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The Criticwire Survey: Recommended Movies For Audiences Over the Age of 60

The Criticwire Survey: Recommended Movies For Audiences Over the Age of 60

Every week, Criticwire asks film critics a question and brings you their responses in The Criticwire Survey. This week we’ve got a bonus survey for you, sponsored by Heineken. The question:

Q: What film would you recommend to a movie lover over the age of 60?

The critics’ answers:

Ethan AndertonFirst Showing:

“For any movie lovers over the age of 60, I would recommend George Lucas’ ‘American Graffiti.’ As the tagline for the coming-of-age story asked, ‘Where were you in ’62?’ And most movie lovers over the age of 60 were adolescents and teenagers at that time, partaking in the same rock music and car culture that Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams and Candy Clark deal with in one night at the end of their high school career. This is the kind of film many cinephiles wish Lucas would make again. It feels personal, passionate, and full of young heart that should make those who have long since retired feel like a teenager again. From the daunting task of embarking on your future as an adult to finding the one girl who took your breath away, this is a movie that has the ability to resonate with any generation. There’s a part of me that wishes people my age and those younger would live a bit more outside of the Internet to allow for a night on the town like the one that unfolds in ‘American Graffiti.'”

Edwin ArnaudinAshvegas:

“‘It Happened One Night‘ may be the most pleasant film ever made, but it’s also one of the best films period. For the movie lover over the age of 60, I’m not taking any risks with content or quality, and with Frank Capra’s masterpiece on the table, the choice is a slam dunk.”

Adam BattyHope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second:

“Considering a person of sixty years of age today would haven been 10 years old upon the release of ‘Breathless,’ and in their 20s when the New Hollywood was in full swing I’d hazard a guess that the taste of the average sexagenarian shares much the same taste as myself at 30 years old.”

Nicholas BellIONCINEMA:


William BibbianiCrave Online:

“Usually when I recommend a movie, I try to find out as much about the person I’m recommending it to as possible. Knowing only that this person is ‘over 60’ doesn’t necessarily narrow it down, since I know 60-year-olds who dig every kind of movie imaginable. But I guess if I take the prompt as an excuse to introduce my generation to a movie lover who perhaps doesn’t necessarily feel like they’re immediately a part of it, I’d go with Mamoru Hosoda’s forward-thinking and simultaneously nostalgic ‘Summer Wars,’ an animated pseudo-science fiction tale about a young computer programmer recruited by a platonic female friend to play her boyfriend at a large family gathering in the country, unaware that he’s inadvertently released a virus onto the internet that threatens to destroy modern civilization as we know it. Mamoru Hosoda does not fear the Internet generation: in ‘Summer Wars’ he draws hopeful parallels between social media and old-fashioned extended families, emphasizing the comical characters, the relationship melodrama and the suspenseful end of the world scenario unfolding around the protagonists in equal, heartfelt and entertaining measure. It’s the perfect antidote to ‘The Social Network”s cynicism about internet culture, and one of the best movies in many years.”

Danny BowesTor.com/Movies By Bowes:

“I’m going to cheat and use the last film I actually recommended to someone over 60: ‘Once Upon A Time In Anatolia.’ (Hi, Mom!) It’s got gorgeous long takes, deliberate pace, allegorical imagery, and rich subtext, all that good stuff grown folk like. Also, great mustaches.”

Fico CangianoCineXpress:

“Newer: ‘Red.’ Older: ‘Last Chance Harvey.'”

Daniel CarlsonPajiba:

“I’d have to go with ‘Sunset Boulevard.’ It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking movie, and one of the best ever made. Its connection to film history makes it required viewing for movie lovers of any age.”

Sean ChavelFlick Minute:

“‘Silver Lining Playbook‘ is one that might be understood more by our over-60 audience than by general young people today.”

Marc CiafardiniGoSeeTalk.com:

“Granted that people over 60 are likely to remember film and TV before the switch from black and white to color. I think it would be so amazing to be able to witness such a revolution in film seeing something like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for the very first time in a cinema. In that respect I’d recommend ‘Life of Pi‘ to that demographic audience. It’s likely to alter anyone’s perception of what film/cinema is, can, and should be.”

