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Thursday, September 12, 2024

Movies that Older Adults Can Enjoy

Updated January 19, 2023.

There have been quite a few films released since the original publication of this list. We have a few more films for you to consider when planning your next movie night.

  1. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022) Leslie Manville. Mrs. Ada Harris is a widowed cleaning lady in 1950’s London, who upon receiving a war-widow’s pension, travels to Paris to buy a Christian Dior gown after being inspired by marveling at one owned by a client’s own Dior dress. While in Paris, she challenges the haute couture world with her everyday charm and sensibilities.
  2. Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis. Evelyn, a Chinese-American immigrant who is stressed from running a struggling laundromat and being audited by the IRS, discovers that she must connect with parallel universe versions of herself to prevent a powerful being from causing the destruction of the multiverse.
  3. Nomadland (2020) Frances McDormand, David Strathairn. After losing her job, Fern, a middle-aged widow, sets out on a new life adventure as a nomad who travels across the United States. Over the course of her journey, Fern works a variety of jobs, makes friendships with a wide array of people, and may even find herself another chance at love.
  4. The Father (2020) Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman. A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
  5. Supernova (2020) Stanley Tucci, Colin Firth. Tusker  and Sam romantic partners for 20 years and amateur astronomers, undertake a road trip in a campervan across England to the Lake District, to visit some of their favorite spots and for a reunion with friends and family as Tusker deals with the effects of early onset dementia.
  6. Judy (2019) Renée Zellweger stars the eponymous Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis actress and singer as she works in England during the last year of her life.
  7. The Wife (2017) Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce. Joan accompanies her husband Joseph to Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. During the trip, Joan begins to reexamine the course of her life, her relationship with her husband, and the sacrifices she made along the way.
  8. Our Souls at Night (2017) Robert Redford, Jane Fonda. Louis and Addie are two widowed neighbors, who despite living near each other for decades, know little about each other. One evening, Addie suggests they spend the night together, platonically, to counter their mutual feelings of loneliness.
  9. Philomena (2013) Judi Dench, Steve Coogan. A cynical journalist works on a story of an Irish woman who has been on a half-century quest to be reunited with her son, who had been given up whilst she was a teenager.
  10. Hope Springs (2012) Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carrell. After thirty years of marriage, a middle-aged couple attends an intense, week-long counseling session to work on their relationship.
  11. Quartet (2012) Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon. Directed by Dustin Hoffman, star of the films The Graduate and Rain Man. The Beecham House, a retirement home for professional musicians, hosts an annual concert in honor of the late Italian composer Verdi that is disrupted by the presence of an eternal diva and happens to be the ex-wife of one of the current residents.
  12. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel duology (2011; 2015) Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy. This two-film set sees a group of British pensioners take up a new start at a supposedly luxurious retirement residency in India, though the reality is not exactly as advertised. American actors David Strathairn and Richard Gere join the ensemble in the sequel.

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Originally published June 17, 2010.

Entertainment. We love to be entertained. Sometimes, nothing is more entertaining than a good movie. Who doesn’t love getting lost in a thick twisted plot of a great drama or laughing until they cry over a hysterical comedy?

There’s nothing better than identifying with the lead character or finding parts of you in the antagonist. The issue coming up again and again is the fact that the movie industry gears majority of movies towards an audience under 40 years old. Therefore, it becomes hard as an older adult to find characters and stories you can identify with. The search for good movies for seniors can become cumbersome and we might find ourselves settling for reruns of MASH.

Settle NO MORE! I’ve compiled a list of movies with fascinating older characters and themes we can get lost in. So, pull up a chair, pop that popcorn and get ready to be entertained!

