(*homocinematically inclined)

Friday, February 1, 2019

The 12th Annual Movie Dearest Dearie Awards

For the twelfth 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 2018 Movie Dearest Awards, a.k.a. the "Dearies".

And the winners are...

Movie of the Year: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
We both adored this indie (it was Kirby's #1 of 2018 and Chris's #2) despite the fact its main characters are initially pretty despicable. Melissa McCarthy gives a revelatory dramatic performance as bitter, real-life lesbian celebrity biographer/literary forger Lee Israel, while veteran character actor Richard E. Grant plays Jack Hock, her disingenuous, flamboyantly gay co-conspirator. Both have been worthily honored with numerous nominations and awards, culminating in their current Oscar nods. Lee just wants to be able to pay her rent and take care of her elderly cat, while Jack wants to be loved and have a roof over his head. Who can argue with that? The actors' and the film's impressive achievement is in making viewers fall in love with these wounded souls, warts and all. It is a truly transformative and transforming movie. It also makes me that much more excited for director Marielle Heller's next biopic: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers! - CC

Women of the Year: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone & Rachel Weisz
Beyoncé may have said/sung it best with "Girls Run the World" but, historically speaking, this may have never been more accurate than the 18th century court of Queen Anne of Great Britain. In fact, she created Great Britain through the unification of England and Scotland as one sovereign state. Thanks to the ah-mah-zing, Sapphic-leaning work of Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz in Yorgos Lanthimos's bitchily provocative The Favourite, Queen Anne and her dueling mistresses came roaring back to life in 2018, and how! All three have been nominated repeatedly for their no-holds-barred performances, with Colman already winning several prominent awards as Best Actress. Weisz (who headlined another lesbian-themed film, Disobedience, last year) and Stone are both Oscar winners and continue to thrill audiences with their wide-ranging roles. While this previously honored pair threaten to "cancel each other out" at this year's Academy Awards and Colman will likely lose to the overdue Glenn Close, the trio's internationally-appealing girl power cannot be denied. Long live the queens! - CC

Men of the Year: Hugh Grant & Ben Whishaw
These well-respected British thespians both had banner years. Whishaw (who is openly gay) once again voiced, charmingly, the marmalade-loving title bear in the terrific sequel Paddington 2. He also movingly played the grown-up but still codfish-mouthed Michael Banks in Mary Poppins Returns. Meanwhile, Grant played the hilariously histrionic villain Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2 and brought the house down with his own big musical moment, "Rain on the Roof." But sparks and vitriol burned in equal measure when Whishaw and Grant appeared together onscreen as lovers on the down low in the fact-based miniseries A Very English Scandal (available on Amazon Prime). It tells the story of Jeremy Thorpe (Grant), a prominent member of Parliament who had a secret affair with Norman Scott (Whishaw, in a Golden Globe winning performance) in the 1970's while homosexuality was still illegal in the UK. These two beloved actors were great both together and separately in 2018, and for this reason we are pleased to knight them in our OMD: Order of Movie Dearest. - CC

New Star of the Year: Elsie Fisher
There's not too many 15-year-olds that have immortalized not just one but two memorable movie catchphrases, but our New Star of the Year has. Prior to 2018, our Elsie was best known for voicing the spunky Agnes in Despicable Me, who, upon winning a stuffed unicorn at a carnival, squeals "He's so fluffy!" (a phrase we often use even when we are nowhere near little girls, carnivals or stuffed unicorns). Last year Elise made a star-making turn onscreen in Eighth Grade as Kayla, the socially awkward teen who signs off on each of her "tips for socially awkward teens" vlogs with a perky "Gucci!" And if that wasn't enough to make you sit up and take notice of Miss Fisher, then her impressively naturalistic performance did. It certainly impressed a lot of award voters, winning the young actress several plaudits, including a Golden Globe nomination, a Critics' Choice Award and, presently, a Dearie... we imagine her response will be an ever-enthusiastic "Gucci!" - KH

TV Show of the Year: Schitt's Creek
Let us count the ways that this Dorian Award winning Canadian import (now in the midst of its fifth season via Pop TV in the US) has endeared itself to fans worldwide. First, it reunited SCTV alum Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as Johnny and Moira Rose, formerly filthy rich but now down and out in the titular town. It introduced us to the immensely talented Daniel Levy (yes, Eugene’s son) and Annie Murphy as their blissfully, hilariously self-involved offspring David and Alexis. And then it surrounded them with a quirky cast of locals to bounce off of, including Chris Elliott as Mayor Roland Schitt and Noah Reid as David’s new “butter-voiced beau” Patrick. The result is an utterly uproarious, surprisingly heart-warming comedy that you must binge, so head on over to Netflix now to get caught up on Schitt’s Creek, no paddle necessary. - KH

