Why Expectations for Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg’s Golden Globes Hosting Gig Are Sky-High

There’s a ton riding on Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh to kill it tonight at the Golden Globes. Why? Two words: Kevin Hart.

Okay, also two more words: The Oscars.

The Hart hosting fiasco has been nothing short of an epic disaster for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscars’ parent organization has managed to look, at different turns, unprepared, out of touch, and desperate. That they’re now apparently just going hostless entirely, while a potential fresh take on the ceremony, speaks to how thoroughly they flubbed this. The common wisdom is now that hosting the Oscars is a hellish experience absolutely no one would want to take on — wisdom that could, in turn, affect other awards shows.

Enter Oh and Samberg, an out-of-the-box pairing likely chosen based on how well they presented together during last year’s awards season. The general reaction to Samberg and Oh has been nothing short of ecstatic, and every bit of pre-show material we’ve gotten from them has only upped the expectations. This video, in particular, I’ve watched no fewer than 200 times:

So even without the Hart situation, Oh and Samberg would be walking into tonight with a lot of enthusiasm to live up to. But the added pressure comes from proving that, put simply, hosts for awards shows are still a good idea.

Luckily, these two have great chemistry, killer comic timing, and already have the media on their side. (Seriously, I haven’t seen such good press for awards show hosts since the halcyon days of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.) As long as they walk into tonight confident and ready to have fun, I think they’ll be — pardon the pun — golden.

Golden Globes 2019 Predictions: Who Will Win in the Film Categories?

How many Golden Globes will Lady Gaga have by tonight’s end?

Currently, she has one, from her work on FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel. She could have up to three after the Golden Globes this evening, being nominated for both Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama, and Best Original Song, Motion Picture. Will she complete the double play, walk away with just one win, or instead go home empty-handed?

Ahead of the awards tonight, let’s take a look at the film categories, and try to read the tea leaves on what will win big.

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Green Book
Mary Poppins Returns
Vice

Should Win: The Favourite, with a nod to the delightful Mary Poppins Returns.
Will Win: Vice heads into tonight with the most nominations of any movie, but I think the mixed critical response probably hurt it. Let’s go with the more generally well-liked Green Book.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

Should Win: Black Panther or If Beale Street Could Talk
Will Win: Something in my heart tells me tonight is not going to be an A Star Is Born sweep. I’m gonna predict it to win here, but don’t be shocked if Bohemian Rhapsody wins instead.

Best Motion Picture, Animated
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs

Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet 
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Should Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Will Win: Probably Incredibles 2.

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language
Capernaum
Girl
Never Look Away
Roma
Shoplifters

Should Win: Shoplifters
Will Win: Roma, unless awards bodies are cooling on it after it tore through critics prizes season.
Thank God It Won’t Win: Girl

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Glenn Close, The Wife
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Nicole Kidman, Destroyer
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? 
Rosamund Pike, A Private War

Should Win: McCarthy
Will Win: The Globes love Gaga! Expect her to take this prize home easily.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

Should Win: I’m not too hot on any of these performances, to be frank, but I’d probably give it to Cooper or Hedges.
Will Win: I think this is where Malek starts his sweep of the season.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
Olivia Coleman, The Favourite
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Charlize Theron, Tully
Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians

Should Win: Theron, but this is an incredible category. Literally every nominee would make for a great winner.
Will Win: Blunt, who the Globes have always loved more than the Oscars.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale, Vice
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Robert Redford, The Old Man and the Gun
John C. Reilly, Stan & Ollie

Should Win: Yikes, this category. (Admittedly, I haven’t seen Stan & Ollie, and I do hear Reilly is delightful in it.) I’d probably go Redford.
Will Win: Bale, in a walk.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Motion Picture
Amy Adams, Vice
Claire Foy, First Man
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Should Win:  King, though Stone is aces in The Favourite (but absolutely a lead).
Will Win: Half of prediction is advocacy, so for that reason, I’m going to say King. Don’t be floored if it’s Adams, though.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Should Win: Grant
Will Win: Ali, since they snubbed him two years ago when he was winning for Moonlight everywhere else.

Best Director, Motion Picture
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Peter Farrelly, Green Book
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay, Vice

Should Win: Cuarón
Will Win: So I have a fear that, because they want to reward Malek in Actor, they’re going to reward Cooper here. And the Roma contingent is not going to take that well. But yeah, I think it’s Cooper.

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Tony McNamara, Deborah Davis, The Favourite
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Adam McKay, Vice
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Green Book

Should Win: The Favourite
Will Win: I think this is where they reward Vice.

Best Original Score, Motion Picture
Marco Beltrami, A Quiet Place
Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
Ludwig Goransson, Black Panther
Justin Hurwitz, First Man
Marc Shaiman, Mary Poppins Returns

Should Win: Hurwitz
Will Win: Shaiman? This is a tougher one.

Best Original Song, Motion Picture
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“Girl in the Movies,” Dumplin’
“Requiem for a Private War,” A Private War
“Revelation,” Boy Erased
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born

Should Win: “Shallow”
Will Win: No matter what happens in Actress, count on Lady Gaga to walk out of the Beverly Hilton with at least one Golden Globe tonight. “Shallow” is the most certain win of the night.

