2023 Oscars Are Upon Us, And It's Still A Bit Complicated When It Comes To LGBTQ Nominations

8 months ago 4

Awards season is here!

With the awards season ramping up to its grand conclusion, it's time to look at all the LGBTQ films nominated for the 2023 Academy Awards.

From a multiverse-bending tale of family love to murder mysteries and songs from queer icons, this year's slate of queer films span genres and worlds of their own making.

Not all queerness is great, however, especially when in the wrong *cough* straight *cough* hands. So while more representation is great, what exactly are the queer films nominated at this year's Oscars?

With 11 nominations, Everything Everywhere All at Once is this year's most nominated film, with nominations in almost every major category, including Best Picture. 

The film follows Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) as an immigrant mother and laundromat owner trying to deal with her unsupportive father, aloof husband, and queer daughter she doesn't understand. Stephanie Hsu, who plays Joy, was nominated for her amazing turn as a queer daughter struggling to catch her family up to the times.

It will not be surprising if this film, hailed as a masterpiece, sweeps the major categories, highlighting how a positive story about queerness and family can transcend everything else. It tells a story about family, queerness, and acceptance that doesn't see the LGBTQ character go through tragedy.

While Cate Blanchett has a fond place in the hearts of queer people everywhere for her turn in Carol, her lesbian role this time around isn't as lovable. Helmed by acclaimed director Todd Field, the film has been a hit since it premiered, and is now nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress for Blanchett.

Blanchett's turn as Lydia Tár, one of the most accomplished conductors in living history, became a frontrunner for the Best Actress category from its first viewing. Her role as a lesbian who misuses her power and authority is not only one of the year's best but also potentially a career best for someone already considered one of the best living actors.

While on paper it may not seem like the time to bring problematic queer characters to the forefront, Tár is smart enough not to make the protagonist's queerness the reason for her actions, choosing instead to do the work to show a person who just happens to be queer.

It's up to you to decide what to feel about this movie and its queerness, but for Blanchett stans, this is your time. While Michelle Yeoh is the presumed favorite, Blanchett could easily upset her.

A common theme with this year's LGBTQ films is how sad they are, which is one of the most prominent takeaways from The Whale, Darren Aronofsky's drama about a 600-pound gay man going through severe depression.

Brendan Fraser, as the lead, has garnered widespread acclaim, with many calling the performance a return to form for one of the most notable actors of the '90s and '00s. Hong Chau also garnered a nomination for Supporting Actress, while the film was nominated for its makeup and hairstyling. 

Fraser's character has not gone without controversy, with many questioning the film's use of a fat suit and how the film uses the main character's queerness. 

Writing for Pride Source, Sean Donovan said, "There I sat in the theater, one whale watching another, hoping to find just a trace of connection between the two of us. Instead Fraser’s Charlie, in a fat suit and layers of prosthetic makeup, feels overcome by the baggage of a world doubly homophobic and tyrannically favoring thin body shapes, rendering the actual lived reality of a fat gay man somewhat sketchy and unconvincing, his consciousness written by belief systems that seek to destroy him."

Hailing from Belgium, Close is an A24 drama from Lukas Dhont about two young boys whose tight friendship gets tested by their classmates. The film deals with a heavy amount of serious themes, especially homophobia and suicide, making this one of the sadder films of the year in any category. 

Regardless, the film has been critically acclaimed on the international film festival circuit, including winning the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and being nominated for nine awards at the Margritte Awards, essentially Belgium's Oscars.

We will forever thank Knives Out for giving us an evil Chris Evans in an amazing sweater, but the sequel proved even gayer than the first outing. Queer queen Janelle Monáe joined Daniel Craig's Detective Benoit Blanc, who was revealed not only to be gay but to be married to Hugh Grant!

Rian Johnson's sequel earned a nomination in this sole category but was considered one of the best films of 2022. With its success and more sequels on the way, we can only hope the next films dive deeper into the queerness.

Lady Gaga, "Hold My Hand," from Top Gun: Maverick — Best Original Song

If there is one thing Lady Gaga is going to do, it's eat!

Mother monster and queer legend herself Lady Gaga has earned her fourth Academy Award nomination, having won for "Shallow" in this category back in 2019, and with a good chance to win it again this year. Already nominated at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and the Grammys, "Hold My Hand" is a certified bop!

Gaga is not done, either. With the recently released image of her in the highly anticipated Joker sequel as Harley Quinn, Gaga could have another award winner cooking as we speak.

What to expect at this year's Oscars:

While not all the queerness at this year's Oscars will depict the happiest of times, they will be queer. LGBTQ films like Everything Everywhere All at OnceTár, and The Whale are expected to do well, with the first film likely to sweep most of the top categories, barring a complete left turn.

Although there are some questionable decisions made in these films, this year's slate of LGBTQ nominees show how far LGBTQ film has come, as well as how far it still needs to go. Movies like Tár and Everything Everywhere All at Once illustrate how smartly written queer characters can go beyond conservative buzzwords and stereotypes to be compelling. Even though The Whale showed us once again how amazing Brendan Fraser is, the film is far from perfect representation.

However you feel, get ready, because the Academy Awards always bring some intense discussion. The ceremony airs March 12 on ABC.

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