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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Waking Ned Devine (1998-Comedy) – Ian Bannen & David Kelly
When a lottery winner dies of shock, his fellow townsfolk attempt to claim the money.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 www.Imdb.com – The Internet Movie Database.
I hope you find yourself entertained!
Research & Community Education
Chicago Senior Living
Assisted Living in Chicago