But How Gay is ‘The Upside’?

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 Upside? A remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables, the much-less interestingly titled The Upside tells the story of unlikely friends Dell Scott and Phillip Lacasse. After a hang-gliding accident leaves him paralyzed from the neck down, Phillip needs a life auxiliary, and hates every single person his assistant Yvonne brings in for him. Dell Scott needs work — or, at least, signatures to show his parole officer he’s looking for work — and accidentally finds himself interviewing for the life auxiliary job. Phillip likes his DGAF attitude and hires him on the spot.

The rest of the movie follows their relationship, from Dell’s early days unable to perform even the simplest of life auxiliary tasks, to their disagreements about music. (Phillip likes opera, Dell prefers Aretha. They eventually find common ground.) Along the way, we see Phillip branch out into dating again following the passing of his wife, and Dell try to reforge a relationship with his young, sensitive son Anthony.

Who’s in it? Likely the only reason you’ve heard of The Upside, unless you’ve caught a trailer for it here or there, is because it’s the movie Kevin Hart was promoting during his infamous appearance on Ellen. He plays Dell, while former Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston plays Phillip. Nicole Kidman plays Yvonne, in a role entirely too small and one-note for an actress of her caliber. (Quite a few things in The Upside annoyed me, but this most of all.)

The rest of the cast is mostly filled with folks you know primarily from TV or supporting roles in films (Aja Naomi King! Tate Donovan!), but Julianna Margulies gets a big, juicy scene later in the movie. I won’t spoil it for those who do want to see The Upside — or, like, watch it on Netflix in six months and fast-forward to her scene — but it’s the only part of the movie that felt bracingly honest and painful in a real, earned way.

Why should I see it? Well, it’s based on a true story, so if you like a heartwarming true story, there’s that. But then again, you could just watch The Intouchables instead. So I’ve got nothing.

Here’s the thing: The Upside isn’t bad. It’s enjoyable enough to watch, if a bit emotionally manipulative. It mostly just isn’t anywhere near good enough to justify its own existence. Considering everything happening with Hart, it’s also hard to justify supporting him at the box office by buying a ticket. So this is overall a pass from me.

But how gay is it? Hoo boy. So it’s not gay, save Kidman and Margulies’ appearances (though again, the former really doesn’t get much to do). Moreover, a lot of Dell’s disgust early in his work is with physical contact with Phillip. There’s an extended scene in which he has to change Phillip’s catheter, and can’t even bring himself to say the word “penis.” I’m sure these scenes wouldn’t play well no matter what, but in light of Hart’s past homophobic jokes, they play all the worse.

Why is an adaptation of a onetime Best Foreign Language Film-shortlisted French film coming out in January instead of Oscar season? Again, it’s not great, so that’s part of it. But there’s also a messy development situation here. The Intouchables was first optioned for remake by The Weinstein Company back in 2011. Paul Feig came on to write and direct in 2012, with a whole score of interesting actors attached. Chris Rock, Chris Tucker, Jamie Foxx, and Idris Elba were all considered for Dell before Kevin Hart finally signed on in 2014. Colin Firth was set to play Phillip, and both Jessica Chastain and Michelle Williams were considered for the female lead (likely Yvonne).

The movie then went through three different directors, with Feig dropping out, then Tom Shadyac, then Simon Curtis. During these changes, Bryan Cranston came on as Phillip. Finally, in late 2016, final director Neil Burger came on, and Feig’s script was thrown out entirely. (Jon Hartmere wrote the script Burger used.) All of this is to say, this movie clearly went through development hell, including and especially being optioned by The Weinstein Company. (Their name does not appear on the final product.) It’s a wonder The Upside got made at all.

Will this movie make me feel any better about Kevin Hart? Nope! While his performance is fine enough, the hint of gay panic will only bolster your feelings about him if you’re aleady not a fan.

Does Hollywood need to stop offering Nicole Kidman thankless roles like this? They sure do.

The Upside is in theaters now.

Do Queer Artists Deserve to Control Their Legacy?

Who gets to dictate your legacy?

If you’re Dr. Don Shirley, it’s straight white men. The late queer Black musician is the subject of the Golden Globe-winning and Oscar favorite Green Bookdespite his family’s speaking out about how the fictional film depicts Shirley, and how hurtful it was to see the erasure of his relationship with his family and the glorification of his relationship with his white driver, Tony Vallelonga. 

“I remember very, very clearly, going back 30 years, my uncle had been approached by Nick Vallelonga, the son of Tony Vallelonga, about a movie on his life, and Uncle Donald told me about it,” Shirley’s nephew Edwin Shirley said. “He flatly refused.”

“God knows, this is the reason that he never wanted to have his life portrayed on screen,” Edwin continued. “I now understand why, and I feel terrible that I was actually trying to urge him to do this in the 1980s, because everything that he objected to back then has come true now.”

