Many of the best known actors over 50, as well as some newcomers, are nominees for AARP’s annual Movies for Grownups Awards, it was announced today. The awards will be broadcast on the PBS show Great Performances on March 28 at 8 p.m. (check local listings) pbs.org/moviesforgrownups and on the PBS Video app.
The Movies for Grownups Awards champion films made by and for grownups, by advocating for the 50-plus audience, fighting industry ageism and encouraging films that resonate with older viewers. And AARP’s Movies for Grownups this year continues its commitment to celebrate quality content by expanding to honor standout TV programs in new categories.
“Each year at Movies for Grownups, we spotlight films that feature today’s crucial issues and top grownup talents. In this pandemic year, when movies loomed larger than ever in our lives, we are excited to have such a bumper crop of masterworks — and to recognize achievements on TV for the very first time,” said Tim Appelo, AARP film and television critic.
Hoda Kotb, NBC News TODAY co-anchor and co-host of TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, will host the awards ceremony. Winners of the Movies for Grownups awards will be announced online March 4 at www.aarp.org/moviesforgrownups.
Best Movie for Grownups
A Korean American family chases the American dream from California to a farm in the Ozarks — a trip to the heartland in more ways than one.
This adaptation of a nonfiction book about retirement-age Americans who become RV nomads brilliantly blends fiction filmmaking and documentary style.
• One Night in Miami
A knockout film about Muhammad Ali’s actual 1964 championship bout — witnessed by Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown — and the debate they have about the responsibilities of success.
• The Trial of the Chicago 7
A vivid dramatization of the real trial of Chicago’s 1968 convention demonstrators that turns what was a chaotic circus into a thoughtful spotlight on a schism in society.
• The United States vs. Billie Holiday
A jazzy biopic that centers on the FBI’s undercover setup of Holiday as she performs on stages all over America. Andra Day’s moving voice may break your heart.
• Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Resplendent with ostrich feathers and gold teeth, Davis growlingly summons the indomitable spirit of America’s first professional blues singer.
• Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead
Working with her director son, Edoardo Ponti, Loren is arresting at 86, playing a heartwarming Holocaust survivor and caregiver for streetwalkers’ children.
• Frances McDormand, Nomadland
As a bold soul in her 60s who loses husband, house and livelihood, McDormand strikes a noble blow here for those who are dispossessed but not downtrodden.
• Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit
The former Catwoman plays a fancy cat-lady socialite — who’s down to her last dollar on her last stylish Paris spree — in her flashiest role since her 1990s heyday.
• Robin Wright, Land
In a film she also directed, Wright stars as an urban widow who goes off the grid in a primitive cabin, seeking healing, hope and a new life.
• Ralph Fiennes, The Dig
Fiennes aces the accent and personality of the working-class amateur archaeologist who uncovered Sutton Hoo, the 7th-century Anglo-Saxon tomb buried on the estate of rich widow Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan).
• Tom Hanks, News of the World
In a good, old-fashioned western with True Grit-like gravitas, Hanks plays a Civil War veteran who roams Texas to read newspapers aloud to illiterate townsfolk and rescues a girl caught between white and Native American cultures.
• Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Hopkins masterfully portrays a man facing a scarier monster than Hannibal Lecter: Alzheimer’s disease. His performance brings viewers inside a mind in the fight of its life.
• Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
In one of the trickiest, finest roles, longtime Spike Lee collaborator Lindo outdoes himself as a PTSD-afflicted, MAGA hat-wearing veteran who returns with war buddies to Vietnam to search for their leader’s lost remains.
• Gary Oldman, Mank
If you thought Oldman was great as Winston Churchill, you should see him as the alcoholic gambler genius who wrote Citizen Kane and fought Orson Welles for the credit.
Best Supporting Actress
• Candice Bergen, Let Them All Talk
Her talent was wasted in youth, came of age with Murphy Brown and hits a new high with this role, a peevish lingerie saleswoman enraged after a friend (Meryl Streep) tells her life story in a novel.
• Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman
At 88, Burstyn could become the oldest-ever Oscar nominee in an acting category. She plays a Holocaust survivor whose tough love combats a daughter’s grief over losing a child.
• Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Close transforms herself in the unlikely yet true tale of Mamaw, a gun-toting, chain-smoking rural woman who rescues her teen grandson from his addict mom.
• Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian
Foster plays the emotionally driven, race-car-driving defense attorney for a falsely accused Guantanamo Bay prisoner in this story of justice and forgiveness.
• Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Youn plays a Korean immigrant who puzzles her American grandkids: She loves to swear, gamble, watch TV wrestling and solve her clan’s problems.
Best Supporting Actor
• Demián Bichir, Land
When Robin Wright’s character becomes a wilderness recluse, Bichir’s mountain man shows her how to hunt, trap and survive her own demons (and bears).
• Bill Murray, On the Rocks
Murray stars in a comedy about a playboy dad who helps his daughter spy on her tomcat husband and rediscover their own bond.
• Clarke Peters, Da 5 Bloods
Known as a central character on TV’s The Wire and Treme, Peters plays the calming conscience of a group of war veterans returning to Vietnam.
• Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Raci is uncommonly convincing as the addiction program director for the film’s hearing-impaired musician hero. (He was once an addict himself and both his parents were deaf.). And now this renowned stage actor is breaking out at last as a film star.
• Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7
As trial lawyer William Kunstler, Rylance’s quietly intense performance gives a sprawling multicharacter drama a calm center.
• Lee Daniels, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Diana Ross’ 1972 drama Lady Sings the Blues inspired Daniels to become a director (who later earned an Oscar nomination for Precious). His Billie Holiday biopic is even better.
• Regina King, One Night in Miami
In an auspicious directing debut, the renowned actress adapts a play about the real-life encounter of four Black heroes — and shows an absolute mastery of directing great actors.
• Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods
Lee is a master of cinema, and here he focuses not on youth but age: Vietnam vets flashing back to the past.
• Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Long showered with awards as a writer, he breaks out as an A-list director with his second effort (after 2017’s Molly’s Game), about the 1960s wildest trial.
• George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
He nimbly adapts Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s first masterpiece about Black American history.
• Da 5 Bloods (Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee)
De Meo and Bilson first wrote the script to be Oliver Stone’s fourth Vietnam film. Lee took over and made it a meditation on age, race, colonialism and brotherhood.
• Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Ruben Santiago-Hudson)
A noted Broadway and TV actor, Santiago-Hudson knows August Wilson’s work as an actor and a director. His expertise shows in this Wilson adaptation.
• News of the World (Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies)
Adapting Paulette Jiles’ novel, they craft a script worthy of Hollywood’s golden age.
• One Night in Miami (Kemp Powers)
He started out writing a book about four icons on an historic evening. But it turned into a play, and then a movie, that is a fascinating debate about different ideas of Black self-determination and Black power.
• The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin)
Sorkin pulls off his trickiest writing feat yet, turning a complicated real-life case into a well-knit narrative.
• Da 5 Bloods
With utter conviction, actors who’ve known each others’ work well for years convincingly portray a group of 60-something men bonded by Vietnam trauma.
• Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
In a band room the filmmakers conceived of as a boxing ring of drama, an all-star cast puts on a bout in which everyone comes out a champion.
• One Night in Miami
Portraying legendary men, the actors take the icons off their pedestals and render them as flesh-and-blood youngsters with big ideas that changed the world.
• Promising Young Woman
Some of filmdom’s finest actors anchor a darkly comic revenge fantasy with emotional authenticity
• The Trial of the Chicago 7
The large cast captures the divisions between revolutionaries who couldn’t agree on lunch, let alone conspiracy, and the legal plight that unites them.
Best Intergenerational Film
• The Father
The film takes us into the heart of the patient’s caregiver daughter (Olivia Colman) in order to show the impact that Alzheimer’s has on a family.
• Hillbilly Elegy
A film about an all-too-common phenomenon: a grandmother who steps in to save a grandchild when her own daughter isn’t up to the task of parenthood.
• The Life Ahead
Sophia Loren’s aging heroine forges a bond with a troubled teenager and is dedicated to save the younger generation.
An instant classic about the immigrant experience, the film conveys the immense impact a grandma from the old country can have on a family.