Stage Show of the Year: Torch Song
Harvey Fierstein's theatrical classic Torch Song Trilogy re-appeared on Broadway last year, having first premiered back in 1982. Ugly Betty alumnus Michael Urie headlined the cast as Jewish drag queen Arnold Beckhof, with Tony and Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl co-starring as Arnold's domineering "ma". Fierstein (who was honored last month with our GALECA Timeless Star award) revised his original three plays, which collectively ran about four hours. The new, streamlined Torch Song enjoyed a successful limited run last year in NYC and will soon begin a national tour, once again starring Urie. Under the direction of Moises Kaufman, it has been acclaimed as both a significant time capsule and refreshingly up to date in depicting gay life under challenging circumstances. It would be a shame to miss this celebratory revision/revival when it appears in your vicinity. - CC

Documentary of the Year: McKellen: Playing the Part
From his legendary theatrical performances in everything from Shakespeare to Amadeus to his iconic film roles as James Whale, Gandalf and Magneto, there is no doubt that Sir Ian McKellen is a master of his craft on both stage and screen. He is also the first openly gay actor to become a movie star after coming out of the closet, and has used his fame to tirelessly advocate for gay rights worldwide. As seen in this comprehensive and entertaining biodoc (now available via Amazon), Sir Ian excels in every part he plays, especially as an endlessly witty raconteur who does a killer Maggie Smith impersonation. - KH

Foreign Film of the Year: Border
Considering that previous movies about trolls ended up like this and this, one couldn't be blamed for being a little leery about this odd, grim fairy tale from Sweden about a pair of troll folk who meet cute at her work as a border patrol agent and then have crazy troll sex in the woods. Throw in a host of story elements that range from “slightly upsetting” to “graphically disturbing” to “holy shit, what is that?” and yeah, you're a long way from choreographed dance routines to Justin Timberlake pops songs. Thus it's no wonder that Border has become a "love it or hate it" type of movie (we, obviously, side with the former), even with its critical acclaim and recent Oscar nomination (for its seamless makeup designs). Oh, and let's not forget the plot twist that outs the film as quite possibly the most unique expression of “genderfuck” ever filmed. - KH

Unsung Film of the Year: A Moment in the Reeds
The best gay-themed film of 2018, featured at several LGBT festivals and now available on streaming and home video, was this poignant, timely love story between a Finnish man and the Syrian asylum-seeker his father hires to work on their house. It also proved to be the most sensual, soulful gay movie we've seen in several years. (Sorry, Call Me By Your Name, even though this movie ends on a similarly bittersweet note.) Whether hanging out naked in the sauna or lounging by the lake, Leevi (Janne Puustinen, who will appear in this year's Tom of Finland) and Tareq (the hunky Boodi Kabbani) made our heads swoon and our hearts go pitter-pat. We're booking a trip to Finland pronto! - CC

DVD of the Year: Buddies
Long before the likes of Longtime Companion and Philadelphia there was Buddies, the very first movie about AIDS. You probably never even heard of this landmark 1985 indie, let alone seen it, until last year when this forgotten classic finally made its home video debut. The story – the naïve David (David Schachter) volunteers to be a “buddy” to a PWLA and is assigned to the jaded Robert (Geoff Edholm), who is wasting away, family- and friendless, in a hospital bed – may be overly familiar now, but Buddies did it first and, most importantly, it still delivers dramatically today. A must-see for any student of LGBTQ history and queer cinema. - KH

Movie Music of the Year: Mary Poppins Returns
Following in the Academy Award winning footsteps of the legendary Sherman Brothers was surely a daunting task for composer/songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman when they were tasked with creating the music and songs for this long-awaited sequel to the beloved classic Mary Poppins. But the Tony Award winning pair of Hairspray fame certainly rose to the occasion, as proven by their own Oscar nomination for the bittersweet lullaby “The Place Where Lost Things Go”, sung by our new Mary Poppins, Emily Blunt, who also shines in “Can You Imagine That?” and (in Cockney no less) “A Cover is Not the Book”. Blunt is joined on the soundtrack by Broadway wunderkind Lin-Manuel Miranda (who belts out the show-stopping “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”) and Disney Legends Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury, who leads the high-flying finale “Nowhere to Go but Up”. We can imagine that we’ll be returning to the magical music of Mary Poppins Returns for many years to come.- KH

The Neil V. Cohen Award for Campy TV Show of the Year: The Bad Seed
The 1956 camp classic The Bad Seed has long been a favorite around these parts, so we were happier than a pig-tailed psychopath in tap shoes when this Lifetime remake turned out to be as much of a hoot as the original. Kudos to director Rob Lowe (yes, that Rob Lowe) for not only casting himself in the Nancy Kelly role but for giving the pivotal role of Rhoda (here named Emma for some reason) to Mckenna Grace, who played a young Tonya Harding in I, Tonya so you know she's more than qualified to creatively off whoever gets in her way, most notably the skanky nanny who's all thirsty for Lowe's DILF. But nothing beats the killer cameo appearance of Patty McCormack, the original Rhoda, as a child psychologist who says of Emma "she reminds me of myself at that age". To all those responsible for this Bad Seed Redux, Movie Dearest sends you a basket full of hugs and kisses! - KH

We hope you enjoyed this year's Dearies and thank you for visiting Movie Dearest in 2018! Here's to 2019...

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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