But with the star power of leads Viggo Mortensen (playing Tony Vallelonga) and Mahershala Ali (Shirley), and the palatable it-will-play-in-Peoria White Savior narrative, Green Book has mostly eclipsed any feelings Shirley and his family have had about his life being brought to the screen. The same can be said for Mary Poppins and its creator P.L. Travers.

The lavishly marketed The Return of Mary Poppins has only banked $102.3 million in the first few weeks of the year (a disappointment by Disney box office standards), but the real travesty is its existence, as Travers would never have wanted it to be made in the first place.

Travers (nee Helen Goff) passed away in 1996, and it was then that Disney went looking for a way to convince her estate holders to let them make a sequel. It was well-known that Travers voiced her dislike for the original film (despite her love of Julie Andrews) and never granted the rights for another to be made. She only allowed for a stage musical to go forward on the understanding that no one involved with the film be a part of the show (it was supposed to be based solely on her books), and no one American, either. (The producer, Cameron Mackintosh, agreed initially but ignored her requests after she passed, making a deal with Disney so he could use the songs from the film.)

Travers was not a fan of most of the music in the original Mary Poppins, nor the animation sequences. She infamously asked if they could be removed after attending the film’s premiere. 

Sadly, creators rarely get to have a say on the adaptations of their work. More upsetting than the continuation of Mary Poppins was the 2013 Disney-made film Saving Mr. Banks in which Emma Thompson portrays Travers as initially wary but eventually thrilled with the Disney version. And like Green Book, Saving Mr. Banks also erased pivotal relationships she had while alive, as well as her sexuality — most notably her relationship with Madge Burnand, her longtime live-in companion who she was thought to be involved with romantically during the time she was working on Poppins. 

“I don’t know whether they were lovers or not, but she did live with Madge for a long, long time, and she certainly had very complex, passionate relationships with both women and men,” Thompson once told The Advocate. “She was an explorer of her own condition, and very possibly her own sexuality.”

Another woman, Jessie Orge, detailed a relationship with Travers in her own diaries, as well as their gal palling around with known lesbians like Jane Heap, Margaret Anderson, Georgette Leblanc, and Elizabeth Gordon, a group which called themselves The Rope. Orge also wrote about the tumultuous relationship between Travers and Burnand.

In a New York Times interview in 1994, two years before she died, Travers was noticeably irritated by being asked about herself, saying, “I would rather not discuss my personal life.” Similarly, Shirley was said to respond to questions about his sexuality with a tongue-in-cheek, “Why? Are you interested?”

Despite Travers and Burnand having lived together during the time Saving Mr. Banks covered, the relationship was left out of the film entirely. Akin to the moment in Green Book where a brief gay sex act is mentioned, there is a fleeting blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moment in Saving Mr. Banks in which Travers is thought to be checking out a woman’s butt. 

“She would absolutely hate it!” Thompson’s co-star Tom Hanks once said of what he believed Travers would think of Saving Mr. Banks. “She would say, ‘Why don’t you make a movie about the poetry I wrote?!'” That poetry was highly erotic. (A select line from The Triad: “The silky hush of intimate things, fragrant with my fragrance, steal softly down, so loth to rob me of my last dear concealment.”)

Travers is hardly the first person to have her life and her life’s work crafted into an unrecognizable and erroneous narrative under the guise of someone else’s creative project, but it’s especially frustrating considering she’s been both desexualized and ignored several times over 53 years. Instead, the narrative about Travers became that she was difficult, a spinster, who was too precious with her creation, a figure based on her aunt who came to take care of her family after her mother attempted suicide. In the Disney version, Mary Poppins became now a fashionable, pretty nanny who danced with singing penguins.

“They had to wait for her to die, and she did die, and then her estate were suddenly much more up for it,” Ben Whishaw said in an interview with Yahoo UK

“She’d probably dislike it just as much,” Dick Van Dyke said of the sequel in which he makes a cameo.

The trustees of Travers’ estate gave the rights to Disney for Saving Mr. BanksMary Poppins Returns, and even spon-con such as Aqua Shard’s Mary Poppins-themed tea. Travers would have most likely detested it all, but does anyone care?

“I think I was disturbed at seeing it so externalized, so oversimplified, so generalized,” Travers said in a 1967 interview reprinted in her New York Times obituary. “I think that Mary Poppins needs a subtle reader, in many respects, to grasp all its implications, and I understand that these cannot be translated in terms of the film.”

