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Movies for Grownups 2024 Awards: Meet the Winners!

Many of the films honored in the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards dramatize real people and events


spinner image from left to right top to bottom killers of the flower moon then the color purple then oppenheimer then nyad then rustin then barbie
(Clockwise from top left) Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone in "Killers of the Flower Moon"; Taraji P. Henson in "The Color Purple"; Cillian Murphy in "Oppenheimer"; Ana Cruz Kayne, Sharon Rooney, Alexandra Shipp and Margot Robbie in "Barbie"; Michael Potts, Aml Ameen, Chris Rock and Glynn Turman in "Rustin"; Annette Bening in "Nyad."
Photo Collage: AARP; (Source: Clockwise from Top Left: Apple TV+; Warner Bros.; Universal Pictures; Warner Bros.; Netflix (2))

AARP’s annual Movies for Grownups Awards have arrived!

It’s been a banner year for shows and movies by and for people over 50, and Hollywood’s notorious ageism, which AARP created Movies for Grownups to combat, seems to be gradually eroding. Take that other awards group, the Oscars. Thirty years ago, only three Oscar acting nominees were over 60, and the oldest was 64; in the latest Oscars, six were over 60, and the oldest was 87. In 2000, shortly before the Movies for Grownups Awards began, the best actress and supporting actress winners were 25 and 24; in 2023, they were 60 and 64. Many people use AARP’s awards to predict who’ll win at the Oscars on March 10. But for viewers over 50, whose support is crucial to movies and shows worth watching, the big news is today’s Movies for Grownups Awards.

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Best Picture

spinner image lily gladstone and leonardo dicaprio in a scene from the film killers of the flower moon
Lily Gladstone (left) and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon."
Apple TV+

Killers of the Flower Moon

At the peak of his powers, Martin Scorsese, 80, directs his most historically important gangster film, about the Osage Native Americans exiled to a patch of Oklahoma considered worthless — until they struck oil and a family of four’s income increased by almost $1 million a year (in today’s dollars). Then a wily cattleman (Robert De Niro) devised a scheme to get men to marry Osage women and murder them, to steal their oil rights money. Lily Gladstone is radiantly tragic as the Osage bride nearly killed by her greedy, dim husband (Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s a master class in acting by a trio of top talents: De Niro, 80, DiCaprio, 49, and Gladstone, 37.

Best Director

spinner image a scene from oppenheimer
Christopher Nolan (middle) with Emily Blunt (left) and Cillian Murphy.
Universal Pictures

Christopher Nolan

Oppenheimer

Why is a brainy, three-hour epic about the “father of the atomic bomb,” J. Robert Oppenheimer — starring the brilliant Cillian Murphy, 47 (Peaky Blinders, Disco Pigs) — the highest-grossing biopic and also the top World War II film of all time? Because Nolan, 53, tells a riveting tale about an unstable, womanizing, neurotic genius whose terrible invention prompted Japan’s surrender. And he does so in an eye-popping style that takes us deep into a fascinatingly maze­like mind. Nolan made The Dark Knight, the greatest Batman movie; now, incredibly, he’s made an anti-superhero blockbuster. Director John Waters calls Oppenheimer “a big-budget, star-studded, intelligent action movie about talking.”

Best Actor

spinner image colman domingo walking with aml ameen at the Lincoln Memorial steps with the Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool in the background in a scene from the film rustin
Colman Domingo (center) in "Rustin."
Parrish Lewis/Netflix

Colman Domingo

Rustin

Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin was 51 when he and A. Philip Randolph organized the 1963 March on Washington, then the biggest peaceful protest in U.S. history. He challenged Martin Luther King Jr. to go there and address the crowd. The event, which featured King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, helped inspire the epochal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And Domingo (now 54) was 51 when filming took place — proof that age is no obstacle when it comes to changing history or immortalizing on film a character who’s been almost totally erased from history because he was gay. Domingo captures Rustin’s electrifying charisma, droll wit, intellectual firepower and personal pains, from the tooth a cop knocked out when he dared to take a bus seat to the cruel disrespect he received from civil rights colleagues.

VIDEO: Watch Colman Domingo’s acceptance video for Best Actor from AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards

“We’re in a dark moment in our history, especially with young people. They feel hopeless. You need someone who was a pied piper to inspire people to be their full selves, to use their minds, hearts and bodies to create the world they want to live in. We need to create a new generation of angelic troublemakers.”

