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Are Things Changing in Hollywood?

Aging on the Big Screen

By: Cathy Rowe

Hollywood is not known for treating age kindly – especially for women.

But I have noticed a changing trend in the past year. Starting with the Golden Global Awards, where 3 top awards went to women over 60: Michelle Yeoh for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once; Angela Bassett for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Jennifer Coolidge for the series, The White Lotus.

And let’s not overlook Kevin Costner, who was recognized for his role role in Yellowstone at age 66.

As a movie buff, I have been enjoying some of the roles for older men. As Tom Cruise makes another Mission Impossible at the age of 61, he is still doing most of his own stunts! Harrison Ford brings back an older, wiser Indiana Jones facing his life’s work and retirement. And then there’s Tom Hanks, who is classically ageless and beautifully translates so many issues of loss, grief, love and connection into A Man Called Otto.

I’ve been watching this trend all year, quietly impressed. But then, this weekend I saw Barbie. I won’t give away the plot or any secrets, but in Barbieland, everyday and everyone is perfect. When Barbie finds herself in the real world, sitting on a bus bench next to an older woman, she seems overwhelmed with emotion. I was expecting the next line to be an ageist joke but, the young Barbie (played by the beautiful Margot Robbie) turns to the older woman and says, “You are beautiful.”

What an honest and heartfelt recognition.

Even better was the older woman’s response – “I know it.”