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8 Memorable Moments at AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards 2023

Brendan Fraser, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Jeff Bridges triumphed at the annual awards show

spinner image Sheryl Lee Ralph accepting her award at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
Sheryl Lee Ralph accepts her award for best TV actress at the Movies for Grownups Awards.
Rob Latour/Shutterstock for AARP

The audience leaped to its feet repeatedly at AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards on Jan. 28 in Beverly Hills, California, giving standing ovations as big stars made unforgettable memories while accepting honors for the best shows and films made by and for people over 50 in 2022.

The vibes were sweet, the atmosphere informal, the laughter frequent. Just before the show began, host Alan Cumming, 58, explained what made the evening so special for him. “I like award ceremonies because you see people in a very vulnerable state and at their most authentic [selves]. And I really love that. I love the emotion of it all.”

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And there were plenty of moments to celebrate. Here are some of the best. (You can watch AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards on Great Performances on PBS on Friday, Feb. 17, at 9 p.m. ET.)

spinner image Jamie Lee Curtis and Brian Tyree Henry onstage at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
(Left to right) Jamie Lee Curtis and Brian Tyree Henry
Rob Latour/Shutterstock for AARP

Jamie Lee Curtis makes being 64 sound like the best thing you could ever want

The Everything Everywhere All at Once and Halloween star elicited not one but two standing ovations as she accepted the Career Achievement Award. “The truth of the matter is, I love grownups. ... They say please and thank you and often write thank-you notes. And they mostly say what they mean and mean what they say and try not to say it mean.”

“For the most part, I really like being a grownup. All of that prepubescent and adolescent angst and tsuris and bad haircuts and clothing choices really disappear when grownups grow up. I love that we sort of know who we are and what we’re about and what we like and what we don’t like, and that has given me the greatest confidence. I love that we know that we’re here for something more than shiny things and Instagram likes. I love that we know and recognize that it’s our responsibility to do our part before we die to simply make the world better.”

spinner image Baz Luhrmann and Austin Butler onstage at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
(Left to right) Baz Luhrmann and Austin Butler
Rob Latour/Shutterstock for AARP

​Baz Luhrmann gives tributes to grownup filmgoers and a birthday toast to Elvis Presley

​“I cannot tell you how many people told me, ‘Older audiences will not come out into the theater,’” said Luhrmann, who won the best director trophy for Elvis, presented by the film’s star Austin Butler. In fact, the AARP-age audience turned out in historic droves, making Elvis a smash hit. “What I do like about this organization is that it also celebrates and acknowledges experience and age. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve just turned 60.” He also gave a shout-out to Presley, who would have turned 88 this month: “I’m sure he woud have been on the cover of AARP at least five times.”​

spinner image Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter onstage at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
(Left to right) Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AARP

Sheryl Lee Ralph: ‘I’m happy to stand here as a grown-ass woman!'

​Best TV actress winner Ralph, 66, the tough-love-talking star of Abbott Elementary, gave a shout-out to her 100-year-old mother-in-law. “She is still driving,” Ralph said. “She is still tap dancing every week. At 100 you too can still be driving, you can still be tap dancing, you can still be wearing dresses like this” — she flaunted her frock, a figure-hugging silver number. Crediting the young stars on her show and its intergenerational camaraderie, she said, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, as you grow older, make sure you have some young friends.” And if you have any 100-year-old loved ones, she had another piece of advice: “Call ’em up on the phone and tell them how much you love them!”

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spinner image Judith Ivey accepts her award at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AARP

For ‘Women Talking’ winner Judith Ivey, AARP is all in the family

Best supporting actress winner Ivey, 71, said that her dad, 95, and her mom, who just celebrated her 101st birthday, have something in common with her. “We all are members of AARP. We often talk about what we read in the magazine. ... We shared that one of our most informative articles was ‘The Best Way to Get Up After a Fall.’ I never thought I’d be sharing that experience with my parents. But thank you, AARP!”

spinner image Judd Hirsch accepting his award at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AARP

Judd Hirsch stands up for dinosaurs and aliens

Hirsch, 87, who won the Movies for Grownups Award for best supporting actor for his exhilarating, brief performance as a wise elder relative in The Fabelmans (as well as his second Oscar nomination, making him the second-oldest nominee in history), said, “Steven Spielberg said there were no aliens or dinosaurs in this movie. Well he was wrong — I am one of both of these things.” Clutching his trophy, he urged all young actors to “eat well, exercise, don’t take drugs, wait about 60 years, and you can get one of these.”

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spinner image Jeff Bridges and T Bone Burnett onstage at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
(Left to right) Jeff Bridges and T. Bone Burnett
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AARP

Jeff Bridges triumphs over cancer

Bridges, 73, who won best TV actor for The Old Man, which also won best TV series, basked in a standing ovation and said how wonderful it was to share the triumph of their work with his longtime friend and colleague T. Bone Burnett, 75, who scored the show and Bridges’ Oscar-winning 2010 Crazy Heart and presented him the award. Bridges noted that it took three years to finish shooting the series, thanks to delays caused by the pandemic and his cancer diagnosis. But he joked that he and the hit show might have had an unfair advantage among AARP awards voters, since the title “may have swayed a few votes.”

spinner image Brendan Fraser accepts his award at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AARP

Brendan Fraser gives a literature lesson to make grownups proud

Best actor winner Brendan Fraser, 54, quoted Herman Melville, appropriate since that’s the author his teacher character in The Whale is an expert on: “To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.” He joshed about the rather immature decisions he’s made in taking roles in some of his less-popular films, such as The Nut Job, which is about squirrels. But his voice trembled at the fact of his extraordinary comeback after years of career quiescence in The Whale, with both the AARP award and another important honor: “Tonight I stand before you as an Oscar nominee.” He said he could not have accomplished what he’s done lately as a young actor: “Twenty-five years ago I would not have been qualified to operate that equipment.”

spinner image Jerry Bruckheimer onstage accepting his award at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AARP

Jerry Bruckheimer credits older viewers for his success

“I’ve produced over 50 movies and more than 2,000 hours of television, but there was one question that everybody kept asking: ‘Will there ever be another Top Gun?’” said Bruckheimer, 79, producer of the best picture winner. “After almost four decades, all the pieces fell into place and we finally released the much-anticipated sequel just when everybody seemed to need it the most.”

He honored the grownup moviegoers who made Top Gun: Maverick a smash — “Many of them had not been to a theater in years” — and his late producing partner Don Simpson and original Top Gun director Tony Scott. He also honored somebody even closer to his heart: “I want to give a shout-out to my mom, who lived to be 104, and would be so proud.”

Stars Hit Red Carpet at AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards

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