—Colman Domingo on Rustin

 

Best Supporting Actor

spinner image robert de niro sitting in a car while talking with leonardo dicaprio standing outside of the vehicle in a scene from the film killers of the flower moon
Robert De Niro (left) and Leonard DiCaprio in "Killers of the Flower Moon."
Melinda Sue Gordon/Apple TV+

Robert De Niro

Killers of the Flower Moon

De Niro has never crafted a more chillingly brilliant performance than his turn as William King Hale, the real-life monster and self-made businessman who posed as the best friend the Osage ever had in Oklahoma, building them schools and hospitals — while secretly having them poisoned, shot and bombed to line his pockets and those of his crime ring.

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Best Actress

Annette Bening

spinner image actress annette bening in nyad
Annette Bening in "Nyad."
Liz Parkinson/Netflix

Nyad

Bening, 65, didn’t permit a stunt double to do a single stroke in her movie about Diana Nyad, who at 64 ­— after a few well-publicized failures to do so — successfully swam from Havana to Key West, braving jellyfish, the elements and her own demons. Bening trained daily for a year with Olympic swimmer Rada Owen, but it was her acting chops that brought Nyad alive on-screen. When the film alternates real footage of Nyad with Bening, it seems like the same person — the kind of athlete even a shark might hesitate to cross. It has to be said: If there were an Olympics for acting, Bening would take the gold.

VIDEO: Watch Annette Bening’s acceptance video for Best Actress from AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards

“So much of our industry is geared toward getting young kids into the theater, and there’s a place for that. But many of us want stories that get us in our gut, that are for adults. We need that. It’s why I got into movies — the power of a good story.”

—Annette Bening on Nyad

 

Best Supporting Actress

spinner image Annette Bening and Jodie Foster in the Netflix film "Nyad"
Jodie Foster (right) and Annette Bening in "Nyad."
Kimberley French/Netflix

Jodie Foster

Nyad

If you thought Jodie Foster, 61, was tough in The Silence of the Lambs, wait until you see her as Diana Nyad’s coach Bonnie Stoll. Her performance is crucial, because the film’s not just the story of one determined athlete, but a buddy picture about Nyad’s relationship with the salt-of-the-earth friend and trainer who got her through personal and physical storms. Bening was grateful for Foster’s longer acting experience (57 years versus her 43), and like Nyad and Stoll, they’ve triumphed together as Movies for Grownups Award winners. Foster said she took the part to show the world that older women could be, as she put it, “badasses.” And indeed she did.

VIDEO: Watch Jodie Foster’s acceptance video for Best Supporting Actress from AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards

 

Best Screenwriter

spinner image ryan gosling and margot robbie star as ken and barbie in the film barbie
(Left to right) Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in "Barbie."
Warner Bros. Pictures

Noah Baumbach (with Greta Gerwig)

Barbie

Naturally, director Gerwig, 40, gets the lion’s share of glory for the $1.45 billion blockbuster, not her cowriter and husband, Baumbach, 54. She signed the deal to write the screenplay together — without telling him. At first, Baumbach pleaded, “You gotta get us out of this!” But when they started writing, confident that nobody would let them actually film something so strange, funny and full of pop culture in-jokes, they had a blast. The Barbie-Ken tensions are doubtless informed by their own relationship as auteurs whose Marriage Story (directed by Baumbach) and Little Women (directed by Gerwig) competed for Oscars in 2020. Baumbach defended Barbie against critics who called its satire of Ken anti-man, saying, “I felt men could take it.” And only one man could help make it.

Best Time Capsule

spinner image bradley cooper and arey mulligan in maestro
Bradley Cooper (left) and Carey Mulligan in "Maestro."
Jason McDonald/Netflix

Maestro

Besides depicting the tumultuous love story of Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper) and his wife, Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan), Maestro captures the look and feel of their decades together. “It’s such a great window into the 20th century,” says their son, Alexander Bernstein, 68. In scenes filmed in the Bernsteins’ Connecticut mansion, Cooper and Mulligan wear Felicia’s and Leonard’s actual clothes — which fit! Director Cooper studied old radio and TV shows, home movies and settings from Carnegie Hall to London’s Ely Cathedral. Even the cinematography feels authentic, switching from 1940s black and white to modern color and camera lenses. “It really dovetails with my own memories,” says their daughter, Jamie Bernstein, 71.

