Each year, the best films are recognized by the Golden Globes, the Oscars, and — since 2002 — the Golden Chairs. This award, presented by the older Americans advocacy group AARP, spotlights Movies for Grownups and honors veteran talents and filmmakers who are 50 and over. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the award's sponsor hopes the Golden Chair, a trophy in the shape of a vintage movie theater seat, will encourage Hollywood to produce more movies that engage older audiences with challenging topics.
This year's Best Movie for Grownups is The Savages. It's a dark but funny story of middle-aged siblings, a brother and a sister, who have spent their lives focusing only on themselves, and are suddenly forced to take care of their ailing father.
"We like that movie because the performances are great," says Bill Newcott, entertainment editor of AARP The Magazine, which selects and presents the award. "But it's also an issue that many of our readers are facing. Our younger readers, who are in their 50s, are dealing with older parents. Older readers, who have kids in their 50s and 40s, are finding that they have to have a new whole relationship with their kids."
Newcott says that, in general, the quality of the films produced for mature audiences is better than average because older audiences expect a story with substance.
Chris Cooper's performance as an FBI spy in Breach garnered him a Golden Chair for Best Actor 50 and Over. Julie Christie was named Best Actress 50 and Over for her performance as an Alzheimer's-stricken woman in Away From Her.
"At the beginning of the film, we see her in relatively good health and you just fall in love with this wonderful woman," Newcott says. "And as she deteriorates, as her health fails and her mind begins to wander, you just feel this loss. You feel the loss that her husband feels as he is watching this happen."
Oscar-nominated director Tony Gilroy was named Best Director 50 and Over by AARP for Michael Clayton, a movie about corporate greed. Newcott points out that this is Gilroy's first film as director. "He has been a writer his whole life."
The Golden Chair for the year's Best Grownup Love Story goes to Hairspray, in which John Travolta plays a woman who has been married to actor Christopher Walken's character.
The Bucket List — about two cancer patients trying to cram a lifetime of adventure into a few months — received two Golden Chairs: the Readers' Choice Award, and Best Buddy Picture of the year.
Honors for Best Comedy for Grownups went to The Darjeeling Limited. It's about three brothers who haven't spoken to each other in a year, who set off on a train voyage across India.
"It turns out that they are searching for their mother who had gone and lived in the Himalayas," says AARP entertainment editor Bill Newcott. "They are three grown brothers, middle-aged and younger, crammed together in this railroad car and coming to terms with a lot of things that brothers or siblings must come to terms with in the course of their lives: dealing with how they were raised, what their parents were like, how they deal with each other, how they see the world. It's a charming film beautifully filmed in India."
Bill Newcott hopes the Movies for Grownups Awards will encourage Hollywood to pay more attention to this demographic. He says audiences 50 and over have the money, time and desire to go to movie theaters… when they see themselves on the silver screen.