• On the Rocks
Murray, once a young rebel who changed comedy, proves himself a past master of grownup father-daughter drama.
Best Buddy Picture
• Bad Boys for Life
Bad-boy cops of 1995, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith reunite and deepen their relationship, making this third buddy picture more than an action romp.
• Bill & Ted Face the Music
In their third time-tripping comedy, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter meet not only Louis Armstrong, Mozart and Jimi Hendrix, but also themselves in youth and extreme age.
• Da 5 Bloods
Though it’s a Vietnam heist movie inspired by the 1948 classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, at its heart is the relationships between old soldiers.
• Let Them All Talk
Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest star as lifelong pals struggling to cope with the effects of one friend’s spectacular success.
• Standing Up, Falling Down
What could possibly redeem the life of a flopped stand-up comic (Parks and Recreation’s Ben Schwartz)? A new relationship with a surrogate father figure, a karaoke-prone old dermatologist (Billy Crystal).
Best Time Capsule
• Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
The film recreates Chicago in the 1920s, when Ma Rainey’s song helped make the Black Bottom Dance more popular than the Charleston.
The film’s investigation of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s creative impact on Orson Welles’ masterpiece Citizen Kane is a portrait of Hollywood in its morally tarnished golden age.
• One Night in Miami
Besides the fabulous cast, what makes this quadruple biopic click is the meticulous recreation of the feel, look and sounds of Miami in 1964.
• Trial of the Chicago 7
Long after the passions ignited by the Vietnam War and the protests against it have passed, the film brings it all back alive, as if its moment were now.
• The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Not simply the story of one woman’s life, it describes an era when Black musicians had their work stolen by white culture and the government used drug laws to target an artist.
Best Grownup Love Story
The Queen’s Gambit breakout star Anya Taylor-Joy plays Jane Austen’s heroine who finds love when she least expects it. But the best relationship in the film is that of Emma and her hypochondriac dad (the immortal Bill Nighy).
• Ordinary Love
What’s the lesson of this movie about what happens when breast cancer strikes a loving couple (Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville)? Says Manville: “If you can do your best to see the good in things, to carry your own private little torch, endure all life throws at you with a glass half full, you’re winning.”
Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci movingly portray a couple who, after 20 years together, face early-onset dementia with courage and grace.
• Wild Mountain Thyme
In a comic drama as Irish as the Blarney Stone, Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan play neurotic lovers whose courtship gets stalled for 30 years.
• Working Man
In his first lead film role — at age 80 — renowned character actor Peter Gerety plays a laid-off factory worker who rekindles his ailing marriage (with Talia Shire of Rocky fame).
• Crip Camp
The inspiring story of the 1970s camp for kids with polio, cerebral palsy and other disabilities who grew up to become transformative activists for disability rights.
• Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy
A portrait of the 97-year-old British woman who brought Mexican cuisine to the masses and earned the moniker “the Indiana Jones of food.”
• Dick Johnson Is Dead
In a bittersweet, hilarious attempt to make her father immortal after he is diagnosed with dementia, filmmaker Kirsten Johnson stages his death — in inventive and crazy ways — and his miraculous revivals to help them both face the inevitable.
• A Secret Love
The film reveals the relationship between a baseball player from the women’s team that inspired A League of Their Own and the female love of her life.
• Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation
In wartime, when parachutists arrive to rescue soldiers on the ground, they say, “Here come the sky blossoms!” This documentary celebrates the teens and millennials from military families who are caregivers to their injured elder relatives.
Best Foreign Language Film
• Another Round (Denmark)
Mads Mikkelsen plays a guy who decides on his birthday to lead his friends in a new way to cope with midlife malaise: Stay slightly tipsy all day, every day.
• Bacurau (Brazil)
In a bizarrely inventive sci-fi western, a local doctor (Sônia Braga) tends to a forgotten village attacked by gun-toting tourists led by a madman (Udo Kier).
• Collective (Romania)
A scathing documentary about a 2015 Bucharest nightclub fire (that ended up killing 64) and its aggressive cover-up by ghastly medical and governmental corruption.