Image via Getty

But How Gay Was the 2018 Film Year? Our Top 10 Gayest Movies

We’ve come to the end of the film year, and as awards bodies ramp up to hand out their trophies, we’re left to survey the dust. Or, since we’re gay, the glitter.

It was a fairly gay film year, one that perhaps benefitted from low expectations. Without a Big Gay Movie like Call Me by Your NameCarol, or Moonlight, more movies were able to surprise, either with a surprising amount of queerness, or for deftly using gay supporting characters to better flesh out their worlds. Along the way, there were some disappointments: Boy Erased wound up being more of a gay movie for straight people, and nothing Timothée Chalamet did this year could quite match the gay quotient of CMBYN.

To commemorate the year, I’ve assembled the top 10 gayest movies I covered this year in my But How Gay Is It? column. I’ve also included (lightly edited) answers to the titular question from each column; if you want to read each full review, they’re linked to each movie title. Enjoy!

Honorable mentions: Ultimately, Ocean’s 8 just wasn’t gay enough, despite giving off all the right signals. We lament that we didn’t get a queerer version — one in which Debbie Ocean and Lou Miller’s past was a romantic one, and more true sexual sparks flew between Debbie and Tammy. Also, I didn’t cover Disobedience for But How Gay Is It? — blame another, slightly bigger movie that came out that weekend — but it’d absolutely make the top 10 if I had.

10. Annihilation

But how gay is it? More gay than you’d think, in large part because Rodriguez’s Anya is gay. She doesn’t have a big romantic plot or anything — none of the other supporting characters do, and Lena’s is only told in flashback. But her sexuality is explicitly mentioned, and that’s not nothing.

9. Book Club

But how gay is it? There are no gay characters, but simply assembling a collection of gay icons like this is absolutely qualifies it as pretty gay. Plus, their stories will sound all too familiar: Diane Keaton meets a rich daddy who wants her to lie to her family and meet him at his fabulous home in the desert? Relatable to literally any twink who’s found his way into an older man’s pool in Palm Springs. Candice Bergen goes out on Bumble dates and hooks up with a man in the back of her car? Iconic! Jane Fonda struggles with finding love and prefers to just have one-night stands? Honestly, these women are doing gay dating culture better than we are.

8. Love, Simon

But how gay is it? It is a solid Gay. I was worried there would be a tinge of no-homo to all of it, a gay-but-not-that-gay vibe. And I was wrong about that. In addition to Simon and Blue, there’s Ethan, an out-and-proud gay kid who routinely reads his classmates to filth. (At one point, he says a straight bully’s outfit looks like he was “gangbanged by a T.J. Maxx,” and I haven’t stopped screaming about it since.) I wish the movie had more time for him, but he was a new character for the film as-is, so I appreciate how much of him we get.

This is a commercial teen movie, so you’re not going to get the most impressive queer theory or experimental characters. It’d be unfair to expect that, frankly. But generally, I was impressed by how unafraid of its gayness the movie is. Is it a little white, a little homonormative, a little cheesy? For sure. But for the first big, studio film with a lead gay character, this is a solid first step.

7. The Miseducation of Cameron Post

But how gay is it? Obviously quite gay! And different shades of gay, too. You get a pretty diverse coalition of young queer people at the conversion therapy camp God’s Promise. It’s not exuberantly gay, but soberly and bracingly gay.

6. Colette

But how gay is it? Colette is somewhere on the bisexual scale, interested in women and having an affair with an American heiress, though obviously, considering that the film is period, she’s not given an exact label for her sexuality. There’s a lot of sex in the film, and credit where it’s due, the vast majority of it has some element of queerness to it.

5. Blockers

But how gay is it? Shockingly gay. While all three girls make a pact to have sex, one of their paths is blocked by a particularly difficult element: Hunter’s daughter Sam is gay. She’s still coming to terms with it a bit, but between her lack of interest in her date, Chad, and her crush on class quirky girl Angelica, it seems obvious. Particularly impressive in this is how Hunter takes it: He knows instinctively that his daughter is a lesbian, and not for one second does he judge her. When she does finally talk with him about it, it’s an incredibly sweet, earnest scene.

4. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

But how gay is it? Just the absolute gayest. It’s ABBA songs. It’s Colin Firth as a gay dad. It’s Hugh Skinner as baby Colin Firth comparing losing his virginity to a woman to “Waterloo.” It’s Christine Baranski saying all men are trash while pouring tea. It’s horny legend Andy Garcia. It’s motherfucking Cher. This is our gay fantasia on national themes, and we need it now more than ever.

3. A Simple Favor

But how gay is it? Emily is bisexual, admitting to a threesome with her husband’s female TA in one of her first chats with Stephanie. We get plenty more shades of her flexible sexuality in other scenes, too, and another character shows a queer bent as well — though to go too far into them would be getting into spoilers. What’s refreshing, though, is that the character’s bisexuality isn’t made into a nefarious detail about her. Scandalous, sure; Stephanie is shocked when she first hears. But what makes Emily shady is everything but her sexuality. It’s a play on the harmful Depraved Bisexual trope that, in my opinion, works as a subversion.

2. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

But how gay is it? Oh, it’s just about gayest thing you’ll see this year. Lee Israel is a lesbian who embarks on a flirtation with one of her female buyers, and is still very much recovering from her breakup with a serious ex. Grant is also gay, and has a fling with a much younger man. Moreover, the film’s sensibility is remarkably queer. It’s got the kind of bitter warmth that feels way too familiar to me as a former gay New York resident. You know what I’m talking about: the camaraderie of reading your best friends, shading your nemeses, and doing it all over drinks at Julius. (New York’s oldest gay bar prominently features in the film, acting as the setting for multiple scenes.)

I can’t quite describe it; it’s just a familiar, wonderful feeling. Can You Ever Forgive Me? has a great story, but its mood and setting are, to me, its greatest strengths.

1. The Favourite

But how gay is it? Oh my god, so gay. Gayer than a bunch of twinks on Fire Island. Gayer than a coterie of lesbians at the Dinah. Gayer than fucking Palm Springs. Some of that is content, yes; Abigail and Sarah are not just competing for Anne with personal favors, but also deeply intimate ones. Even gayer, however, are the movie’s aesthetic and language. Nicholas Hoult’s Harley is a bitchy queen with plenty of reads for all his female rivals, and the mascara to match. He obsesses over appearance and tells one of his party members that his men must be “pretty.”

Meanwhile, Abigail and Sarah brutally drag each other with a viciousness only otherwise found at a drag bar on a Friday night. Reader, I was expecting this movie to be fun; I had no idea it would be, right next to Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the gayest movie of the year.

George is Tired…of Kevin Hart and DL Hughley

I don’t know if this is going to be a reachable moment, teachable moment or draggable moment. What I do know is the last few days have been mentally challenging for anyone in the LGBTQ community that watches the continued bashing and “it’s just jokes” rhetoric from others — jokes that often lead to getting folk hurt or killed. And yes, I’m very serious about the trickle-down effect that jokes have on creating thoughts that become dangerous towards our community.

Where do we start? Let’s start with Mr. Hart. When Kevin was announced as the host of the Oscars for 2019, I didn’t necessarily leap for joy — not so much because of Kevin Hart, but because the Oscars are trash. When the old tweets came up, I wasn’t even that bothered because, years after the old tweets, you stated you didn’t want to have a gay son. My problem was in how you addressed the situation.

Apologies can only go but so far. Atonement is where you should be in your process of “I love everyone.” Love is an action. I have not seen any action from your or your platform as we have watched the rights of trans people be decimated over the past two years. I don’t remember you being a champion of marriage equality, or vocal against any of the policies being enacted that harm the most vulnerable in your community. Instead when you were called out on your past, you ranted on multiple platforms about how you moved on although the community you hurt HAS NOT.

You then went on the quote MLK, but not the entirety of what MLK said.

You quoted: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comforts and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” But as Ira Madison pointed out, the rest of the quote states “the true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life.” That’s the part you need to be at in your period of “growth.” Work on that.

You let your pride get in the way of your dream and left a bad taste in the mouth of the community that got you here, and yes that community does include LGBTQ people who have supported you despite your homophobic antics. Think about while you watch someone else on the Oscar stage this year have your dream, when all you had to do was show the growth.

I’m also tired of the rhetoric of “beating the gay” out of a child or “preventing your child” from being gay. I’m going to be very clear about this.

If you agree with beating a child for being gay, you don’t deserve to have kids.

If you think you can prevent a child from being gay, you don’t deserve kids.

If you don’t want a gay child because of additional oppression, you don’t deserve kids. Because a black child, gay or straight will always be oppressed.

Now on to Mr. Hughley. I don’t know what side of the bed you woke up on that made you think that you could call Indya Moore (Black trans actress of POSE) a “pussy” or Blair Imani (Muslim queer activist) a dickhead, but someone done told you wrong. It is utterly disrespectful for you as a Black man to not only attack two women from the Black community, but resort to name calling because you, in your 55 years of barbershop wisdom, were unable to respond to valid critique.

It is people like you that keep toxic masculinity alive in the Black community. It is people like you who unfortunately are heralded as leaders, when you are really patriarchal “pro-Black with conditions” and part of the problem with why our community will never be free. It is very clear after seeing all of the hetero antics around Black LGBTQ people over the past few days that Black cishet men will never lead us to freedom.

A word of advice. If you feel some way towards the LGBTQ community, keep your mouth shut about it. Or better yet, why don’t you engage an LGBTQ person for once and have a conversation with us. We don’t bite (unless you ask), but on the serious. We are people just like all of you. Many of us are your cousins, brothers, sisters, and children. Many of whom will never come out or abandon their families because of the deep hatred for LGBTQ people, brought on from conditioning of colonization. We are quick to wanna break anti-black cycles systems, never realizing that homophobia and transphobia are part of these too.

Black homophobes and transphobes block us from liberation on a daily basis. None of us are free unless we all can be free, and that starts with fighting for the most vulnerable in our community, which is often Black LGBTQ people. We are quick to wanna break anti-black cycles systems, never realizing that homophobia and transphobia are part of these too. We must break every chain, not step over the shackles of your queer brothers and sisters. That’s not liberation, it’s just oppression with a new name.