Matt CohenMeets Obsession/Cinespect:

“This is a question that I constantly have to answer as both my parents are movie lovers, but are turned off by big Hollywood blockbusters and don’t always ‘get’ a lot of the new indie and foreign releases. As such, the film that immediately comes to mind is Mike Mills’ ‘Beginners.’ It boasts the star power (Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor) to attract people, but manages to have the look and feel of a quintessential indie. Furthermore, Christopher Plummer’s character and story arc is sure to be one that older audiences could identify with, at least in the broadest of terms.”

Michael DaltonMovie Parliament:

“‘The Shawshank Redemption.’ A film that I would recommend to a movie lover of any age. Although they’d probably have to be at least twelve or older considering some of the scenes in that film.”

Tony DayoubCinema Viewfinder/Press Play:


Steve DollarWall Street Journal/GreenCine Daily:

“‘Amour’ (psych!). No, if by ‘over 60’ you really mean, ‘someone’s parent during a holiday visit,’ I’m still not sure that age really has anything to do with it. Although in my own experience, the best advice is ‘no mumblecore screeners.'”

Edward DouglasComing Soon:

“‘Hope Springs.'”

Jessica ElgenstiernaThe Velvet Café:

“I’m honestly very reluctant to recommend movies to people based on their age only. I don’t think age is what determines what type of movies you like. There are so many other things coming at play. My 68 year-old mother is a huge fan of horror movies. What has that got to do with her age? But I’ll toss out a recommendation of a movie I recently showed my own family that I think a lot of people can like, regardless of age: I recommend ‘Argo.’ The most suspenseful movie of the year, a well crafted and entertaning thriller as well as a thought provoking reminder about the historical background of what’s now going on in the Middle East.”

Kenji FujishimaThe House Next Door:

“I was originally going to suggest something like ‘Make Way for Tomorrow,’ ‘Ikiru’ or ‘Tokyo Story’ for a movie lover over the age of 60, but on the theory that perhaps these elderly film buffs might prefer something less obsessed with mortality, allow me to suggest a film about youths as seen through the gaze of a filmmaker much older than his characters: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s 2004 masterpiece ‘Cafe Lumiere.’ Even more so than in ‘Goodbye South, Goodbye’ and ‘Millennium Mambo,’ the great Taiwanese director — here working in Japan with young Japanese actors in a film that was made as a tribute to Yasujiro Ozu — sympathetically observes young adults simply living their lives, trying to make something of themselves, dealing with others both in the same age group and older. It’s full of both temporal profundity — Hou brilliantly evokes the rhythms of these lives — and nonjudgmental humanity. Who knows? Maybe cinephiles over the age of 60 will gain a better understanding of how a younger generation lives; maybe it’ll even remind me of their own younger days.”

Jason GorberTwitch/Filmfest.ca:

“I’d like to think that by the time I’m 60 I’d still be looking for new and interesting things to watch, and willing to take the time to seek out things outside the beaten path. As such, I still find that ‘The Act of Killing‘ is one of the more important films of the last year, one that may just excise some complacency, a symptom that I see settling in with myself despite only reaching two-thirds of that age.”

Melissa HansonCinemit:


Eric HavensDownright Creepy:

“In theaters I’d think ‘Skyfall‘ would be a safe bet. Enough new elements while taking time to respect and pay service to the nostalgia of Bond.”

Drew HuntChicago Reader/The Talking Pictures:

“‘The Godfather.'”

John Keefer51Deep.com:

“Assuming we’re suggesting a modern movie I would recommend ‘Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie‘ but only on the condition that I could watch them watch the movie and there was some sort of restraint in place to keep them watching.”

Gary KramerGay City News:

“A forthcoming film: ‘Cheerful Weather For the Wedding.’ A current release: ‘Cloud Atlas.'”

Peter LabuzaLabuzaMovies.com/The Cinephiliacs:

“I would recommend the same films I recommend anyone else. So how about ‘Vertigo‘ or ‘Days of Heaven‘ or ‘Sunset Boulevard?'”

Jonathan LackWe Got This Covered:

“Of films playing in theaters, I would say ‘Lincoln‘ is the best for movie lovers over 60, though I think they would also adore ‘Flight.'”

