This Year’s Oscar’s full of Queer Firsts
March 7, 2018
The past year has been one of major changes for Hollywood and the film industry. Activist movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have illustrated how much women, and men, in the entertainment industry are often subjected sexual harassment, discrimination, and abuse. There has been a rising chorus of critics calling for more diverse and authentic representations in filmmaking. Although women make up a sizeable portion of the movie-making industry, only something like 11-15% of films in Hollywood, directed by women, ever end up being released. It has been 8 years since a woman has been nominated in the category of Best Director, Katheryn Bigalow for 2009’s The Hurt Locker (which coincidentally is the only time a woman has won Best Director in Oscar’s 90-year history). Meanwhile, movies like Marvel’s Black Panther have smashed sales records, proving that Black-led action films, helmed by Black directors and crew are just as viable for box office gold. Despite all this, representations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and particularly trans folks in front of, and behind the camera are still often few and far between.
That’s why this year’s Academy Awards this past Sunday Mar. 4th were so remarkable. The awards show had a number of amazingly queer moments. A Fantastic Woman, a Chilean film about transgender singer and the transphobia she encounters after her lover dies, won Best Foreign Language Film. Even better, the trans woman in the film was played by trans actress Daniela Vega, who also presented the award for Best Original Song, making this the first time an openly transgender person has presented at the Oscars.
This year’s Awards also saw the first known trans director, Yance Ford’s film, Strong Island, about the murder of Ford’s brother, William and the racial & historical injustices that let his killer go free; nominated for Best Documentary.
Gay writer, James Ivory won Best Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name, about a 17 year old’s love affair with a handsome doctoral student interning for his father over a summer in Italy.
While Hollywood may still have a way to go to ensure equal, fair, and true representations for minorities on screen and behind the lens, this year’s Oscars give us reason to hope.