Decades later, Travers and Shirley’s wishes are still being ignored, but they’re not alone. Currently, a version of Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues is in the works, despite the trans author’s explicit wishes for the novel to never be adapted after a botched first attempt. Bohemian Rhapsody, also a Golden Globe winner, takes a revisionist approach to the life and sexuality of Freddie Mercury. The movie versions of people’s lives and creative work may more often than not disappoint (Stephen King still hates the Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining to this day; Anne Rice wasn’t a fan of the casting for Interview with a Vampire), but when someone like Travers was so synonymous with her creation, so often referred to as “The Real Mary Poppins,” it’s all the more frustrating to see her wishes explicitly ignored and her public persona and legacy becoming that she was a difficult woman.

Mary Poppins is the story of my life,” Travers once said. How sad that it keeps being rewritten.

Could ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Really Win An Oscar For Best Picture?

On the surface, it seems like Bohemian Rhapsody might possess a kind of magic that few other movies could match. After topping the box office in multiple countries that criminalize homosexuality, the Freddie Mercury biopic went on to reign supreme as the highest-grossing LGBTQ film in Hollywood history. Not even middling reviews could stop audiences from going (radio) gaga over the film in cinemas, and now Bohemian Rhapsody seems to have won over the industry too, receiving two awards at the Golden Globes this week.

While Rami Malek’s win for his portrayal of Mercury wasn’t particularly surprising, many were shocked to see Bohemian Rhapsody beat out better-received films like Black Panther and If Beale Street Could Talk for the accolade of Best Motion Picture (Drama). Not only did Bohemian Rhapsody receive the weakest reviews of the bunch, but many in the LGBTQ community were also disappointed by the film’s portrayal of Mercury’s sexuality — and the less said about original director Bryan Singer, the better.

Despite all of the controversy, this double win makes it more likely than ever that Bohemian Rhapsody will also be recognized by the Academy Awards. Given that the cast has also been nominated by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, history tells us that the much-maligned biopic will almost certainly become a contender for Best Picture come February, alongside other favorites such as Green Book and well, The Favourite.

What still remains unclear though is whether Bohemian Rhapsody has what it takes to break free and secure the win. As Freddie himself once sang, “It’s a hard life,” and the biopic that tells his story will surely have a “long hard fight” on its hands too.

Both Best Film winners at the Golden Globes are usually guaranteed a nomination each year, but only nine of these have been awarded the Oscar since 2000. Although part of this has to do with the way that the Globes split Best Film across two categories (Drama and Musical/Comedy), the Globes also possess a populist streak which undoubtedly came into play here regarding this year’s surprise win.

Despite the film’s popularity, high box office earnings rarely translate to clear wins in the major Oscar categories, and what’s popular among the Golden Globe voters might not be so well liked by the Academy voters. After all, the voting pools that both ceremonies draw on don’t overlap too much, so the Oscar voters might have different favorites entirely, something which we’ve seen play out numerous times before.

Although a double win at the Globes helped propel Bohemian Rhapsody into the headlines at a crucial moment during the Academy’s deliberation window, publicity of this kind could also harm the film’s chances further come February 24. Remember when James Franco was snubbed by the Academy last year following his controversial Globe win and the sexual harassment claims that followed? The backlash that Bohemian Rhapsody is currently facing could derail any chance the film might have of taking home the Oscar for Best Picture.

In Bohemian Rhapsody, we watch Queen perform the song “We Are The Champions,” but in real life, it might be Freddie and Co. who bite the dust thanks to some pretty stiff competition from the likes of A Star Is Born and Roma. In fact, Roma could be the one to beat, despite some snobbery among cinephiles who resent its Netflix origins. At the Golden Globes, foreign language movies aren’t eligible to compete in the Best Film categories, and that’s why Roma wasn’t pitted against Bohemian Rhapsody there, but anything goes at the Oscars, and Alfonso Cuarón’s track record with the Academy isn’t to be trifled with either.

If I were a betting man, I’d say that Bohemian Rhapsody is unlikely to beat any of the aforementioned movies at the Oscars, and it looks like other betting men and women agree too. Oddschecker reports that the odds of it winning are unfavorable at around 5/2, and Gold Derby currently ranks Bohemian Rhapsody in ninth place with odds of 18/1. If these particular predictions are to be believed, then it’s currently a tight race between Roma and A Star Is Born, leaving Bohemian Rhapsody to languish almost out of sight completely.

Of course, the show must go on, and there’s still plenty of time for Bohemian Rhapsody to surprise us yet again by stealing the show completely. Freddie Mercury didn’t play by the rules, so it’s to be expected that a biopic based on his life might not either.

The 91st Academy Awards will take place at the Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2019.

LGBTQ Films Worth Getting Into On Netflix: ‘Milk’

In our “Get INTO” series, we rummage through Netflix each week to find the very best movies that LGBTQ cinema has to offer. However you identify, these tales of love, sex and the everyday experience of queer life all deserve a special place in your Netflix queue. Also, some of these films are super hot, so whether you’re alone or with a special ‘friend’, rev up everyone’s favorite streaming service and get ready to chill with some of the best queer movies on Netflix.

