ELDER MUSIC: Christmas 2015
Ghost Stores for Christmas Eve Eve

A Good Year for Elder Actors

Not infrequently, I grumble out loud around here about how few roles, especially major roles, there are in film for elder actors. Our generation doesn't get much representation on what in our youth was called the silver screen.

But not so in 2015. As the year-end round-ups of the arts are being published, it is gratifying to see how many of our contemporaries have been not only getting work but in some cases being nominated for awards.

This is a list of some of the biggest names and the movies they have starred in this year. It is in no way meant to be comprehensive, and I arbitrarily chose 65 to be the low-end age cutoff. Maybe you have seen some of these. (A few random trailers included)

Starring Charlotte Rampling (age 69) and Tom Courtenay (78) as a married couple whose 45th wedding anniversary is complicated when the body of Courtenay's first love is discovered.

Rampling has already won best actress at the European Film Awards and both stars won for best performance at the Berlin Film Festival.

Sylvester Stallone (69) stars in his seventh outing as Rocky Balboa, this time as trainer to the son of his old rival, Apollo Creed. Stallone has received a Golden Globe nomination as best supporting actor.

Al Pacino (75) as a washed-up 1970's rock star whose life is changed when he finds a letter sent to him decades earlier by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Pacino is nominated for best performance in a musical or comedy Golden Globe. The ceremony takes place on 10 January 2016.

Lily Tomlin (76) stars as a lesbian poet, Elle, who embarks on a road trip with her 18-year-old granddaughter seeking an abortion. Sam Elliott (71) plays Elle's former boyfriend.

Among an all-star cast, Samuel L. Jackson (66) plays a bounty hunter in Civil War era Wyoming in this western directed by Quentin Tarantino.

After her dog dies, long-time widow Blythe Danner (72) discovers that life goes on as she reconnects with her daughter and pursues a romance with Bill played by Sam Elliott (72).

When life gets too boring for retired executive Ben Whitaker played by Robert DeNiro (72), he joins an internship program for seniors where he becomes a father figure to younger employees while developing a romance with the company's massage therapist.

This is the true story of Mary Shepherd, played by Maggie Smith (80) who, for 14 years, lived in a broken-down van she parked in the London driveway of playwright Alan Bennett (who wrote this screenplay).

Smith had already played Shepherd in the stage play (also by Bennett) and in the BBC Radio 4 production. She has been nominated for a Golden Globe award for best performance in a musical or comedy.

Ian McKellen (76) plays an ageing Sherlock Holmes who, as his mind deteriorates, struggles to recall his last case. This story was adapted from Mitch Cullen's novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I'm pretty sure I don't need to tell you about this seventh outing of the Star Wars saga that opened this past weekend. Harrison Ford (73) reprises his role as Han Solo.

Helen Mirren (70) plays an ageing Jewish woman, Maria Altmann who, having fled Vienna decades earlier, attempts to reclaim family possessions that were seized by the Nazis. Mirren also starred in the biography film, Trumbo, this year as the gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.

This film features Michael Caine (82) as a retired orchestra conductor vacationing in the Swiss Alps with his best friend, played by Harvey Keitel (76) along with Jane Fonda (77) as they contemplate the struggle of age and youth, life and death and much that goes with those eternal questions.

It has already won Best Picture at The European Film Awards where Caine won for Best Actor and Paolo Sorrentino (not an elder) won Best Director. Jane Fonda has been nominated for a best actress Golden Globe award for the film.

This is an extra, the television series that ran on Netflix this year starring Jane Fonda (77) and Lily Tomlin (76) as two sort-of friends whose lives are turned upside down when their law partner husbands announce they are in love with each other and intend to divorce their wives.

The husbands are played by Sam Waterston (75) and Martin Sheen (75).

Tomlin won an Emmy for best actress and is nominated in that category for Satellite and Golden Globe awards. Production for season two has wrapped; it will be broadcast in 2016 and Netflix has already announced there will be a season three.

Are there any of these you particularly liked or are looking forward to?


What a loss if all of these great performers had decided to retire at 65.

This is a bonanza! I'd heard of some of them, maybe four or five, but how wonderful to have this list to choose from. Have not seen any so far, but it's lookin' good. Thanks, Ronni, for this info.

