When we think of the elderly, we tend to think of them as blue-haired and shuffling, wearing those high-waisted trousers or perhaps a track suit that just does not fit quite right. We do not consider that we will someday be them (if we’re lucky) and should really give them the respect they deserve. After all, some of these folks lived through Nazis and depressions and Woodstock and Reaganomics. Luckily, being old does not have to mean learning to knit uncomfortable sweaters, or talking to chairs at a public venue, or voting for Mitt Romney. No, it can be pretty badass. And this year, the elderly have really out-badassed us all.
10. ARNOLD SCHWARTZENEGGER
I have a feeling that next year will be Arnie’s year, what with The Last Stand coming out and all. But despite releasing the world’s most uncomfortable autobiography, Arnold Schwartzenegger actualy managed to make me recall what made him so awesome in the first place. With only a few lines in The Expendables 2, old Arnie brought us back to a time when he was a motorcycle riding kill-bot, a paramilitary hero, a defeater of predators, terrorists and male pregnancy alike. The old boy still has it in him, it seems.
9. DOLPH LUNDGREN
I could basically put ¾ of the cast of The Expendables 2 on this list, but I won’t. It was between Dolph and Sylvester Stallone and I chose Dolph because he’s a muscle-head with a PhD. He tries to make a bomb out of phosphate rock. This man is awesome.
8. MAGGIE SMITH
Maggie Smith has been working since the beginning of time, or so it seems. This year of course she returned as the grande dame of Downton Abbey. I would be more frightened to tangle with her than either Dolph or Arnie. Seriously. This chick will destroy your soul with a withering glance between sips of earl grey.
7. MICHAEL CAINE
Still the best part of the Batman franchise, and really the only reason I agree to see those films in the first place. Mr. Caine isBruce Wayne’s conscience, the voice of reason in a changing world. He acts circles around Christian Bale and just about anybody else. Like many of those on my list, he brings a number of past badass roles to inform his current ones. Beneath that soft, grandfatherly exterior is a man who could rip your throat out for looking at him wrong.
6. TOMMY LEE JONES
Men in Black III was worth it for two reasons: Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin doing an impression of Tommy Lee Jones. Jones is getting so craggy that he will eventually just disappear into his own skin folds, but that only makes him that much more badass. He had some of the best insults in Lincoln, giving not only a worthy performance that almost out-gravitas-ed Daniel Day-Lewis, but also happened to be funnier than James Spader with a mustache. He made me exceptionally uncomfortable in Hope Springs, mostly because it was like listening to my grandfather talk about sex. What’s impressive about that is that he’s still Tommy Lee Jones. And Tommy Lee Jones is a badass.
5. JUDI DENCH
She’s M. Enough said.
4. BILL MURRAY
Mr. Murray is basically a badass no matter what. He’s of that class of badasses that just do not give a fuck. This year he’s the slightly disabled President of the United States who nevertheless managed to have an affair with his cousin and shocked the King of England. Then there was his small but effective role in Moonrise Kingdom, particularly the part where he appears half-dressed, bottle of wine and axe in hand.
“I’ll be out back. I’m going to find a tree to chop down.” Damn, Bill.
3. BRUCE WILLIS
Bruce is the youngest of the elderly badasses on my list. He has had quite the year. He’s what Joseph Gordon-Levitt HOPES he’ll age into. He saved the lives of those kids in Moonrise Kingdom. And he totally rocked a pashmina in The Expendables 2. A pashmina, guys. You gotta be a badass for that.
2. LIAM NEESON
At first I thought that I couldn’t include Liam on this list, and then I discovered that The Grey really did come out in January 2012. So … yeah. He saved his family, yet again, from nasty sons-of-bitches in Taken 2. He’s the King of the Gods in Wrath of the Titans. But really, this is all about The Grey. So let me make this simple:
He punched a wolf in the face. In. The. Face. Done.
1. IAN MCKELLAN
“I am Gandalf and Gandalf means me!”
There is no one older or more badass than Ian McKellan, unless it’s Christopher Lee (who unfortunately did not really do enough badass stuff this year). McKellan is Gandalf, Middle-Earth’s most timely wizard. He rides on eagles. He beats the shit out of goblins. Galadriel is totally hot for his beard. He always arrives in the nick of time and saves everyone’s ass. He’s the best thing in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Bow down to the ultimate badass, folks. Mr. McKellan will fuck you up and be so very charming doing it too.
Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.