9 Potential Oscars Hosts to Replace Kevin Hart

As Kevin Hart learned last night, in the immortal words of Academy Award winner and Charm School host Mo’Nique, when you do clownery, the clown comes back to bite. As such, after the internet pointed out that he had quite a few homophobic tweets in his past, Kevin Hart chose to step down from his gig hosting the 2019 Oscar telecast.  

Since the announcement, the internet has broken out their best gumshoe skills in search of someone else to host the ceremony. (The Golden Globes don’t have that problem, having already made the inspired decision to tap Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg to host their ceremony.)  

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So, who should host the ceremony? Well, when I was thinking about potential replacements, and peeping names other people offered on the internet, a few requirements came to mind: they have to be funny, they should be beloved and, obviously, the replacement should also be Black. Given the nature of the controversy, it would also help if the person chosen was a member of the LGBTQ community.

Here are nine potential picks that could get the room warmed up while we wait for Regina King to collect her statue for best supporting actress.

Whoopi Goldberg

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Whoopi was the natural first choice for a lot of people. She has a lot of the requisite characteristics that one would need to helm the Gay Super Bowl. She’s a previous Oscar winner who has hosted the ceremony four times already. Also, while she’s a comedian, her humor is more retro than newfangled and definitely will aim to please rather than bite.

Mo’Nique

If we’re talking about Black Oscar winners who know how to make people laugh, look no further than Mo’Nique. She’s never hosted the Oscars before, but she has plenty of skills hosting a contentious room — look no further than her triumphant turn as the host of VH1’s inaugural run of Charm School. Mo’Nique spent much of 2018 on an amazing press tour convincing Hollywood to take note of the worth of Black women, especially Black female comedians. Giving one of the most decorated comedians in history a platform to remind us all how much she makes us laugh would be a testament to that.  

Tiffany Haddish

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Haddish was one of the first names to pop up in earnest on everyone’s Twitter feeds. Haddish is a critically acclaimed actress and comedian who also feels like something of a Hollywood prom queen right now. She’s extremely beloved and is the definition of a crowd pleaser. The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that people were mad that she mispronounced some names when she announced the nominations for last year’s awards, but here’s the thing: they wouldn’t have been mad if she were a white man.

Wanda Sykes

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Sykes is one of the biggest names in comedy. She’s also the most visible Black LGBTQ comedian in the world. If you’re looking for the perfect person to step in after the Hart controversy, there’s really no name more perfect than Sykes. Also, Sykes’ comedy would definitely strike the right tone for the ceremony. She’s not afraid to be political and everyone’s going to be in the mood to poke fun at Trump. Sykes will go there, even if people boo.  

Maya Rudolph

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When a New York Times profile about you says that you look like God, then it’s pretty clear that you’re operating on a different level from the rest of us. And the person who garnered that description is master comedian Maya Rudolph, who has made us laugh in almost every medium possible. She does everything: she can act *and* sing (I’ve seen her perform twice in her Prince cover band and I still haven’t recovered). Also, lest we forget, Rudolph is an exceptional dramatic actress. Here’s your semi-annual reminder to watch Away We Go.

Trevor Noah

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While I’d rather a woman take the stage, there are a few people who have expressed a desire to see Trevor Noah take the stage. The choice makes sense on a few levels. Jon Stewart hosted the ceremonies twice and given that Noah was chosen to succeed Stewart on the Daily Show, an Oscar-hosting gig doesn’t seem too far behind. But, still, Noah doesn’t seem to have the universal goodwill that Stewart had.

Tituss Burgess

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If the Academy really wanted to show that it was on the gays’ side the whole time, Burgess could be a sign that they’re willing to put their glitter where their mouth is. Burgess has a ton of internet clout, but he’s starting to amass industry clout as well. In September, he joined RuPaul, Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon and more on stage for a star-studded opening Emmys number. Was it an audition?

Jaboukie Young-White

If you’re talking about internet clout, no one has amassed a more fervent internet fandom faster than comedian and Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White, whose comedy is unapologetically queer. But, Young-White doesn’t seem to have the industry gravitas or respect that one needs to have in order to actually get the hosting gig. But, there’s a future in which the Twitter king can one day take the stage.

Tracee Ellis Ross

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Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well, Tracee Ellis Ross. The award-winning actress definitely has more of a television background (her last film was the 2009 Lindsay Lohan-led Labor Pains) but no one could make an audience feel more at ease than one of TV’s best moms. She’s also the daughter of an icon — and an Academy Award nominee for Lady Sings the Blues.

BREAKING: Kevin Hart Steps Down as Oscars Host, Apologizing to the LGBTQ Community for Homophobic Comments

Comedian Kevin Hart will not host the 2019 Academy Awards, he announced late Thursday night.

Over the course of just two days since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Hart would host the next Oscars, a slew of his homophobic tweets and jokes began to go viral — causing round-the-clock criticism of both Hart and the Academy.

In a tweet, Hart said he had decided to step down from the role, apologizing for hurting people in the LGBTQ community and saying that he is “evolving.”

