(*homocinematically inclined)

Friday, February 5, 2016

The 9th Annual Movie Dearest Dearie Awards


For the ninth 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 2015 Movie Dearest Awards, a.k.a. the "Dearies"! And the winners are...

Movie of the Year: Carol
Out director Todd Haynes has dazzled with gay-themed period pieces before including Velvet Goldmine and his masterpiece Far from Heaven. It is maybe for this reason that Carol, his latest, was tragically but somewhat predictably ignored by the diversity-averse Academy in the Best Picture and Best Director categories (criminally, Haynes has never been nominated in the directing category). Yes, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are both nominated for their pivotal performances as two very different women living in the closeted 1950's who fall in love with each other. And Phyllis Nagy was nominated for her screenplay adapted from Patricia Highsmith's pseudo-autobiographical novella The Price of Salt. However, Haynes' coup de grace here was to create a period-perfect lesbian romance that utterly and permanently negates — thankfully — such previous Sapphic melodramas as The Children's Hour, The Killing of Sister George and Rachel, Rachel. Carol deservedly swept our recent GALECA Dorian Awards and has similarly earned our Movie Dearest kudos. - CC

Man of the Year: Tom Hardy
As hero or villain or somewhere in between, 2015 was a big year for Tom Hardy. First he deftly stepped into the title role (Mel who?) in Mad Max: Fury Road, last year's most thrillingly satisfying blockbuster. He followed that with not one but two mesmerizing performances as the real life twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray in Legend. And he ended the year playing a nefarious fur trapper who puts Leonardo DiCaprio through hell in The Revenant. The result: his first Oscar nomination for the latter, four enigmatic characters you can't take your eyes off of and the title of Movie Dearest's Man of the Year. - KH

Women of the Year: Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin
We loved them together in 1980's comedy classic 9 to 5 but it took 35 years to reunite the legendary ladies Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin... and in a gay-themed sitcom no less. The erstwhile Judy and Violet play Grace and Frankie in the Netflix fave, an odd couple of golden girls who's lives are upended when their husbands leave them... for each other. But TV wasn't enough for Jane and Lily in '15; Tomlin earned rave reviews and a Golden Globe nomination for playing a lesbian Grandma, while Fonda stole the show in her brief but Oscar buzz-worthy star cameo in Youth. Now if only they can get Dolly Parton to guest star on Grace and Frankie, all our gay dreams will come true. - KH

New Stars of the Year: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez & Mya Taylor
Between The Danish Girl, 52 Tuesdays and Tangerine, not to mention Amazon's popular series Transparent, 2015 was acclaimed as the year trans-interest storylines finally became mainstream. Filmmaker Sean Baker, armed primarily with his iPhone and a minuscule budget, was the one to dramatize the real, everyday struggles of trans women living on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Baker had two secret weapons: trans actresses Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, both fierce and funny in equal measure as Sin-Dee and Alexandra, the no-bullshit characters they portray in the witty, vital Tangerine. - CC

TV Show of the Year: Orange is the New Black
Three seasons in, and Orange is the New Black is gayer than ever. With its multiple plot lines and back story-heavy flashbacks, Netflix's hit comedic drama (or is it a dramatic comedy?) is the definition of "binge-worthy". The desperate, disparate residents of Litchfield Penitentiary run the gamut from a lovable loon called Crazy Eyes (multi-award winner Uzo Aduba) to Sophia, the transgender hair dresser (Laverne Cox) to Kate Mulgrew as a flame-haired Russian named Red. At the center of all this madness is WASP-turned-bisexual inmate Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), who found herself this season juggling two femme fatales (Laura Prepon and Ruby Rose) and a thriving illegal used-panties ring. Drama or comedy, Orange is gold. - KH

Stage Show of the Year: Fun Home
The Tony-winning musical smash Fun Home dramatizes one of the odder stories to ever grace the Broadway boards: a lesbian cartoonist's coming of age in a household dominated by her closeted gay mortician father. And it's all true. Composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist/book author Lisa Kron brilliantly adapted Alison Bechdel's graphic novel memoir, while Michael Cerveris gave a stunning tragi-comic performance as Bechdel's conflicted father, who ultimately committed suicide. Its a serious show to be sure but at least one song, "Come to the Fun Home" (the title is a shortened form of "funeral home"), is a 1970's Brady Bunch-esque/Jackson Five-ish delight. Brave, insightful and deeply moving, Fun Home should not be missed either on Broadway or when it begins a national tour this year. - CC

Documentary of the Year: Best of Enemies
As enthralling and eye-opening as its subject matter, Best of Enemies looks back at the infamous live television debates that pitted leading conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. against Gore Vidal, the liberal, bisexual author of Myra Breckinridge, during the 1968 presidential race. If it sounds rather dry, then you don't know how wittily venomous these two were to each other; their mutual loathing practically oozed off the screen, culminating in the notorious "crypto Nazi"/"queer" exchange that signaled the beginning of the end for intellectualism in America. Years before trashy talk shows, the Buckley/Vidal debates were "must see TV", and Best of Enemies is Movie Dearest's "must see" Documentary of the Year. - KH

Foreign Film of the Year: The New Girlfriend
Gay filmmaker Fran├žois Ozon has shown a knack for women's stories with his previous, acclaimed films Swimming Pool, 8 Women and Potiche. His latest, The New Girlfriend, continues this successful run but with a twist: one of its leading ladies is a man. Initially sad but ultimately life-affirming, it explores the unique friendship forged between a deceased woman's best friend and her cross-dressing widower-husband. These characters are beautifully played by, respectively, Anais Demoustier and French heartthrob Romain Duris. The plot gets a little melodramatic toward the end (name me a French film that doesn't) but Pascaine Chavanne's costumes and Pascal Marti's cinematography are gorgeous, especially in the film's recently released Blu-ray transfer. Who doesn't need a new girlfriend from time to time? - CC

Art by Andrew Rae for Delve

DVD of the Year: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
Since both of us at Movie Dearest came of age during the rollicking 1980's, the cheesy cinematic spectacles wrought by Israeli-born producers Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan hold a special place in our hearts as well as our (homo)sexual development. In addition to the exploitative Death Wish series and numerous Chuck Norris karate epics, the pair produced such homoerotic epics as Masters of the Universe, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and several films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as a sexy cyborg. Mark Hartley's entertaining documentary on them and the short-lived studio they founded revels gleefully in the good, the bad and the ugly. Heck, we'd give the DVD a Dearie Award for the extensive trailer gallery alone featuring Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren and other 80's hotties in their shirtless, greased up, pec-tacular glory. - CC

The Neil V. Cohen Award for Campy Film of the Year: First Period
With all due respect to the vampire mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows and the insane "lost" 80's action flick Kung Fury, we here at Movie Dearest must crown First Period the campiest movie of 2015! Our dearly departed friend and fellow critic Neil Cohen surely would have memorized each catty line and adored every low budget frame of this John Hughes-meets-John Waters high school hilarity. First Period stars two adult men (Dudley Beene and Brandon Alexander III, who also penned the script) playing Maggie and Cassie, a pair of misfit teenage girls who just want to be popular, make out with boys and win the school talent show, not necessarily in that order; think of it as a "very special" episode of Beverly Hills 90210 as written by Charles Busch. Co-starring gay faves Cassandra Peterson, Jack Plotnick and Judy Tenuta (as "Madame Mulva"), how can you lose? Watch it now on Netflix! - KH

We hope you enjoyed this year's Dearies and thank you for visiting Movie Dearest in 2015!

By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine, and Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest.

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