Movies Featuring Older Leading Female Actors

Posted on 26 Sep 00:00


1)  Driving Miss Daisy (1989) - Jessica Tandy (June 7, 1909, to September 11, 1994)

This is an American comedy-drama cast in 1989. The story is from  Miss Daisy's point of view, through a network of relationship and emotions that are focusing on her home life, friends, family, and her fears.


 Daisy Werthan or Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy) is 72 years old. A Jewish, widowed, and retired school teacher. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with a black housekeeper, Idella (Esther Rolle)

Miss Daisy accidentally drives her card into her neighbor’s yard. Her 40-year-old son Boolie (Dan Aykroyd) buys her a 1949 Hudson Commodore. He hires a black chauffeur, Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman) for her. However, she is reluctant to have someone drive her at first, but late, out of necessity, agrees to the arrangement.

As Miss Daisy and Hoke spend time together, she begins to appreciate his many skills. Idella dies, Miss Daisy decides to care for her own house while Hoke does the cooking and driving instead of hiring a new housekeeper.

Hoke is affected by racism which is what the movie focuses on. Miss Daisy is also a victim of prejudice. Meanwhile, American society is undergoing radical changes. Miss Daisy attends a dinner where Dr. Martin Luther King is giving a speech. She invites Boolie who declines and asks her to invite Hoke. However, she invites Hoke to be her guest during the car ride and ends up attending dinner alone as Hoke listens to the speech on the car radio outside.

One morning Hoke arrives in the house to find Miss Daisy agitated and showing signs of dementia. She believes she is a young teacher again. Hoke calms her down. She calls him her “best friend” Boolie arranges for Miss Daisy to enter a retirement home. Hoke retires at the age of 85. Boolie now at 65 drives Hoke to the retirement home to visit Miss Daisy who is now 97.

Director: Bruce Beresford

Awards and Nominations:

The movie received nine nominations and won four awards for Best Picture, Best Actress (for Tandy), Best Makeup, and Best Adapted Screenplay.


2)  The Queen (2006) - Helen Mirren (July 26, 1945, to Present)

This is a British Biographical drama. It revolves around the death of Princess Diana of Wales on 31 August 1997.


Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) is elected as the prime minister from the Labor Party in 1997. His manifesto is to reform and modernization. In less than 4 months Princess Diana is killed in a car crash at the Alma Bridge tunnel in Paris.

Problems present themselves between her ex-husband, Prince Charles (Alex Jennings) and Blair to honor the mother of a future king who is no longer a member of the loyal family. Blair attempts to have Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) reconsider her views on funeral plans. Diana`s` family, the Spencers, want the funeral to be private.

Diana is to many the “People`s princess” and the public begins an outpouring of grief with a display of floral tributes. Nevertheless, the royal family does not acknowledge Diana`s significance to society and remain on holiday at Balmoral.

Blair attempts to guide the royal family through the controversy but is met with resistance. The royal family refuses to change their attitude, but the Queen later realizes that the world has changed during her reign. Blair comes to realize that Diana had rejected everything that the queen still holds dear.

The queen decides to end the discussion about the issue. The royal family arrives in London to view the floral tributes to Diana. The Queen pays her tribute on live public television. In addition, they attend the public funeral at Westminster Abbey.

Later, Blair meets with the Queen and they exchange views including the controversy surrounding Diana`s death. Nonetheless, Queen cautions Blair that just as public opinion has changed about how the royal family should react, he might also find himself in the same situation of changing public opinion.

Director: Stephen Frears

Awards and Nominations:

Mirren won several Awards for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. In addition, she was nominated for at least three more. The movie won Best Actress and Actress in the leading role for Helen Mirren, Best Film, and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for Mirren, Best Screenplay and several nominations


3)  Sunset Boulevard (1950) - Gloria Swanson (March 27, 1899, to April 4, 1983)


Joe Gillis (William Holden) body floats in the swimming pool. Joe relates the events leading to his death in a flashbacks.

