Movies that deal with real suffering of ordinary individuals are usually those that stick in our minds for years to come. Many older actors who have portrayed people affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia have gone on to win Academy Awards or nominations, and will forever be remembered in the history of cinema. The following is a list of some of the best films on memory loss and how it affects everyone involved.
5. The Savages (2007)
Starring Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Savages is a touching story about two siblings who reunite for the sake of their father who’s suffering from dementia. This tragic comedy yielded some wonderful performances and nominations, including Laura Linney’s Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy). Tamara Jenkins was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
- Aurora Borealis (2006)
An indie movie released without much anticipation, Aurora Borealis is a story about a grandfather, (Donald Sutherland), who suffers from dementia and needs more care than his wife (Louise Fletcher) can provide. They hire a home health aide (Juliette Lewis) to assist, and enlist the help of their grandson (Joshua Jackson) to provide proper care to Sutherland’s character who believes he can see the Northern Lights through his window. Although Aurora Borealis has never received much praise from critics or moviegoers, it is one of those films where Donald Sutherland steals the show for the millionth time.
- Age Old Friends (1989)
John Cooper, played by Hume Cronyn, wonderfully portrays an elderly man who chooses to live in a retirement home to preserve his independence and not be a burden on his daughter, played by his real-life daughter, Tandy Cronyn. He becomes friends with Michael (Vincent Gardenia), who is diagnosed with dementia, and is faced with a tough decision when his daughter wants him to come live with her. Should he leave a rigid retirement home and go live with his daughter or should he stay to help out a friend in need?
- Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch (2001)
Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch is based on a book by John Bayley and a true story of English author Iris Murdoch’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. This film will forever be remembered by its outstanding cast and its breath-taking performances. Jim Broadbent, who plays Bayley in his later years, won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. Judi Dench and Kate Winslet both landed Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for their portrayals of Murdoch in her older and younger years.
- The Notebook (2004)
The Notebook is certainly the most famous of all the movies on this list, and for a good reason. Based on Nicholas Sparks’ bestselling novel of the same title, The Notebook might not have received as much praise from the critics as it did from the audiences around the world, but it will forever be adored as one of the most romantic movies of its generation that break down both young and senior dating and everlasting love that knows no boundaries. Featuring Gena Rowlands and James Garner, The Notebook tells a story of a loving elderly husband of Allie who is trying to rekindle her memories destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams play the couple when they were younger and their chemistry is out of this world.
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