Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and More Honored at AARP Awards

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Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman

"I knew in my heart at 60 — I'm 62 now — that I wanted to serve others," said Washington, accepting the award for best actor. "It's always been my desire to see others do well."

AARP on Monday night hosted its 16th Annual Movies for Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire.

The event, celebrating 2016 films with a grownup state of mind, honored such movies as La La Land (best comedy/musical), 20th Century Women (best intergenerational film), Loving (best movie for grownups), Jackie (best time capsule), Kubo and the Two Strings (best movie for grownups who refuse to grow up), Elle (best foreign film) and The Hollars (best grownup love story). 

Actress Margo Martindale hosted, revealing beforehand that she was nervous to emcee the event. “I have never hosted before,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “Acting is not hosting. Not all actors are good hosts, and I might be one of them.”

With actors presenting their co-stars and friends with the AARP awards, the night seemed to be a reunion for many of those in attendance. Tom Everett Scott presented his La La Land director Damien Chazelle with the best comedy/musical prize. “He casted me in the movie. It's the least I could do for him,” the actor told THR. “It was such an honor to be a part of that movie, and I was totally flattered to be a part of it.”

A large portion of the night was dedicated to Morgan Freeman, who was honored with AARP's Career Achievement Award. 

“I’ve been fanning about Morgan Freeman for the last 20 minutes walking down this thing. So if I had nothing else but that tonight, even more than my performance, then I’d be happy,” singer Brian McKnight, who performed “Start a Fire” from the La La Land soundtrack, told THR. 

Helen Mirren presented Freeman with the award, giving him a kiss when he approached the stage. “I want the world to know that I’m in love with Helen Mirren,” he said. “I’ve been for some years now.”

During Freeman's speech, the actor continued to stay positive as he referenced politics: “These are troubling times, but I am confident we can get through whatever the next few years will bring, because as grownups we know this — this, too, shall pass.” He received a standing ovation. 

The evening's biggest surprise was Justin Timberlake, who presented the award for best documentary to the filmmakers behind The Beatles: Eight Days a Week. Brian Grazer and Nigel Sinclair (the project's producers) accepted the honor, which was followed by a short medley of Beatles songs by Kenny Loggins.

Annette Bening accepted the best actress award for her role in 20th Century Women. During her speech, Bening explained that she and co-star Lucas Jade Zumann “became very close, very quickly.” On the red carpet, Zummann reciprocated the kind words. “She [Annette] was like a second mother to me. She taught me so much and led me through the process,” he said. “I am so grateful that I had her.”

For the final award of the night, Fences' Stephen McKinley Henderson presented Denzel Washington with the best actor award for his starring role in the adaptation of the August Wilson play. Washington ran on stage in an open-collared shirt with no tie and apologized for his attire, explaining he had a busy day. “I went to the gym, then I went to the Oscar luncheon, then I went to Paramount and cut a deleted scene for Fences, and now I am here,” he explained.

Other winners included Jeff Bridges (best supporting actor for Hell or High Water), Kenneth Lonergan (best director and best screenwriter for Manchester by the Sea), Viola Davis (best supporting actress for Fences) and Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who received a standing ovation while accepting the readers’ choice award on behalf of Sully

Event proceeds benefited the AARP Foundation, which helps struggling people over the age of 50 transform their lives through programs and legal assistance.

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