Bruce Dern, Alfonso Cuaron Honored at AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards

Vince Bucci/Invision for AARP Media/AP Images
From left: Susan Sarandon, Melissa McCarthy and Kathy Griffin

The organization's 13th annual gala celebrated movies for audiences 50 and over, blending the aspiring young Hollywood and legendary classics at Monday's affair.

The stars came out Monday evening at the 13th annual AARP Movies for Grownups awards, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

“Look how many stars there are,” exclaimed awards show host Kathy Griffin, as she gestured toward the crowded tables. “This threatens people. It’s like the Academy Awards.” Known for her rapid-fire humor, Griffin referenced the latest media mishap with KTLA anchor Sam Rubin, who mistook Laurence Fishburne for Samuel L. Jackson. “I just want to say Sam Rubin feels awful and foolish,” she said. “And I want to congratulate Lee Daniels on directing 12 Years A Slave!”

This year’s presenters included Catherine Keener, Naomi Watts, Steve Coogan, Lupita Nyong’o, Jim Rash, June Squibb, Diane Lane, David Heyman and Morgan Freeman. Presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon was actress Melissa McCarthy.

“There is nothing wrong with kids movies, I have two myself,” the Bridesmaids actress told The Hollywood Reporter after the ceremony. “But it’s more than okay to make movies for grownups. There is more money and so many subjects to touch upon. You don’t have to go to the lowest common denominator- and this is coming from someone silly.” The comedian stood with husband, actor-director Ben Falcone, who has been “living in the editing room,” preparing for Tammy, also starring Sarandon. “She makes everything seem effortless,” McCarthy said of Sarandon. “I’m lucky to get to know her and work with her. She’s amazing in the movie.”

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The voting process for the 16 categories took place in early December 2013 and was officially announced in January. Nebraska’s Bruce Dern, who won for best actor, received a standing ovation. Calling the event a "geezer's dinner," Dern went on to say, “I’m very grateful, and I’ll tell you why. When Nebraska found out that I won an AARP award, they thought that was the biggest award there is,” joked Dern in his speech. “Nebraska’s favorite son, [Alexander] Payne, gives something not many people have given this year and honors those folks. Nebraska has caught the eye of America.” Co-stars Will Forte and June Squibb later joined Dern on stage for Nebraska’s second win as best intergenerational film. “Aside from Jack Nicholson, Will Forte is the best partner I’ve ever had,” said Dern.

Philomena Lee, the real-life inspiration for Philomena, also received a standing ovation as she accepted best actress award on Judi Dench’s behalf, who was in India filming The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2. Evelyn Jackson, a great-descendant of 12 Years A Slave inspiration Solomon Northup, presented the best movie award with actress Lupita Nyong’o. Director Steve McQueen accepted the award, sharing with the room that “this was never an American movie or an African-American movie. It was a narrative” -- and also thanked Brad Pitt. "Without him, this could not have happened.”

Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron arrived halfway through the ceremony to accept best director before heading across the street to THR’s Nominees Night. “When I started with Gravity, I was not eligible to be a member of AARP,” the director joked. “Cinema is transcending generations and I’m grateful for all of you who saw the film. The adversity in the movie is constant in our life and it shapes who we are.”

Lee Daniels honored his mom during his speech when he accepted the Leaders Choice Award for The Butler. Nat Faxon took home the comedy award for The Way Way Back, and Before Midnight stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy snagged best screenwriting. Best documentary went to 20 Feet From Stardom and breakthrough accomplishment award went to Mary Steenburgen’s singing in Last Vegas. The Jon Turteltaub-directed movie was also awarded best buddy picture, while Enough Said won best grownup love story. 

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The evening wrapped up with a few words from honoree Sarandon. “It’s so fabulous when you can carve out the present -- when you’re doing something and manage to have a group of people in collaboration and when you all are pulling together, and I mean all the artists. I’m grateful and lucky to have officially achieved my lifetime.” Previous honorees have included Diane KeatonDustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.

This is the first year AARP’s awards gala linked up with the AARP Foundation to raise awareness on the issue of hunger among senior citizens in the U.S. Proceeds from the gala will benefit hunger solutions.

“It really is a meeting of old and young Hollywood. I actually wrote the script, so I was glad to hear her [Kathy Griffin] say that,” William Newcott of AARP Media joked to THR. “It’s not only an awards show, and I had to keep steering people back to it. Now they get it and they know what they are in for.”