• The Life Ahead (Italy)
What could be better than French legend Simone Signoret in the 1977 adaptation of Romain Gary’s novel Madame Rosa? The 2020 adaptation by Edoardo Ponti starring his mom, Sophia Loren.
• The Weasels’ Tale (Argentina)
A once-famous actress, her once-not-so-famous actor husband, and a renowned director and screenwriter — all in their 70s and long retired — outwit young real estate developers who are out to scam them.
• Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
Aniston is at home as a volatile morning TV news anchor navigating controversies in the #MeToo era in the flagship series on Apple TV+.
• Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America
Blanchett shines as conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly in her successful 1970s battle to keep the Equal Rights Amendment out of the Constitution.
• Regina King, Watchmen
In the smartest superhero show you ever saw, King plays Sister Night, a cop turned vigilante who’s battling white supremacists in Tulsa, Oklahoma, complete with flashbacks to the 1920 Tulsa Race Massacre.
• Laura Linney, Ozark
Linney plays a suburban Chicago mom who becomes a Missouri riverboat casino entrepreneur and gets mixed up with ruthless mobsters and addicted to ambition.
• Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
Half a century after she started out as Gilda Radner’s understudy, O’Hara is having her moment, starring as a rich eccentric who goes broke and is forced to live in a little town she bought on a lark.
• Jason Bateman, Ozark
Bateman is brilliant as a financial adviser who drags his family to the Ozarks to launder cash for a drug cartel.
• Ted Danson, The Good Place
Danson excels as a kind of jaunty Willy Wonka of the afterlife, welcoming and guiding newcomers to a magical place that seems heavenly — but has some dark secrets.
• Hugh Grant, The Undoing
With an ambiguously charming twinkle in his eye, Grant keeps us guessing as a dashing doctor and doting dad who just might be a ruthless killer.
• Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird
Thunderously and at times comically, Hawke plays abolitionist John Brown, whose raid on Harper’s Ferry sparked the Civil War.
• Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True
In the acting feat of the year, Ruffalo portrays identical twins — one struggling to help the other, who’s afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia.
• The Crown, Netflix
The show that fulfills every Anglophile’s dream: to be a fly on the palace wall watching Britain’s royal family behind closed doors.
• Perry Mason, HBO
Not a reboot of Raymond Burr’s lawyer show (1957–1966), it’s about a troubled World War I veteran in 1932 Los Angeles, the topsy-turvy era of scandal-plagued actors, radio evangelists and daredevil aviatrixes.
• Succession, HBO
The perfect show for an era of ruthless capitalism concerns a media conglomerate run by a scary patriarch (Brian Cox) who’s locked in a mortal struggle with the son (Jeremy Strong) he tries to keep under his thumb.
• Ted Lasso, Apple TV+
The most warmhearted TV hero since Mister Rogers is Jason Sudeikis as Ted, an unstoppably optimistic small-college football coach hired by a pro soccer team in England — though he knows zilch about England or soccer.
• This Is Us, NBC
If it were simply a heartstring-tugging domestic drama, it would be good — but what makes it innovative is its bold flashbacks to four decades in the lives of a complicated extended family.
Best TV Movie/Limited Series
• Mrs. America, FX
A lively, intelligent dramatization of the 1970s fight over feminism, it boasts a stellar cast, with Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug and Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm.
• The Queen’s Gambit, Netflix
Nobody thought the world was panting for a series about a fictional girl chess prodigy in the ‘50s and ‘60s with some of Bobby Fischer’s emotional problems. But it instantly became Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries.
• Small Axe, Amazon
Comprising five fictional films rooted in real people’s experiences, writer-director-producer Steve McQueen’s TV opus adds up to a group portrait of the vibrant West Indian community in London from 1969 to 1982.
• Unorthodox, Netflix
Loosely based on a true story, it’s the dazzlingly acted tale of 19-year-old woman who leaves her ultraorthodox Hasidic Brooklyn community for a modern life in Berlin.
• Watchmen, HBO
Though it’s a sci-fi show, the sheer audacious intelligence and contemporary relevance of its race-relations drama won over even people who loathe that genre.
Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was an entertainment editor at Amazon, a video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV and Village Voice Newspapers.