As the Golden Globe nominations richly demonstrate, 2018 was a great year for LGBT cinema.
At the top of the list is Yorgos Lanthimos’ stunning “The Favourite,” a bawdy romp through English history. Olivia Colman is Queen Anne and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are two ladies vying for her affection — and a share of her power.
The Golden Globe slate also includes “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” about a lesbian grifter and her gay sidekick; “Bohemian Rhapsody” with Rami Malek as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury; “Crazy Rich Asians;” Lady Gaga’s incredible performance in “A Star Is Born” and two movies that will open in D.C. on Dec, 25: “If Beale Street Could Talk,” written and directed by “Moonlight’s” Barry Jenkins from the novel by James Baldwin; and, “Vice,” the Dick Cheney biopic featuring Alison Pill as his openly lesbian daughter Mary.
There’s also the controversial Belgian film “Girl” about a trans ballerina that stars a male actor in the lead.
Two excellent movies focused on the harmful practice of conversion therapy: the Golden Globe nominee “Boy Erased” and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”
Four interesting movies turned their focus to the younger LGBT generation. Known primarily for his innovative and inclusive programming for the CW network, Greg Berlanti directed “Love, Simon,” a moving rom-com about a closeted high-school student. The inventive “Every Day” explored the complex relationship between a high school girl and a pansexual entity who inhabits a different human body (male or female) every day; “Skeleton Twins” director Craig Johnson helmed the quirky high school coming-out comedy “Alex Strangelove.” Claire Danes and Jim Parsons starred in trans director Jake Howard’s “A Kid Like Jake” about a Brooklyn couple with a gender non-conforming child.
Other notable LGBT releases included “Colette” about the infamous French author; “The Happy Prince,” Rupert Everett’s unconventional biopic about the convention-shattering gay author Oscar Wilde; the searing coming-of-age story “We The Animals;” “Lez Bomb,” a comedy about a closeted lesbian who decides to come out to her family on Thanksgiving; the adoption dramedy “Instant Family;” “Lizzie,” a retelling of the Lizzie Borden case with a lesbian twist; “Hearts Beat Loud” a moving drama about a record store owner (Nick Offerman) and his lesbian daughter who’s about to leave for college (out actress Kiersey Clemons); and, the sensuous “Mary Queen of Scots” with passionate performances by Saiorse Ronan and Margot Robbie and a crucial gay plot twist.
Luckily for LGBT cinephiles, the D.C. Metro area is home to a number of wonderful film festivals that regularly feature queer content.
Reel Affirmations, D.C.’s international LGBT film festival offers monthly screenings and a weekend-long festival every November. Some of this year’s highlights included the stunning “1985” about a closeted young man with AIDS returning to his Texas hometown to spend the holidays with his conservative family; “Water in a Broken Glass,” an excellent drama about a bisexual artist by first-time director Jamelle Williams-Thomas; “Just Friends,” a beautiful low-key Dutch drama about two young men and their intrusive mothers; and, “Buddies,” a restored version of the first feature length movie about AIDS crisis.
The Washington Jewish Film Festival also screens films throughout the year. Their annual festival in May spotlights “Rated LGBTQ,” a thoughtful collection of current and classic queer movies. This year’s schedule included “The Cakemaker,” a complex and moving queer drama about delicious baked good and breaking boundaries of gender, sexual orientation, family relationships and nationality.
In Baltimore, the Maryland Film Festival offers year-round programming at the SNF Parkway Theatre as well as a five-day celebration of contemporary cinema every May. Legendary gay filmmaker John Waters is on its board of directors and every year he personally presents one of his favorite offbeat movies as part of the Festival. This year’s selection was “I, Olga Hepnarová” about a lesbian mass murderer in Poland.
AFI Silver in downtown Silver Spring offers a rich blend of contemporary indie cinema, carefully curated celebrations of movies by American and global filmmakers, and, glittering regional film festivals that offer D.C. audiences the chance to see films that won’t be screened anywhere else. LGBT movies are always part of the diverse programming.
D.C. is also host to the annual AFI DOCS festival which celebrates the amazing diversity of full-length and short documentary films. This year’s LGBT offering examined slam poets (“Don’t Be Nice”), a small town in Arkansas where life is dominated by the annual passion play and the local gay bar (“The Gospel According to Eureka”) and out professional athletes (“Alone in the Game”).
Some of the other great LGBT documentaries released in 2018 included “McQueen” (designer Alexander McQueen), “Love Cecil” (costume designer Cecil Beaton), “The Gospel According to André” (designer and journalist André Leon Talley), “Whitney” (singer Whitney Houston), “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”(Fred Rogers and friends, including the black gay opera singer Françoise Clemmons who played Officer Clemmons on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”), “Far From the Tree” (the ground-breaking research and personal history of Andrew Solomon), “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” (Hollywood pimp Scotty Bowers) and “Dark Money” (a look at the dire impact of the Citizens United ruling on American politics, expertly directed by trans filmmaker Kimberley Reed).
Other LGBT-friendly film festivals include Filmfest DC, which screened the lesbian drama “Disobedience” by director Sebastián Lelio (“A Fantastic Woman”); the Annapolis Film Festival; D.C. Shorts; the amazing 48 Hour Film Project; and, the Middleburg (Va.) Film Festival where Hollywood meets Capitol Hill.
Finally, beyond the multiplexes, the cinema landscape in the metro D.C. area includes two movie chains that are steadfast supporters are the LGBT community and independent cinema. The Landmark chain now has four area locations (the E Street Cinema, Bethesda Row Cinema, Atlantic Plumbing Cinema and the West End Cinema) and the Angelika chain presents films at the Pop-Up at Union Market and the Mosaic in Fairfax. In addition, the Avalon Theatre in northwest D.C. is a crucial component in the vibrant Chevy Chase neighborhood.
And with that, it’s all over except for the awards shows. The Golden Globes will be awarded on Jan. 6 and the Academy Awards will be presented on Feb. 24.