Hollywood has always struggled with portraying the aging process on the silver screen. Most efforts fall flat or lean on cliche to get their story told….but some are true winners.

We thought we would take the time to put together OUR definitive list of those movies that hit the mark and were able to tell a compelling story and, in the subtext, fulfill the promise of respecting the aging process.

15. Grumpy Old Men

(Dir. Donald Petrie – 1993 / Starring: Walter Mathau, Jack Lemon)

A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street.

14. Unforgiven

(Dir. Clint Eastwood – 1992 / Starring: Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman)

Clint Eastwood makes the list again for directing and starring inUnforgiven. In this Western drama, Eastwood plays a reformed killer who comes back for one last job, hunting down two cowboys who disfigured a prostitute.

13. Up

(Dir. Pete Doctor & Bob Peterson – Pixar 2009 / Starring: Ed Asner)

(Dir. Pete Doctor & Bob Peterson – Pixar 2009 / Starring: Ed Asner)

Carl Fredricksen takes a trip to South America and back while gaining three new friends, Wilderness Explorer scout Russell, a talking dog named Dug, and an exotic bird named Kevin.

12. No Country for Old Men

(Dir. Coen Bros. – 2007 / Starring: Tommy Lee Jones)

Tommy Lee Jones headlined the Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning film, and he was praised for his performance as the world-weary Texas sheriff Ed Tom Bell, a man fighting a losing battle against escalating violence in his corner of the world.

11. Quartet

(Dir. Dustin Hoffman – 2012 / Starring: Maggie Smith)

At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.

10. I’m Not Rappaport

(Dir. Herb Gardner – 2009 / Starring: Walter Mathau, Ossie Davis)

Old Nat Moyer is a talker, a philosopher, and a troublemaker with a fanciful imagination. His companion is Midge Carter, who is half-blind, but still the super of an apartment house. When he is threatened with retirement, Nat battles on his behalf. Nat also takes on his daughter, a drug dealer, and a mugger in this appealing version of a really ‘odd couple’.

9. The Straight Story

(Dir. David Lynch – 1999 / Starring: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek)
Richard Farnsworth in his final film role played Alvin, a World War II veteran who travels by John Deere 110 Lawn Tractor from Laurens, Iowa to Mount Zion, Wisconsin to see his estranged brother, played by Harry Dean Stanton. Farnsworth was nominated for numerous awards including the Academy Award for Best Actor.

8. The Notebook

(Dir. Nick Cassavetes – 2004 / Starring: Ryan Gossling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands)
The film stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as a young couple who fall in love in the 1940s. Their story is narrated from the present day by an elderly man (portrayed by James Garner) telling the tale to a fellow nursing home resident (played by Gena Rowlands, who is Cassavetes’ mother).

7. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

(Dir. John Madden – 2011 / Starring: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Penelope Wilton)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel boasts a large ensemble cast of older actors and actresses, including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Penelope Wilton.

6. Nebraska

(Dir. Alexander Payne – 2013 / Starring: Bruce Dern)
An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.

5. Cocoon

(Dir. Ron Howard – 1985 / Starring: Wilford Brimley, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, and Don Ameche)
Cocoon has a whole ensemble cast of older actors including Wilford Brimley, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, and Don Ameche, all of whom get to recapture some of their youth thanks to some benevolent aliens.

4. Amour

(Dir. Michael Haneke – 2012 / Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant)
This tragic drama about a husband struggling with the physical deterioration of his beloved wife received rave reviews and award nominations, but watching the film is considered so emotionally draining that a person only needs to see it once.

3. Driving Miss Daisy

(Dir. Bruce Beresford – 1989 / Starring: Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman)

This story of an unlikely friendship between an elderly Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur was a huge success, winning four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress for Jessica Tandy.

2. Sunset Boulevard

(Dir. Billy Wilder – 1950 / Starring: Gloria Swanson)
Technically, struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis is the protagonist of Sunset Boulevard, but aging silent actress Norma Desmond is the real star of the movie. Gloria Swanson’s performance is unforgettable and has one of cinema’s most memorable lines, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

1. On Golden Pond

(Dir. Mark Rydell – 1981 / Starring: Henry Fonda, Ketherine Hepburn)
Based on the 1979 stage play, On Golden Pond is the story of an elderly couple and their final trip to their cottage on Golden Pond. The film was also the final film for star Henry Fonda, who won the Oscar for Best Actor for the role.

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