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Age Discrimination In Hollywood

Age Discrimination In Hollywood

Credit: Variety |Paramount

Credit: Variety |Paramount

The phrase “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better” is often said with smiling insincerity, a way of cheering up someone who’s blue. However, sometimes the phrase is absolutely correct and the films of 2016 offer plenty of great work from people over 50, some of whom are considerably older than that. And they’re getting better.

Isabelle Huppert, Viggo Mortensen and Hugh Grant, for example, have been expert actors for decades, but managed this year to top themselves (in Elle, Captain Fantastic and Florence Foster Jenkins, respectively). Of course the right script, director and film team are an important part of any performance, but the three actors manage to create characters who are totally original and unlike anything they’ve done before. 

In an ageist society — and an industry that puts a premium on anyone who’s shiny and new — it’s hard for actors to sustain a career, much less expand on one. When many stars find success, they hold onto characters and mannerisms that have been crowd pleasers and, as a result, they become stale or self-parodies.

So it’s especially impressive when an actor grows. Huppert, Mortensen and Grant may be the best examples of actors who went out on a limb, with impressive results. But the films of 2016 offer many more veterans doing terrific work, including Ralph Fiennes (Hail, Caesar and A Bigger Splash), Tom Hanks (Sully), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe), Hugo Weaving (Hacksaw Ridge), Sally Field (Hello, My Name Is Doris), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman (Eye in the Sky), Tracy Letts (Indignation) and Margo Martindale (The Hollars). Upcoming are Fences, with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and Silence, with Liam Neeson.

All of them are over 50, but out of respect for the Screen Actors Guild’s efforts to minimize age discrimination (including the so-called “IMDb law”), we’re not getting into specifics. read more at nextavenue.org