The Oscars could be gayer, but this year boasts some queer-friendly frontrunners
It’s amazing how un-gay the Oscars are.
The Tonys? Gayer’n K.D. Lang at Elton John’s for Halloween. Emmys? Bravo and American Idol are always up for something. But the naked golden man? Not so much.
Sure, there’s the occasional mainstream gay film, like Milk last year and Brokeback Mountain before that. But there’s a reason we remember those. Usually, the movie business — and the awards that celebrate them — are heterofests.
But this year, we have some gay peppered throughout the Oscars, which airs Sunday. True, not in most of the biggest moneymakers or those with the most nominations, and considering there are 10 best picture nominees, few of those have a trace of queer, but a little progress is some progress.
It’s too bad that Lee Daniels, the director of Precious, won’t win for his film; he could be the first openly gay man and the first black man to win the best director trophy. He’ll have to settle for one of his stars, Mo’Nique, taking the prize for supporting actress, in what may be the one sure thing.
Daniels’ likely loss may be a boon to women, though, as Kathryn Bigelow is only the fourth woman nominated for best director, and for a testosterone-fueled war picture at that: The Hurt Locker. She’ll probably outpoll her ex-husband, James Cameron, for Avatar. But not necessarily for best picture. A recent dust-up over Oscar campaigning may mar the indie’s chances and lift the sci-fi epic to winner status. (Avatar, which is basically a war movie, probably will win just about everything else it’s up for, including visual effects, cinematography and editing.)
The best male performance last year was delivered by Colin Firth as a gay man "widowed" by the death of his partner in A Single Man. Inexplicable, that was the film’s sole nomination, which also featured a great spin by Julianne Moore and writer-director Tom Ford’s gorgeous design. Still, Firth will come in "seconth" to the straightest performance of the year, Jeff Bridges’ boozy turn as a country singer in Crazy Heart.
Gay fave Meryl Streep played homophobic chef Julie & Julia to simmering delight last summer, but the momentum seems to be there for Texan Sandra Bullock to win as a no-nonsense football mom in The Blind Side.
There’s nothing gay about any of the supporting actor nominees, unless you count Matt Damon’s rugged rugby body in Invictus, and I don’t. The odds-on favorite looks to be Austrian actor Christoph Waltz as the serpentine Jew hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist Inglourious Basterds (again, a war film — see a trend?), but I’m holding out hope for an upset win for first-time nominee Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station.
The homoerotic French prison picture Un Prophete is the hands-down favorite to win. Among the live action shorts, the David Rakoff-penned The New Tenants, with Rakoff playing half a gay couple in a new apartment, is bitchy fun — just like the Oscars themselves. •
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 5, 2010.