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Recapping 2020's Oscar Telecast: Not So Gay

Stage at 2020 oscars

 

According to Nielsen 62% of the viewers to 2020's Academy Awards telecast were women, so since the Oscars are considered the gay Super Bowl should I infer that the remaining 38% were gay men?  The rating for the telecast dropped 20% from last year (6 million fewer viewers).  Perhaps it was due to the alienation of two viewing groups - those who were upset over the under representation of women and blacks in key awards categories, and those who become tired of the constant harping about this under-representation. 

 

Besides a dearth of women and blacks in the major awards categories, the same absence seem to apply to those of the LGBTQ persuasion. Unlike the previous three years (when we had Green Mile; Bohemian Rhapsody; The Favourite; Call Me By Your Name; and Moonlight), there were no Best Picture nominations with gay themes.  Furthermore, there weren't a lot of gay "moments" in general during the telecast.  So what gay moments were there?  

  • Janelle Monae shouting out that she's queer
  • Elton John performing and winning Best Original Song
  • A Verizon Wireless commercial with a coming out theme
  • Billy Porter in all his fabulosity  
  • Judy, the movie about Judy Garland, won the Oscar for Best Actress

 

And now for some highlights/observations:

 

  • As Janelle Monae made her on-stage entrance at the start of the show, she noticed that the middle button on her blouse had come undone and buttoned it as she sang without giving it a second thought.

 

Janelle monae's popped button

Janelle monae

 

  • Mindy Kaling and Kristen Anderson-Lopez stood out in their vibrantly colored gowns in yellow and green.

 

2020 oscars mindy kaling

 Kristen anderson-lopez at 2020 oscars

 

  • Bradley Cooper usually attends the event with his mother so I was curious about the fellow sitting next to him, but was unable to find any mention of him in news reports the next day.  It seems the only Bradley Cooper chatter was about him being in the presence of his ex, Renee Zellweger.

 

Bradley cooper and mystery man at 2020 oscars

 

  • I chuckled when I saw Diane Keaton's coat because it was similar to a lost glove I spotted on a fence in my neighborhood a few weeks ago.

 

2020 oscars_diane keaton and keanu reaves

 Lost glove

  • Timothee Chalamet "owned" his offbeat formal wear.

 

 2020 oscars timothee chalmet

 

  • Taika Waititi, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay for Jo Jo Rabbit got my Oscar for Sexiest Man On Stage, with Oscar Isaac a close second, and Mahershala Ali third.

 

2020 oscars taika waititi

 

  • Disney chairman Bob Iger was in the audience, but may have been upstaged by another attendee, Amazon's Jeff Bezos.  (However, Iger's seat was much farther forward.)

 

Jeff bezos at 2020 oscars

  Bob iger at 2020 oscars

 

  • Did anyone else think that female conductor, Eimear Noone, bore a striking resemblance to actress Leslie Mann?

 

2020 oscars eimar noone conductor

 Leslie mann

 

  • A touching commercial from Verizon Wireless aired in the middle of the telecast.  It featured a young guy who said that he couldn't talk about his homosexuality face to face with his family, but after moving to New York his mother signed the family up for Group Chat, and now the things they couldn't say to each other in person were a lot easier to say when sent in a text.  He closed his story with, "I've never lived further away from my family, but I've never felt more connected to them."

 

Verizon wireless gay son

.

  • It was ironic that the best thing about the movie Rocketman, the performance of the actor who portrayed Elton John (Taron Egerton), was overlooked for an Oscar nomination, yet its bland song won the Oscar for Best Original Song for Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

 

Elton john and bernie taupin at 2020 oscars

 

  • Last week I was enthralled by the stunning 50-year-old J-Lo as she performed her physically demanding halftime routine at the Super Bowl, and a week later 82-year old Jane Fonda looked equally stunning as she closed out the ceremonies.  But why did she bring her coat with her - was coat check full?

 

2020 oscars jane fonda

 

Now, some final comments ...

 

  • King & Queen of the prom.

 

Scarlett johanssen and colin jost

 

  • Regal ...

Cynthia erivo  2020 oscars

 

  • Elton must have had a spare pair of eyeglasses.

  Billy porter at 2020 oscars

 

  • Where have you gone, Dolores Claiborne?

 

Kathy bates at 2020 oscars

 

  • The most touching moment of the night was actress Diane Ladd's reaction upon hearing the name of her daughter, Laura Dern, as winner of Best Supporting Actress.

 

Diane ladd and laura dern

 

 

  • Greta Gerwig vied with Mindy Kaling for most exquisite necklace.

  Greta gerwig at 2020 oscars

 

  • And lastly, as Salma Hayek so amusingly put it, she finally got to hold an Oscar on onstage.

 Selma and oscar 2020 oscars

 

 

 


Renowned Greenwich Village Gay Bar Co-Stars in Movie "Can You Ever Forgive Me"?

Julius bar in can you ever forgive me

 

The Greenwich Village bar, Julius's, plays a prominent role in the true-life drama Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant (both received Oscar nominations for their roles).  The bar is celebrated in the annals of gay history because it's where the famed 'Sip-In' took place in 1966 (three years before the Stonewall riot).  Throughout the movie Julius is where the main characters confide, plot and ultimately reconcile.  In total I'd say the bar has at least 15 minutes of screen time.  (Besides the bar, regular appearances are also made by a cat and a manual typewriter.)  Perhaps Hollywood might consider honoring Julius with a special Oscar for best use of a bar in a movie (after all, Judi Dench got an Oscar for less time on screen in Shakespeare in Love!). 

 

McCarthy and Grant play gay characters - biographer Lee Israel, and aging hustler/party-boy Jack.  And while the movie wasn't promoted as a "LGBT film", there is a steady amount of understated same-sex moments interspersed throughout the story.  For instance, Lee has a flirtation with a female bookstore owner and has a meeting with her ex, while Jack has a dalliance with a flirtatious waiter.  In addition, two other male characters who work at vintage bookstores give off a definite gay vibe (one of them is played by Stephen Spinella).  And AIDS rears its ugly head.  Although the movie is depressing, with shadowy interiors, gray skies and revelations about personal dysfunction, I enjoyed it a lot; Lee and Jack are two great character studies.