After the Tuesday announcement that Hart would host the awards ceremony, a tweet he posted in 2011 began to go viral.

“Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice “stop that’s gay,” read the tweet, which Hart deleted on Thursday.

But several other tweets that Hart posted in recent years tell a similar story, mocking LGBTQ people repeatedly.

It doesn’t appear that Hart’s apology is entirely of his own volition. In a video posted to Instagram just about an hour before announcing he was stepping down as Oscars host, Hart confessed that he received a call from the Academy telling him to apologize or face being replaced.

“I chose to pass. I passed on the apology,” said Hart in the video. “Reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times.”

But after posting the video — in which Hart promises to “stand my ground,” he did indeed apologize.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has not yet responded to Hart’s stepping down, nor has it announced a replacement.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

‘The Favourite’ Could Make History As The First Lesbian-Themed Film To Win Multiple Oscars

I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think it’s safe to say my personal “favourite” film of the year was Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest venture, The Favourite. Starring Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, who’s lodged in an 18th-century lesbian love triangle with her advisor (Rachel Weisz) and her maid (Emma Stone), the movie is beginning to garner well-deserved high praise. This weekend, the period drama tore through the British Independent Film Awards, scoring a record 10 wins, from Best Actress for Olivia Colman to Best British Independent Film.

Though the 2019 Oscar nominees won’t be announced until January 22nd, The Favourite is already shaping up to be an Oscars darling, with some critics predicting that the outrageous film will emerge as a frontrunner at the 91st Academy Awards. The roaring sweep at the British Independent Film Awards may portend a similar outcome at the Oscars next year, and if that happens, The Favourite will make its mark on LGBTQ history, claiming the throne as the first lesbian-centric narrative to win an Oscar.

Rarely do we see queer female cinema praised and lionized by film critics in the same way that movies about male homosexuality are. The most recent standout, of course, is 2015’s Carol. Adapted by out lesbian screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, the movie follows a romantic storyline between the titular character, played by Cate Blanchett, and a younger woman, Therese (Rooney Mara). Carol was monumental for queer female representation at the Academy Awards, as it earned six Oscars nods, and was the first Oscar-nominated film whose storyline focused explicitly on a queer female romance. However, it didn’t win even one category,.

2015 wasn’t the first time a lesbian-centric film was nominated. The Color Purple (1985), The Hours (2002), and The Kids Are All Right (2011) have all received Best Picture nods—though, like Carol, none of them won. In 2017, the queer Billie Jean King biopic Battle of the Sexes wasn’t nominated at all. Some actresses have taken home awards for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress for portraying a queer female character, like Charlize Theron in Monster (2003), Nicole Kidman in The Hours, Natalie Portman in Black Swan (2011), or Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2009). But these movies didn’t revolve around the character’s queerness. 

Many of the most famous lesbian movies were never recognized by the Academy and, unfortunately, some just weren’t up to par—certainly not because queer female filmmakers aren’t capable artists, but because they aren’t given as many opportunities to create as gay male filmmakers are.

More gay male films get funded than lesbian movies; bigger budgets typically allow for A-List casts, directors, and producers, which subsequently create more buzz. Hollywood has a widespread, deep-seated issue with queer women, and the barriers this industry has created for us are nowhere close to crumbling. So, all considered, Carol was the first—yes, first-ever—Oscar-nominated film that centered a romantic lesbian plot. That was only three years ago.

Consider how many gay male films have collected numerous Oscar nods and wins over the years. In 2018, Luca Guadagnino’s gay love story Call Me By Your Name earned three Oscar nominations, and took home the trophy for Best Adapted Screenplay. The previous year, Moonlight snagged three Oscars, including Best Picture, and five other nominations. Dallas Buyers Club landed three awards and three more nominations in 2013. In 2008, the Harvey Milk biopic Milk won two Oscars, and was nominated for another six, and in 2005, the romantic drama Brokeback Mountain won three awards, and was nominated for five more. So, while movies about female homosexuality are at times recognized by the Academy, gay male films are lauded more often, and actually leave decorated, while lesbian films do not.

Consider this may be due to the gender bias in the Academy’s voter pool. In 2017, only 39 percent of the Academy, AKA those voting on the films, were female, and that number actually increased 39 percent since 2015—which is embarrassing and insulting to women, and obviously affected what movies won. In 2018, more women were invited to join the Academy, who now comprise 49 percent of voters. So, when the new Academy votes for contenders in 2019, hopefully The Favourite will not only be nominated, but will leave carrying more trophies than Adele at the 2012 Grammys. But even if The Favourite takes home one trophy at the 2019 Academy Awards, just one, it will secure the film as the first movie with a centralized queer female narrative—as in, a movie that’s about lesbians, not just a movie with secondary or tertiary queer female characters—to win an Oscar. The first. Ever. It’s baffling.

Right now, critics are projecting that Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut A Star is Born, Steve McQueen’s Widows, and the Timothée Chalamet starrer Beautiful Boy will be amongst the most highly nominated films at the 2019 Academy Awards. But in the tricky game of pre-nomination predictions, it’s important to pay attention to which films stole critics’ hearts at film festivals, and which movies sweep preceding award ceremonies.

