AARP names best films of 2012 for grown-ups

Bill Newcott / AARP The Magazine /


Even if 2012 had not brought us “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” — featuring an all-star cast with an average age well north of 60 — it would have been a very good year for grown-up movies. And, lucky for those who appreciate such fare, most of the films AARP honored Feb. 12 at its annual Movies for Grownups Awards event — along with new director Dustin Hoffman — already are available for home viewing, or soon will be.

Listed here are those winners. Unless otherwise noted, they're now available on DVD/BluRay, online streaming and Video on Demand.

'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' (Best Movie for Grownups; Best Actress, Helen Mirren)

Who would have expected the tale of a group of British retirees (including Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson) settling into a “restored” luxury hotel in India to be one of the year's biggest hits? Every laugh, every tear, is authentically earned thanks to screenwriter Ol Parker's knowing script and John Madden's smart direction. As a bonus, we get to see the battling matriarchs (Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton) of “Downton Abbey” in two very different roles.

'Lincoln'

(Best Director, Steven Spielberg; Reader's Choice Award)

Too many celluloid Lincolns have been barely as animated as the robotic one at Disneyland. Spielberg's genius is in delivering both a warm personal portrait of Lincoln and a fierce look at a wily politician gaming the system in the name of a moral imperative (in theaters).

'Flight' (Best Actor, Denzel Washington; Best Supporting Actor, John Goodman)

In a career-crowning performance, Washington convinces us that a booze-and-drug-addled airline pilot can hide his addictions from the world — even as we can see he's really flying blind. And as his ever-chipper Dr. Feelgood, Goodman is disturbingly delightful.

'Bernie' (Best Comedy)

Not only are Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine a hoot in the true story of a Texas funeral director and the domineering local matriarch he loves/hates; writer-director Richard Linklater also enlists real-life small-town folks to play themselves.

'Silver Linings Playbook' (Best Supporting Actress, Jacki Weaver; Best Intergenerational Movie)

As ever-smiling Dolores, Weaver insists everything is fine, even when it's hard to imagine anything being worse. As her character's family collapses around her, Weaver exudes infectious, endless hope (in theaters).

'The Sessions' (Best Screenwriter, Ben Lewin)

Who else but Lewin, a polio survivor himself, could have concocted the story of a middle-aged polio victim (John Hawkes) who seeks a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) for lessons in lovemaking? Directing his own script, Lewin elicits unexpected empathy — and admiration — for all concerned.

'Quartet' (Breakthrough Accomplishment, Director Dustin Hoffman)

It's hard to believe that Hoffman, the consummate movie actor, had never before directed a film. In this funny, poignant story of love, jealousy and redemption at a home for retired opera singers, Hoffman gets a lot of help from his veteran cast including Billy Connolly, Tom Courtney, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon — and Maggie Smith, who it appears has succeeded James Brown as the hardest-working person in show biz (in theaters).

'Hitchcock' (Best Grownup Love Story)

The passions of youth have long since faded, but as Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren revel in the warm waters of longtime love. In one thrilling scene, as the two labor on the infamous “Psycho” shower scene, we see them in their element: best friends and gleeful partners in crime (home video release not yet announced).

'Searching for Sugar Man' (Best Documentary)

Maybe you don't remember '70s Detroit rocker Rodriguez, but two of his biggest fans in South Africa sure did. Their “whatever-happened-to?” search makes for one of the biggest cinematic surprises of the year.

'Argo' (Best Time Capsule)

For their story about the daring circa-1970s rescue of six American hostages in Iran, director Ben Affleck and production designer Sharon Seymour seem to have enlisted a time machine to bring back enough corduroy and oversized eyeglasses to supply an entire episode of “Lou Grant” (in theaters).

'Amour' (Best Foreign Film)

With the help of his astonishing stars (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva), writer-director Michael Haneke finds beauty in the starkly artful story of a long-married couple's last months. (in theaters).

'Robot & Frank' (Best Buddy Picture)

Yes, one of the buddies here is a little white robot, but to an ailing loner (Frank Langella), he embodies all the elements of a good friend. Also, Robot helps Frank get the girl, a radiant Susan Sarandon.

'Moonrise Kingdom' (Best Movie For Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up)

The kids (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) are adorable in director/co-writer Wes Anderson's tale of young love — but no less so than the film's befuddled adults (Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton).

Oscar nominees

Many of these films are Oscar contenders. To read more information, see Page 24 in today's GO! Magazine.