 

Can you ever forgive me
  

 

Now, back to Julius.  Located at the corner of Waverly Place and W. 10th St., it's a few minutes from my apartment as well as the Stonewall Inn and the Monster.  If I'm going to a bar the Monster is where I tend to go because it's just down the street from where I live (I've been known to run there without a coat in the wintertime) and it's much more spacious compared to Julius , so I can walk around its two levels and not feel conspicuous if I'm there alone.  Despite not going there all that often, Julius has a friendlier vibe (including the bartenders) and the drinks are cheaper.  (Although it's famed for its burgers I've never had one.)

 

Julius bar exterior

 

Finally, besides its role in this film, Julius appeared in another movie I've seen, 2014's  Love is Strange (starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a gay couple).  But there was just one scene filmed there (pictured below).  Thinking back to all the gay-themed movies I've seen (more than 100) I can recall just one other that had a scene in gay bar in New York.  It was 1999's Trick, and the main characters have an encounter with Miss Coco Peru, who offers advice while powdering her nose in the bathroom at the club Twirl that used to be on W. 23rd St.

 

LoveisStrange_Featured

 


  


LGBTQ News Headlines of 2018

 

2018

 

January 17 - The limited series The Assassination of Gianni Versace (produced by Ryan Murphy) premiered on FX.  It starred Edgar Ramirez as Versace; Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan; Ricky Martin as Versace's lover; and Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace.

 

Versace in pool

 

February 7 - Bermuda became the first country to repeal its law that legalized same-sex marriage.

February 7 - A revival of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (2003-2007), now simply called Queer Eye, premiered on Netflix.

March 4 - James Ivory won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name.

March 16 - The gay teen romance Love, Simon opened in theaters and became the eleventh highest grossing film with a gay theme or prominent gay character, taking in $41 million at the domestic box office.

 

Love  simon

 

March 25 - 25 years after its first Broadway run, a revival of Tony Kushner's AIDS drama Angels in America opens.

April 27 - A documentary about former Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley, The Gospel According to Andre opened in theaters.

May 21 - Although he didn't win a medal for the US in the Men's Singles Figure Skating competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics, openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon won Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.

 

Adam-rippon-jenna-johnson-dwts-5-21-2018-billboard-1548

 

May 31 - A revival of Boys in the Band opened on Broadway in the 50th anniversary year of the play's original Broadway debut.

June 4 - In a 7-2 vote, the US Supreme Court ruled that a baker in Lakewood, Colorado could refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

 

Gay wedding cake

 

July 9 - After a previous rainbow sculpture celebrating gay pride in Warsaw (the capital of Poland) was repeatedly vandalized, a new one was unveiled that is "unbreakable" - a hologram projected on a curtain of water, making it resistant to most forms of defacement.

 

Warsaw rainbow

July 20 - Eight years after his suicide, at the age of 40, a documentary about fashion designer Alexander McQueen opens in theaters.

July 25 - Cher is announced as one of this year's recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.

July 30 - Land O'Lakes Inc. named Beth Ford as its CEO, making her the first openly gay woman to head a Fortune 500 company.

 

Land o lakes

September 18 - Sesame Workshop, the education organization behind the children’s program Sesame Street, issued a press release stating that the beloved characters Bert & Ernie “do not have a sexual orientation.”

November 6 - 43-year-old Jared Polis became the first openly gay person elected governor of a US state (Colorado).

November 22 - A same-sex kiss was aired on Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade for the first time. The kiss was between two female characters during the conclusion of a number from the Broadway show Mean Girls.

 

Macys thanksgiving parade same-sex kiss


Review of "The Cakemaker" - Affection Through Confection

The cakemaker

 

No, The Cakemaker isn't a documentary about the Colorado cake maker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.  Rather, it's a touching (albeit slow-moving) drama about the life of a Berlin baker, Thomas, after his married Israeli boyfriend, Oren, is killed in a car accident (the actor who plays Oren bears a striking resemblance to Daniel Day- Lewis).  Seeking some sort of solace Thomas goes to Jerusalem where he ends up befriending Oren's widow, Anat, gets a job working for her at her newly opened cafe and draws customers with his delectable baked goods.  Oddly, Anat shows no curiosity about Thomas's background nor does she ask him about his reasons for coming Israel.  Meanwhile Anat's brother isn't thrilled that a German Gentile is working in a kosher establishment.  (There are subtle jabs at Orthodox Judaism as it applies to its strict dietary laws.) 

 

Thomas the Cakemaker

 

The cherubic Thomas has a doughy, but surprisingly sexy, physique which, we get to see in a number of scenes when he's showering, lounging in Oren's red Speedo or, in flashbacks, of he and Oren making love.  He's a gentle soul who came to Jerusalem with no sinister agenda in mind.  (An aspect of the movie I liked was having it set in Jerusalem rather than cosmopolitan Tel Aviv.)

 

Thomas at the pool  The Cakemaker
 

Although the movie falls into the "gay" genre the story doesn't immerse itself in depictions of gay life.  In fact, considerably more time is devoted to showing his interaction with Anat (which turns romantic) than with Oren.  There are some furtive cruising done at a gymnasium and at a park but Thomas never acts on it.  Touching scenes with Oren's mother suggest that she knew that Oren was gay and seems to intuit it about Thomas as well.  She acts in a caring, motherly fashion towards him but I didn't know if it was because, perhaps, Oren confided in her, or because, sensing Thomas was gay, she liked having him around because it may have brought back memories of her son.  

