I had a theory all worked out: The lifestyle of a cougar — you know, an “older” woman (i.e., past 40, or is it 30 and the camera adds 10 years?) who fancies younger men–is a titillating sociological phenomenon made for TV shows, not movies. I mean, I can sort of see the appeal of Cougar Town on ABC, and I certainly understand the allure of Samantha-the-manhunter on Sex and the City. But I can’t imagine (or maybe don’t want to imagine) Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, or most any other serious, over-40 screen actress buying into the trend as a career freshener. Cougarhood is a TV-size sociological joke, not a feature-length state of sexual appetite.

Like I said, I had the theory all worked out. But then the other day I read Steven Zeitchik’s solid, all-too-familiar bummer of an article in The Hollywood Reporter about the slim pickings this year for Oscar candidates in the Best Actress category. Did you know, as the author cites, that in the past 20 years, “exactly one fiftysomething woman has taken the prize (Helen Mirren, for The Queen)”? I became so bummed that I lost interest in my Theory of Cougars in Pop Culture….

Instead, I’ll just note that Mirren quite possibly may get a nomination again this year, for her bravura performance as Mrs. Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station. (The movie comes out in a few weeks; that’s her above, looking every inch a Tolstoyan.) There’s a great, maturely sexy scene in which Mrs. T lures her old husband (a fine Christopher Plummer) into bed for a satisfying romp. And Meryl Streep, of course, as Julia Child in Julie & Julia, also loves the sexy time with her old husband (adorable Stanley Tucci) and quite probably will score her 16th nomination for the delicious performance.

No cougars, these foxes. Just great dames.

Photo Credit: Stephan Rabold

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