Annette Bening Talks "Aphrodisiac" of Acting at Movies for Grownups Awards

Annette Bening AARP Awards - Getty - H 2019
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The 'Report' actor received a career achievement award at the AARP ceremony, while 'The Irishman' and 'Marriage Story' also picked up honors.

With a body of work spanning decades and genres, Annette Bening kicked off 2020 with a career achievement award from the AARP. The actress, who last starred in Scott Z. Burns’ The Report, spoke about what brings actors and actresses back onto the screen at all ages upon receiving the honor at AARP's annual Movies for Grownups Awards

“The process of making a movie, it’s this shared opportunity. The writers and the directors and the producers and the designers and all of the crew, everybody becomes one family,” Bening said at the Beverly Wilshire-set ceremony on Saturday night. “That’s the aphrodisiac, that’s the elixir, that’s the thing that draws us back again and again. It’s this shared sense of purpose.”

A week before, Bening was up for the best actress in a movie at the Golden Globes for her work as Sen. Dianne Feinstein in Burns’ political drama.

Tony Danza served as emcee for the AARP ceremony, bringing his musical and dancing talents to center stage. Some of the night’s highlights included Danza’s opening musical number, where he repurposed the iconic tune of Nat King Cole’s “L.O.V.E.” for a new “AARP” number wherein he describe the plots of nominated films in rhyming lyrics. 

Along with Bening, the AARP Movies for Grownups ceremony feted The Irishman and Marriage Story, which both took home multiple awards. Martin Scorsese’s mob drama brought home the night’s best movie for grownups prize along with best director. Upon receiving the best director award, Scorsese reflected on the road that led to The Irishman.

“The only way [the film] could have happened, unbeknownst to us, was to age,” the director said. “This picture is the culmination of possibly the grace that we’ve had to live that long to make a summation of our lives. It was all about love and trust.”

Noah Baumbach’s Netflix drama also had a strong showing, adding a best screenwriter award to Baumbach’s collection and a best supporting actress prize to Laura Dern’s roster.

Upon receiving the screenwriter award from Alan Alda, Baumbach dedicated his win to the talent and executives involved in his film, but also to the divorced parents in his life. 

“This movie is about family in all of its forms, and so I want to thank all of our divorced parents. Adam’s divorced parents, Scarlett’s divorced parents, Laura’s divorced parents ... my divorced parents, our step-parents and all of our ex-husbands and ex-wives,” he said. “Apparently the only people who have figured this out are [Alan Alda's wife of 62 years] Arlene and Alan.”

Also receiving honors at the star-studded Beverly Hills event was Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, which took home the best intergenerational prize. 

Wang spoke to The Hollywood Reporter on how her film resonates with audience across multiple cultures, languages and generations. She said that she and the team behind the Awkwafina-led film weren’t sure how both Chinese and American audiences would react.

“We were like, ‘Is this really going to work?’ Or does it not matter because it’s truthful?’” she told THR. “To me, that’s the most important thing and that’s my entire life. It seems other people feel that way, too.” 

Big winners of the night also included Tom Hanks, Renée Zellweger, Adam Sandler, the ensemble of Knives Out, Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet and Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory.

Additional stars in attendance were Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Zhao Schuzhen, Tzi Ma, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rian Johnson, Don Johnson, Conan O’Brien, Diane Ladd and Billy Crudup.

The AARP Movies for Grownups ceremony will air on PBS' Great Performances Jan. 19. 

A previous version of this story misspelled the first name of Arlene Alda.