It’s time for our 5th Aging with Attitude Film Awards—Senior Planet’s take on the Oscars; this time with a special comment from a certain famous director, exclusively for Senior Planet. Read on!
As in earlier years, we’re nominating films released over the last year that embody “aging with attitude.” The pressure is increasing in Hollywood to address ageism, as described by Nicole Kidman at her Screen Actors Guild acceptance speech. Here are some films with images about aging that were honest, strong, resilient, empowered, and well-rounded.
Now it’s your turn. Please let us know in the comments if these films, or others, represented ‘aging with attitude.” We’ll post highlights next week.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
UK/US; . Directed by Martin McDonagh. With Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson. 1 hr. 55 mins.
As award season reaches its zenith, 60 year old Frances McDormand has seized every major prize, her pithy acceptance speeches leaving audiences wondering where her acerbic Mildred ends and the real actress begins.
Formidably smart and witty in person, McDormand’s Mildred takes no prisoners as she challenges the lazy local cops to solve the mystery of her daughter’s murder. If any one of us were faced with a similar nightmare, we would be lucky to have Mildred on our side as she ingenuously takes matters into her own hands. We share her anger as she confronts every obstacle in her path, urging those around her to look at the bigger picture. Life has inflicted so much hurt on this woman – from the unimaginable abduction, rape and murder of her daughter to the feckless husband who has abandoned her for a younger, dim-witted woman. Mildred does not ask to be loved or even liked. Her foul mouth and angry exterior is the very antithesis of love, yet every curse and insult reveals itself as an aching love letter to a lost child. – Gill Pringle
US. Directed by Brett Haley. With Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter. 1hr. 33 mins.
This film is a thinly disguised retrospective of the life of a celebrity aging out of his roles. Sam Elliott (veteran of dozens of Westerns, a cameo in “The Big Lebowski’ and tons of voiceovers), is Lee Hayden, an aging Western icon with a golden voice, but his best performances are decades behind him. A surprising diagnosis throws his life, relationships and priorities into stark relief; he chooses to re-engage with life in every area. If only they had chosen an actress closer to 70 year old Elliott’s own age for the love and sex scenes, but they do handle the age difference in an interesting way – Virge Randall
France, Directed by Martin Provost. With Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot, Oliver Gourmet, 1hr. 57 mins. French with English subtitles.
The luminous Catherine Deneuve, now in her 70s, plays Beatrice, an aging beauty and free spirit who has spent her life living by her wits when she discovers she is dying of a brain tumor. She decides to make amends with the great love of her life –whom she abandoned 30 years ago–only to discover that he has died and his daughter, Claire, whom she helped raise, has never forgiven her for walking out on them both. Beatrice decides to make amends to Claire instead but Claire, a midwife struggling with her own personal problems, doesn’t welcome the return of this irresponsible woman who broke her beloved father’s—and her own–heart. But with charm and persistence Beatrice wins her over and these two women—one middle aged and the other old—find a mother-daughter closeness that both long for. Claire winds up taking care of Beatrice as she gets sicker and free spirited Beatrice teaches uptight Claire the value of living for the moment and enjoying what life has to offer. The film is about memory and regret and what really matters as we grow older: forgiveness and acceptance of the past. – Erica Manfred
US. Director: John Carroll Lynch. With H
One of Harry Dean Stanton’s last films, Lucky is as close as it gets to cinema verite and a retrospective of Stanton’s body of work, including a look back to a key moment in his most iconic film, “Paris, Texas” and “Cancion Mixteca.”
Stanton, in his 90’s in this film and in his offsceen life, is a fiercely independent retiree, aging in place in his home in the desert. Instead of going for a hollywood-ish look at a curmudgeon, Stanton and director/writer Lynch focus the high beams on encroaching mortality and the importance of connections. Stanton is not a loveable old codger and there’s no great personality change here – no life-altering flash of insight – but it is a thoughtful character study of aging in place, and the role of community in fixing a place in the world. – Virge Randall
Where to watch: Magnolia pictures has a full array of options here.
UK/US. Directed by Steven Spielberg. With Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks. 1 hr. 56 mins.
No stranger to playing strong women, Meryl Streep, 68, dials down her roar to play a woman gracefully coming into her own in a time of cultural and social changes sweeping the US. Set in the early 1970s, The Post depicts the true story of The Washington Post’s battle to publish damning classified documents detailing the US government’s 30-year involvement in the Vietnam War.
Although Steven Spielberg was in production of his next film, he was so alarmed by the current administration that he took a break to direct The Post, telling Senior Planet, “I made this film because The Post was a movie that was happening all over again in 2017; a story about how the press has to uncover the lie; the lie of Richard Nixon and the corruption of his administration. I couldn’t avoid seeing the relevance of all the lies coming from the current administration so Tom and Meryl and I all thought it was a social imperative that I actually suspend making Ready Player One to make this movie.”
At the heart of the drama is Streep’s nuanced portrayal of Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. The Washington Post was originally owned by Graham’s own father although after her marriage to Philip Graham, her father bestowed ownership to her new husband rather than to herself. It was only after her husband’s later suicide that Graham was thrust into this world, learning to wear the metaphorical trousers and speak up to an all-male board.
At the outset we see Streep’s Graham hesitantly testing her place in a man’s world; men in suits crowding her out and speaking for her, as she takes it all in. It’s a subtle transformation, by the end of which we witness a woman with new purpose and identity, in the throes of liberation and helping instigate a revolution. The new emboldened Graham surprises them all and serves as a timely reminder of how far women have come today and how much farther we must go. – Gill Pringle
Where to watch: In theatres