Some of the golden statuettes at this year's Oscar ceremony went to Hollywood veterans. But all the winners are older artists at the Movies for Grownups Awards. AARP, a group dedicated to addressing the needs and interests of older Americans, presents the trophies to honor the achievements of filmmakers and actors who offer projects with mature characters and storylines that appeal to audiences 50 and over.
As much of Hollywood focuses on appealing to a young audience, an often-forgotten age group is clamoring for movies that reflect their experiences as adults. To encourage filmmakers to produce movies that appeal to older audiences and to honor mature movie talents, the AARP Magazine presents the annual Movies for Grownups Awards.AARP Magazine editor Bill Newcott says "It's very much to celebrate the accomplishments of people who might otherwise be overlooked in a culture that often focus on young people."
Mr. Newcott says this year, the awards honor a range of cinematic achievement in 13 categories.
"Our best actress this year is Helen Mirren, who starred in The Queen," says the AARP magazine editor. "She is absolutely spellbinding playing Queen Elizabeth of England. Our best actor is Donald Sutherland, for a film called Aurora Borealis. He played a Parkinson's patient. It's a film that was little seen this year but it'll be coming out on DVD soon. Clint Eastwood is our best director. He is in his mid-70 and here, this year, he directed, not one, but two really great movies, Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, which really are two terrific films."
Since the awards were first presented in 2002, they have attracted more attention and gained more influence. As Helen Mirren said in her videotaped acceptance, "We are becoming an economic power, which is fantastic."
In addition to the typical 'Best Actor, Actress, Film' winners, The AARP Magazine awards include a number of categories that are not part of the Oscars, such as Best Intergenerational Movie - Akeelah and the Bee, this year… and Best Grownup Love Story - The Last Kiss.
The Last Kiss was actually a movie about 2 younger people, but the older couple in the film were played by Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson. Bill Newcott says "It's just a wonderful love story about 2 people in their 60s struggling to keep their relationship alive, struggling to pass on their wisdom of what they have learned about being in love to a younger generation. It is a terrific example of how Hollywood, when given a chance, can really do a nice job of telling a real love story about people who are not 20 or so."
Movies for Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up is another unique category. This year's winner is Lassie, the latest in a string of movies about a boy and his dog, based on the 1943 novel, Lassie Come Home. Meyer Gottlieb, President of Samuel Goldwyn Films, produced Lassie. "Lassie is a kind of throw back to a 1950s and 1960s period of film, a reminder of the old Lassie movies," he says. "Lassie is a family film. We made a nice connection between grandparents and their grandchildren. That what our target was."
Gottlieb says the Movies for Grownups Award recognizes what Samuel Goldwyn Films has been doing for a long time. "We try to target our films for an audience that is more mature," he says. "And our definition of an older audience is someone who is over 40 years old, or 50."
Mr. Gottlieb says this older audience is often ignored or under served by the film industry. "Hollywood and advertisers are still interested in reaching an audience that's younger, the audience that they view as the consumer of all kind of goods, including movies," he says. "But from the perspective of seeking entertainment, enjoyment continues for life. It doesn't stop just because you turned 35 or 40 or 50 years old. That audience is growing in size and I think it's terrific to recognize that senior citizens and older people enjoy life as much as anyone else."
AARP Magazine editor Bill Newcott says he hopes the annual awards will continue to draw attention to the brilliant talents and great contributions of the veterans in the movie industry… and that Hollywood will respond to the desire of mature audiences to see themselves and their issues on the big screen.