For the seventh year in a row, Movie Dearest takes a look back and celebrates the year that was with a salute to the best in film, television and the stage with the 2013 Movie Dearest Awards, a.k.a. the "Dearies"! And the winners are...
Movie of the Year: Blue is the Warmest Color
Gay men, not to mention most straight viewers, wouldn’t normally get too excited about a three-hour, subtitled lesbian drama from France containing two lengthy, graphic sex scenes between its leading ladies. However, buzz around Tunisian writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color began growing stateside after it was awarded the top prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, by a jury headed by Steven Spielberg no less. The film is a glorious if relentlessly, sometimes painfully, honest portrayal of infatuation, love and maturation that all adult moviegoers can relate to regardless of one’s sexual orientation. Stunningly acted by leads Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux as well as beautifully photographed (in frequent, appropriate shades of blue) by Sofian El Fani, Blue isn’t only the warmest color but our choice as the Movie Dearest Movie of the Year out of a pack of strong contenders. — CC
Men of the Year: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto
We here at Movie Dearest are frequently tempted to say, "So many men, so little time" (at least in our fantasy lives). Yet our selection of this year's Men of the Year, historically given to just one male, came all too easily. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto blew us, as well as most other critics, away with their superb performances in Jean-Marc Vallee's galvanizing Dallas Buyers Club as, respectively, a real-life AIDS crusader and his transgender compatriot. McConaughey is coming off a tremendous two years of work, with his potentially Oscar-winning turn as Ron Woodroof following similarly acclaimed roles in Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street, Magic Mike, The Paperboy and Bernie. Leto hasn't been seen much on the big screen since he played Hephaistion, lover to Colin Farrell's bisexual title conqueror, in 2004's ill-fated Alexander. The talented actor-musician has scored a historic comeback and is currently the front-winner to win this year's Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Now both Golden Globe winners, gentlemen, we salute you. — CC
Women of the Year: Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock has been a "woman we love" ever since her spunky breakout role in Speed almost twenty years(!) ago. Sandy specialized in "all-American girl" types in rom com froth like While You Were Sleeping and Miss Congeniality for years, and won the Oscar for her dramatic (yet still spunky) role in The Blind Side, but nobody was prepared for Sandra's visceral, gut-wrenching performance in this year's Gravity. On screen for virtually the entire running time of Alfonso Cuarón's peril-in-space epic, Bullock is absolutely mesmerizing, trading in on her movie star likability to become the ultimate viewer surrogate, leading audiences on a cathartic journey of fear, hope and, ultimately, rebirth. — KH
New Star of the Year: Henry Cavill
I suppose at this point in his multimedia career we should add "star-maker" to the list of Superman's super powers. Following in the red-booted footsteps of George Reeves, Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh, relatively unknown Brit hunk Henry Cavill soared to stardom this past year as the titular Man of Steel. And he brought something no other actor has to the role: chest hair! (Who knew Superman was a muscle bear?) Cavill, unlike his immediate predecessor Routh, will don the cape and the big red "S" a second time for the eagerly awaited big screen showdown Batman vs. Superman. We can't wait. — KH
TV Show of the Year: Downton Abbey
There's a reason why Julian Fellowes' amazingly addictive Downton Abbey has become such an unexpected runaway hit worldwide. Firmly set in the gorgeously-appointed English countryside of the early 20th century, this lush period drama (one could call it a soap opera and not be wrong) has, unlike most of its ilk, a uniquely contemporary attitude. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the character of conniving former footman Thomas Barrow (played by Rob James-Collier), who was outed this past season yet not only avoided Wildean imprisonment, he got a promotion. Sure, he's a bit of a rascal, but we all cheered Thomas when he proclaimed, "I might be different, but I am not vile". How thoroughly modern. — KH
Stage Show of the Year: Kinky Boots
A collective cry of delight went out from theatre queens everywhere when it was announced that the award winning triumvirate of author Harvey Fierstein, director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell and composer Cyndi Lauper had united to adapt the 2005 British film Kinky Boots for the stage. Based on the true story of a dying shoe factory that came back to life once it began producing oversized pumps for drag queens, the musical has been a huge hit on Broadway and pretty much swept the 2013 Tony Awards. Lauper, making her Broadway composing debut, proved herself a natural, and the heartwarming tale of an insecure straight man (played by the too cute Stark Sands) who finds direction with the help of cross-dressing entertainer Lola (Tony winner Billy Porter) has moved audiences of all persuasions. We can’t wait for Kinky Boots to go on tour starting in Las Vegas this September! And always remember: the sex is in the heel. — CC
Foreign Film of the Year: Yossi
With his bittersweet romance Yossi & Jagger, gay filmmaker Eytan Fox broke ground depicting an unexpected love affair between two male soldiers serving in the Israeli army. Fox revisited the surviving partner ten years later in Yossi, and it made for a warm reunion with viewers. Ohad Knoller reprised the title role, now a successful heart surgeon but still nursing a personal broken heart in the wake of Jagger's untimely death. An unexpected meeting with Jagger's wounded parents as well as a blossoming relationship with a younger soldier on leave (played by the gorgeous Oz Zehavi) prove to be just what the doctor ordered in aiding Yossi's long-delayed recovery. Fox and screenwriter Itay Segal explore the grief process with authenticity and sensitivity, and the beautiful seaside setting doesn't hurt either. A must see. — CC
The Neil V. Cohen Award for Campy Film of the Year: Austenland
Our longtime friend and fellow Movie Dearest contributor, Neil Cohen, passed away unexpectedly in December 2012. Neil was well known for his annual Neely Awards, named after pill-popping actress Neely O’Hara from the 1967 camp classic Valley of the Dolls. This year, we thought of carrying Neil’s torch by inaugurating this special annual award in his memory. Austenland, Jerusha Hess’ satire of all things Jane Austen-related (adapted from Shannon Hale’s novel), struck us as the 2013 release of which Neil would have most approved for its abundant, entertaining camp sensibility as well as its genuinely sweet, romantic edge. And we’re pretty sure he would have loved Jennifer Coolidge’s hilarious turn as the prim and proper title resort’s sauciest guest too. We sincerely congratulate all involved with the production of Austenland by bestowing this honor on the film out of our undying love and respect for the award’s namesake. — CC
Documentary of the Year: I Am Divine and DVD of the Year: Vito
The winners of our final two categories (the latter another new edition for 2013) have a lot in common: they are both top-notch documentaries about two icons of queer cinema who died too soon; they are as equally entertaining as they are informative; and they were both directed by the talented non-fiction filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz. Along with such other bio-docs about B-movie mogul William Castle, gay porn pioneer Jack Wrangler and his upcoming exposé of former Hollywood golden boy Tab Hunter, Schwarz has proven himself to be unafraid to tackle subjects from the outer fringes of show business. And you can't get more "out there" than Divine (née Harris Glenn Milstead), John Waters muse, cinematic coprophile and genderfuck superstar. In Vito, we learned that Vito Russo was more than just the author of The Celluloid Closet, but also an early gay rights and AIDS activist whose life story is as moving as any of his beloved movie melodramas. — KH
We hope you enjoyed this year's Dearies and thank you for visiting Movie Dearest in 2013!
By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine, and Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest.