We’ve all been there. Reality TV’stars’ are as predictable as taxes and the sleazy acts they engage in. As long as a scientist discovers the secret to perpetual youth and we all become pawns in some freak show future shock where the immortal population is controlled via “Carrousel,” a voluntary suicide clinic, or some terrible Hunger Games, we are all doomed to death at some point in the future. As we get older, we begin to understand the mysteries of life in a whole new way. You don’t think so, do you? Take a look in the mirror and see where you are now. The further in time you can go in your memory retrieval, the better… See how much has changed in five years, a decade, two or more (or, in your own case, 40-plus). How similar are your musical tastes? Does your political ideology align with ours? You’re with someone you love, or your capacity to feel that emotion has been diminished. What we fail to learn from the passage of time foretells our inability to deal with what lies ahead.
As a result, age and aging are rarely explored in films. The last thing that we want to witness is Grandpa and Grandma in pain or implying that their autumn years are anything but carefree. For us, cocky, over-sexed old folks engaging with benevolent aliens are par for the course. Instead of breaking hips, they should be joking around and swearing like sailors, rather than settling in for the inevitable…well, you get the picture. But when someone is willing to take up the subject, the outcomes can be very astounding. As a result, here are our picks for the top ten best films on aging or the elderly. Although the selection is somewhat limited, these examples provide a truly universal portrayal of maturation’s struggles and tribulations when contrasted to their real-life equivalents. Some of them are downright hilarious. Some are difficult to watch. Most emphasize the importance of dealing with the past within the context of the present rather than as a stand-alone topic. It’s a lesson that’s learned over time.
10. Harold and Maude
It’s hard to forget Bud Cort as a mad, bewildered teenager with a death wish in this daring comedy about an odd May-December affair. It is Ruth Gordon, who recently won an Oscar for her role in Rosemary’s Baby, who takes the film in a new direction. The then 75-year-old woman, as the aging object of her young paramour’s “desires,” contends that getting older is nothing more than a process of growth. Even though she’s a free spirit and helps Harold see the world in a new light, the traumas she’s lived through (like that tattoo on her arm) indicate a total of all her years, not a loss of them.
9. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Friends, family, connections, and memories are just some of the things we worry about as we become older. As a result, consider what it would be like if the same incident happened to you, but in the opposite order. Reverting to an immature, dependent state as your loved ones die off would be difficult for you. Brad Pitt stars as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s hero, a man who has the ability to turn back time, in this captivating David Fincher picture. While all around him are aging, he returns to a location of greater need…and no one to care for him.
8. Harry and Tonto
For his performance in this film, Art Carney was awarded an Oscar, and it’s easy to understand why. A widower who must move out of his New York apartment because the building has been demolished is played by him. From scandal and sex to depression and dementia, this takes him on an episodic cross-country adventure that actually represents all facets of existence. Albert Finney, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, and Jack Nicholson were all in the running for that year’s Best Actor Oscar, but Carney’s portrayal of the twilight of one’s life was greater than any of them.
7. Tokyo Story
More than just one person can mature at a time. A society’s older inhabitants can also “outgrow” it on occasion. For example, consider Japan. After World War II, rural populations were given the opportunity to leave their homes and move to the city thanks to technological advancements. Those who were left behind become entangled in antiquated customs and a sense of isolation. As the title suggests, this is the story of an elderly couple who travel to the titular metropolis to see their uncaring children in Yasujiro Ozu’s masterpiece (generally recognized as one of the finest films of all time). When it comes to showing them the respect and gratitude they deserve, only their widowed daughter-in-law does so.
6. Tatie Danielle
Ask any elderly person, and they’ll tell you that aging is a terrible experience. In this largely forgotten 1990 French black comedy, you may now see a literal portrayal of the same subject matter. The main character is a cruel, merciless, and irascible childless widow. She moves in with the household of her “favorite” grand-nephew after dividing her estate. Our insane aunt meets her match…sort of…when they go on vacation and leave her with an equally furious young girl named Sandrine. Not to mention the “accidental” death of the previous housekeeper and the inadvertent trip to the woods. It’s true that the elderly can be mild-mannered and approachable on occasion. Psychopathic individuals have been known to exist among them.
5. Strangers in Good Company
Another neglected film that takes a novel approach to “docufiction.” Eight senior citizens travel across rural Canada via bus. At times, they spend time in a secluded cabin, reminiscing about their past lives. The ‘actresses,’ all of whom were real-life seniors, were given a rudimentary plot. They improvised from there, recalling recollections from their own lives. When it comes to women’s bravery and perseverance, this book is a wonderful record. With a sense of sincerity and relative obscurity, this is a little masterpiece that should be rediscoveried.
4. The Straight Story
This is a David Lynch film, whether you believe it or not. In addition, it was given a ‘G’ rating. The best part of this wonderful film is still to come. Richard Farnsworth, who was crippled and unable to walk due to bone cancer, remained a soldier throughout the shoot, surprising everyone, including the director, with his tenacious dedication. He would later take his own life the following year, but Lynch would have enough of material for his portrayal of an elderly vet riding a riding lawnmower to see his dying estranged brother (Harry Dean Stanton). Instead of turning the story into one of his trademarked fever visions, he produced a gentle, uncomplicated masterpiece.
Do you know what you would do if your soul mate, the person you’ve loved and shared the most with for the majority of your life, suddenly changed. I was a little lost and needy at first…and then…BANG! utterly reliant on others and wishing to perish. What steps would you take in this situation? What kind of reaction do you expect? The solution for controversial filmmaker Michael Haenke (Funny Games, The White Ribbon) was this remarkable cinematic statement that won the Palm d’Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in February. To be honest, the movie deserved a lot more praise. No one has done a better job of capturing the anguish and tragedy of losing someone you love (“amour”)…
2. Away from Her
Sarah Polley (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Dawn of the Dead adaptation) makes her feature film directorial debut with this tale of an aged couple forced to confront the dreadful realization that one of them has forgotten the other. Grant (Gordon Pinsent) and Fiona (a great… BRILLIANT Julie Christie) have been together for what feels like an eternity. As her Alzheimer’s progresses, she is moved into a nursing facility. She eventually forgets about her adoring husband and falls in love with another local. It’s a heartbreaking conclusion.
1. The Up Series
Currently, they are 56 years old. Many people assume them to be in their late thirties or early forties. As a result, we’ve been able to see the remarkable development of these men and women over the course of their lives. As this amazing documentary series demonstrates, sometimes what we are as children will be what we are as adults, given the period it was created and the eras it captures, it is the finest ever. One can’t help but marvel at how far these characters have progressed. This is the film to see if you want to know what it’s like to get older. Period.