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Aging in Hollywood: The Golden Years at the Golden Globes

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GOLDEN GLOBES
AP

While we may be only mildly interested in the films, TV shows and talent honored during the Golden Globes (and the countless other award ceremonies), many of us can't resist the after- buzz. Take the best- and worst-dressed lists, which get hundreds of comments on The Huffington Post alone. Chatter about gowns, jewels and hairstyles is tweeted and talked about around the world even before the last award is handed out, with more of the same online, on air and in magazines in the days that follow. Did Hendricks wear one too many ruffle? Did we like Bullock's bangs? Berry's bustier? Superficial fluff, but it's the kind of gossip we love to hate.

My eye caught something about the 2011 Globes that goes slightly underneath the surface and that I haven't seen discussed, written or blogged about as of yet. Perhaps it's the psychologist in me, or my research on beauty in contemporary culture, but I thought our "aging" celebrities looked pretty darn great -- perhaps better than ever -- as they presented themselves and were represented this year. And it seemed to have less to do with which stylist they used or who dressed them and more with the possibility that Hollywood boomers are finally getting this aging thing right.

One actress who said it all was 52-year-old, poised and gracious Annette Bening, awarded Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for "The Kids Are All Right." Not only did she look great as she received her well-deserved trophy, but she accepted it with the kind of thoughtfulness and generosity that made her appear even more appealing. She effusively praised her co-star, Julianne Moore, a beautiful boomer herself, and then thanked her co-star at home, the 1962 Golden Globe "star-of-the-future," Warren Beatty. Then there was Melissa Leo, showing spunk and spirit at age 50 as she accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress for "The Fighter." She endearingly shared her initial "uh-oh, I'm so old" feelings at being asked to play the mother of 39-year-old actor Mark Wahlberg. But she acknowledged how fortunate she felt having been cast for the award-winning role, appearing as feisty, though far more attractive, than the character she portrayed in the film.

There were a number of other female actors receiving awards for having the courage to portray mid-lifers on screen -- Jane Lynch, age 50, for the deliciously evil Sue Sylvester in "Glee," and Laura Linney, age 46, for her role as a cancer victim in "The Big C." And a couple of more seasoned actors were asked to present awards at the ceremony. Wasn't the proud, mature Tilda Swinton a vision in white? And didn't Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren look stunning? Mirren, the 65-year-old English actress, paused onstage to gaze at her audience and told them how gorgeous they all were, as if handing down the mantel of beauty to the next generation. Meanwhile she was as elegant as ever.

And what about those men? They were showing some graceful aging, too. Colin Firth, for example, expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to play a couple of great roles at his age. Last year he was nominated for playing an anguished, aging professor in "A Single Man," and this year took home the Globe for "The King's Speech." In his self-deprecating style, he quipped that the award may help him avoid a midlife purchase of a Harley Davidson and then acknowledged deep admiration for his co-star, the even older Geoffrey Rush, who looked quite dapper himself in that hat. Add the other talented actors who were honored, like Buscemi, Giamatti, De Niro and Pacino, and I'd say we had a great-looking group of boomers on stage this year.

Surely there is no limit to the time, money and effort these celebrities can put toward looking their best. It's their business to look great. Our media culture demands that of them. They are dressed and made up by top stylists, work out with expert trainers, and get botoxed and lasered by the best dermatologists and surgeons. And no doubt those procedures are getting better and more finely tuned. But this is my point: I can't remember an awards ceremony where I didn't gasp at a former beautiful face destroyed by over indulgence in plastic surgery. Not once this time did I cringe, "Those new lips! Those frozen faces!" These actors and actresses looked, well, refreshingly "real." As I wrote here in an earlier post, "Real Is Really In," perhaps Hollywood is finally getting it right. These actors looked less desperate to appear years younger than their age. Instead they looked great for their age.

Closing with Michael Douglas presenting the Best Motion Picture (Drama) award reinforced this theme for me. Showing obvious appreciation for being healthy enough to be present at all after his battle with throat cancer, Douglas said, "There's got to be an easier way to get a standing ovation." With clear emotion, the audience stood on its feet, seeming to celebrate life, longevity and some of the more meaningful values typically lost in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

Maybe, just maybe, it's not just the kids who are all right. Does anyone else feel optimistic about the changes -- or, at least less radical ones -- seen on the faces of our aging screen idols? I do, even if the upcoming Oscar telecast is moving from last year's seasoned hosts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, to this year's, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, in order to reach a "younger" demographic. Experience may connote loss of youth, but it need not mean loss of beauty. If nothing else, the 2011 Globes ceremony was a great reminder that beauty and class come in all ages.

I'm interested in hearing what you think about actors reaching their Golden Years at the Golden Globes. Continue the conversation by "fanning" me here, following me on Facebook (at facebook.com/Readfaceit) and on Twitter.

Vivian Diller, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in New York City. She has written articles on beauty, aging, media, models and dancers. She serves as a consultant to companies promoting health, beauty and cosmetic products. "Face It: What Women Really Feel As Their Looks Change" (2010), written with Jill Muir-Sukenick, Ph.D. and edited by Michele Willens, is a psychological guide to help women deal with the emotions brought on by their changing appearances. For more information, please visit www.VivianDiller.com

Around the Web

OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the HFPA and the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS

2011 Golden Globes: the winners list | News Briefs | EW.com

Golden Globes | NBC Official Site

E! Online - Entertainment News, Celebrity Gossip, Celebrity News

Golden Globes Fashion: Justin Bieber, Natalie Portman Go Ultra ...

Face It | What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change