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'Movies for Grownups' Awards Honor Films for 50-Plus Crowd


What makes an award-winning movie? The Motion Picture Academy has its standards for the Oscars, and AARP the Magazine has its own perspective for the Movies for Grownups Awards.

The magazine is published by AARP, an organization that helps people age 50 and older improve the quality of their lives as they age. Since 2002, it's been honoring talented older filmmakers and spotlighting movies that entertain mature audiences while stimulating them intellectually and emotionally. Here are the 2009 winners.

And the winner is...

Frost/Nixon is the year's Best Movie for Grownups.

"It's a great movie for grownups for a lot of reasons," says Bill Newcott, entertainment editor at the publication, which reaches more than 34 million households. He is also the creator of the awards.

"Frost/Nixon is about David Frost, the British talk show host, interviewing Richard Nixon on TV here in America about three or four years after he resigned after Watergate," Newcott says. "So it's a historical event that people around here are very, very mindful of, particularly people 50 and over. It's also a movie about ideas. It's a movie about truthfulness."

Like Frost/Nixon, Frank Langella - who plays Nixon - was nominated for an Academy Award. The Best Actor Oscar went to Sean Penn, but Newcott says Langella was his choice for Best Actor 50 and Over.

"Frank Langella dives inside the character of Richard Nixon," he says. "You almost learn more about Nixon, watching Frank Langella, than perhaps watching Nixon himself, who was very guarded in ways."

Undoubtedly best actress

Another Oscar-nominated performance got the nod from Newcott, even if not from the Academy. Meryl Streep is this year's Best Actress 50 and Over for the film Doubt.

"She played a very stern nun who suspects a priest, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, of doing some wrong things in their parish," he says. "She launches her own little investigation."

"Streep's performance is very controlled, very centralized and very internalized - a great contrast of her performance earlier in the summer when she was just all over the place in Mamma Mia, a musical," he adds.

Director makes San Francisco come alive

This year's award for Best Director 50 and Over went to Oscar-nominated Gus Van Sant for Milk.

"It's a historical drama about Harvey Milk, who was the San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated back in the 1970s," Newcott says. "Van Sant uses the whole city of San Francisco. The locations almost became characters in that film. He films it right in the same place, the little storefront where Harvey Milk's campaign headquarters was. There's an authenticity to that film that he brings to it that's just really remarkable."

Grownup love

AARP the Magazine presents awards in 16 categories, many of which are not on the Academy's list. One of them is Best Grownup Love Story. The winner is Last Chance Harvey.

"It stars Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman in a love story," he says. "They are people over 50 and over. They have other relationships in their life. They bring all those complications, all their experiences together into their new relationship. It's a very charming and wonderful look at people 50 and over kind of fumbling with love just like younger people might."

Friends through thick and thin

The Family that Preys is this year's Best Buddy Picture.

"The friends that are in this film are played by Alfre Woodard, who plays a woman who runs a restaurant, and Kathy Bates, who plays a woman who owns a very large corporation," he says. "For some reason that gets revealed later in the film, they are best friends for life. They have family complications and personal complications, but their friendship persists through the whole thing. They end up going off on a road trip together across the country. It's just a charming relationship and a very nice film that people should see."

For the young at heart

One of Newcott's favorite categories is Best Movie for Grownups who Refuse to Grow Up.

"It's a category where you can sort of unleash the child in you. You get to re-examine those things you held when you were a kid," he says. "Very often in past years, the film in this category has been a cartoon or something that you could take your children to, a movie that's focused on youth."

This year the winner is a film called Iron Man, which is a superhero movie.

"Robert Downey Jr. plays a middle-aged guy who is in the middle of a midlife crisis," he says. "He resolves it by becoming a superhero. He invents a suit that enables him to fly and do superhuman acts. It's almost uniquely made for a 50-plus audience. It found a terrific youth audience as well."

Newcott says it's encouraging that Hollywood is now producing more movies that appeal to the 50 and older audience. That, he says, is the ultimate goal of the Movies for Grownups Awards.

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