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The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film

Updated June 14, 2019 1.1k votes 299 voters 17.6k views26 items

Ageism is a long-standing issue in Hollywood. Luckily, that hasn't stopped actresses from bringing some memorable old ladies to life in the movies. Some of these fictional old ladies are cast in the grandmotherly mode and seem optimistic about the future. A few old lady characters, though, are downright resentful of their age and circumstances. These imaginary women are often brought to life by the greatest actresses of all time, and have only gotten better with age.

What memorable roles will you find on this list of the greatest old lady characters in films? Gloria Swanson earned an Academy Award for her portrayal of the aging actress Norma Desmond in the classic film Sunset Boulevard. The film itself mirrors the way that Hollywood disregards its elder actresses in favor of youth. Dina Byrnes, played by Blythe Danner in the Meet the Parents movies, is another great fictional older woman.

Judi Dench is the go-to actress for old women roles. She has played audience-favorite parts including M in the James Bond series and Philomena Lee in Philomena. Other good roles that are featured on this list include Margo Channing from All About Eve and Ninny Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes.

Which fictional old lady do you think is the best? Vote your favorites up to the top of this list and add any roles that are missing.