The Year in LGBT Film

'Carol,' 'The Dan­ish Girl' and 'Spot­light' among 2015's best


It was a land­mark, his­toric year for the LGBT com­mu­nity— and while there was no pi­o­neer­ing, “Broke­back Moun­tain”-type break­out, and not ev­ery LGBT-themed movie was worth­while, 2015 was nonethe­less an im­por­tant cin­e­matic year, abet­ted by some strong work at the end of the sea­son. Much of the LGBT fare was in in­de­pen­dent re­leases. In

“The Overnight,” a cause célèbre at Sun­dance, two straight cou­ples spend the evening get­ting to know each other. Be­fore the night is over, the two men (Adam Scott and Ja­son Sch­wa­trz­man) are run­ning around bare assed (al­beit with pros­thetic penises) and a se­cret comes out. It never be­comes the edgy com­edy it wants to be, but it’s cer­tainly bold with nice per­for­mances, es­pe­cially from Tay­lor Schilling of “Or­ange is the New Black” as one of the wives.

“The D Train” with Jack Black and James Mars­den seemed like it might be just a buddy com­edy, with Black play­ing a re­union or­ga­nizer who pur­sues cool-cat, L.A.-type Mars­den, un­til the two men have sex to­gether.

In David Thorpe’s “Do I Sound Gay?” the film­maker looks at him­self and de­ter­mines he hates his voice. With a team of ex­perts, he seeks to rem­edy that. Fea­tur­ing some lively in­ter­views with the likes of Mar­garet Cho, Don Lemon, David Sedaris, Tim Gunn and more, this was ul­ti­mately a story of self-ac­cep­tance and how the sub­ject comes to ac­cept him­self—no mat­ter how he speaks.

Jef­frey Schwarz (“Vito,” “I am Divine’) de­buted his “Tab Hunter Confidential,” a lov­ing look at the ca­reer of the Hol­ly­wood icon who came out not long ago and shares all sorts of Hol­ly­wood dish.

In her best film role in years, Lily Tom­lin por­trayed Elle Reid, the tit­u­lar “Grandma,” who goes on a road trip with her grand­daugh­ter to raise money for an abor­tion. It was a fun ride, with ap­pear­ances by Laverne Cox, Sam El­liott, Marcia Gay Har­den and Judy Greer as the younger girl­friend Elle breaks up with.

One of the sleeper crit­i­cal hits of the sea­son was Sean Baker’s “Tan­ger­ine.” Star­ring two trans ac­tresses—Ki­tana Kiki Ro­driguez and Mya Tay­lor—the gritty com­edy re­volves around a work­ing girl’s at­tempt to find the pimp who be­trayed her. Nom­i­nated for a slew of In­de­pen­dent Spirit Awards, it’s now on DVD and Net­flix.

The year’s worst LGBT film was Roland Em­merich’s “Stonewall.” When the first trail­ers went pub­lic for the fea­ture about the Stonewall ri­ots, the re­sponse was over­whelm­ingly neg­a­tive, with wor­ries that the film had white­washed history and shoved im­por­tant, non-pretty boy fig­ures onto the side­lines. As it turns out, those trail­ers were ac­cu­rate. In­tended to be an im­por­tant, em­pow­er­ing his­tor­i­cal drama by the openly gay di­rec­tor, it was in­sult­ing, with a fic­tional young man (Jeremy Irvine) be­com­ing the hero of the movie while con­de­scend­ing to the drag queens and el­derly men in­ter­ested in him ro­man­ti­cally. It was in and out of cine­mas in a week.

Based on a true story, one that in­spired an Os­car-win­ning doc­u­men­tary short, this year’s “Free­held” teamed Ju­lianne Moore and Ellen Page as lovers who try to se­cure pen­sion ben­e­fits when Moore’s Lau­rel Hes­ter is di­ag­nosed with can­cer. De­spite po­tent work from the ac­tresses, the film sadly never found an au­di­ence or even a wide release.

The fall has brought a num­ber of LGBT films look­ing for Os­car glory. Tom Hardy does dou­ble duty in “Leg­end,” play­ing both mur­der­ous Kray twins, one of whom is gay, in 1960s Lon­don. The gay con­tent is pretty mild and the film over­all doesn’t have the fo­cus or aim it really needs. Nonethe­less, Hardy’s per­for­mance makes it worth­while.

Pos­si­bly the year’s finest film, “Spot­light” deals with a team of Bos­ton Globe re­porters who start to un­cover the child mo­lesta­tion scan­dal in the Catholic arch­dio­cese. It cap­tures the slow roll of jour­nal­ism in all its glory, and some of the finest scenes are the in­ter­views with gay vic­tims, re­mem­ber­ing what hap­pened and shar­ing how it af­fected their lives. Di­rected by Os­car win­ner Tom Hooper,

“The Dan­ish Girl” fol­lows the true story of mar­ried artists Lili Elbe (Ed­die Red­mayne) and Gerda We­gener (Ali­cia Vikan­der) and Lili’s male to fe­male gen­der tran­si­tion. Hooper has been crit­i­cized by some for making the film too pretty and not gritty enough, but in the end it is an ab­sorb­ing look at the two cen­tral char­ac­ters, with many feel­ing Vikan­der walks away with the film.

Last but hardly least is “Carol,” pos­si­bly one of the all-time great les­bian films. Todd Haynes’ drama—about an af­fair be­tween a mar­ried woman (Cate Blanchett) and a younger woman she meets in a depart­ment store (Rooney Mara)—is gor­geously made and acted, with a lead­ing five Golden Globe nom­i­na­tions. It’s the real deal.

Clock­wise from top left: ‘Tan­ger­ine,’ ‘Stonewall,’ ‘Grandma’ and ‘Carol.’ (Public­ity pho­tos)

(Public­ity photo)

‘The Dan­ish Girl’

“The Dan­ish Girl,” “Carol,” “Spot­light” and “Leg­end” are now play­ing in area the­aters.

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