Here’s a movie chemistry question: What do you get when a grumpy, oldish man meets an unrelated young person in need of help?

Answer: A film which, even if it isn’t a box office hit, will garner lots of awards nominations.

These dramas follow a story arc which may seem familiar. At first, said old man, who usually lives alone, exudes compulsory “get-off-my-lawn!” vibes. The persistent youngster does not give up. That, or some untenable situation conspires to gel granddad and the juvenile together, culminating in some bravura moment near the end. The audience and touched and appreciative; the critics convinced that it must win an award.

Case in point:

Boy scout Russell and retired balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen in Up (2009).

Indefatigable boy scout Russell and retired balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen co-star in Up (2009).

Need Russell and Carl need any introduction? Carl and Ellie’s love story brings tears to our eyes but Russell and Carl’s friendship is what survives until the credits. Up swept 15 awards, including Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2010.

Usually, the young upstart is a boy. And, as you can tell, the pairing may be interracial.

Clint Eastwood and Bee Vang in Gran Torino (2008). Credit: Anthony Michael Rivetti.

Clint Eastwood and Bee Vang in Gran Torino (2008). Credit: Anthony Michael Rivetti

One of the more memorable onscreen partnerships could be seen in Gran Torino (2008), where Clint Eastwood played the part of Walt Kowalski, a racist misanthrope, who at first views his Hmong neighbours with distrust, but later forms a firm friendship with Thao, the Hmong teenage boy (Bee Vang) next door. Gran Torino won the César Award for Best Foreign Film in 2010, among others.

Sometimes, sparks can fly when the bairn is a girl. But as if to prove that the older half is no pervert, they don’t get down and dirty, as seen in Sofia Coppola’s widely-acclaimed Lost In Translation (2003), starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, then still a relative newcomer. Bob Harris (Murray), an ageing movie star past his prime, is in Tokyo to shoot a whiskey commercial where he meets Charlotte (Johansson), a conflicted newlywed whose husband doesn’t seem to get her. Strangers in a foreign land, an unlikely relationship blossoms when they find escape and understanding in each other.

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson strike up an unlikely romance which is never consummated in Lost In Translation. Credit: www.huffingtonpost.com

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson strike up an unlikely romance which is never consummated in Lost In Translation. Credit: www.huffingtonpost.com

Billy Murray seems to get the role of the lovable crank down pat. He extends this charm towards Jaden Lieberher in comedy-drama St. Vincent (2014), also starring Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts.

Vincent (Bill Murray) teaches Oliver (Jaden Lieberher) how to deliver a decent right hook in St. Vincent. Credit: www.dailyherald.com

Vincent (Bill Murray) teaches Oliver (Jaden Lieberher) how to deliver a decent right hook in St. Vincent. Credit: www.dailyherald.com

Murray plays the role of an unwilling babysitter when Maggie (McCarthy), a struggling single mum, and her adopted 12-year-old son move in next door. It all begins after Oliver (Jaden Lieberher) gets locked out of his home after school one day and Vincent allows him to stay over at his place until his mother returns. Soon, Oliver is spending afternoons at strip clubs, the race course and the bar with Vincent. Yet, despite Vincent’s hedonistic lifestyle, Oliver sees the good in him that no-one else can.

There’s a chance to catch St. Vincent on the big screen – it’s showing at GV Grand on Tuesday, April 21. St. Vincent has been nominated for seven awards this year, including Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.