Oscar History

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Entries in LGBT (389)


Great Moments in Gay - Sexual Confusion in "Kissing Jessica Stein"

Team Experience is sharing favorite LGBT scenes in cinema for Pride Month. Here's Deborah...

Kissing Jessica Stein is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I could make a whole list of “great moments in gayness” just from Jessica Stein scenes, but there’s one in particular that’s my favorite.

Here’s the quick plot summary: Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt), cute, quirky, neurotic, single, is reading the personal ads (for you youngsters, that’s the paper equivalent of Tinder or OKCupid), and is struck by one ad in particular. Realizing she’s accidentally been reading in the “Women Seeking Women” section, she throws the paper away, but then decides to answer it anyway. 

Helen (Heather Juergensen) and Jessica begin tentatively seeing each other; Helen, too, is exploring bisexuality for the first time. Helen wants to dive right in, but Jessica is nervous, skittish, and afraid. 

Cut to Helen at Jessica’s place. Jessica presents Helen with a pile of brochures, dons her comically serious reading glasses, and says one of the greatest lines ever uttered in the movies: 

I was surprised to learn that lesbians accessorized.


I love everything about this. First, because the word “accessorize” is inherently funny, like “pickle”. Second, because it’s even funnier when referring to a dildo. Which is another inherently funny word. Finally, because there’s an underlying truth: No one seems to have any idea what two women do in bed together. Both straights and gay men seem to kind of go all cross-eyed with, “But, but, but…What do you do?” And studying? Getting brochures for a date? That’s just hilarious, but also not horribly removed from anything that might really happen. 

I love movies about sexual ambivalence. I love straights having gay sex and gays having straight sex and people trying to figure out the difference between love and love. Can I love you and not desire you? Can I desire you and not want to desire you? Why is “best” friend” so different from “romantic lover”? I love the exploration of the gray space where we try to figure all that out. (See also: The Object of My Affection.) Kissing Jessica Stein is a movie that gives us real gay people, and real straight people, and real people exploring the space in between. It’s funny about family, funny about desire, funny about being confused, and funny about coming out. Also, it has Tovah Feldshuh, and she makes everything better. 

previously in this series...


Tweetweek: Skarsgård, Fences, and... yes... Politics 

Time for a quick diversion - tweets that amused or edified this week, somewhat randomly selected.

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Great Moment in Gay - Pariah

In Great Moments in Gay, Team TFE looks at our favorite queer scenes in the movies for Pride Month. Here's Kieran Scarlett on Pariah (2011)

Writing this piece this week, in the wake of tragedy is especially difficult. Thinking about all of the incredible, vital voices that make up Team Experience, as well as the readers who this blog touches on a daily basis, it's impossible not to think that a great number of us could have been (and have been) in places just like that Orlando night club. Safe spaces for marginalized people—queer people in this instance—are sacred, rare and often self-forged. This is especially true of safe spaces for queer people of color, who face an even greater burden of those added identity politics. Now more than ever, it is important to recognize that being queer and open remains a revolutionary act. It's a sad truth to intuit—something so innate and unchanging being a cause for notice and affirmation in the face of a world that is still struggling to understand. It's also beautiful to observe the strength of the queer community, who continue to push forward, forging those safe spaces, making room in spaces that are not yet totally safe, prospering, thriving and living.

Which brings us to Dee Rees' 2011 debut feature film Pariah. This coming-of-age tale charts a young, black lesbian Alike (a magnetic Adepero Oduye) as she struggles to find herself. in the face of a home and school life that are not entirely welcoming to her identity...

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Great Moments in Gay - Defiant Humanity in "Bent" 

For Pride month, we're celebrating our favorite queer moments in cinema. Here's guest contributor Steven Fenton...

Bent is the story of two men who fall in love while imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp during WWII. When the original play premiered in 1979 it made waves for its powerful depiction of Nazi persecution of homosexuals. By the time the film was released eighteen years later, the AIDS epidemic had ravaged the global gay community, giving further significance to the story’s exploration of survival and freedom.

In the camp, Max (Clive Owen) and Horst (Lothaire Bluteau) are assigned the sisyphean task of hauling stones from one rubble pile to another. On a miserably hot day, Horst attempts to distract Max from the maddening heat and labor. [More...]

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Best Shot: Trevor (1994)

For Pride Month... A great moment in Oscar gayness

This week's Best Shot spotlight shines on an adorable miniature. Since June is Pride Month we're looking at Great Moments in Cinematic Gayness throughout the month. Great Moments in Oscar Gayness are rarer things and usually come with significant caveats. When they award actors for playing LGBT characters it's literally only when they are straight and labelled "brave" for playing the character and the character is either dying or victimized in some way. Their ultimate Best Picture rejection of a universally acclaimed frontrunner in Brokeback Mountain (2005) left another stain on the Academy's rainbow colors.

But in Oscar's gay history, there is a beautiful moment that comes without so many uncomfortable footnotes.

Trevor, a sweet funny short about a boy who realizes his schoolmates have figured out his gayness took home an Oscar in a surprise tie, one of only six in their history, at the 67th ceremony. To make the moment even gayer in retrospect, the late producer and casting director Randy Stone thanked Jodie Foster ("Jodie, I love you") from the stage. (Stone and Foster were frequently each other's dates at film events in the 1990s and he was even rumored to be the biological father of her sons.)


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Great Moments in Gay - Bring it On

In Great Moments in Gay, Team TFE looks at our favorite queer scenes in the movies for Pride Month. Here's Kieran Scarlett on Bring it On (2000)

Peyton Reed's Bring it On is one of the best high school movies of all time. It's best to get that out of the way first in any writing about the 2000 flick about the politics of high school cheerleading. It's often dismissed, forgotten or written off as a trifle, which couldn't be further from the truth. It so stylishly inhabits its own cinematic universe and does such an excellent job of world building--something that's often missing in a lot of high school movies where the environment can sometimes feel generic or a retread of superior movies. Its first scene brilliantly employs a Greek chorus-style device set to a cheer routine to introduce the world and its characters. And it manages to do so much more gracefully than a similar device in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, arguably a more high-minded film. Bring it On is not a guilty pleasure. It's simply a pleasure.

The way Jessica Bendinger's script handles so many issues feels revolutionary. This was 2000 mind you. Right in the middle of that murky period when it was being sussed out whether campy punchlines or true humanization would become de rigeur for queer representation in film and television. [More...]

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