What is Milk? Based largely on The Times of Harvey Milk, an Oscar-winning documentary from 1984, Milk explores the tragic real-life story of Harvey Milk. The San Francisco-based politician fought to make things better for the LGBTQ community when he became the first openly gay person elected to public office in California. Gus Van Sant’s widely acclaimed movie focuses on the last eight years of his life, celebrating both his personal love affairs and the activist efforts that would eventually lead to his assassination.

Who’s in it? An exceptional cast gives 10s across the board here, including Josh Brolin, who was nominated by the Academy for his role as opponent Dan White. The likes of Diego Luna, James Franco, and Emile Hirsch also impress, but this is very much Sean Penn’s movie, something which the Oscars recognized when they gave him his second Best Actor win for taking on the role of Harvey.

What does Rotten Tomatoes say? “Anchored by Sean Penn’s powerhouse performance, Milk is a triumphant account of America’s first openly gay man elected to public office.”

What do we say? For what might be his most successful film, director Gus Van Sant erred on the side of caution, channeling mainstream fare like Good Will Hunting rather than his more experimental offerings like Gerry or Elephant. It’s strangely fitting that he would play it safe with the biopic of a revolutionary like Harvey, though, simply because there’s so much ground to cover here. Not only does Milk explore the rise of queer activism in 1970s San Francisco, but it also tells a much broader story that touches on the heart of everything that’s still wrong with America, all these years later.

But isn’t the cast problematic? Back when Milk first came out, there were some who objected to Penn’s casting, because he openly supported a Cuban government that has a long history of anti-gay sentiment. Since then, Emile Hirsch has also been charged with aggravated assault and James Franco has been the subject of numerous sexual misconduct allegations, too.

Milk is an extraordinary achievement that brings to light the ongoing struggle that queer people faced back when the mainstream wanted them to bow out quietly. Because of this, it’s a vital chapter of queer movie history that deserves to be seen, but it’s also vital that you bear these factors in mind when choosing to watch it.

So why should I see Milk? Penn drew focus at the time of Milk’s release thanks to his towering performance, but it’s easy to forget now that Dustin Lance Black won an Oscar for his screenplay, too, and rightly so. With the help of archive footage, Black’s script finds the nuance in Harvey’s story, humanizing him in ways that make his message far more powerful than any form of hero worship ever could. Kind, funny and yet as flawed as any of us, Milk’s crusade serves as a timely reminder of what ordinary men and women can do to change this world for the better. At a time when Trump threatens to undo the hard work of Harvey and people like him, it’s more important than ever that we draw inspiration from his story.

Milk is now available to watch on Netflix.

The 2019 Golden Globes Reward Straight Hollywood and Real Queer Stories

Halfway through last night’s awards show I joked my headline for the night would be “The 2019 Golden Globes: Not Too Homophobic Yet.”

By that point, openly gay actor Ben Whishaw had taken the stage to accept an award for his very gay role in the very gay Russell T. Davies’ gay-themed A Very English Scandal, and he’d even used the word “queer” in dedicating his award to the real-life Norman Scott he portrayed in the show. Scott, for those who have yet to watch the Amazon mini-series, was the secret, kept lover of British politician Jeremy Thorpe (played by the highly heterosexual Hugh Grant). Scott said that he was “deeply moved” by the speech. 

Other wins satisfied our gay agenda, to be sure (Gaga’s win for “Shallow,” for one – sorry, Linda Perry), but there remained an interesting trend of heterosexuals winning for portraying queer people. Darren Criss took home Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television just a few weeks after saying he would never take a gay role from a gay actor again, and when the cast of The Assassination of Gianni Versace took the stage, it wasn’t openly gay EPs Ryan Murphy or lesbian Nina Jacobson who spoke about homophobia on the mic, nor gay writer Tom Rob Smith, but straight producer Brad Simpson.

“Gianni Versace was murdered 20 years ago,” Simpson said, speaking for his team. “He was one of the very few public figures who was out during a time of intense hate and fear. This was the era of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ It was the Defense of Marriage Act era. Those forces of hate and fear are still with us. They tell us we should be scared of people who are different than us. They tell us we should put walls around ourselves.”

For a show like Versace, this was fitting. Everyone involved with the series spoke passionately about Versace‘s raison d’être throughout the show’s run and subsequent press and now awards season. Versace’s being gay, as well as internalized, public, and familial homophobia, were not only central to the plot, but the point. 

Compare that to the Queen biopic Bohemian RhapsodyRami Malek’s win for Best Actor was not as big of a surprise, perhaps, as the film’s Best Picture win. The highly contentious portrait of the known queer, HIV-positive frontman Freddie Mercury had critics upset about the lack of queer context available in the final cut, especially in relation to his relationship with Jim Hutton. So while Simpson acknowledged Versace’s queerness and homophobia being central to his respective project, Malek (also heterosexual) did not touch on Mercury’s identity in any certain terms. It was the same way through much of the press tour for Bohemian Rhapsody. In our own interview with Malek, he was loath to refer to Mercury as a queer icon.

