By Donalevan Maines
Shows about LGBT subjects that have long been taboo in Hollywood are finalists for Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild prizes at televised award shows this month.
The 1950s lesbian romance Carol leads the way at the Globes with five nominations, including Best Motion Picture–Drama. Its out director, Todd Haynes, is a nominee for Best Director, and stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara face off for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Best Motion Picture–Drama.
Double-nominees for the same movie is a feat that’s only happened six times before in the Best Actress–Drama category, including Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep in The Hours, in 2003, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise, 1992), Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger (Terms of Endearment, 1984), Glenda Jackson and Vanessa Redgrave (Mary, Queen of Scots, 1972), Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor (Suddenly, Last Summer, 1960), and Ingrid Bergman and Helen Hayes (Anastasia, 1957). Three of the Globe winners went on to win the Oscar that year. (Of the 14 women, only Mara and Winger have never won an Academy Award.)
Lily Tomlin is a Globe double-nominee for two projects—as best actress in a comedy or musical for Grandma, and as best actress in a TV comedy or musical for Grace and Frankie, her Netflix TV series.
Sylvester Stallone can also claim two Globe nominations, but they’re 39 years apart. After baring all in a 1970 soft-porn movie, Party at Kitty and Stud’s, “the Italian Stallion” was championed as a Best Actor–Drama nominee in 1976’s Rocky, and now he’s the guy to beat as Best Supporting Actor for the same role in Creed.
Tomlin’s co-star in Grace and Frankie, two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda, leads the race for Best Supporting Actress in Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, but she has stiff competition, including double-nominee Alicia Vikander for her supporting role as a humanoid robot in Ex Machina and for Best Actress–Drama in The Danish Girl.
That leads us to the transgender takeover of both the 73rd Annual Golden Globes (hosted by Ricky Gervais) and the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In movies, Eddie Redmayne (last year’s Oscar winner as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything) is back in the running, this time as transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, at both the Globes and SAG-AFTRA, which awards The Actor prize to its winners. On the TV side, Jeffrey Tambor (last year’s Emmy Award winner as Maura Pfefferman) and his show, Transparent, could reap their second Globes and first Actor prizes.
The Actor award could also go to Queen Latifah in the title role of Bessie; Kevin Spacey in House of Cards; Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, and out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Modern Family; another out actor, former Houstonian Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory); Uzo Aduba, as lesbian Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, and trans actress Laverne Cox, plus out actresses Lea DeLaria, Ruby Rose, Samara Wiley, and others playing lesbian inmates in Orange Is the New Black; Robert James-Collier as sad/gay Thomas Barrow in the ensemble of Downton Abbey; along with out actors Carrie Brownstein and Cherry Jones in the cast of Transparent.
Also a hit at the Globes: Empire, created by openly gay Lee Daniels (Precious, The Butler), and starring out actor Jussie Smollett as gay character Jamal Lyon.
Before each awards show, there will be a red-carpet special that we’ll need to watch as a primer on who many of these nominees are. Rami Malek? Sarah Hay? Tobias Menzies? I feel like Cloris Leachman at the Comedy Central roast of Bob Saget, when she cried, “For the love of God, will somebody please punch me in the face so I can see some stars?”
At least we know Sam Smith, whose theme song for the James Bond film Spectre, “Writing’s on the Wall,” is up for Best Song at the Globes; and Lady Gaga, who leads the cartel for American Horror Story: Hotel as a nominee for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television.
The Globes and SAG-AFTRA are boozy preludes to the Oscars, which will be handed out live on ABC on Sunday, February 28.
In fact, the movie awards season began November 30 with the aforementioned Haynes treated to a special tribute at the 25th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, where Spotlight was named Best Picture and its top cast members—Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup—were honored with the Special Jury Award for their ensemble performance. Spotlight is about reporters at The Boston Globe newspaper who, in 2001, blew the lid off the Roman Catholic Church for allegedly covering up a priest’s sexual abuse of more than 80 boys.
The next day, the National Board of Review muddied the water by naming an action movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, the year’s top movie, and giving acting nods to leading actors Matt Damon in The Martian and Brie Larson for Room, and supporting players Stallone and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. Best Ensemble went to The Big Short.
A day later, the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle chimed in with four awards for Carol, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Screenplay for Phyllis Nagy’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 underground cult novel, The Price of Salt, which the late Strangers on a Train/The Talented Mr. Ripley author published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan. Carol has been on Oscar’s radar since last spring’s 68th annual Cannes Film Festival, when the main competition jury, led by Joel and Ethan Coen, hailed Mara as Best Actress in a split with foreign actress Emmanuelle Bercot in Mon Roi. However, to spread the wealth and avoid a conflict with Blanchett as Best Actress, the film’s distributors are campaigning for Mara as a supporting actress, which is the category she competes in at SAG-AFTRA.
At least one “Carol”—Burnett—is guaranteed a win that night, as the San Antonio native will be fêted with the 52nd Annual SAG Life Achievement Award. Its equivalent at the Globes, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, will be presented to Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington.
What: 73rd Annual Golden Globes
When: 7 p.m., Sunday, January 10
What: 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
When: 7 p.m., Saturday, January 30
Where: simulcast live on TNT and TBS
Donalevan Maines also writes about the Ensemble Theatre in this issue of OutSmart magazine.