#OscarsSoWhite #AndNotVeryGay

By Kevin M. Thomas

The Hashtag ‘OscarsSoWhite’ is running through social media as fast as cold and flu season have run through the community — but honestly, the Oscars are not very gay either.

As a writer of LGBT-focused prose, I am not the expert to comment on why the Oscar nominations are once again whitewashed. I will say briefly that Will Smith in Concussion gave one of the best performances of the year as did Johnny Depp in Black Mass. But neither actor received a Best Actor nod – even though one actor is black and one actor is white.I will comment, though, more on this year’s LGBT films and their presence among the nominations.

There actually were only four movies aimed at the LGBT community that did make the mainstream and received some Oscar buzz: Carol, The Danish Girl, Grandma and Freeheld. Among these four films, only Carol and The Danish Girl received nominations. Further, among the casts of these films, only two are actually gay – Ellen Page in Freeheld and Lily Tomlin in Grandma — and neither actress was nominated.

Straight Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara give winning (and nominated) performances in Carol, as does heterosexual Eddie Redmayne in the transgender role in The Danish Girl. Yet gay Ian McKellen played it straight in the not-nominated Mr. Holmes. The LGBT community no longer seems outraged when gay actors aren’t playing LGBT roles. Likely because a lot of gay actors play straight parts.


The very heterosexual Eddie Redmayne in the transgender role in ‘The Danish Girl’

There was a plethora of excellent LGBT movies from 2015 to seek out: Eisenstein in Guanajuato, Hush Up Sweet Charlotte, That’s Not Us, Proxy, Those People, Better Half, Liz in September, Margarita with a Straw, Tab Hunter Confidential and Seed Money. You likely haven’t heard about all (or any) of these films – well, quite frankly, neither has the Academy.

These movies are the best from film festivals. None of those films were eligible for Oscars as they did not play in New York or Los Angeles for a week, which is a requirement for Academy Award consideration.

Yet, there were still several LGBT movies that did screen at theatres and were eligible. Unfortunately, none of them were from major studios with big Hollywood budgets. So they were ignored by the Academy primarily because no one heard of them. People certainly can’t claim fowl in these situations like they can with the ignored Straight Outta Compton and Concussion.

Futuro Beach was a film festival favorite and did screen at theatres. This story of two men who bond over the death of a third friend was very compelling and well-acted but went unnoticed by Oscar voters.

Tangerine too had a lot of great buzz as one of the first movies filmed on an iPhone and told the story of two friends and their volatile relationship, and it featured great performances from amazing trans actresses. But they too were ignored by the Academy — as was trans actress Laverne Cox who was in the sleeper film Carl(a), which was a film festival hit a few years ago and finally screened at theatres last year.

Xavier Dolan was in a similar situation. He’s a director/writer/actor who isn’t even 30 years old but has one of the most impressive entertainment resumes, including directing Adele’s Hello video, which is one of the rare videos that has had over one billion views. Yet while he won the top prize in 2014 at the Cannes Film Festival with his movie Mommy, that film didn’t make the final list of best foreign language films. His 2013 film Tom at the Farm screened in the U.S. in 2015 and was eligible for Oscar glory, but it too didn’t make it to the final ballot. Apparently, his movies need an appearance by Adele to get more notice in the United States.

Even bigger stars in smaller films didn’t get Oscar’s attention. Jack Black and James Marsden didn’t get The D Train any attention and now the film has been re-titled for On-Demand as Bad Bromance. Katherine Heigl and Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson couldn’t help get Jenny’s Wedding any notice. Furthermore, sleeper hit films Saint Laurent and Dope had a lot of early buzz, but at the end of the day, Saint Laurent couldn’t get a Best Costume Oscar nomination even though it won several French Academy Awards.

Whether the Oscars have become too white or not well represented by LGBT films, the controversy makes the show worth a view even though there’s little diversity. One thing’s for sure: on February 28th, all eyes will be on black host Chris Rock to see how he addresses the show’s lack of color.

Our bear of a blogger Kevin M. Thomas is an arts lover and contributor to progressivepulse.com, PINK NEWS and can also be found on camera on San Francisco’s “10 Percent” local TV show in addition to his work for Left magazine. Kevin has grown up loving everything entertainment, having never missed the Oscars and seeing any show that has the word “musical” in the title, including the Off-Broadway “Spandex: The Musical.”

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