 

Near the end of the movie comes a heartrending reveal when Oren's widow, who still isn't aware of the romance between Thomas and Oren, confides in him about what transpired shortly before Oren's accident, a story that devastates Thomas because he learns that Oren's feelings for him were deeper than he imagined.  Little did he know how very close they came to being together in Berlin in a full time relationship.  His restrained emotional reaction upon hearing this account is difficult to watch.

 

Oren and thomas  the cakemaker
 

This is the second Israeli film I've seen with a gay theme.  The first was Yossi & Jagger, which I saw in 2002.  It told the story of two Israeli soldiers, stationed in the no-man's land between Israel and Lebanon, who are surreptitious lovers.  This made the affection between them even more affecting.  Death also separates the two but, unlike The Cakemaker, it comes near the end of the movie.

 

Yossi_u_jagger_header

 

Other movie reviews that may be of interest:  

Call Me By Your Name

In God's Country

Paris 05:59 - Theo & Hugo

Do I Sound Gay?

Stranger by the Lake 

 

 

 


2018 Oscars - Plodding and Predictable, But Still Enjoyable to Watch

Jimmy kimmel and oscar statue

 

Since I'm easily entertained I don't bitch and moan about the Oscars telecast since I always find it engaging (and since I record it I fast forward the lame parts of the show and get through it in about three hours rather than four).  I enjoy the spectacle as well as the anticipation of controversial remarks during acceptance speeches.  Furthermore, I enjoy the camera shots of audience reactions, the demeanor of  presenters and their fashion choices.  I've categorized my observations of this year's broadcast into the following categories: Thumbs Up; Thumbs Down; Touching Moments; Gay Moments; Eye Candy; Reaction Shots; and This & That. 

 

THUMBS UP


 

2018oscars5
The over-the-top, but stunning, set design (which changed colors throughout the evening)

 

Jimmy-kimmel-oscars-live-stream
Reflecting on last year's Best Picture fiasco, Jimmy Kimmel cautioned this year's winners, "When you hear your name called don't get up right away, perhaps give it a minute just to make sure."

 

2018oscars9
Helen Mirren gamely played "Price is Right" model for the jet ski that would be awarded to the person who gave the shortest acceptance speech.

 

Taraji p henson
Perhaps the night's most provocative look was Taraji P. Henson's, who was in full 'Cookie' mode as she introduced Mary J. Blige.


 

THUMBS DOWN

 

Christopher walken 2018 academy awards
I don't recall what award Christopher Walken presented because I was just hoping he didn't fall because he seemed so frail. Also, with his pants hiked up above his waist he looked like one of the characters from "The Sunshine Boys."


 

Gael garcia bernal
The intro to the song "Remember Me" was sung by Gael Garcia Bernal and it was pretty painful (I found it more trying than Fergie's jazz rendition of The National Anthem).



Emily blunt
Emily Blunt's dress was somewhat of a matronly affair, what Mary Poppins might wear (perhaps it was intentional since she's playing Mary Poppins in an upcoming movie). The embroidered space on her bodice looked like it was missing a posting of "Today's Dinner Specials".

 

 

TOUCHING MOMENTS

 

Eva-marie-saint-oscars-20027962
Eva Marie Saint's comments before giving out the Oscar for Costume Design were touching and, at the age of 93, she was remarkably lucid.  I got a kick out of her calling Alfred Hitchcock, "Fred".  (Earlier in the evening Sam Rockwell called Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Phil Hoffman").



Timothee and armie
Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer look on happily as James Ivory accepted his Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for "Call Me by Your Name."

 

2018oscars11
Frances McDormand's joyous expression when co-star Sam Rockwell of "Three Billboards" won for Best Supporting Actor.

 

Jordan peele
Jordan Peele's stunned, but happy, reaction after winning Best Original Screenplay for "Get Out".

 

2018 academy awards
I was smitten by Rachel Shenton, the writer of the documentary short "The Silent Child", which tells the story of a deaf four-year-old.

 

Miguel-oscars-remember-me-coco
The performance of the song "Remember Me" (from "Coco") for some reason made me teary-eyed, perhaps because I was thinking of a dear friend who died much too young at the beginning of the year.

 

Happy at oscar ceremony
Allison Williams watches proudly as her director, Jordan Peele, gives his acceptance speech after winning Best Original Screenplay for "Get Out".

 


GAY MOMENTS

 

Coco director
Adrian Molina and Darla K. Anderson, the openly gay director and producer of "Coco" (Best Animated Feature), thanked their husband and wife, respectively.

 

James ivory wins oscar
James Ivory's win for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Call Me By Your Name." And at the

 

Elio and oliver
One of the clips for "Call Me By Your Name" showed Elio and Oliver passionately kissing. This followed a comment earlier in the evening during Jimmy Kimmel's opening monologue directed at our homophobic vice president: "Hollywood doesn't make movies like "Call Me By Your Name" to make money, we make them to upset Mike Pence".


 

Daniela vega at oscars
"A Fascinating Woman" won for Best Foreign Film and the movie's star, transgendered Daniela Vega, had a regal bearing as she stood on the stage. Later she introduced the Best Song nominee from "Call Me By Your Name."

 

This is me from the showman
From the movie "The Showman", nominated song "This Is Me" could be adopted as a gay anthem, like "I Am What I Am" or "Born This Way."

 

EYE CANDY 

(Your tastes may differ)

 

Oscar at the oscars
Oscar at the Oscars (Oscar Isaac)

 

Chadwick boseman
"Black Panther's" Chadwick Boseman

 

Ansel-elgort-oscars-baby-driver
Ansel Elgort ("Baby Driver")

 

Jordan peele oscar winner
Jordan Peele

 

Oliver and elio
Armie Hammer

 

 

REACTION SHOTS

 

2018oscars
Margot Robie ("I, Tonya")

 

Sam rockwell 2018 oscars
Sam Rockwell

 

2018oscars8
Sam Rockwell and Common


 

Oscars4
Lupita Nyongo during the show's black & white newsreel opening

 

Actor from get out
"Get Out's" Daniel Kaluuya

 

Leslie manville 2018 oscars
Leslie Manville's look brought to mind the glamour of old Hollywood.