Six months earlier, Joe tries to sell Paramount Pictures a movie script. Script reader Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson) critiques it unaware that Joe is listening. Repo men are looking to repossess Joe`s car, he drives into a deserted mansion. He hears a woman call him from inside, as she mistakes him for someone else. The woman, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), Max (Erich von Stroheim), the butler usher Joe inside. Joe recognizes her as the long-forgotten silent film star Norma Desmond. Norma asks Joe his opinion of a script she has written for a film about Salome, a role she plans to play. Joe finds the script abysmal, but flatters her into hiring him as a script doctor.

Joe moves into Norma`s mansion. Norma refuses to accept that her fame is evaporating and she learns that the fan letters she is receiving are secretly written by Max. Max explains that Norma is emotionally fragile and has attempted suicide. Norma lavishes attention on Joe and buys him expensive clothes. Later, he realizes that she has fallen in love with him. They have a confrontation. Joe visits his friend Artie Green (Jack Webb) to ask if he can stay at his place. At Artie`s, he meets Betty (Nancy Olson), Artie`s girl. Joe Phones Max to have him pack his things, Max tells him the Norma cut her wrist with a razor. Joe returns to Norma.

Norma has Max deliver the edited Salome script to a former director at Paramount, Cecil B. DeMille. She gets calls from Paramount, but only wants to speak to DeMille. She is received back at Paramount. Later, Max learns that Cole only wants to rent her unusual car for a film.

Due to Norma`s comeback, she undergoes rigorous beauty treatments. Joe works at Betty`s Paramount office, secretly, while collaborating on a screenplay. Max finds out and reveals who he is. Betty falls in love with Joe although she is engaged to Artie. Norma later discovers a manuscript with Joe`s and Betty’s name on it, she phones Betty and insinuates what sort of a man Joe is. Joe overhears and invites Betty over. Betty tearfully leaves Joe. Joe packs to return to his old Ohio newspaper. Norma threatens to kill herself, Joe walks out of the house, Norma shoots him three times and he falls into a swimming pool, where the movie originally began. The flashback ends. The police and reporters fill the house. Norma has lost touch with reality and thinks the camera is there to film Salome. Max plays along with the police and pretends to be casting. Norma descends her grand staircase, makes a speech and a series of exaggerated swooping steps towards the camera.  It is an iconic scene.

Director: Billy Wilder

Awards and Nominations:

The movie was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won three.

4)  What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962) - Bette Davis (April 5, 1908, to October 6, 1989, Joan Crawford (March 23, 1904, to May 10, 1977)

This is an American psychological horror thriller. The movie is about an aging former actress who holds her paraplegic ex-movie star sister captive in an old Hollywood mansion


“Baby Jane” Hudson (Bette Davis) is a famous vaudevillian child star. Her older sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) lives in her shadow. However, their fortunes later reverse and Blanche becomes a successful film actress while Jane films fail and she now lives in obscurity. Later, Blanche becomes paralyzed from her waist downwards as a result of a car accident that is blamed on Jane.

Blanche and Jane are living together in a mansion purchased with Blanche’s earnings. Blanche is in a wheelchair and her mobility is limited. Jane has become an alcoholic and mentally ill and has become cruel to Blanche because she resents her success. When Blanches tells Jane of her intentions to sell the house, Jane begins to deny her food until she serves Blanche a dead pet, a dead rat on a dinner platter. In Jane`s absence, Blanches seeks the attention of her neighbor, Mrs. Bates (Anna Lee) by throwing a note pleading for help. However, Jane arrives and notices the note and prevents Mrs. Bates from seeing it. Hudson`s maid Elvira (Maidie Norman) comes to the house, Jane gives her a paid day off to keep her from seeing Blanche.