IndieWire called The Favourite “the Oscar frontrunner,” based on the high praise that New York Film Festival director Kent Jones offered on the movie. At the British International Film Awards, The Favourite won the categories Best British Independent Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Casting, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup and Hair Design, and Best Production Design. The movie also won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and played opening night at the New York Film Festival.

So, with any luck, The Favourite will make history at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony. If that happens, then finally, a queer female movie with queer female protagonists will be rewarded for excellence in filmmaking. Carol was unforgivably snubbed by a male-dominated Academy. Now that almost half the voters are women, maybe a lesbian movie has a shot at being regarded as highly as gay male films have been in the past.

A Handful Of This Year’s Oscar Contenders Are Secretly Queer AF

Spoiler alert: Heavy spoilers follow for The Favourite, Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Green Book.

While the celluloid closet might (mostly) be a thing of the past, the advertising closet remains a roadblock.

A robust slate of queer-themed films debuted in 2018, but very few people, even queer people, know about it. Earlier this week, a co-worker came into the office raving about The Favourite. Despite being a lesbian who will go see any movie featuring queer women, she had no knowledge that the film is about a queer love triangle between Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman, who engage in explicit sexual acts.

The problem is the marketing — though the content is queer, marketing campaigns coat the films with a varnish of heterosexuality for easy mainstream consumption. Despite having queer characters, storylines and themes, several films released this year have failed to translate the film’s content to trailers and descriptions, perhaps leading queer people to think that there are far fewer queer options on the slate this year than there actually are.

Though The Favourite’s trailer does show a few of the film’s explicitly queer moments, sans context the scenes only register as female friendship.

That illusion isn’t shattered by the description of the film that sent out to critics inviting us to review the film. Here’s the way the film was marketed to critics (emphasis mine):

“Early 18th century. England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.”

Those who have seen the film know that Lady Sarah and Queen Anne are more than “close friends” and it’s not only Abigail’s charm that endears her to Sarah — it’s her top-notch fingerbanging skills. And while they are fighting to be the queen’s companion, it’s pretty clear from a queer perspective that they’re using a term that connotes friendship more than it implies being lovers.

What about the trailer for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which erases all of the queerness from the film, even though we spend every frame of the film witnessing the unfolding friendship of Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy), a lesbian, and Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), who is gay and, by the film’s end, diagnosed with HIV. (Also, half the film takes place in Julius, New York City’s oldest gay bar.)

Once again, the description given to critics (once again, emphasis mine):

“In CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?, Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer (and cat lover) who made her living in the 1970s and 80s profiling the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee found herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, she turned her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (Richard E. Grant).”

While the film’s A-plot might not seem ultra queer, the film is not solely about Israel’s dalliances with criminal behavior. The film is actually a portrait of a writer dealing with potential obsolescence, and of the fear that many queer people have that they will grow older without a partner or any kind of romantic companionship. That McCarthy and Grant’s characters are both older queer people is not a superfluous detail.

And then there’s Green Book, which I would argue even fewer people knew had any queer content. It wasn’t until Tre’vell Anderson, Out’s director of culture and entertainment, wrote about the film that many queer people, including myself, knew that Mahershala Ali’s character, Dr. Don Shirley, was somewhere on the queer spectrum and that his identity plays into the film’s plot. That is something, once again, completely left out of the film’s trailer, which instead focuses solely on Shirley’s race, betting I’m sure, on his presumed heterosexuality rather than historical queerness.

Other films have had a similarly deliberate marketing strategy, namely A Simple Favor and Blockers, though both of those (sadly! They’re great!) are not considered awards fodder.

So why, then, would a character or film’s queerness end up on the cutting room floor? There are, of course, a few easy theories. Films might want to go for a more general audience and thus erase queerness from the film’s campaign to make it palatable. But then what happens when a moviegoer takes a bite into the confection, not knowing its flavor?

Failing to relay that a film is queer to its audience implies at best that queer stories are unmarketable and at worst that queer people are not worth caring about. Compounding both these problems is that for several of the actors in these films, playing queer could be a conduit for awards consideration, meaning that queer lives are complex enough for awards consideration but too complex for moviegoers in general. When it comes time to simplify complex queer people into marketable flat characters, their queerness is the first thing on the chopping block.

Yes, there is some kind of insidious net positive effect from all this. In some way, lying about the fact that these movies are queer means more people will enter the room and hopefully walk out having spent two hours with a queer person and their inner life. But still, this doesn’t sit well. It feels a little too close to the historical archetype of LGBTQ people “tricking” straight and cis people. Except rather than tricking them sexually, these films and their marketing campaigns “trick” a general audience into caring about our lives and realizing our humanity.

Is ‘A Star is Born’ Good Or Are We Just Gaga?

A month since A Star is Born‘s theatrical debut means enough time has trickled by to sober me from its razzle and dazzle and ask an all-important question: Is A Star is Born actually good?

There’s no denying A Star is Born is a strong contender for the 2019 Academy Awards. The film is certified fresh at 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. With a production budget of $36mil the film has currently grossed over $169mil domestically ($129mil globally). The soundtrack just spent its third week atop the Billboard 200. The film also shines bright online, generating a wide array of memes.