 

2018oscars10
Best Actor nominee Timothee Chalemet


 

2018oscars2
Jennifer Lawrence

 

Viola davis 2018 oscars
Viola Davis claps along enthusiastically to the rousing performance of "This is Me."

 

Oscars2018
Gleeful director Guillermo del Toro after verifying that his movie had indeed won Best Picture.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

Annabella s
At first glance I mistook Annabella Sciora for Tina Fey when she came onto the stage.

 

Viola davis 2018 oscars
The way she hobbled out to present the night's first award, it appeared Viola Davis was walking off a charley horse!

 

Mexican actor
I had no idea who two presenters were, so I had to Google their names. Wes Studi, a Cherokee actor, introduced clips from war-themed movies while Eugenio Derbez (pictured), a well-known actor in Mexico, introduced the song "Remember Me" from "Coco."

 

Mary j blige
And the Oscar for the night's most big-ass earrings goes to ... Mary J. Blige.

 

Benjamin bratt 2018 oscars
Benjamin Bratt kept his cool despite there being a huge piece of confetti, part of the "Remember Me" number, on his coiff.

 

Previous Oscar recaps:

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

 



 


 

 

 

 


"Call Me By Your Name" - Aesthetically Pleasing, But Lacking Sizzle

Call_me_by_your_name_still_10_-_publicity_-_h_2017

 

Since the early part of 2017 I had been eagerly anticipating the release of the movie Call Me By Your Name, which received rapturous reviews as it traveled the film festival circuit.  At long last it opened in New York in late November, but after all of the rhapsodic buzz it generated, I found the movie somewhat of a disappointment.  Although the Italian-set film was beautiful to watch, it felt sanitized (in fact, screenwriter James Ivory, who would win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, groused about its lack of nudity).  And unlike director Luca Guadagnino's  over-the-top, operatic I Am Love from 2009, this effort was more languid, sapping it of carnal fervor.

 

The reason for my disappointment was largely due to what I felt was a lack of chemistry between Elio and Oliver; their connection didn't ring true.  Furthermore, I didn't get a gay vibe from Oliver.  In my mind he came across as a player whose motivation was deflowering Elio, who served as a conquest.  (In fact, Oliver's demeanor, and even his appearance, somewhat reminded me of Mad Men's Don Draper.)  And Oliver didn't seem like a 24-year-old grad student, but, rather, more like the real age of the actor who portrayed him, 31-year-old Armie Hammer.  (Perhaps this was why he was overlooked for an Oscar nomination.)

 

Timothee-chalamet-armie-hammer-call-me-by-your-name-zoom

 

Nor did I detect much in the way of sexual tension between Elio and Oliver, which was in stark contrast to the smoldering relationship between Johnny and Gheorghe, the two main characters, in God's Own Country, which opened a few months before Call Me By Your Name.  It was also critically acclaimed, but without the buzz of Name (however, in the UK it won the British Independent Film Award for Best Picture).  And the $375,000 it made in its four-month run in the US was less than what Name grossed in its first weekend ($400,000 in just four theaters).

 

God's own country - confrontation

 

With Call Me set in 1983 it had me thinking about the devastating early years of the AIDS crisis in the US (which was never mentioned in the movie).  I pondered how it might impact Elio's and Oliver's lives in a few years.  With Elio being new to gay sex would he be cautious and fearful?  Once Oliver was married would he be living life on the DL and risk the health of his wife? 

 

The highlight of the movie came during the closing credits as Elio is shown weeping silently as he gazes into the flames of the fireplace in the home of his parents.  His tears came after Oliver phoned him with the news of his engagement to his girlfriend.  Enhancing this tender scene was the gently captivating song Gates of Gideon by Sufjan Stevens.  This scene brought to mind the closing minutes of Michael Clayton, which showed George Clooney's character sitting in the back of a taxi going through Manhattan after his dramatic take down of Tilda Swinton's murderous corporate attorney (but no tears were shed). 

 

Elio crying - call me by your name

 

Finally, in what may have been a first, three other gay-themed movies were out at the same time as Call Me By Your Name: God's Own Country, BPM, and Tom of Finland.  And although none of these movies was ever in more than 20 theaters, nonetheless, it seemed like an embarrassment of riches. (However, in April the movie Love, Simon was released in more than 2,400 theaters, selling more tickets in its first two weeks than Call Me By Your Name did in its entire run.) 

 

Love simon
 


"God's Own Country" - Farm Boy Meets His Prince Charming

God's own country title card

 

The film, God's Own Country, is a slow-burn gay romance set on a farm in England's Yorkshire countryside where a disabled farmer's son, Johnny, is burdened with deadening chores.  To give him some relief a young migrant farm worker from Romania, Gheorghe, is hired.  Johnny is closeted and sullen; Gheorghe, polite and exuding a gentle nature, slowly connects with Johnny, a young man whose emotional life has been stunted from a lack of physical affection.  Gheorghe, by contrast, seems heaven sent (case in point, he nurtures an orphan lamb, cuddling him inside his jacket).  This is a deeply touching movie, with a number of heartwarming scenes between Johnny and Gheorghe as Johnny slowly warms to Gheorghe's tenderness (in contrast to his furtive, drunken hookups in a bathroom stall at the local pub).

 

God's own country - gheorge with lamb

 


Watching this film, scenes from three movies popped into my head: 1) A rough-sex scene (augmented by spit) between Johnny and Gheorghe easily brought to mind Brokeback Mountain; then later in the movie, after Gheorghe abruptly quits the farm, Johnny comes across a few articles of his clothing which he smells longingly; 2) Like The Taming of the Shrew, Gheorge breaks Johnny after he taunts him with the epithet "gypsy", pinning him to the ground and establishing his dominance (pictured below); and 3) Calling to mind An Officer and a Gentleman, Johnny, full of remorse after being caught in the pub men's bathroom boffing a stranger, comes to get Gheorghe back from the potato-processing plant he stormed off to.

 

God's own country - confrontation 

 

If the movie has a flaw it's the portrayal of Gheorghe as a person who is flawless - a knight in shining armor.  He's hardly your typical migrant worker.  Yet, the movie ends with us knowing very little about him, leaving me wondering why a fellow who spoke fluent English (his mother taught English) and was somewhat of a Martha Stewart around the farm (e.g., after skinning a dead baby lamb he fashioned a little wool jacket that he put on an orphaned lamb), didn't aspire to something beyond farming.  However, despite these reservations, I still highly recommend the movie.

 

God's own country - johnny and gheorghe

 God's own country - johnny

 God's own country - gheorghe

 

God's own country  hands touching

 

Here are a number of other past movie reviews:

Call Me By Your Name

Paris 5:59: Theo & Hugo

Stranger by the Lake

Stonewall

Do I Sound Gay?

 

 

 

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Gay-Themed "Moonlight" Wins Best Picture at 2017 Academy Awards After "La La Land" Mix Up

Best picture mistake

 

At the beginning of February the Super Bowl became one for the ages when it became the first to go into overtime.  Then three weeks later the "gay Super Bowl", i.e., the Academy Awards, had an equally memorable ending when the wrong Best Picture winner was announced.  The actual winner, Moonlight, became the first movie with a gay main character to win Best Picture (and its all-black cast was also a first for a Best Picture winner).  However, it had to wait a few minutes before the cast could bask in glory because La La Land was first announced as the winner.  It somehow seemed fitting that "drama" would surround a gay-themed movie.  Below you'll find my observations about the rest of the telecast:

 

 Oscars billboard

 

A Parade of Dashing Presenters ...

 

The rock at 2017 Academy Awards
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

 

Gael bernal garcia
Gael Garcia Bernal (with Hailee Steinfield)

 

Riz ahmed
Riz Ahmed

 

Dashing vince vaughn
Vince Vaughn

 

And the Dashing Members of the Audience ...

 

Andrew garfield
Andrew Garfield

 

Best supporting actor
Mahershala Ali

 

Emma stone and viola davis husband
Viola Davis's husband, Julius Tennon and Emma Stone

 

Ryan gosling
Ryan Gosling during Emma Stone's acceptance speech (with actress Ruth Negga in background).

 

  • Granted, the telecast was slow moving but I think we can all agree that the various stage sets were beautiful to behold.

 

Leslie mann and john cho

 Hidden figures

 Oscar stage

 Salma hayek

 Jimmy kimmel

 2017 academy awards stage

 

  • Emma Stone's younger brother, Spencer, looked cute in a hamster/chipmunk-like way.

 

Emma stone brother spencer

 

  • Denzel did not look pleased after not winning for Best Actor, perhaps because he had a fiery acceptance speech planned whereas winner Casey Affleck seemed to be still in character from Manchester by the Sea, with his halting, uninspiring acceptance speech.

 

Denzel_1-large_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqfmWw8ZtkYoKgUQYLfpqhYkNwENFDDZcUtBhjTKyeZIo
This camera shot was immediately after Casey Affleck complimented Washington, saying that he had honed his acting skills by watching his past performances.

 

  • Although it was emotion-filled, Viola Davis' acceptance speech after winning for Best Supporting Actress was oddly joyless.

 

Viola davis acceptance speech 2017 oscars 

 

  • However, she did manage to crack a smile later ...

 

Viola davis and husband

 

  • I love him to death, but isn't Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton" patter getting a bit tired?

 

Lin manuel miranda

 

  • The opening with Justin Timberlake boogying his way through the audience left me cold - was this the opening of the Grammy's?  How did they get everyone in the audience so jazzed?  And although his song, Can't Stop the Feeling, was a Best Song nominee, what about the mash-up with Lovely Day (a Bill Withers song).

 

Justin timberlake 2017 academy awards

 

  • The singer of the nominated song from Moana, Auli'i Cravalho, was slightly grazed by one of the huge flags being waved behind her, but she maintained her poise.  Although the song didn't win, hers was the best performance as John Legend's voice was weak and pitchy when he sang the two nominated songs from La La Land.  

 

Singer

 Aulii Cravalho

 

  • I liked Scarlett Johansson's coiff, which was a mash-up of New Wave and old Hollywood glamour.

. Scarlett johansson 2017 oscars

 

  • For the third year in a row Chris Evans was a presenter and continued his Oscar tradition of having the same look..

 

2017 oscars
2017

 

Chris evans 2016
2016

 

Chris evans 2015
2015

 

  • Besides the acceptance speeches made after Moonlight won its awards, the only other gay moment I recall was when Byron Howard, a co-director for Best Animated Film, Zootopia, gave a quick shout out to his husband, Shepherd, as the orchestra began playing.

 

Zootopia byron howard

 

  • I was amused by the running gag of animosity between host Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon, especially when the music started playing whenever Damon would speak.

 

Matt damon

 

Ben afflect and guest

 

  • The necklace worn by Alicia Vikander (Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl in 2016) was lovely.

 

Necklace

 

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New Movie, "Paris 05:59", Explores Young Men & HIV in the 21st Century

Theo-and-hugo-quad-v1-copy

 

Aah, memories of young love.  The French film, Paris 05:59: Theo & Hugo, takes place over the course of two pre-dawn hours, and begins with an extended, explicit scene in a sex club, where Theo and Hugo meet and are smitten.  They leave together, but their giddy rapture is short lived when Hugo learns that Theo hadn't used a condom when he fucked him (and came in him) - and Hugo is positive.  Recriminations are cast, but the two immediately proceed to a nearby ER where Theo gets a 30-day package of anti-virals (the scene with the nurse has a very Afterschool Special feel to it).  As they slowly learn about each others' lives, they have occasional outbursts of anger and try to push the other away, but it's clear the two still want each other. 