“Thank you to Freddie Mercury for giving me the joy of a lifetime,” Malek said at the end of his acceptance speech. “I love you, you beautiful man. This is for – and because of – you, gorgeous.” 

Backstage after their wins, though, it was clear the cast and crew of Bohemian Rhapsody wanted nothing to do with the sexuality conversation. When asked about some critics not praising the film, the Queen guitarist Brian May couldn’t even bring himself to speak to queerness directly. Instead, he says some judged the trailer too harshly but once they saw the film itself, they found Bohemian Rhapsody “did the thing well.” That thing? His queerness – and as far as it being portrayed accurately? Still arguable. And despite having been pressed about and criticized for ignoring much of Mercury’s queerness, Malek and his cohorts’ conversations about Mercury and the film are devoid of that investigation. Every backstage interview Malek had was without mention of Mercury’s being queer, which, although not central to the film (a choice, of course), was still a huge part of his legacy, whether the surviving members of Queen and the crew behind Bohemian Rhapsody like it or not. 

Though Mercury was widely known to be bisexual, he never came out publicly during his lifetime – which is the same case for Dr. Don Shirley,  the queer classical pianist portrayed by Mahershala Ali in the winner for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy. Green Book (which also won Best Screenplay) only slightly hints at Shirley’s sexuality in a brief scene where it’s mentioned he’d been arrested for taking part in a gay sex act at a YMCA while on tour. The rest of the film is devoid of any sexual or romantic information about him at all, which is desexualizing more than anything, but more in tune with the real Shirley. According to family members, Shirley’s response to people asking if he was gay was the tongue-in-cheek response: “Why? Are you interested?” 

But as Shirley was not nearly as well-known as Mercury, nor regarded for his queerness as part of his persona, Green Book can only truly be read as not-straight with a provided context often left out of the cultural conversation. Bohemian Rhapsody, on the other hand, ran with a revisionist history that seemed to extend beyond the film itself.

Olivia Colman also won for her role as the also very real queer Queen Anne in The Favourite, and thanked her “bitches” (aka co-stars/on-screen lovers Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz), but made no mention of the Queen herself. Even though Colman’s version of the royal matriarch was high parody based in some kind of rumored reality, the film and cast were never hesitant about the Sapphicness on flamboyant display. And even though it was based in a time where homosexuality was not only uncouth but illegal, homophobia played a smaller role in that film than it did in the others – and didn’t feel as palpable from cast and crew during press runs. 

By the Globes’ end, Ben Whishaw was the only openly LGBTQ actor to win (other nominees like Billy Porter and the team from Pose went home empty-handed), and perhaps it’s no surprise he’s the only one who made any sort of specific mention of the queer person who he portrayed, and how it carried a weight stronger than that of one singular gay man. Still, it’s worth noting that straight Brad Simpson of Versace also used his opportunity at the mic to address the theme of homophobia in a way that also included empathy. Because LGBTQ people shouldn’t bear the burden of being the only ones to bring these themes to light, just as Sandra Oh and Regina King shouldn’t have to be the only women who spoke up for inclusion and change while Michael Douglas and all of the other straight white dudes get to use their time to thank their publicists and family and money people. Because Michael Douglas can play Liberace and be a mouthpiece for a closeted gay man one time in his life and take off the glistening cape, but Billy Porter will still be wearing his. Because not only LGBTQ people care about LGBTQ stories and history. 

The powers behind Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book might not acknowledge their respective films or protagonists as queer, but how they handle the press and public conversations surrounding the very real queer people at the center of their stories can be just as harmful as their narrative of erasure. So while it may seem like the problem is straight people playing gay or telling gay stories (especially those based on real people and events), the heart of the issue is how the people and the stories are treated throughout – how the films inform their legacies, and vice versa. Because queer people can and should play heterosexual roles, too (see: Whishaw currently starring quite convincingly as the straight dad in the Return of Mary Poppins) – and use their platforms to speak to things outside of homophobia and relevant LGBTQ issues. 

“It needs to be an even playing field for everybody, that would be my ideal,” Whishaw told reporters backstage after his English Scandal win. “I don’t know how far we’re away from that.”

This current awards season could serve as a useful barometer. 

