I Love You Phillip Morris as our top pick, though, not only for its sharp, alternately hilarious and touching screenplay (which was just announced as a surprise nominee for this year's Writers Guild Awards) but for the sheer fact that it was finally released in the US after a tortured, nearly two year wait.
I Love You Phillip Morris, which starred Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor (both delightful) in the true-life story of misguided convicts in love with each other, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2009, then opened in virtually every European country, but saw its American opening held up by marketing concerns and financial squabbles. It finally played a number of US theaters just last month, to mixed critical and box office success. Nevertheless, everyone — gay, straight and in between — ought to see this bizarre yet oddly universal, resonant love story. We love Phillip Morris too!
A leading contender in this year's Oscars, The Kids Are All Right was also nominated by the WGA, as well as for a host of Golden Globe and other awards. This topical tale of a lesbian couple (the fabulous Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) coping with their rapidly maturing children's desire to develop a relationship with their sperm-donor father (a similarly great Mark Ruffalo) struck a chord among parents of all stripes. Though it received mixed reactions in the GLBT community, the general acclaim heaped upon The Kids Are All Right serves as a testament to how far we have come as film viewers and filmmakers, and the movie is probably the most significant mainstream achievement in that regard since 2005's Brokeback Mountain.
Burlesque won't go down as a cinematic classic, but this contemporary homage to A Star is Born melodramas had enough musical pizzazz and camp charm to win over gay audiences. Add Cher (in her first film role in seven years) to the time-honored mix and we had, if not a blockbuster, a Xanadu-esque pop pageant that will likely stand the test of time. As Cher prophetically sings on the soundtrack, "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me." Christina Aguilera didn't suck, Cam Gigandet showed his shapely derriere, Stanley Tucci played gay (again) and Kristen Bell amused as the alcoholic diva. Oh, and out actor Alan Cumming appeared sporadically in a variation on his Cabaret MC role. What's not to like?
Click the following links for our original reviews: I Love You Phillip Morris, The Kids Are All Right and Burlesque.
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By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.