 

Having lived through the AIDS crisis, getting educated about HIV and participating in a drug trial, I wasn't shaken by their plight (actually, I thought it was a bit overblown).  After all, Hugo was the receptive partner and his viral load was undetectable.  Still, I applaud the director for showing the angst these two young pups experienced since, nowadays, it seems this type of concern isn't prevalent, especially since the introduction of PrEP.  And this is the first movie I've seen in which the poz individual took the negative person to task for not sharing some responsibility for what happened, i.e. when Theo chose not to use a condom he could have asked Hugo about his HIV status.

 

Paris_559_01
Hugo making the call to the ER after revealing to Theo that he's positive. 

 

Bottom line, I liked the movie.  In addition to the film's first eighteen minutes (and the insistent, sleazy EDM track in the background) I enjoyed it for its realistic portrayal of youthful exuberance.  It brought to mind the times, back in my "salad days", when I went without sleep after encountering new-found love in the wee hours of the morning, which kept me energized after the sun came up.  Finally, I love Paris and hearing the French language - especially when spoken by two adorable characters like Theo and Hugo.

 

Paris0559theoandhugo1000x41

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Gay-Themed Movies I've Seen Through The Years

Boys in the Band Movie

 

Since 1980 I've seen 112 gay-themed movies, which is about 10% of all the movies I've watched, beginning with The Boys in the Band in 1981 through Oscar contender, Moonlight, at the end of 2016.  On average, I've seen three films each year in this genre, with 1997 being the year I saw the most - eight (and in 1984 I saw none).  About two-thirds could be considered "indie films" (in other words, very few theaters showed them and they made less than $500,000 at the box office).  Despite this long list, there are some well-known films I've never seen, the most popular being Philadelphia, Dallas Buyers Club and Capote.  What follows are my 20 favorites, a listing of some of my least favorite, and a summary chart of all of the movies.  (Please note that movies with gay subplots aren't included.)

 

Moonlight movie

 

A SINGLE MAN

When & Where I Saw It: January 2010 at the Bronxville (NY) Playhouse

Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore

Setting: Los Angeles, early 1960s

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Box Office: $25 Million

Comments: Firth was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a grieving professor whose lover was killed in a car accident.  Julianne Moore played the role of his best friend.  Although it was on the depressing side, the film's ending was somewhat uplifting - and it was beautiful to look at.  Directed by fashion designer Tom Ford.

 

A single man poster 

 

BEFORE NIGHT FALLS

When & Where I Saw It: February 2001 at Chelsea Cinemas

Setting: Cuba in the 1960s and 70s/New York in the 1980s

Starring: Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Domestic Box Office: $4.2 million ($6.5 million, adjusted for ticket-price inflation)

Comments:  Based on the life of Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas (portrayed by Javier Bardem).  Johnny Depp plays a cross-dressing prisoner in a Cuban prison.  AIDS enters the picture at the end of the film as Arenas, now living in NYC, dies of AIDS.  Directed by artist Julian Schnabel.  Bardem was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.  At it's widest it showed in 127 theaters.  The movie poster overpowers one of my doctor's exam rooms.

 

Before night falls

 

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

When & Where I Saw It: December 2005 at Chelsea Cinemas

Starring: Heath Ledger; Jake Gyllenhaal; Michelle Williams; Ann Hathaway

Setting: Wyoming and Texas in the 1960s and '70s

Rotten Tomatoes Score:  87%

Domestic Box Office Gross:  $83 million ($112 million, adjusted for inflation)

Comments: Received eight Oscar nominations, and despite winning for Best Director and Adapted Screenplay, it didn't win Best Picture, which caused a stir (Crash won).  Ledger, Gyllenhaal, Williams and Hathaway were all nominated.

 

Brokeback mountain poster

 

THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB

When & Where I Saw It:  2000 at Chelsea Cinemas

Setting: West Hollywood

Starring: John Mahoney, Zach Braff, Dean Cain

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64%

Domestic Box Office: $1.8 million ($3 million, adjusted for ticket-price inflation)

Comments:  The movie revolved around the lives of members of a gay softball team.  Two of the movie's lead characters were known from their TV roles, John Mahoney of Frasier and Dean Cain of The Adventures of Lois and Clark.  And Zach Braff would star the following year in Scrubs.  Billy Porter was also in it - 13 years before winning a Tony for Kinky Boots.  A highlight from the soundtrack was Giorgio Moroder's From Here to Eternity.  Many who liked the film pointed out how it showed how "normal" gay men had become compared to those from The Boys in the Band era (late '60s to early '70s).  Like many gay-themed films, it never played in more than 100 theaters.

 

DSCN5399

 

GODS & MONSTERS

When & Where I Saw it: 1998 at Quad Cinema

Setting: Hollywood in the 1950s

Starring: Ian McClellan; Brendan Fraser; Lynn Redgrave

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Domestic Box Office: $6.5 million ($12 million, adjusted for ticket-price inflation)

Comments: The movie tells the true story of gay movie director, James Whale (played by McClellan).  It received three Oscar nominations, with Lynn Redgrave winning for Best Supporting Actress.  Brendan Fraser took his role to break his image as an action star (e.g., The Mummy movies).

 

Gods and monsters

 

IN & OUT

When & Where I Saw It: October 1997 at Chelsea Cinemas

Starring: Kevin Cline, Joan Cusack, Debbie Reynolds, Matt Dillon, Tom Selleck

Setting: Indiana

Rotten Tomatoes Score:  73%

Domestic Office: $64 million ($120 million, adjusted for ticket-price inflation)

Comments: This is only one of two comedies among my favorites.  Its premise is based on a real-life event whereby Tom Hanks, during his 1994 Oscar acceptance speech for Philadelphia, mentioned that his high school drama teacher was gay.  This also happens in the movie, but the drama teacher, played by Kevin Kline, is deeply closeted. Joan Cusack was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Kevin Kline's long-suffering girlfriend.  Tom Selleck plays a gay news reporter who grabs Kevin Kline and kisses him hard on the mouth.  A classic scene has Kline's character listening to a tape instructing him how to act more masculine, but it all falls apart when he's instructed that "manly men" don't dance, and then Diana Ross's remake of I Will Survive comes on to test him.