Ronni, thank you. I want to see them all, and will be scouring for CDs, since I can't venture into the movie houses anymore.

I am especially hoping to find the Grace and Frankie 1st season set. Anything Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren are in is gold. Sam Elliott
is sooo watchable and easy to listen to and Blythe Danner is a favorite of mine.

You've given those of us who didn't have this list a Christmas gift.

We watched Michael Caine interview on 60 Minutes last night and were delighted to know that age is being celebrated in such a way. Gives me hope for my future.

I have just seen Mr. Holmes with Ian McKellen. It was amazing. Looking forward to seeing the rest.
Thank you for the additional information.

Wonderful list! Thank you. And amen to Bruce!

My movie and lunch club from the senior hall had an easy time finding movies we could relate to this year. It's the Baby Boomer effect that has driven marketplace since they were born.

Dame Maggie as the lady in the van. Can't wait for that one.

Of the ones I've seen, I was particularly impressed by "Mr. Holmes." Ian McKellen plays Holmes at two ages--as a 50 or 60-something in flashbacks and as a 90 plus elder in the present. He is magnificent at conveying the advanced age in a non-stereotypical way. I've always admired him as an actor, and this role is a triumph.

I've also seen "Grandma," which wasn't as funny as you'd think a Lily Tomlin movie will be, but very interesting; "The Intern," which was a sweet movie with DeNiro playing a very sweet man; and "Woman in Gold," which I liked but which isn't Mirren's best work.

I would watch Maggie Smith read the phone book, so I'm looking forward to "Lady in the Van," which hasn't opened in Seattle yet.

I'm so glad to learn that Grace and Frankie will be back on Netflix. Will we find all of the movies listed on Geezer Flicks?

I saw "Woman in Gold" which was really good, and the first episode of "Grace & Frankie" which I thought was forced and not funny at all. Well, we all can't agree on everything. Anyway, thanks for the list -- now I know what to look for on netflix and elsewhere.

I enjoyed the Grace and Frankie television series, but I want to see all of these films with some of my favorite actors. Each one looks or sounds marvelous!

Pithy comment, Bruce. And one that exactly captures the significance of these films: age cannot limit talent---or anything else if we don't let it.

Second thoughts and movie reviews based almost solely on two minute previews since I've only seen one of the films: In "The Hateful Eight," even though the damsel in danger (of being hanged) appears to be younger, Samuel Jackson is so charming that any lapses can be forgiven. My first thought about ""Creed" was pul-lease, not another "Rocky" but, based on the preview alone it seems to be the best of the lot. At least the young woman was matched with the young man.

If Maggie Smith is in it, it has to be good. But why oh why, in "The Lady in the Van" as in ALL films about "feisty" old people do they have be seen "having fun" at carnivals or riding wheelchairs downhill at (literally) break-neck speeds? In "Youth," the age part all seemed to be about men, with tons of nubile YOUNG women in bikinis to ensure we didn't miss the eye candy. Yes, the aged Jane Fonda was there, but made up and reconstructed almost beyond recognition.

As for "Grace and Frankie" I want Lily Tomlin's plastic surgeon! Never before celebrated for her beauty, Lily looks gorgeous. Of course she still can't compare with the magnificent facial reconstruction that is Jane Fonda, but Jane had more for the surgeons and makeup artists to work with.

Thank you for this article. As a mature actor myself (60) I found it very inspiring. I just landed my first series and I play the younger, second wife of the amazing Stacy Keach (75)!!! Look for our show on NBC called CROWDED set to premiere in Feb. 2016.

Now your readers can add this show to the list.

I really liked Grace & Frankie, even though I found it a bit contrived. Would enjoy to see Season 2.

Cannot find "45 years" anywhere and hope that the big companies sell the DVD soon. I love anythig Charlotte Rampling is in, and Tom Courtenay has had so many interesting roles in later life.

My all time "can't wait for it" movie will be "Youth" with Michael Caine which has something to say about men driven by their art at the expense of everything else. I live with one bordering on that and have to remind him from time to time that other things/people exist.

You are right it is hard to find anything for us Seniors to watch. Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren was excellent. My wife liked "Grace and". Now I have some to check out.

I can't wait to watch the Creed movie!

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