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13 Of Film's Most Lovable Senior Citizens

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    This week, Maggie Smith will fill a role she's perfected — the ornery yet lovable elderly woman — in The Lady in the Van. Senior citizens are often the highlight of a movie. They stand out in the best way, mostly because the characters are often written to have (almost) everything figured out. They aren't worried about what they say. And in the world of film (unlike at your holiday dinner table) if their unchecked honesty does come with a hint of bigotry, a younger person comes along before the end of the movie to teach them the error of their ways.

    In movies, grandparents and their contemporaries often serve as mentors. But they're also the sort of best friends who might not like your playlist, but will always give you better advice than the pal you met in algebra class. They also have the best stories and serve up the best side-eye.

    So cue up these flicks featuring our favorite on-screen elders, and dial up your grandma for a heart-to-heart.

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    Philomena (Judi Dench), Philomena (2013)
    Judi Dench is perfect as Philomena. Perhaps the best thing about the character is how she gradually proves to her traveling companion, a man with a huge ego who is just the worst, that optimism and general cheeriness do not equal stupidity.

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    Garth (Michael Caine) & Hub (Robert Duvall), Second Hand Lions (2003)
    The camera just loves gruff older men. It helps when their frosty exteriors are slowly melted by a child star at the very peak of his cute phase.

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    Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
    Let's be very clear, I am not referring to the Dumbledore who rushes Harry after his name is picked out of the Goblet of Fire. I mean the quiet, more mysterious Dumbledore with the genuine eye-twinkle who says, "Alas, earwax," just as H.P. readers hoped he would.

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    Gus (Michael Constantine), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
    "Why you want to leave me?"

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    Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), The Karate Kid (1984)
    Mr. Miyagi really is the best friend a high schooler could have. Not only is a master of martial arts and botany, he also has a solid Martha Stewart streak (he does, after all, come up with Daniel's shower-curtain Halloween costume).