 

In and out movie

 

LONGTIME COMPANION

When & Where I Saw It: May 1990 at the Angelika

Starring: Bruce Davison; Mary-Louise Parker; Dermot Mulroney; Campbell Scott

Setting: New York City, 1981-1989

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Domestic Box Office: $4.6 million ($10 million, adjusted for ticket-price inflation)

Comments:  The first mainstream movie about the AIDS crisis (five years after An Early Frost aired on network TV), Bruce Davison was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  Although it was considered mainstream, it played in only 85 theaters.  Some scenes were filmed at the beach on Fire Island.  One of the few amusing scenes had two characters singing Dream Girls in their bedroom. The boyfriend I saw the movie with died from AIDS two years later.

 

Longtime_comp

 

LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION!

When & Where I Saw It:  June 1997 at City Cinemas Village East (2nd Ave./12th St.)

Starring: Jason Alexander 

Setting: Dutchess County, New York

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

Domestic Box Office: $2.9 million ($5.5 million, adjusted for inflation)

Comments: I saw it on Broadway in 1996 (the play was written by Terrence McNally).  In the movie version Jason Alexander (at the height of his Seinfeld fame) replaced Nathan Lane, which I was happy about because I found Lane's character cloying.  In one scene a young stud sunbathes nude on a rock by a lake.  AIDS is part of the plot.  No female characters.  

 

Love valour compassion

 

MAKING THE BOYS

When & Where I Saw It: March 2011 at the Quad Cinema

Starring: Mart Crowley (director of The Boys in the Band)

Setting: New York and Hollywood

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%

Domestic Box Office Gross: $34,000

Comments: Although I found the 1970 movie The Boys in the Band very depressing (I saw it in 1981) I recognized it as an important film, so this documentary about the making of it was fascinating.  Crowley reveals that his friend, actress Natalie Wood, was instrumental in getting the Broadway production and then the movie written and made.  It's shocking how little the documentary made at the box office.  Director Crayton Robey also directed Where Sky Meets Ocean, a 2003 documentary about Fire Island Pines.

 

Making the boys poster  

 

MAKING LOVE

When & Where I Saw It:  February 1982 at the Murray Hill Theater (E. 34th St.)

Starring: Kate Jackson, Harry Hamlin, Michael Ontkean

Setting: Los Angeles

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 31%

Domestic Box Office: $12 million ($35 million, adjusted for inflation)

Comments: Ontkean and Jackson are a married couple but he comes out of the closet after a brief affair with Hamlin's bed-hopping character.  What made this film notable was the physical affection between the men and a positive ending for Ontkean and Jackson after they divorce.

Back in 1982 it was very risky for an actor to play a gay man (especially if physical affection was shown).  Years later it was reported that Michael Ontkean would bristle if he was asked about his role.  At the time Kate Jackson already had two successful TV series on her resume, The Rookies and Charlie's Angels, and a third would debut in 1983, Scarecrow & Mrs. King.  Hamlin was part of the all-star cast of LA Law in the second half of the 1980s and was named People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1987.  Ontkean appeared with Jackson in The Rookies in the 1970s and Twin Peaks in the early '90s. 

Roberta Flack sang the title song, which peaked at #13 on Billboard's Hot 100 in the spring of 1982.

 

Making_love

 

MAURICE

When & Where I Saw It - Released in 1987, I didn't see it until March 1991 when I rented it while on vacation in Palm Springs

Setting: England, early 20th century

Starring: James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, Simon Callow

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Domestic Box Office: $2.4 million ($5.3 million, adjusted for inflation).

Comments:  A beautiful to watch, Merchant-Ivory production, Maurice was released two years after A Room With a View and five years before Howard's End.  The build-up to the scene where Maurice (James Wilby) and the working class boy he lusted after (Rupert Graves) consummate their attraction gave most viewers a case of blue balls.

 

Maurice_movie_poster

 

MILK

When & Where I Saw It: February 2009 at Chelsea Cinemas

Setting: San Francisco in the 1970s

Starring: Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Domestic Box Office: $32 million

Comments: The movie won two Oscars (it was nominated for eight) - Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor (Sean Penn).  James Franco portrayed Milk's lover (as a blond).  Sylvester's classic You Make Me Feel, which was on the soundtrack, perfectly captured the the late '70s gay disco scene.  At its widest the movie played on 882 screens, half as many as Brokeback Mountain - and it grossed $50 million less (domestically), barely breaking even.

 

Milk

 

NOTES ON A SCANDAL

When & Where I Saw It: January 2007 at Chelsea Cinemas

Setting: London

Starring: Cate Blanchett & Judi Dench

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Domestic Box Office: $50 million

Comments: Judi Dench is a conniving, jealous and somewhat pathetic lesbian with the hots for a fellow schoolteacher, Cate Blanchett, who is fiercely heterosexual (and carrying on an affair with a student).  This is the only movie on mytop-20 list with a lesbian theme.  It received four Oscar nominations, including Best Actress for Dench, Best Supporting Actress for Blanchett and Best Adapted Screenplay.

 

Notes on a scandal poster

 

THE OPPOSITE OF SEX

When & Where I Saw It: September 1998 at the Greenwich Playhouse

Setting: Indiana

Starring: Christina Ricci, Lisa Kudrow, Lyle Lovett

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Domestic Box Office: $6 million ($11 million, adjusted for inflation)

Comments: Many thought Lisa Kudrow, one of the co-stars of Friends, should have received an Oscar nomination for her performance.  This is the second of my favorite movies set in Indiana.  I saw the movie at the Greenwich Playhouse, which is now the site of a multi-level Equinox gym.

 

 

The Opposite of Sex

 

PARTING GLANCES

When & Where I Saw It:  March 1986 at a theater on W. 72nd St.