Jane attempts to revive her childhood stardom and posts a newspaper advertisement. Edwin (Victor Buono) sees Jane’s ad and arrives in the mansion. He encourages Jane to revive her act. While Jane drives Edwin home, Blanche searches the house for food. She discovers that Jane has been forging her signature on checks to buy costumes for her act and to access her money. Blanche frantically calls their doctor and tells him about Jane’s behavior and begs him to come to the mansion. Jane finds Blanche on the phone, she beats her unconscious. She calls the doctor pretending to be Blanche and tells him not to come.

Elvira returns the following day but Jane fires her abruptly. Elvira is suspicious and returns to the mansion when Jane is out cashing a check. Elvira threatens to call the police when Jane arrives and finds her trying to open Blanche’s bedroom. Jane gives Elvira the keys, she opens the door to find Blanche bound-and-gagged as well as weak from starvation. Jane kills Elvira using a hammer and disposes of her body.

Jane panics when the police inform her that Elvira’s cousin has reported her missing. Edwin arrives uninvited and finds Blanche in her bed, he flees and informs the authorities. At the beach, Blanche confesses to Jane that she is paraplegic due to her own fault. On the night of the accident, Blanche tried to run Jane down for mocking her. However, Blanche`s` broke her spine after the car hit the iron gates outside their mansion. Since then Blanche has been blaming Jane for the accident forcing her to be her full-time caregiver, stoking bitter resentment. The police locate them and when they ask Jane where Blanche is, Jane reverts to her childhood self and dances before the crowd of onlookers. The police see Blanche lying motionless on the sand and rush to aid her

Director: Robert Aldrich

Awards and Nominations:

The movie was nominated for five Academy Awards winning one for Best Costume Design, Black and White.

5)  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012), (Judi Dench (December 9, 1934, to Present, Maggie Smith (December 28, 1934, to Present)


A few British retirees decide to move to Jaipur, India. They stay in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, advertised as an exotic retirement home. Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench), a widow decide to sell her house to pay off her husband`s debts. Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson), a high court judge retires and returns to his childhood home, Jaipur. Jean and Douglas Ainslie hope to have an affordable retirement after investing in their daughter’s internet business. Muriel Donnely (Maggie Smith), a former housekeeper decides to have a cheaper hip operation in India. Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) tries out for new romance overseas, and Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) an aging Lothario tries to relive his youth.

They have an eventful journey and they discover the hotel is a dilapidated site. Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) is the manager. His mother moves into the hotel to try and convince his son to invest in a more secure job. Evelyn gets a job at a local call center where Sonny`s girlfriend and her brother Jay work. Graham searches for familiar grounds, Jean hides in the hotel, and Douglas (Bill Nighy) explores the city. Muriel appreciates her doctor and maid Anokhi (Seema Azmi). Madge joins the Viceroy club, he helps Norman get into a relationship with Carol

Graham confides to Evelyn that he is gay and is returning to Jaipur to find his long-lost lover, Manoj. Graham, Evelyn, and Douglas find Manoj though happily married, he is happy to see Graham. Graham dies from a heart condition. Evelyn breaks down in Douglas’ arms over her husband’s death. Jean (Penelope Wilton) accuses Douglas of having an affair. Douglas denounces the marriage. Jean reveals their daughter’s business has paid off and they can return home.

Sonny and Sunaina (Tina Desai) fall out during an argument when Madge sleeps in Sonny`s bedroom which worsens when Mrs. Kapoor rejects Sunaina. Sonny is disheartened and decides to close the hotel. Evelyn encourages Sonny to express his love for Sunaina. They rush to the hotel to announce their intention to marry. Mrs. Kapoor blesses the marriage. Muriel convinces an investor to keep the hotel open, but she will act as the deputy manager to help Sonny. Carol moves in with Norman. Jeans marriage is dead, Jean encourages Douglas to stay in the hotel while she returns to England. Douglas and Evelyn reunite in the hotel and the hotel flourishes.