Andrew LapinThe Atlantic:

“I’m batting a thousand with my ‘Triplets of Belleville‘ recommendations. Everyone whom I’ve encouraged to watch the film has loved it. Since it’s a silent film, its artsy, quirky, foreign origins are unthreatening. And since its protagonist is a tough-as-nails senior citizen who cares deeply about her family, it would play well with the Medicare crowd.”

Will LeitchDeadspin:

“60 doesn’t strike me as even slightly old anymore, so I’d recommend the same movies I’d recommend to anyone my own age. That’s to say: The Bieber 3-D movie.”

Shawn LevyThe Oregonian:


Scott MacDonaldToronto Standard:

“Fred Schepisi’s adaptation of Graham Swift’s ‘Last Orders,’ which is about the waning days of Britain’s ‘Greatest Generation’ and is one of the best movies ever made about the lives and relationships of seniors. Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, and several others deliver great performances in it.”

Vince ManciniFilmdrunk:

“What was that one informercial about soft food called again? I kid, but seriously, this is kind of an offensive question. My dad’s 67 and he’d love ‘Killing Them Softly.'”

Calum MarshSlant Magazine:

“‘The Deep Blue Sea,’ by British filmmaker Terence Davies, has an an old-fashioned dramatic sensibility that I expect would resonate more acutely with viewers over 60. Its elegant, classical style and understated theatricality make it a thing lost in time, ideal for anyone who finds contemporary cinema hurried and dizzying.”

Mike McGranaghanThe Aisle Seat:

“I recently recommended ‘The Cabin in the Woods‘ to my 69 year-old father and he absolutely loved it. We tend to think of older film lovers as having more conservative tastes, but I rarely find that to be true. Having grown up with the horror images and motifs that the film pays homage to, he found it to be just as delightfully original as I did. I suspect other viewers over 60 may feel the same way.”

Jana J. MonjiThe Demanders/Pasadena Art Beat/Examiner.com:

“What a curious question, but I suppose as things move so quickly in this digital age that last year’s computer/smartphone is already nearly an antiquity in the minds of people raised on microwaves and instant messaging/texting, at 60 one is more of a curiosity than the average moviegoer. Consider, though, that the most prominent movie critic, Roger Ebert, is 70 and David Denby of The New Yorker is about 69 (Anthony Lane is only 50), and this age-related question becomes curiouser and curiouser. My recommendations to movie lovers above the age of 13 would be the same as to an over 60:  ‘Life of Pi,’ ‘Argo‘ and ‘Anna Karenina.’ My mother, who is well over 60, loves gadgets (or so she says but I have to wonder if she wishes she had been a Bond girl or M) and likes to see James Bond, so I’d add ‘Skyfall.'”

Farran Smith NehmeSelf-Styled Siren:

“I’m a bit alarmed by this question. Is 60 the magic number, the point at which we have to weed out anything that wouldn’t go over big at the Sunnyvale Rest Home for Once-Hip Young Gunslingers? I hope that when I turn 60, an abrupt alteration in my taste doesn’t cause me, say, to spend my time searching out the films of June Allyson, a stranger to all who knew me. But I will say that if I haven’t seen ‘Argo‘ by the time my mother arrives later this month, I think she’d be ideal company.”

Scott NyeRail of Tomorrow:

“The obvious answer is sometimes the best — ‘Lincoln‘ is the rare film I would recommend to nearly anybody, but especially those who would be more receptive to sentiment.”

Katey RichCinema Blend:

“Maybe just because it’s on the brain, but ‘Anna Karenina‘ seems like a good pick. It’s a story that’s probably familiar, but told in an exciting new way that proves that cinema is still growing and changing — something older movie lovers might not believe if they think they’ve seen it all.”

David RoarkPaste/Christianity Today:

“‘Scott Pilgrim Versus the World.'”

Andrew RobinsongmanReviews:

“I’d throw ‘Ruby Sparks‘ their way. I feel the way in which it discusses its topic at hand as well as deconstructs the art of writing is very interesting. Also I imagine it’s a film that didn’t get enough eyeballs when released earlier this year, so hopefully it’s something new to them.”