Best Ensemble

spinner image a dancing scene from the color purple
Taraji P. Henson in "The Color Purple."
Warner Bros. Pictures

The Color Purple

The musical version of the 1982 Alice Walker novel — and the 1985 Whoopi Goldberg film — is a parade of talents blending in story and song. As Celie, American Idol’s Fantasia Barrino steals the show, but Danielle Brooks is compelling as the spirited Sofia. Taraji P. Henson, 53, as Shug Avery, completes the trifecta in a female-centric drama, Colman Domingo is terrifying as vicious “Mister” Johnson, and the characters’ connections build the film to a stand-up-and-cheer finale.

Best Intergenerational Film

spinner image paul giamatti at a podium teaching in the holdovers
Paul Giamatti in "The Holdovers."
Seacia Pavao/Focus Features

The Holdovers

Paul Giamatti, 56, plays hilariously curmudgeonly boarding school teacher Paul Hunham, forced to babysit a few students over Christmas break 1970, reluctantly bonding with a misfit kid (Dominic Sessa). The movie’s authentic depiction of the New England academic milieu is not surprising, since Yale grad Giamatti’s dad, A. Bartlett Giamatti, was Yale’s president. And screenwriter David Hemingson, 59 — whose own dad was the elder Giamatti’s Yale classmate — has Hunham berate his students with insults that Hemingson overheard people use, such as “entitled degenerates” and “snarling Visigoths.” The result is the most poignant teacher-student movie since Dead Poets Society.

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Best Documentary

spinner image Michael J. Fox in the documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
Michael J. Fox in "Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie."
Apple TV+

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

In this moving bio-doc, Fox, 62, the icon diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, reveals how he copes with pain and muscle tremors — and that his quick wit remains utterly unimpaired. He’s not the only one who has to reconsider priorities after an ailment strikes and figure out how to make the most of life when the unthinkable happens.

Best Foreign Film

spinner image a scene from the zone of interest
Sandra Hüller in "The Zone of Interest."
A24

The Zone of Interest

Directed by Jonathan Glazer, 58, this loose adaptation of Martin Amis’ novel of the same name features the “Queen of Auschwitz” (Sandra Hüller, the most talked-about foreign actress of 2023), the wife of Nazi commander Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel). She tends to her kids in an Edenic garden lit by the crematoria yards away, comforting herself with items stolen from the camp’s victims, such as fur coats and a tube of toothpaste in which somebody hid precious jewelry. It’s a remarkably original Holocaust movie, focusing on the lives and minds of the killers, not the victims.

Television Awards

spinner image actor bryan cranston on your honor
Bryan Cranston in "Your Honor."
Andrew Cooper/Showtime

Best Actor (TV): Bryan Cranston, 67, Your Honor

The Breaking Bad star plays disgraced judge-turned-convict Michael Desiato with brooding gravitas.

“I’m attracted to characters who are humanly flawed. The writer/creator of Your Honor asked me, ‘What would you do to save the life of your child?’ I said, ‘Anything.’ He asked, ‘Would you knowingly become a criminal?’ I answered, ‘Yes.’ ‘That’s the show,’ he said. It’s painful, and you cannot look away.”

—Bryan Cranston on Your Honor

 

spinner image Jennifer Coolidge in a scene from Season 2 of The White Lotus
Jennifer Coolidge in "The White Lotus."
Fabio Lovino/HBO

Best Actress (TV): Jennifer Coolidge, 62, The White Lotus

She arrived at A-list fame like Cinderella on a rocket sled as the hit show’s Tanya McQuoid, a dizzy, appalling, yet appealing heiress on the romantic trip of a (short) lifetime.

spinner image a scene from succession
Brian Cox (left) and Matthew Macfadyen in "Succession."
David M. Russell/HBO

Best Series: Succession

TV’s most cynically realistic hit, about the cutthroat kids of media patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox, 77), had an utterly brilliant, twisty finale.

spinner image gerry turner on the golden bachelor
Gerry Turner in "The Golden Bachelor."
Craig Sjodin/ABC

Best Reality Series: The Golden Bachelor

The most unexpected hit of the year, and the only one with an L.A. billboard featuring AARP’s headline (“He’s Hot. He’s Sexy. He’s 72”). The Golden Bachelor refuted ageism, reminding everyone that people 50-plus are still in the dating game.

“The show resonates with people of our age because we have lived a full, rich life, and we’ve enjoyed great highs and excitement. We’ve also felt in one way or another grief and sorrow. I think it hits home with people.”

—Gerry Turner on The Golden Bachelor

Interviews by Natasha Stoynoff

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