time Capsule

• Spencer

It puts you in Princess Diana's shoes, and in her time. ​​

Licorice Pizza

A love letter to the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s.​ ​


It makes 1969 come alive as a life-or-death drama.​​

Being the Ricardos

The definitive portrait of the definitive '50s couple and show.​​

West Side Story

It tells the story of Manhattan's West Side when it was a center of African American and Afro-Caribbean culture.

Best Documentary

• Julia

The true story of Julia Child, who popularized French cuisine in America.​ ​​​

Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

A landmark 1969 outdoor concert of Black talent, as amazing as Woodstock.

​​​The Beatles: Get Back

The last days of the Fabs, recaptured.​​​​​

•​ My Name is Pauli Murray

Get to know the Black lawyer who influenced Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall.​​

 Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America

A history of the fight for justice.​

Best Foreign Film

• Sheep Without a Shepherd

A thriller from China.

• There Is No Evil

A film shot in secret and smuggled out of Iran.​​

The Hand of God

Paolo Sorrentino's Italian memoir film.​​

Drive My Car

A haunting film from Japan about recovering from grief. ​​

Two of Us

A French film that proves love only deepens in one's 70s.

Best Screenwriter

• Jane Campion

Besides her AARP honor, pundits predict that she is the likeliest winner of the screenwriting Oscar for The Power of the Dog — it would be her second Oscar nom after 1993’s The Piano.

• Kenneth Branagh

Based on his childhood, Belfast is the only 2021 screenplay that took a lifetime to write.

• Guillermo del Toro/Kim Morgan

One of the finest writers who also directs, and Morgan, arguably the best film critic-turned-filmmaker since Bogdanovich, craft a gorgeous noir in Nightmare Alley.

• Paul Thomas Anderson

The bard of San Fernando Valley (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) writes his sweetest tribute to the place yet in Licorice Pizza.

• Tony Kushner

The Angels in America playwright who writes highbrow Spielberg movies (Munich, Lincoln) helped make West Side Story more diverse, more historical and more timely for today.

TV Awards

Best Actress

• Jean Smart

At 70, she aces the role of a lifetime, as a sardonic Las Vegas stand-up comic in Hacks.

• Gillian Anderson

Her proud Margaret Thatcher in The Crown holds her own against the queen.

• Sandra Oh

As a beleaguered English department head in The Chair, the Killing Eve star does A-plus work.​

• Lily Tomlin

In Grace and Frankie, she depicts issues of aging with respect, hilarity and precision.

• Andie MacDowell

In Maid, she's a manic mother to the heroine, played by her real-life daughter Margaret Qualley.​

Best Actor

• Michael Keaton

The master of ripped-from-the-headlines dramas plays a doctor who’s caught up in the opioid epidemic on Dopesick.

• Kevin Costner

He rides high in the saddle as a ranch patriarch in the smash hit Yellowstone.

• Ewan McGregor

In Halston, he movingly portrays the celebrity fashion mogul and Studio 54 overpartier.

• Billy Porter

He brilliantly plays Pray Tell, the MC of New York’s 1980s drag ballroom scene, in Pose.

• Martin Short

He steals the show as a desperate, purple-clad Broadway-​flop director turned sleuth in Only Murders in the Building.

Best TV Series

• Hacks

It’s funny, and a profound meditation on aging and intergenerational bonding.

Ted Lasso

An infinitely cynicism-free comedy about an unstoppably optimistic U.S. football coach hired to coach an eccentric U.K. soccer team. He knows naught about soccer, but all about pleasing people.

The Chair

A wicked satire of collegiate cancel culture and irascible professors at war.

The Crown

The show that pulls back the curtain on Britain’s royal family keeps improving, with the entrance of Anderson’s Thatcher and Emma Corrin’s Diana, who rattled a closetful of family skeletons.


A drama-comedy about a feuding media mogul’s family, it boasts TV’s sharpest dialogue, nastiest characters and logically knottiest plots.

Best Limited Series/TV Movie

• Mare of Easttown

The year’s best 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.


The tragic yet inspiring saga of the genius who created the Jackie Kennedy pillbox hat and Liza Minnelli’s signature look.

The Underground Railroad

A masterpiece adapted from Colson Whitehead’s historical fantasia about a woman’s escape from slavery into a dreamscape world.


A fact-based story about a single mom’s struggle with poverty, and her own bipolar mother.

• Nine Perfect Strangers

Nicole Kidman brilliantly plays the shady guru at a California wellness spa.

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