Director: John Madden

Awards and Nominations:

The movie was given the Best International Film accolade at Mumbai Film Festival and earned five nominations from the British Independent Film Awards.


6)  45 Years (2015), Charlotte Rampling (February 5, 1946 – Present)

45 years is a British romantic drama cast in 2015.


Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay) cancel their 40th wedding anniversary due to his heart bypass surgery. The couple is financially comfortable and childless.  They are preparing to celebrate their 45th anniversary with their dozens of friends. As they are preparing, Geoff receives a letter from Switzerland that tells him that the body of Katya his former lover is now visible in a melting glacier where she fell into a crevasse during their hike. Memories rush back and he realizes he has forgotten much of the German language he had learned.

Kate knows about Katya, but she does not know that Geoff is preparing to fly to Switzerland without her to see the body. Kate prompts Geoff to talk about his relationship with Katya. This evokes thoughts from the discovery of the body. He tells Kate that he and Katya had pretended to be married in order to share a room, that’s why the Swiss authorities consider him as the next of kin. Kate is troubled by the revelation that they would have married.

While Geoff is out, Kate climbs the ladder to the attic to see what Geoff might be keeping there. She finds a scrapbook filled with memorabilia from Kate`s time including when they had gone hiking. In addition, images in a slide of Switzerland and Katya. The slides show Katya with her hand on top of the curve of her abdomen. Katya was pregnant during the time of her death.

Kate's smoking increases upon realizing that Geoff has been to the local travel agency to inquire about trips to Switzerland. They have a confrontation, but Geoff tells her that their marriage will start again. He begins by serving her breakfast in bed. They attend their anniversary party though Kate remains distracted. Geoff professes his love for Kate. Geoff and Kate take a slow dance, however, Kate becomes increasingly awkward and rigid while he becomes silly and playful. At that moment, Kate experiences a mix of emotions.

Director: Andrew Haigh

Awards and Nominations:

Charlotte Rampling won the Silver Bear for Best Actress and Tony Courtenay won The Silver Bear for Best Actor. In addition, Rampling was nominated for the Best Actress in a Leading Role

7)  Still Alice (2015), Julianne Moore (December 3, 1960 – Present)


Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a linguistic professor at Columbia University. She is celebrating her 50th birthday with her physician husband John (Alec Baldwin) and their three children. She forgets a word during the lecture and becomes lost during a jog. Alice is diagnosed with early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. Her eldest daughter Anna (Kate Bosworth), and Son, Tom (Hunter Parrish) take a genetic test to find out if they will develop the disease. Alice’s younger daughter Lydia (Kristen Stewart) an aspiring actress is also tested.

Alice’s memory begins to fade. She memorizes words and sets a series of personal questions on the phone which she answers every morning. She hides sleeping pills in her room and records a video that instructs her to commit suicide in the future by overdosing on pills. As the disease advances she is unable to focus on lectures and she loses her job.

John gets a job at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Alice wants John to postpone accepting the job, but he finds it impossible. Alice delivers a speech at Alzheimer’s conference about her experience with the disease. She uses a highlighter to remind herself of what to speak about. She receives a standing ovation.

Later, Alice begins to have difficulty answering questions on her phone. She loses the phone and becomes distressed. John finds it in the freezer after some days. Alice and John visit Anna in the hospital to meet their newborn twin grandchildren. However, Alice does not recognize her daughter.

Afterward, Alice opens the video with the suicide instructions. She finds the pills and tries to swallow them, but she is interrupted by the caregiver, she drops the pills on the floor and forgets what she was doing. John moves to Minnesota. Lydia moves back home from California to care for Alice.

Director: Richard Glatzer

Awards and Nominations:

Moore won numerous awards including the Academy Award for Best Actress.


Today cinema is filled with females, producers, directors, and writers. The movies tackle gender inequalities, therefore, the fair sex is well represented in this calling


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