10 Queer Films That Should Have Been Nominated for Academy Awards, Dammit!
In the post-Moonlight age (and with nominations this year for gay-themed films such as Call Me By Your Name, or those with mild gay content like Lady Bird), we thought it might be time to look back at 10 LGBTQ movies that despite deserving some Academy Awards love got no Oscar nomination (including one — believe it or not — from 2017!).
Here are 10 queer films that received no Oscar nomination (but damn well should have):
1. BPM (Beats Per Minute) (French title: 120 Battements Par Minute) (2017)
This French-language film did not make the cut of the five nominated 2017 films for Best Foreign Language Film. And while we congratulate the deserved nomination of the Chilean trans drama A Fantastic Woman (an odds-on favorite to win), we have to ask if the Academy just can’t contain two LGBTQ-positive films in a single category? The snub here is ugly, especially with a film as liberal leaning and historical that seems right up the alley of the voting block. But maybe a 2:20 drama about ACT UP activists in Paris was too tough to sit through for the nominating committee? Regardless, the film will stand the test of time, especially the lacerating performance of Nahuel Pérez Biscayart as passionate activist Sean.
2. Tangerine (2015)
Made on an iPhone for practically no money, Sean Baker’s Hollywood-set trans comedy-drama was always too under-the-radar for the Academy, but what a funny and ultimately touching portrait of friendship he created with the help of non-professionals Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor. Surely there could have been room for an Original Screenplay or even Supporting Actress nod? Alas, no Oscar nomination here.
3. Stranger by the Lake (2013)
A gay cruising beach at a remote lake doesn’t exactly scream “Academy Award nomination,” but wouldn’t it have been a kick to see this Hitchcockian thriller about gay desire on the Best Foreign Language Film shortlist? Throw in some hardcore sex (yes, please) and a very French sense of ambiguity, and you’ve basically defined the long tradition of the European art film.
4. Weekend (2011)
The fine British tradition of kitchen-sink realism received a gay update with this import about a hookup that may or may not blossom into something else. And while writer-director Andrew Haigh may now be best known in the United States for his short-lived HBO series Looking, this is — so far at least — his crowning achievement.
5. The Opposite of Sex (1998)
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) rarely knows what to do with comedies, so it’s no surprise that Don Roos’ insanely black comedy about a pregnant runaway (Christina Ricci, deserving of a Best Actress nomination) conning everyone in her path, including a guileless bisexual (Ivan Sergei) and her gay half-brother Bill (Martin Donovan, Supporting Actor-worthy for sure), never registered with them. Kudos to Roos for giving Lisa Kudrow the best screen role of her career as Lucia, the sister of Bill’s deceased partner, and the acerbic conscience of a perfectly dysfunctional modern anti-romantic comedy.
6. High Art (1998)
With career-defining performances by Ally Sheedy as a drug-addicted photographer and Radha Mitchell as the young intern slowing falling in love with her, it was a bit of a head-scratcher when Sheedy was passed over for a Best Actress nomination. Twelve years later writer-director Lisa Cholodenko saw some Academy love with The Kids Are All Right, but this earlier work was notice to the industry that a fiercely independent lesbian sensibility had arrived.
7. Bound (1996)
Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s feature debut before they both transitioned was a B-movie by design, but damn it if Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon didn’t steam up the screen as lesbian lovers out to con a mobster for millions of dollars. There’ve been plenty of acting nods for sub-par films in the history of the Oscars, so why not a few for a genre film that was top of its class?
8. Paris Is Burning (1990)
There was a time when the documentary arm of the Academy ignored anything that actually made some money at the box office. Jennie Livingston’s iconic depiction of New York City ball culture was one of those victims and received no Oscar nomination, but its legend is solid and its reputation unsullied by its lack of an invite to a different type of dance.
9. Parting Glances (1986)
It took Hollywood stars to get the Academy to notice the plight of AIDS (Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Philadephia), yet Bill Sherwood’s 1986 drama, while ragged around the edges, offered the world a first glimpse at Steve Buscemi, both funny and heartbreaking as the dying Nick. Take a look at this performance now and then tell us this isn’t what a Supporting Actor award is all about.
10. Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)
That the iconoclastic director Robert Altman never won a competitive Academy Award in his lifetime is the kind of oversight AMPAS will never live down, so to expect any recognition for this strange item in his catalogue is admittedly crazy. It’s basically a filmed play, and the drama itself is problematic (Tennessee Williams-lite), but oh what performances are given by Cher (in her first great screen role) as the no-nonsense waitress Sissy, Sandy Dennis as the delusional Mona and Karen Black as the mysterious Joanne who arrives halfway through the film and upends the lives of the women who used to know her as Joe. Certainly the trans experience has progressed since 1982, but Karen Black’s work here was fresh and transformative.