As a work of art ASIB is stitched with gorgeous cinematography, chemistry aplenty, impressive acting, stellar singing, and an enjoyable pace despite a lengthy runtime. But the story — now in its fourth iteration — stumbles in aspects that are far too noticeable. Curiously it’s these very details that a community like ours — so deeply invested in the intersection of identity, representation, and social critique — should be more sensitive to and suspicious of. Maybe we’ve just gone gaga for Gaga.

The first tears came early: L. Gaga ends her rendition of “La Vie En Rose” and locks eyes with B. Cooper. The scene takes place at a gay bar, featuring appearances by RPDR alumni, Shangela (wig?) and Willam, and is a direct nod to the community who were sure to embrace the film first. Seeing Gaga surrounded by drag queens and gay men — playing an ally with Ally — felt so incredibly celebratory. But much like the bar’s cheap production equipment, the representation of queers is all smoke and mirrors, becoming the only time we explicitly note queerness in A Star is Born.

You could argue this is legitimately fine: a single film can’t do it all, and the last three incarnations made it clear that the plot circles on a pretty heterosexual pairing. What troubles me, however, is how queer bodies are used — and promptly discarded — to advance a very het agenda. Jackson happens to stumble into a gay bar — on drag night! — while the only resident cis straight woman, Ally, just happens to be performing. It reads like every straight man’s greatest fantasy. It’s the straight man in the gay bar, finding a woman against all the odds, who ultimately succeeds. It’s also straight Ally the ally who reaps the most reward from the queer space, as she’s catapulted into instant fame. The scene signals the commodification of the gay bar whose queer players are transformed into mere props.

But if only the identity tropes ended there.

Dave Chappelle’s character, Noodles, gives Jackson a serious talking to after finding him passed out in a bush, “this is the first time I’m worried about you.” Ally comes over for lunch and Jackson, taking a page from Carly Rae Jepsen’s songbook, proposes. They get married — that day! — at a Black church. What more is there to say. In 2001 film director Spike Lee popularized the term “Magical Negro” to describe the tired trope of a supporting/stock Black character whose entry into the narrative is solely to support the white protagonist.

The use of severely undeveloped queer and POC characters, particularly in conjunction with the masc red-blooded country singing protagonist, Jackson, is something to be wary of. Meeting at a gay bar, marrying at a Black church… We’re truly in the shallow of representation now.

Yet somehow the film’s worst bout of representation falls unto its female characters, of which there is exactly one. Women are sorely absent from the plot. Ally has no mother, sisters, bandmates, or female friends. One scene depicts her literally cutting two backup dancers from her routine, as if the scriptwriters are entirely in on the joke. The film doesn’t pass the Bechdel test (if you consider Gail’s “this way, Ally” as conversation, we have deeper issues). It’s important to understand the Bechdel test in no way measures how feminist a film is, instead spotlighting women’s overall representation. At its core – two named female characters having a conversation about something other than a man – the test isn’t asking for much, so it’s revealing that in 2018 we (men, the screenplay was written by three men) still can’t seem to write dialogue between women.

Perhaps this was entirely intentional: explicitly depicting the miracle of stardom — Ally’s continual rise despite, not because of, the men in her life. But does this message deliver, and is it a feminist one?

Writing for INTO, Mathew Rodriguez critiques the film’s masculine backdrop, “Though Gaga is spectacular as Ally, she’s rarely able to live and breathe as her own fully-fledged character — we often see her through Jackson’s perspective… while Gaga gives the film its sense of wonderment, the story is ultimately concerned with Jackson.” To interrogate the character’s motivations and behaviors is to realize that Ally’s success is entirely dependent on Jackson. Where would she be without him? Probably back in that gay bar.

But where would Jackson be without her? Ally anchors Jackson to sobriety until her fame becomes his monster. When Ally moves from country to pop, brunette to red, Jackson discredits the transition, “talent comes everywhere but having something to say and a way to say it so that people listen to it, that’s a whole other bag.” It’s interesting that the film would treat pop as a symbol of “selling out” when its leading actress has spent her entire career persuading audiences that it will never be low brow. Pop music, an often feminized genre, is typically seen as lesser than — not real music. Whether the film hates pop music or not is up for debate, but there’s no mistaking what Jackson meant when he suggested Ally should aim for a more important message. Indeed the final scene sees a stripped back brunette-again Ally singing the song of her career; albeit a song that Jackson wrote — his everlasting message.

Yet it’s unfair to characterize Ally as submissive or docile. Her fight against the man is registered almost immediately when she quite literally punches a guy at the cop bar. This resilience and strength only grows: she refuses to listen to her father when he urges her towards Jackson, she cuts those backup dancers against her manager’s wishes (and, at the end of the film, cancels the tour when Jackson isn’t permitted to join), and she continues with pop despite Jackson’s warning. It’s this last act of defiance that secures her Best New Artist at the Grammys.

