What’s so gay about the Oscars?Bottom Highlights, Feature Story Thursday, February 24th, 2011
Every year, the glamour, glitz and camptastic production numbers makes the Oscars pretty darn gay, in that old school equation that says that gay equals sequins, divas, closet cases and camp. But sometimes the movies are actually gay, in the homosexual sense, and sometimes the nominees are, too. What’s gay about this year’s Best Picture nominees?
127 Hours: The movie is gay-free, unless, of course, James Franco’s simple presence makes it a little gay. No straight actor seems to enjoy playing gay or bisexual as much as Franco does (Milk, Howl, Sonny, James Dean, Blind Spot, and, arguably, Pineapple Express).
Black Swan: It’s a high camp horror movie, which fits it into the kind of queer cinema that embraces such classics as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. But it’s also got an explicit lesbian sex scene that made the tittering old ladies behind me in the theater almost walk out. Sadly, a lot of gay men noticed that it’s pretty odd that a movie about ballet set in New York City doesn’t feature a single gay male character.
Inception: This mind trip of a movie starred Leonardo DiCaprio, but its breakout star was Tom Hardy, whose photos and bisexual rumors were splattered all over the gay blogs this past summer. Those lips! That swagger! That accent! The film also co-starred minor lesbian icon Ellen Page and a whole lot of actors who have played gay, bi or transgender including Joseph Gordon Levitt (Mysterious Skin), Cillian Murphy (Breakfast on Pluto), Michael Caine (Deathtrap), and Lukas Haas (Johns). And Leo is currently shooting the biopic of the gay, cross-dressing FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
The Fighter: Nothing is remotely gay about this boxing-with-a-Boston-accent movie except for the constant appearance of Mark Walberg’s naked chest, which hasn’t gotten so much attention since he became a gay icon as a Calvin Klein model in the early 90s.
The Kids Are All Right: This movie is actually about gay people! Granted, the lesbian couple almost breaks up because one half of them sleeps with the sperm donor that helped create their kids, but gee, that kind of infidelity is a rather queer-specific problem. It’s one of the most realistic portrayals of a gay marriage ever depicted on screen.
The King’s Speech: As I mentioned in my review, some people might argue that English accents are inherently gay, but other than that, nothing about this film is queer. Except maybe eliding some of the characters’ real-life Nazi sympathies, which isn’t cool queer, but creepy queer. That said, as the wife of first a prince and then a king, Helena Bonham Carter is pretty queeny.
The Social Network: There is a gay character in this movie about the creation of Facebook, but you wouldn’t know it unless you knew that the person he’s based on was actually gay in the real world. In the film, Chris Hughes (played by Patrick Mapel) has almost no lines, let alone a sex life. The other characters are, or are trying to become, heterosexual lotharios. Hughes is stuck in the celluloid closet.
Toy Story 3: In this sequel, we’re introduced to a lot of new characters, none of whom are actually gay, but two of whom might be confused for gays. There’s a bear: Lotso is cuddly and sweet at first and then he turns out to be petty and totalitarian. And then there’s Ken, Barbie’s longtime boyfriend. He’s obsessed with clothes and wears some of Barbie’s, has fancy handwriting and lives in an over-decorated Dream House. According to the Internet chatter, this means he’s gay. But he ends up with Barbie in the end, so I guess it means he’s just a metrosexual.
True Grit: Ever since Brokeback Mountain, I keep hoping for some hot cowboy-on-cowboy action in the multiplex, but True Grit is so neutered, it barely even alludes to heterosexual sex. You might interpret the eventual spinsterhood of Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld) as lesbianism, but that’s a stretch.
Winter’s Bone: In the novel the film is based on, the main character, Rhee, is clearly, but not explicitly, a lesbian. Not so much in the film. Also, it’s a movie about the ravages of poverty and drugs in Ozarks. But the drug is meth. And, sadly, that’s pretty gay.
And some gay stuff about some other nominees:
• Scott Rudin, nominated as a producer for Best Picture for both The Social Network and True Grit, is gay and he’s out.
• Annette Bening, nominee for Best Actress for The Kids Are All Right, plays a lesbian.
• Natalie Portman, nominee for Best Actress for Black Swan, plays a woman who might be a lesbian, or at least likes the ladies when she’s on ecstasy.
• Jeremy Renner, nominee for Best Supporting Actor for The Town, is gay, according to The National Enquirer and his former acting coach.
• Lisa Cholodenko, nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Kids Are All Right, may be the first out lesbian nominated for a screenplay Oscar.
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