Starring: Steve Buscemi

Setting: Manhattan and Brooklyn

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Domestic Gross: $538,000 ($1.25 million, adjusted for ticket-price inflation)

Comments:  One of the first films to tackle AIDS, it was Steve Buscemi's first major role.  The movie's director died of AIDS in 1990.

 

Parting glances 1984

 

STONEWALL

When & Where I Saw It: September 1996 at Quad Cinema

Setting: New York City in the second half of the 1960s

Starring: Guillermo Diaz, Luis Guzman

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

Domestic Box Office:  $692,000 ($1.4 million, adjusted for inflation)

Comments:  Although it grossed less than $1 million, this was nearly four times as much as the much maligned remake from 2015 (which got just a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes).  In 2012, one of the movie's leads, Guillermo Diaz, began his role as Huck in the TV show Scandal.  I had a few dates (before the movie was filmed) with one of the extras who was in a few scenes depicting a demonstration in Philadelphia.

 

Stonewall 1995 movie poster    

 

STRANGER BY THE LAKE

When & Where I Saw It: February 2014 at the IFC Center (formerly the Waverly, West 4th/6th Ave.)

Setting: Provence, France

Starring: Unknowns

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Domestic Box Office: $325,000

Comments:  A disturbing, drawn-out drama about a murderer in a lakeside setting where gay men sunbathe nude and cavort in the woods.  The protagonist, Franck, witnesses the murderer (Michel) drown his lover but nonetheless finds himself very attracted to him; and he doesn't help in the murder investigation.  Additional murders ensue.  The movie ends in darkness with Franck calling out for Michel, bringing to mind the end of The Blair Witch Project.  This isn't usually my type of movie but I found it mesmerizing, perhaps because the setting brought to mind the Meat Rack at Fire Island (and how a maniac could do harm to persons cavorting in it at night).  Despite critical acclaim, it showed in no more than sixteen theaters in the US.

 

Stranger by the lake movie poster

 

UNDERTOW

When & Where I Saw It: 2004 at Quad Cinema

Setting: A fishing village on the coast of Peru

Starring:  A cast of unknowns

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Domestic Box Office: $146,000 (widest distribution was 30 theaters)

Comments: A married fisherman with a new-born falls in love with a gay artist, which creates tension in his fishing village.  It was a nice change of pace from the urban settings of most gay-themed films.

 

Undertow movie poster

 

WERE THE WORLD MINE

When & Where I Saw It: November 2008 at Cinema Village (W. 12th St.)

Setting: A small town outside of Chicago

Starring: Tanner Cohen

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Domestic Box Office: $124,000

Comments: An openly gay high school student makes a love potion and uses it to turn straight people in his town gay, including his crush, the school's quarterback.  A wonderful film, but like so many gay-themed movies, despite positive reviews it had no distribution; at its widest it showed in four theaters nationwide. The following year I saw Tanner Cohen walking through H&M on Fifth Ave./17th St. and I stopped him and told him how much I enjoyed the movie.  Five years later he had a one-minute scene in the premiere episode of HBO's Looking, where he took part in a threesome with Augustin and his boyfriend.

 

Were the world mine poster

 

YOSSI & JAGGER

When & Where I Saw It:  January 2003 at Film Forum (Soho)

Setting: Near the Israel-Lebanon border

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Domestic Box Office: $267,000

Comments: The movie is about two soldiers who fall in love.  Shot in the hinterlands of Israel.  One beautiful scene is of the two of them playing in the snow.  The film was only 67 minutes in length.

 

Yossi_u_jagger_header

 

 

NOW FOR MY LEAST FAVORITE MOVIES ...

Another Gay Movie (2006) - Appearances by Graham Norton, Lypsinka ... and Richard Hatch.  This has the third lowest IMDB user score of the movies I've seen.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I were 30 years younger.

 

Another gay movie

 

The Country Teacher (2009) - Set in a farm community in the Czech Republic, I found it depressing and maddeningly slow (but it got a decent IMDB score of 7.0).  The most interesting part of the movie was a graphic scene where a cow gives birth.

 

The country teacher

 

Happy Together (1998).  Tells the story of boyfriends from Hong Kong living in Buenos Aires.  Its director won the highest honor at Cannes and its Rotten Tomato rating was 78%, but I found the two characters very unlikable as they carried on their dysfunctional relationship.

 

Happy together movie

 

I'm So Excited (2013) -  Perhaps the nadir of Pedro Almodovar's career, this tacky movie tells the story of a peculiar flight on a Spanish airline and how the gay flight crew manages it.  It has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 48% (and 5.6 on IIMDB).

 

Im so excited by pedro almovodar

 

Kiss Me Guido (1997) - Use of the word "Guido" in the title should have been a tip-off about the quality of this movie.  It was turned into a sitcom on CBS that lasted for only a few episodes.

 

Kiss me guido

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil (1997)- I didn't read the book (a big best seller for weeks and weeks), and I'm not a big fan of drag, but I went to it thinking it might be interesting.  I was wrong.

 

Midnight in the garden of good and evil - movie poster

 

The Next Best Thing (2000) - Starring the insufferable Madonna and Rupert Everett.  And it featured the cringe-worthy remake of the song American Pie (a duet).  This has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 20% - the lowest IMDB score of any of the gay-themed movies I've seen.  Even the poster is unappealing. However, it managed to gross $15 million at the box office ($24 million when adjusted for ticket-price inflation). 

 

Next best thing

 

What's the Name of the Dame? - I saw this as part of Queerfest 2012.  It was a revue of nine drag queens who sing songs by ABBA, in various styles.  Although I like ABBA, this was excruciating to watch.  Not surprisingly, it never went beyond the film festival circuit.

 

Whats the_name_dame_ movieposter2

 

Gay themed movies1 Gay themed movies2 Column headings Gay Themed Movies3 Gay Themed Movies4 Column headings Gay Themed Movies5 Gay Themed Movies6 Column headings Gay Themed Movies7 Gay Themed Movies8

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