Movies Not Just For Kids: AARP Picks Its 2013 Faves

Published in the Pawtucket Times, December 27, 2013

May be a little less visible than the Golden Globes or even the Academy Awards, the Washington, D.C.-based AARP, the nation’s largest aging advocacy group joins the two groups, recognizing outstanding writing, acting and film making but also looking at distinct relevance to the age 50 and older audience.

Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and Nebraska are among this year’s Top 10 Movies for Grownups, according to AARP The Magazine. According to the publication’s editors the top 10 list features “thoughtful films with timeless entertainment value and a particular appeal for grownup audiences.” The films are selected by the editors of AARP The Magazine, probably one of the most recognized publications geared to 50 and older Americans and the world’s largest-circulation magazine with more than 35 million readers (sent to AARP members as a membership benefit).

Great Films for Older Audiences

As award season nears, the Golden Globe awards will be announced on January 26, 2014, followed by the Academy Awards on March 2, 2014, AARP The Magazine releases its listing of best films of the year that resonate with a 50 plus audience,” said Bob Love, Editor-in-Chief of AARP The Magazine. “We’ve seen a shift this year in that some of the most successful films at the box office were stories appealing to this mature crowd. There’s been a resurgence of interest in older actors in standout roles and 50+ directors behind the camera—and we are thrilled to see the change!”

Recognizing filmmakers age 50 plus who continue to do innovative risk-taking work, actors and actresses age 50 and over offering increasingly compelling performances, and big-screen explorations of topics that resonate specifically with baby boomers and seniors, AARP The Magazine’s editors selected the following Top 10 Movies for Grownups in 2013 (details from Wikipedia):

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 historical drama and adaptation of the 1853 autobiography by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free negro who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the Louisiana for twelve years before his release. The $20 million budgeted film directed by Steve McQueen with the script written by John Ridley, was filmed in New Orleans. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup and has been widely praised for his work in this 134 minute feature film. More info:

All Is Lost is a 2013 American survival film written and directed by J.C. Chandor. The 8.5 million budget film stars Robert Redford as a man lost at sea. Redford is the only cast member, and the film has almost no dialogue. According to BBC News, the 100 minute film screened out of competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, noting that having the screening the film received a standing ovation. More info:

Captain Phillips is a 2013 American action thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. The 133 minute film tells how merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was taken n hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean during the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009 led by Abduwali Muse. The screenplay by Billy Ray is based upon the book, A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea. More info:

Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama directed by Jean-Marc Vallėe and starring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner and Steve Zahn. The 116 minute film is based on the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, who was the subject of a lengthy 1992 article in The Dallas Morning News written by journalist and author Bill Minutaglio. The film, costing $5.5 million to make, follows the Woodroof, who was diagnosed with AIDS given only 30 days to live. The only drug available brought him close to death, forcing him to smuggle anti-viral medications from all over the world (unapproved by FDA and unavailable in the U.S) to survive. He forms a buyers club, providing paying members with these unsanctioned alternative treatments, resulting in the FDA and pharmaceutical companies seeking to end his illegal activities. More info:

Enough Said is a 2013 American romantic comedy directed and written by Nicole Holofcener. The film stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the James Gandolfini (in one of his final roles), Toni Collette, Catherine Keener, Ben Falcone, and Toby Huss. The 93 minute film’s plot center on a woman who befriends a woman and starts dating a man at the same time, only to find out that her two new acquaintances are former spouses. This leaves her in a dilemma about whether she should risk her new friendship and romantic partner if she reveals what she has learned about them from one another. More info:

Gravity is a science fiction thriller directed, co-written, co-produced and co-edited by Alfonso Curón… The film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts involved in the mid-orbit destruction of a space shuttle and their attempt to return to Earth. More info:

Nebraska is a 2013 American comedy film starring Bruce Dern (father) and Will Forte (son). The 110 minute film (shot in black and white), directed by Alexander Payne, begins with Dern receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail, who now thinks he is rich. He gets Forte to take a road trip, from Montana to Nebraska, to claim his prize. Along the way the two meet up with friends, relatives and acquaintances to whom the Dern ostensibly owes money. The $12 million budgeted film, shot in four states, tells the stories of family life in middle America. More info:

Philomena is a 2013 British comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Frears. The 95 minute film is based on the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith, which tells the true story of a birth mother, Philomena Lee’s 50-year-long search for her son, Michael, who she gave up for adoption. The book focuses more, as the title suggests, on the life her son had after his adoption. More info:

Saving Mr. Banks is a 2013 historical comedy-dram film directed by John Lee Handcock from a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Centered on the development of the 1964 Walt Disney Studios film Mary Poppins, the film stars Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as filmmaker Walt Disney, with supporting roles from Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Ruth Wilson, and Colin Farrell. Taking its title from the father in Travers’ story, the film depicts the author’s fortnight- long briefing in 1961 Los Angeles as she is persuaded by Disney, in his attempts to obtain the screen rights to her novels. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and BBC Films, the 125 minute film was shot entirely in the Southern California area, primarily at the Walt Disney Studios. More info:

The Butler is a 2013 American historical fiction drama film directed by Lee Daniels and written by Danny Strong. The 132 minute film is loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, the film stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, an African-American who eyewitnesses notable events of the 20th century during his 34-year tenure serving as a White House butler. More info:

AARP Award Winners Announced in January

This year’s Top 10 Movies for Grownups offers a preview of AARP’s upcoming annual Movies for Grownups Awards, recognized as a bellwether for the Academy Awards, with standard categories including Best Actor, Actress and Director, in addition to a few unique offerings like “Best Grownup Love Story,” “Best Buddy Picture,” and “Best Time Capsule Movie.” The winners in all categories will be announced in early January, and will be featured online at The entire list of award winners will also be featured in the February/March issue of AARP The Magazine, available February 1st.

Turning Off Older Moviegoers

Over the years, movie studios have turned their back on the nation’s aging baby boomers and seniors, targeting teenagers and young adults, In these films the plot is passed on the special interests of these younger demographic groups, such as coming of age, first love, rebellion, and conflict with parents, teen angst, and alienation. For decades, the cinema industry has chased after teens that are viewed to have more disposable income that is more money to spend on going to films.

AARP sends a powerful message to Hollywood studio executives that older moviegoers have different interests than their younger cohorts. They may well want to spend their discretionary income as the editors of AARP The Magazine note on “thoughtful films with timeless entertainment value.” If ignored, grownups may well spend their discretionary dollars on other leisure activities.

Movies for Grownups®, which now includes weekly reviews and an award-winning radio program, an annual film festival, and year-round coverage in AARP The Magazine and online, was started in 2002 by the editors of AARP The Magazine. Additional information can be found online at

Herb Weiss, LRI ’12, is a Pawtucket-writer who covers aging, health care and medical issues. He can be reached at


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