‘The Favourite’ Cast Was Aggressively Queer at the Golden Globes and It Rocked

Watching Maya Rudolph jokingly propose to Amy Poehler on live TV wasn’t even close to the gayest moment of the 76th annual Golden Globe awards. Sunday’s show was brimming with queerness, from actors like Olivia Colman and Sandra Oh, who took home trophies for portraying queer characters, to Ben Whishaw, an out gay actor who won for his role in A Very English Scandal. But the gayest and most rapturous part of the evening was both times the cast of The Favourite was featured; Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, the stars who brought three queer characters to life in Yorgos Lanthimos’ period film, openly flaunted female queerness in a way that’s rarely been done before on an awards show—and it was brilliant.

If The Favourite gets nominated at the Oscars, which it likely will, then a lesbian movie may finally have a Call Me By Your Name moment; movies that center queer female romances are almost never awarded at the Oscars, or any award shows for that matter. In the past, lesbian-themed movies have been majorly snubbed, like Carol in 2015. But the three stars of The Favourite have breathed life into the film in such a magically gay way that’s elevated the excitement surrounding the film. When they’re together, lesbianism just oozes out of their pores, despite none of them identifying as queer. They’re just glowing, and their chemistry is magnetic, their enthusiasm contagious.

On Sunday night, we saw two major moments with these animated leading ladies—Colman, who won for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Weisz and Stone, both of whom were nominated. First, the Holy Trinity presented an award together. The three women strutted on stage holding hands and giggling like giddy girls with a Sapphic secret, and then continued to toss lesbian innuendos around like rainbow confetti.

Weisz described her character, Sarah Churchill, as “capable of giving even the queen a good tongue lashing,” while her co-star Colman tittered. Then, Stone lamented that her character, Abigail Hill, was overlooked, despite being “just as good with her hands as Sarah.” If hearing Rachel Weisz say “tongue lashing” and Emma Stone joking about finger-banging wasn’t enough to make you blush, the women just pressed further.

“Did these women really love her,” Colman asked about her character, “or did they just want her for her body politic?” She added cheekily, “Then again, when the women were these two hotties, did it really matter?” It was silly and sexy and indulgent; everything we want from an award-winning cast on a live show.

When I first saw The Favourite, I was jarred not only by how much I wanted Rachel Weisz to shoot me with a weathered musket, but by the movie’s brazen queerness; it’s not often queer women get to see themselves portrayed on the big screen, and this movie was certainly one of a kind in regards to the way these women were portrayed; lesbian or bisexual characters are almost never afforded the opportunity to be witty and brash, rather than self-serious and dramatic. So, it was mollifying to see that energy played out in a buzzy awards season movie, and subsequently carried into the real world by the actors themselves. All three actresses wielded the bold, flirtatious queerness of their characters like a sword, threatening to slay any naysayers who dare stand in their way. Rather than shy away from the movie’s gay plot, their giggly presentation seemingly said, “This one is for the queer women watching.”

And when Olivia Colman accepted the award for her role as Queen Anne, she kept the celebration going. In her speech, the British actress thanked her “bitches,” nodding to her female costars and drawing a coquettish wave from Rachel Weisz. Between their gay shenanigans, Sandra Oh’s win, and Halle Berry openly flirting with Lena Waithe on stage (she totally was, right?!) the whole award show felt like a knowing wink to queer fans.

What makes The Favourite so special is exactly what Colman, Weisz, and Stone embodied on stage: It’s just so much goddamn fun. The movie allows queer women to be outrageous and wretched and hysterical and hilarious, rather than boxing them into any tired trope or lesbian stereotype. And to see that spirit translated from the big screen to a live awards telecast was so satisfying. As a queer woman, I finally felt included in the exclusive fun of awards season in a way I never have before. I look forward to every red carpet, award ceremony, or acceptance speech the stars of The Favourite may grace, and I’m already prematurely mourning a world after the Oscars, a lifeless dystopia in which Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone stop publicly fawning over each other like a pack of hormonal teenagers. But it’s good while it lasts.

Header image via Getty

Here Are The Gayest Looks of the 2019 Golden Globes

SuitWatch 2019 kicked off Sunday night at the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards. Our favorite film and TV actresses tore through the red carpet like a Category 5 hurricane, and while the floor-length gowns and designer dresses were certainly something to be ogled, I personally had my eye on the gayer fashions.

Last year’s Golden Globes carpet was defined by the “blackout” Time’s Up protest, and I was hoping this year’s would be marked by menswear, given the memorable 2018 trend (see: Ocean’s 8 press tour, the Cannes red carpet, everything Blake Lively wore in A Simple Favor). But I have to be honest, the pre-show was basically as heterosexual as a Reddit forum for adult Disney fans. Although there wasn’t much to work with, here are the best queer girl looks from the 2019 Golden Globes.

Janelle Monae

I’m not sure what the fuck is going on here, but I adore it. The out queer Janelle sported a golden headpiece and a gilded dress that’s basically the formal wear equivalent of a gay girl wearing a Billabong t-shirt over a long-sleeved tee. She’s serving belted, layered pansexual glory and I want her to step on me.

