It is not a matter of older generation or later generation, but a matter of real and sincere piousness. Muqarrabeen are most near to Allah (SWT) because of their sincere obedience to Allah (SWT). Hadeeth narrated by Ibn Abbas from the Prophet (SAWA) : They are Ali and his Shia (followers). (Al-Haakim Al-Hasakaani al-Hanafi in Shawaahid Al-Tanzeel.
Pious believers can be in any age and any generation likewise bad persons can be in any generation.