  1. Letters to Juliet (2010-Comedy/Drama/Romance) – Vanessa Redgrave
    An American girl on vacation in Italy finds an unanswered “letter to Juliet” — one of thousands left at the fictional lover’s Verona courtyard, which are typically answered by all the “secretaries of Juliet” — and she goes on a quest to find the lovers referenced in the letter.
  2. Get Low (2010-Comedy/Drama/Mystery) – Robert Duvall & Sissy Spacek
    A movie spun out of equal parts folk tale, fable and real-life legend about the mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who famously threw his own rollicking funeral party… while he was still alive.
  3. Harry Brown (2009-Crime/Drama/Thriller) – Michael Caine
    An elderly ex-serviceman and widower looks to avenge his best friend’s murder by doling out his own form of justice.
  4. Gran Torino (2009-Drama) – Clint Eastwood
    Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski’s prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino.
  5. Happy Tears (2009-Comedy) – Demi Moore, Parker Posey, Rip Torn & Ellen Barkin
    Two sisters, Jayne (Posey) and Laura (Moore), return home to deal with their ailing father Joe (Torn), only to face some surprising situations.
  6. The Bucket List (2008-Adventure/Comedy) – Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson
    Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.
  7. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2008-Comedy/Drama) – Joan Plowright
    All but abandoned by her family in a London retirement hotel, an elderly woman strikes up a curious friendship with a young writer.
  8. Gotta Dance (2008-Documentary/Adventure)
    Chronicles the first-ever, senior citizen hip-hop dance team for the New Jersey Nets Basketball team, 12 women and men – all dance team newbies, from auditions through to center court stardom.
  9. The Savages (2008-Comedy) – Laura Linney & Phillip Seymour Hoffman
    A sister and brother face the realities of a family responsibility as they begin to care for their ailing father.
  10. Young at Heart (2007-Documentary/Music)
    A documentary on a chorus of senior citizens from Massachusetts who cover songs by Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Sonic Youth, and other unexpected musicians.
  11. No Country for Old Men (2007-Crime/Drama) – Tommy Lee Jones & Javier Bardem
    Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande.
  12. Away from Her (2007-Drama) – Gordon Pinsent, Stacey LaBerge & Julie Christie
    A man coping with the institutionalization of his wife because of Alzheimer’s disease faces an epiphany when she transfers her affections to another man, Aubrey, a wheel chair-bound mute who also is a patient at the nursing home.
  13. Boynton Beach Club (2007-Comedy) – Brenda Vaccaro & Len Cariou
    A romantic comedy about our amazing capacity to rebound and fall in love at any age. Lois, Harry, Marilyn, Sandy and Jack live in an “Active Adult” community in Boynton Beach, Florida.
  14. Love in the Time of Cholera (2007-Drama) – Javier Bardem & Giovanna Mezzogiorno
    Florentino, rejected by the beautiful Fermina at a young age, devotes much of his adult life to carnal affairs as a desperate attempt to heal his broken heart.
  15. Little Miss Sunshine (2006-Adventure/Comedy) – Alan Arkin & Abigail Breslin
    A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus and illustrates the unique relationship between a girl and her grandfather.
  16. Million Dollar Baby (2005-Drama) – Clint Eastwood, Hillary Swank & Morgan Freeman
    A hardened trainer/manager works with a determined woman in her attempt to establish herself as a boxer.
  17. The Notebook (2004-Drama) – James Garner & Gena Rowlands, Ryan Gosling & Rachel McAdams
    A poor and passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman and gives her a sense of freedom. They soon are separated by their social differences.
  18. Calendar Girls (2003-Comedy/Drama) – Helen Mirren & Julie Walters
    A Women’s Institute chapter’s fundraising effort for a local hospital by posing nude for a calendar becomes a media sensation.
  19. Secondhand Lions (2003-Comedy/Drama) – Michael Caine & Robert Duvall
    A coming-of-age story about a shy, young boy sent by his irresponsible mother to spend the summer with his wealthy, eccentric uncles in Texas.
  20. Something’s Gotta Give (2003-Comedy) – Jack Nicholson & Diane Keaton
    A swinger on the cusp of being a senior citizen with a taste for young women falls in love with an accomplished woman closer to his age.
  21. About Schmidt (2002-Comedy) – Jack Nicholson & Kathy Bates
    Warren Schmidt is a man in his 60’s. While trying to run his daughter’s life, he realizes that he wasted his.
  22. Buena Vista Social Club (1999-Documentary)
    Aging Cuban musicians, whose talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro’s takeover of Cuba, are brought out of retirement by Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together, resulting in triumphant performances of extraordinary music, and resurrecting the musicians’ careers.
  23. The Straight Story (1999-Adventure) – Sissy Spacek & Richard Farnsworth
    An elderly man makes a long journey by tractor to mend his relationship with an ill brother.
  24. Waking Ned Devine (1998-Comedy) – Ian Bannen & David Kelly
    When a lottery winner dies of shock, his fellow townsfolk attempt to claim the money.
  25. Nobody’s Fool (1995-Drama) – Paul Newman & Jessica Tandy
    Sully is a rascally ne’er-do-well approaching retirement age. While he is pressing a worker’s compensation suit for a bad knee, he secretly works for his nemesis, Carl, and flirts with Carl’s young wife Toby.
  26. To Dance with the White Dog (1993-Drama) – Hume Cronyn & Jessica Tandy
    This is the touching story of an elderly widower trying to work through his grief. When Sam Peek’s beloved wife, Cora, dies, a white dog suddenly materializes as his new companion and confidant.
  27. Grumpy Old Men (1993-Comedy) – Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau & Ann-Margret
    A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street. Don’t forget about Grumpier Old Men as well!
  28. Driving Miss Daisy (1990-Comedy) – Morgan Freeman & Jessica Tandy
    An old Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur in the American South have a relationship that grows and improves over the years.
  29. Cocoon (1985-Adventure/Comedy) – Don Ameche & Wilford Brimley
    When a group of trespassing seniors swim in a pool containing alien cocoons, they find themselves energized with youthful vigor. Don’t forget about Cocoon: The Return as well!
  30. On Golden Pond (1982-Drama) – Katharine Hepburn & Henry Fonda
    The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage.

Regardless of the type of movie you might be in the mood for, you can search for various genres, themes, actors or that movie you can’t remember the name of on – The Internet Movie Database.

I hope you find yourself entertained!

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education

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