Elsie Fisher

Fifteen-year old Elsie Fisher, the Eighth Grade star nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, wore an adorable red velvet collared pantsuit to kick off her first ever awards season. It’s the perfect outfit for walking up to an old dude and saying, “Move, my suit is velvet.”

Lena Waithe

Presenter Lena Waithe was somehow the second best dressed bleach-blonde lesbian in a jet-black suit, right after Chris Messina, who stunned straight women, gay men, and even lesbians with his dirtbag-yellow locks. But Lena Waithe looked dapper as ever in a black turtleneck, gold necklace, and mean mug that screams, “Be gayer.”

Glenn Close

Nominated for her role in The Wife, Glenn Close wore a fucking velvet cape. I think at a certain point, when you’re of age and you’ve been in enough award-winning movies, you just sort of say “Fuck it, I’m wearing a cape” and go to the Golden Globes looking like Professor McGonagall’s twin lesbian Auror. It’s a power move. This is the best red carpet cape since Lena Waithe’s rainbow flag piece at the Met Gala. Next year, we’re surpassing capes and going straight for robes. Gilded robes 2020.

Rosamund Pike

Sure, I’m the Chairwoman of SuitWatch 2019, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate other queer getups. For example, Rosamund Pike, nominated for her role in A Private War, wore a jacket that says “I robbed Michael Jackson’s grave for this,” and a thick choker that’s perfect for walking into a gay bar and waiting for a lesbian to say “I think I’ve seen you on Hinge.” Great work, Rosamund. Great gay work.

Linda Perry

Linda Perry, the queer 4 Non-Blondes songwriter—nominated for Best Original Song in Dumplin’—sported a shimmering metallic suit accompanied by that fucking top hat, which is, at this point, basically an appendage of hers rather than an accessory. The hat seems to grow taller and taller with each appearance—it began as your average Silver Lake Lesbian Hat, then over the years competed with Pharrell for Most Longitudinal Hat, and today, it can be scaled by any of the Spider People in the Spider-verse.

Julia Roberts

The first photograph I saw of Julia Roberts at the Golden Globes was from the waist up, and I thought, “snore.” The next one was a full-length shot and I hurled myself face-first through a plate glass window. The actress, nominated for her role in Amazon’s Homecoming, wore a mashup of black tapered trousers with a tan dress, which was the most ambitious crossover outfit in history. Roberts has worn numerous power-suits on red carpets past, so I’m elated that she stuck to her roots. Pierce my cartilage with your stilettos, queen.

Judy Greer

Styled by Karla Welch, Judy Greer stormed the red carpet in an Alberta Ferretti suit and goddamn oversized bowtie, winning the Gay Girl Golden Globe Fashion Awards by a landslide. Her flare pants are perfect for openly vaping in a movie theater while straight people glare at you even though you’re just doing this for your people, who’ve been previously oppressed for centuries, and didn’t have the same opportunities as you do now, like being able to vape in a movie theater. Greer’s can simply be called “Lesbian Cater Waiter Who Fucked Your Bridesmaid and Ruined the Whole Wedding.”

And a special shoutout to the queer male looks of the Golden Globes red carpet, like twink icon Timothée Chalamet, who sported a literal metallic harness, and Billy Porter of Pose, who scalped Glenn Close with his bedazzled, reversible cape.

Images via Getty

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

Forgiveness Is A Privilege: On Ellen and Kevin Hart

Many moons ago, when I was a wee teenager who thought herself to be a straight girl — LO to the highest of L’s — my father and a couple of my aunts were watching a movie where the main character came out as gay (In and Out for those who are curious). I bring this up because one of my aunts decided it would be cute to ask my dad what he’d do if he found out I was a lesbian.

I should preface this by saying I didn’t have a boyfriend, and in hindsight, I think they were starting to worry because, gasp, what if?

My father, in all of his I love my little girl so much glory, vehemently said, “She ain’t gay.” He wouldn’t even entertain the thought, the edge in his voice loud and clear. Eventually, I got a boyfriend, and my folks never toyed with the idea again.

I say all this because Kevin Hart’s recently unearthed tweets brought back a memory that’s been buried for about 20 years. His tweets may have been a long time ago, but seeing him threaten to hit his son over the head with a dollhouse over a what if? scenario reminded me of how one comment my dad made scared the shit out of me when I realized, years later, that I was, plot twist, a lesbian, then bi (because someone FINALLY introduced me to the word).

This is something Black queer youth deal with constantly, these offhanded comments treated as jokes or “what ifs?” just to see how angry someone would get if they found out their kid was queer. It’s a conversation that needs to take place in the community, and not on, oh I dunno, a talk show hosted by a white lady who’ll just let the offender prattle on without challenging him at all?

Sigh.