Matt RorabeckMovie Knight:

“I would highly recommend any movie lover over the age of 60 to check out Sam Mendes’ ‘Skyfall.’ It’s the 50th anniversary of James Bond, meaning anyone over the age of 60 would have been the perfect age to be introduced to the titular hero back in 1962. This new film has just the right balance of classic and modern with great nods to the franchise’s past. It has high drama mixed with great set pieces that should keep anyone of any age entertained. I guarantee when the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 appears, anyone over the age of 60 will be in nostalgic bliss. They shouldn’t be disappointed with this 23rd Bond.”

Jason ShawhanNashville Scene/Interface 2037:

“The safe bets, as far as what’s currently in theaters, are ‘Lincoln‘ and ‘Argo.'”

Michael SicinskiCinema Scope:


Craig SkinnerBleeding Cool/Hey U Guys:

“I got asked this sort of question all the time when I worked in a video shop many years ago (with variations in age or references to the recipients gender included too) and my thoughts were always the same: it really depends on the person. Film tastes are such a personal thing that to suggest that any given 60 year-old would probably like a particular film, like all other 60 year-olds, seems ludicrous and pretty insulting. I always answered the same way: ‘A good one’ (although I tended to try and make an effort to not to make it sound too snarky or dismissive).”

Josh SpiegelMousterpiece Cinema/Sound on Sight:

“‘Killing Them Softly.’ It’s a surprisingly effective if imperfect crime drama when writer/director Andrew Dominik isn’t busy hitting the audience over the head with his political preaching.”

R. Emmet SweeneyMovie Morlocks:

“‘Rio Bravo.'”

Luke Y. ThompsonNerdist:

“‘Argo‘ seems like a safe choice for adults of any age, though if they’re not allergic to musicals, ‘Les Miz’ will do the trick.”

Anne-Katrin TitzeEye For Film:

“Javier Rebollo’s wondrous ‘The Dead Man and Being Happy‘ begins in a popular crowded square in Buenos Aires. The doubling of images and narration is unsettling, a bit like, as Freud described in a footnote to ‘The Uncanny,’ there is nothing more disturbing than meeting yourself. In this case, Rebollo’s film confronts your eyes with your ears. Once we get used to what we see, the narration changes as well, and before we know it, we are on a journey with Santos (José Sacristán), 75, a hired killer, who possibly never killed anyone. Perhaps we are following a ghost or an angel, whose job it is to archive places that are about to disappear and might otherwise be lost.”

Max WeissBaltimore Magazine:

“To buy: I always like to recommend smart indie gems of years past: ‘The Daytrippers,’ ‘Ghost World,’ ‘You Can Count on Me,’ ‘The Station Agent.'”

Andrew WelchAdventures in Cinema:

“From this year I’d pick ‘Bernie.’ For an older title I’d go with ‘Cinema Paradiso.'”

Mark YoungSound on Sight/New York Movie Klub:

“The film I would most recommend to people over 60 is not what you might expect: ‘Twilight.’ Okay, I’m not actually referring to the sparkly-vampire sexy-chastity extravaganza. I’m talking about the 1998 film from director Robert Benton which reunited him with his ‘Nobody’s Fool’ star Paul Newman and an all-star cast including Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, and Reese Witherspoon (in one of her first film roles). It takes a fairly standard private-eye story and turns it into a meditation on aging which is by turns melancholy in the face of death and defiant toward the young whippersnappers who think they run the world.”

Alan ZilbermanBrightest Young Things/Tiny Mix Tapes:

“I would recommend ‘Argo‘ to film lovers over the age of sixty. It’s reminiscent of thrillers from the 1970s, and entertaining in a ruthlessly smart way.”

For the next 10 weeks, Indiewire will be taking a closer look at how the over-60 audience is served by the movies made for them as well as profiling the actors and filmmakers who are their peers. It’s part of a partnership with Heineken, which is sponsoring the Heineken 60+ Challenge that reaches out to the creative community to film, photograph or write their observations on the lifestyles and preferences of the 60+ age group. The goal is to help Heineken create innovative products to suit this golden generation.

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