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We’ve got the scoop on this award season’s LGBT characters.
by Donalevan Maines
You know you’re gay when you watch award shows to see “who” celebrities are wearing. You know you’re really gay when the use of excessive force by the fashion police makes you cheer.
Was it just a year ago that Jennifer Lawrence’s Christian Dior felony at the Golden Globes inspired selfies of fanboys swathed in white bed sheets and black ribbons?
At the same event, little-known Lupita Nyong’o larcenously lit up the red carpet in a red off-the-shoulder Ralph Lauren with attached cape. She lost Best Supporting Actress that night to Lawrence, but her awards derby debut launched Nyong’o’s march to an Oscar as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave.
Twelve years in the making was this year’s Oscar favorite, Boyhood, written and directed by Bellaire High School graduate Richard Linklater. It’s already been crowned Best Picture by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, where the runner-up was The Grand Budapest Hotel. Its auteur, St. John’s School product Wes Anderson, won for Best Screenplay.
While actresses attract most of the accolades on the red carpet, this year’s most competitive race pits Best Actor hopefuls Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Eddie Redmayne (as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything), and Benedict Cumberbatch as gay hero Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Fighting to take one of them out is David Oyelowo, whose portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma rounded out the field for Best Drama Actor at the Golden Globes.
Matthew McConaughey, who emerged from the pack of Oscar contenders when he won last year’s Golden Globe Best Drama Actor for Dallas Buyers Club, is back in the hunt, this time in the Best Actor in a TV Movie/Limited Series category. He’s joined by True Detective partner Woody Harrelson, Fargo co-stars Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton, and Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks in The Normal Heart. As Ned’s lover, Felix Turner, out actor Matt Bomer is nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Globes.
Julia Roberts is a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) finalist as Dr. Emma Brookner in The Normal Heart.
Sugar Land’s Allison Tolman was nominated for Best Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series for her debut in Fargo. Among her competition is Frances McDormand (Olive Kitteridge), who won an Oscar for the movie Fargo, and Jessica Lange in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Freak Show.
Selma fans claim it didn’t pick up any SAG nominations because not enough actors on the group’s nominating committee saw it. In contrast, do too many members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association watch TV’s Modern Family? Is that why it was shut out at the Golden Globes for the first time in five years? You know the episode I mean: Pepper hires a director of photography to film the guys’ wedding; Cam overhears Mitchell say, “Apparently, he’s a big deal. He won a Golden Globe.” Then Cam pipes in, “You win an Oscar, you buy a Golden Globe.” (They didn’t like that, did they?)
Julianne Moore heard her name called twice as a Golden Globe nominee: in the drama category for her Oscar-bait role as a professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice, and in the comedy or musical category for Map to the Stars, which won her the Best Actress prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Double nominations are common at the Globes; in fact, Judy Holliday was nominated twice for the same performance in 1950’s Born Yesterday. In the drama field, she lost to Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard; in the comedy or musical field, she beat Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your Gun, then won the Oscar a month later over Swanson, Eleanor Parker (Caged), and both Bette Davis and Anne Baxter in All About Eve.
Last year, Taylor Schilling was nominated at the Globes for Best TV Drama Actress as bisexual Piper Chapman in the Netflix women’s prison series Orange Is the New Black. This year, she’s nominated in the TV comedy category—go figure. OITNB is up for Best TV Comedy, along with Amazon’s original series Transparent. It also scored a Best TV Comedy Actor nod for Jeffrey Tambor, who stars as transgender parent Maura.
In more category confusion, Uzo Aduba (who won a 2014 Emmy Award as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series as lesbian Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in OITNB) is both a SAG nominee for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series and a TV supporting actress finalist at the Globes. She’s also in the running for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series at the NAACP Image Awards, where OITNB’s supporting-actress contenders include Emmy nominee Laverne Cox (who is transgender in real life and in the show) and costars Adrienne C. Moore as “Black Cindy” and Lorraine Toussaint as villainous “Vee.”
The cast of OITNB also competes for SAG’s TV comedy ensemble award, along with Modern Family, which managed acting nominations for its three Emmy winners, Eric Overstreet (as Cam), Ty Burrell, and Julie Bowen. (It’s a crime that out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, as Mitchell, never wins an individual honor.)
A welcome LGBT nominee for Best Motion Picture–Musical or Comedy at the Globes is Pride, which scored big at the 17th British Independent Film Awards, winning Best Film, Supporting Actor (Andrew Scott), and Supporting Actress (Imelda Staunton). Pride is based on the true story of gay and lesbian activists who raised money for striking mine-workers in a small Welsh village in 1984.
At the 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards, Love Is Strange is nominated for Best Feature, along with Best Screenplay for Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, and acting nods for both John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a gay couple whose financial troubles force them to live apart.
Justin Simien, the out Houston native who won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, won two Independent Spirit nominations for Dear White People, which he produced through crowdfunding. His categories are Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay.
In the upcoming televised awards season, some other nominees of particular interest in the LGBT community are the star-studded Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods; Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory; Guillermo Diaz in Scandal; bisexual Alan Cumming in The Good Wife; The View, co-hosted by Rosie O’Donnell; TV shows with gay characters, such as American Horror Story: Freak Show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Girls, House of Cards, and How to Get Away with Murder; Orphan Black (in which one clone played by Tatiana Maslany is bisexual biologist Cosima Niehaus); House of Lies, which features two gender-fluid teenagers; and Cicely Tyson, whose performance in The Trip to Bountiful was directed by former Houstonian Michael Wilson.
Red carpets will also be filled with gay-friendly celebrities wearing their favorite gay designers, including Debbie Reynolds, who will be celebrated with the Screen Actors Guild 51st Annual Lifetime Achievement Award. She was OutSmart’s covergirl in September 1998, and you can read Blase DiStefano’s interview with her by clicking here.
Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.