Ellen stands with Kevin Hart and I’m… supposed to be thankful, I guess? Realize that Hart has changed since making that tweet? Point out how curious it is that said tweet was unearthed after he achieved one of the highest goals on his vision board, as he so eloquently put it? Naw. You can miss me with all of that. I’m not that teenage girl sitting with her family as they bust a gut over, “What if she’s gay, HAHAHAHA! Oh, that’d be a HOOT! Her dad would be SO PISSED.”

Far too often, we forget one simple truth about forgiveness: it’s a privilege, and it has to be earned. So to all the Kevin Harts and their Ellen accomplices, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • “I’m sorry” is not enough

“I apologized ten years ago,” Hart says ad nauseum, as Ellen nods and mmhms her way through this one-sided interview. You know that hard pill to swallow meme that went around in 2018? Here’s another one: When you say something that hurts someone, you may have to apologize more than once–especially if you do the wrong on a platform that reaches millions and can be resurrected like a fallen RPG character in a video game. Just one Phoenix Down and, poof!, the tweet is back.

“I’m sorry” rolls off the tongue real nice, real smooth, when your reputation is on the line. What are you doing to actually prove the meaning behind those words? This is why the apology can’t stop, won’t stop, at a mere sorry. This was Hart’s chance to show the development he speaks of, how he’s become “cultured” — his words, not mine. Instead, we get several minutes of him making claims that he’s a different person while conversing with America’s favorite white lesbian gal pal.

This ain’t it, Kevin. She’s not who you should be talking to. Then again, she had no business wasting the airtime on a topic she had no interest in diving into, instead choosing to let her friend attempt to save face because she, quote, knows him. Y’all, pleeeeease hold your friends accountable, because here’s what her casual acceptance actually translates to: the countless Black queer voices that have spoken about this issue mean nothing to her. She’d rather offer airtime to the one who hurt us because friendship is magic. Where’s our invite, Ellen? Where’s your hashtag to support Black queer kids who are used as my child better not be gay fodder? Where’s the dialogue? Furthermore, if we are to believe that his grand gesture of growth is him stepping down so the award show isn’t “clouded” by his presence, then her pushing to have him host the Oscars negates E V E R Y T H I N G!

  • What will (inevitably) happen with Black queer folks

As far as I can tell I’m not psychic, but I have a hunch of how this will play out and I can guaran-damn-tee that other Black queer folks know what I’m about to say. So raise your glass if you’re expecting to be told one of the following: 1) you’re too sensitive, 2) be the bigger person, 3) a combo platter of both with a side of the saltiest of fries. Forgiveness and marginalization go hand in hand as we’re always told to accept whatever copy/pasted apology we get because…  something something “They didn’t mean it” yadda yadda “They’re learning.” In the case of Kevin Hart, we’ve gotten flack from the Black community, and now we’re about to get it from the white queer community.

It’s fine. And by “fine” I mean not fine at all stop doing this to us! Because there’s two categories we fall into when it comes to this: There’s the I’m used to this group, the ones who saw those tweets and knew that the likes of D.L Hughley would come out of the woodwork to stand with Kevin Hart, who knew that Ellen would stick her loafers in at some point. And then there’s the oh…. group, usually younger than my 35-year-old self, who will feel the full weight of what it means to be treated as the other in their own communities. They’ll be afraid to voice their feelings, might even agree with Ellen with a taped together smile so folks don’t set their sights on them. They’ll stay silent when their loved ones speak on the situation and call the community a bunch of snowflakes or whatever precipitation insult we’re using these days, unaware that the ones who aren’t joining the conversation could very well be part of said community.  

This is why I say that forgiveness is a privilege. It’s priceless, and something to be earned. In the case of my father? I’ve forgiven him. But he had to earn it. Because when I did come out we fought, and he was angry, just like he hinted at in that what if? scenario my aunt posed. It was messy. We yelled. We screamed. We cried. But I did not accept the first apology, or the second, or even the third. There were a lot of conversations, a slow rebuilding of trust, and despite the opinions of folks outside the situation (my aunts) I got to decide when I was finally ready to make peace.

And even now, after all of that, it still hits me every now and then, like when I see tweets and think of the Black queer kid who sees them, too. So on the flipside, it’s also a privilege in regards to who can forgive who.

Ellen can forgive Hart because she’s not part of the affected party. She’s not a Black queer person who’s been surrounded by the stale-ass notion that queerness, somehow, degrades blackness, to the point that threatening to hit a boy with a dollhouse is not just seen as a joke — it’s seen as a necessity. She doesn’t know what it’s like to be a black, teenage girl whose family jokes about her being queer, kinda worries she might be because she doesn’t have a boyfriend, sighs in relief when she gets one, which sends her into a tizzy in college because, oh shit, she likes girls.

This wasn’t your place, Ellen. You don’t speak for me and I don’t have to forgive anyone. Him or you.