Metro Weekly

Oscars update: Over half of all Best Picture nominees are LGBTQ-inclusive films

GLAAD commends movie studios for portrayal of LGBTQ characters and storylines in 2019

A Star Is Born — Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Hollywood is receiving praise from one of the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organizations for the number of LGBTQ-inclusive films and out individuals who have been nominated for Oscars.

GLAAD, which has in the past criticized studios for their reticence to embrace characters or tackle storylines involving LGBTQ individuals, noted that 5 of the 8 films nominated for Best Picture this year — A Star is BornGreen BookThe FavouriteBohemian Rhapsody, and Vice — involve LGBTQ characters, storylines, or nominees. 

The winners will be announced at the 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24.

This year marks the highest number of LGBTQ-inclusive films to be nominated for Best Picture. The two most recent winners, Moonlight in 2017, and The Shape of Water in 2018, also contained LGBTQ characters and storylines.

Another LGBTQ-related film is If Beale Street Could Talk, which has been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film, by director, producer and screenwriter Barry Jenkins — who also directed Moonlight — was adapted from the novel of the same name by gay author and activist James Baldwin.

If Beale Street Could Talk — Photo: Tatum Magnus/Annapuruna Pictures

Other nominees include Jeff Whitty, co-writer of Can You Ever Forgive Me?; the Live Action Short film Maguerite, about an aging woman and her lesbian nurse who develop a friendship that inspires the woman to acknowledge her own love for another woman in her past; filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, nominated for their Netflix Documentary Short, End Game; composer and lyricist team Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman for Original Song for “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returnsand another nomination for Shaiman for Best Original Score.

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury

The Best Actor and Best Actress category included multiple nominations for LGBTQ characters, with Rami Malek nominated for his portrayal of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Melissa McCarthy nominated for her portrayal of lesbian biographer Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Olivia Colman as Queen Anne in The Favourite.

Mahershala Ali has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of gay musician Don Shirley in Green Book. Richard E. Grant has been nominated for playing gay character Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz have been nominated as Best Supporting Actress in The Favourite.

The Favourite: Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman — Photo: Yorgos Lanthimos / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Each year, GLAAD releases its Studio Responsibility Index, which keeps track of the inclusion and portrayals of LGBTQ characters and the development of LGBTQ storylines in releases from the seven largest film studios and their subsidiaries. Last year, GLAAD found that only 14 of the 109 releases from major studios included LGBQ characters, and none contained transgender characters — marking the lowest percentage of LGBTQ-inclusive films since the index was first developed in 2012.

“Today’s list of Oscar nominees reflect a banner year for LGBTQ inclusion in film and signal that the Academy and its members are rightfully prioritizing diverse storytelling at a time when audiences and critics alike are calling for more,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.

“The diversity across the full list of nominations should be celebrated and will no doubt lead to more inclusive, culture-changing films,” added Ellis. “The majority of the LGBTQ-inclusive films highlight the stories of LGBTQ people throughout history, showing that LGBTQ people and issues have always existed, and that now is the time to tell these powerful and moving stories.”

The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles at 4 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST. For more information, visit oscar.go.com.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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