The politics of A Star is Born are… messy. Is the film actually good? It undoubtedly has moments of pure greatness stacked against periods of real problems. If “Why Did You Do That?” can win Ally a Grammy, there’s no doubt that A Star is Born — with an ass like that — will take home a man named Oscar.

Perhaps we should instead ask whether A Star is Born needs to be good… We’re living in a time where we’ve wiped out 60 percent of animal populations since 1970, where we only have 12 years to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change, and where the current Administration is looking to erase members of our community. Tell me something, are you happy in this modern world? Because sometimes a project comes along that makes us forget that everything is literally on fire. It’s always important for us to be critical, to challenge ideas, to dive right into the deep end. But sometimes it’s good to enjoy something for what it offers at the time; because often it’s from the safety of the shallow that we find the most warmth and that our stars shine brightest anyway.

But How Gay is ‘The Favourite’?

In “But How Gay Is It?”, we seek to answer the biggest questions you have about a new movie release in theaters now — including, most crucially, the titular question. Does the movie have any queer characters? Are there stories involving same-sex lovers? Which gay icons star in the film? We’re bringing you all that and more.

What is The Favourite? Imagine if you took All About Eve, the 1950 classic about the rivalry between a veteran actress and a scheming ingenue, set it in the 18th century at Queen Anne’s royal court, and amped up the insanity. That is Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, a dark comedy written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara that has quickly become my favorite movie of the year.

Anne’s titular favo(u)rite is Sarah, the duchess of Marlborough. They share a special relationship, including nicknames for each other. It’s clearly what keeps the long-suffering Anne going, after 17 miscarriages and the loss of her husband. Sarah uses this to her advantage, ramming her pro-Whig political agenda through — much to the dismay of lead Tory party member Harley. But a new wrinkle comes in the form of Abigail, a former lady who has fallen far down the ranks of society. She seeks employment with Sarah, her cousin, and quickly curries favor with the queen. What follows is a battle to keep that favor, one that grows in both hilarity and intensity over the rest of the film’s running time.

Who’s in it? Olivia Colman, our future Queen Elizabeth on The Crown, plays Queen Anne here. Colman is receiving the lion’s share of praise for the film so far, and for good reason. She’s giving everything she has to Anne, making her both a sympathetic figure and a cartoonish one. Every choice is right. It’s a marvel of a performance to behold.

That said, I honestly think the hefty praise for Colman is doing a disservice to the rest of the cast, who are uniformly excellent. Emma Stone is outrageous as Abigail, with a scene involving a sexual act that is iconic almost entirely because of her performance. Rachel Weisz is a bitchy delight as Sarah, though I’ll admit her character is given fewer layers than her costars’. The MVP for me, however, is Nicholas Hoult as Harley. He’s a delicious creation, all furor and fervor in a beautiful package. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen Hoult do before, and he absolutely should be in the awards conversation for this.

Why should I see it? Because it’s the best movie of the year. At least, in my opinion it is! It’s just fantastic — and fun! We need more fun prestige movies. Go see The Favourite!

But how gay is it? Oh my god, so gay. Gayer than a bunch of twinks on Fire Island. Gayer than a coterie of lesbians at the Dinah. Gayer than fucking Palm Springs. Some of that is content, yes; Abigail and Sarah are not just competing for Anne with personal favors, but also deeply intimate ones. Even gayer, however, are the movie’s aesthetic and language. Hoult’s Harley is a bitchy queen with plenty of reads for all his female rivals, and the mascara to match. He obsesses over appearance and tells one of his party members that his men must be “pretty.”

Meanwhile, Abigail and Sarah brutally drag each other with a viciousness only otherwise found at a drag bar on a Friday night. Reader, I was expecting this movie to be fun; I had no idea it would be, right next to Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the gayest movie of the year.

This isn’t in my city yet! Why are you reviewing it now? Sadly, we’re reaching that time of year when a lot of movies come out on expanding release schedules. So this weekend, The Favourite is only out in Los Angeles and New York. But over the next two weekends, the movie will release in an additional 19 cities. Keep an eye out; as the season progresses, it’ll likely make its way to even more.

What are this movie’s Oscar prospects? So here’s the thing: Right now, Oscar prognosticators think The Favourite is going to do really well with the Academy. I think that’s insane. This movie is a dark, dark comedy, and an incredibly gay one. I see it getting in Best Original Screenplay (which I think it will win), and Colman getting in Best Actress, even though the Anne role is clearly a supporting one. (She will lose to Lady Gaga.) But Best Picture and Best Director? I’d be delightfully surprised, but I doubt it.

One last thing: I want to talk about Emma Stone and Oscar. As we all know, Stone won for La La Land two years ago after sweeping most of the season. While I like Stone in La La Land, especially in the “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” sequence, it’s quickly becoming apparent that the Academy jumped the gun. Stone has been better in two films since La La Land: last year’s Battle of the Sexes (as Billie Jean King), and now in The Favourite. Her Abigail is an exquisite creation, a reimagining of Eve Harrington in a corset. Add her masterful work in Easy A in there, and Stone now has three performances far better than her Oscar-winning one. Just goes to show how even when the Academy gets it right, they’re still kinda getting it wrong.

The Favourite is in Los Angeles and New York theaters now.