Academy Award nominations have been announced, and while Moonlight has earned some much deserved recognition, there were many other LGBT films, shorts and documentaries the Academy left unacknowledged.
Below, we call out some of the top queer picks of 2016 that should have gotten a nod.
Best Actress: Molly Shannon in “Other People”Other People
Saturday Night Live writer Chris Kelly turned the death of his mother from cancer in a gripping, gut-wrenching and, yes, funny, film about moving back home to take care of an ailing parent. Kelly’s dialog is so natural, you can forget the specter of death is only a few frames away. SNL veteran Molly Shannon shows amazing depth and subtlty as Joanne, a vivacious and funny wife, mother and schoolteacher fighting the ravages and humiliations of terminal cancer—and coming to grips with the fact that she probably won’t win. Playing someone who is dying—and dying nobly, at that—can easily turn melodramatic—but Shannon works at keeping the character grounded.
Standing in for Kelly is Jesse Plemons (Friday Night Lights), who delivers a far more subtle performance than expected—conveying not just loss, but how the real world—family history, professional setbacks, failed relationships—can affect grief.
Best Actors: Geoffrey Couët and François Nambot, “Theo and Hugo”Theo and Hugo
Directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (The Adventures of Felix) have earned critical accolades for this tight, slife of gay life about one evening shared between two gay men, but its the actors themselves who do the heavy lifting.Theo and Hugo
As the titular characters Couët and Nambot have a lengthly and explicit sex scene that dominates the film’s start, but also carry the emotional weight when an HIV scare sends them to the hospital for testing and through the city for soul-searching. Comparisons with Andrew Haigh’s Weekend are obvious, but Theo and Hugo has its own unique energy, thanks to the lead’s chemistry, Ducastel and Martineau’s fearlessness and the beautiful Parisian setting.
Best Foreign Film: “Quand on a 17 ans” (“Being 17”)Quan on a 17 ans
At 73, French filmmaker André Téchiné still expertly conveys the bliss and torture of young love, teaming up with writer/director Céline Sciamma (Tomboy, Girlhood) on this coming-of-age film about Tom (Corentin Fila), a 17-year old secretly falling for his foster brother, Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein). When Tom’s adoptive mother falls in, Damien’s doctor mother decides to take the boy in. After an altercation, the teens’ antagonistic relationship gives way to something more passionate.
“What elevates the film is not just its beautiful setting in the French Pyrenees,” wrote Washington Post critic Alan Zilberman, “but also how the beautiful mountain exteriors serve as a metaphor for characters’ inner lives.”
Best Animated Short: “The Saint of Dry Creek”
Picture a 1950s farmer calling out his son for being gay, and you probably don’t imagine it being a very loving conversation. But what if that wasn’t the case?
Storycorps animated Patrick Haggerty’s story of growing up the son of a dairy farmer in rural Washington state. As a teen, Haggerty began to realize he was gay, and worked studiously to hide any traces of it. But one day, after performing at a school assembly, he learned that his father could see him much more clearly than he realized.
Best Screenplay: Ingrid Jungermann, “Women Who Kill”Women Who Kill
Jungermann (The Slope, F to 7th) also directed and starred in this wry comic thriller about a true-crime podcaster who thinks her girlfriend might be a murderer. Exes Morgan (Jungermann) and Jean (Ann Carr), get entangled in drama—and each others lives—when Morgan begins dating mysterious Simone (Sheila Vand).
While skewering the phenomenon that was Serial, it also pokes fun at lesbian relationships, drama queens and the contemporary Brooklyn scene. “It’s Park Slope—there aren’t hate crimes here,” says, one character, “just a lot of intense parenting.”
Best Documentary: “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures”Robert_Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures
In 1989, archconservative Jesse Helms advised voters who didn’t believe the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe was obscene to “look at the pictures.” The iconic gay artist died of AIDS-related illness that same year. More than a quarter-century later, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato revisited the work and legacy of the boundary-pusher with Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures.
Coinciding with Mapplethorpe retrospectives at the Getty and LACMA, Look at the Pictures explores Mapplethorpe’s work and the interplay of his personal and professional lives. Friends and colleagues like Mary Boone, Carolina Herrera, Brooke Shields and Debbie Harry are interviewed, as are Mapplethorpe’s older sister, Nancy, and younger brother, Edward, who assisted him on many shoots.Linda Posnick
Other documentary greats from 2016 include Strike a Pose, a look at the dancers from Madonna’s infamous “Truth or Dare” tour, Southwest of Salem, chronicling the plight of a group of Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of raping two young girls; and Author: The JT Leroy Story, which peels back the veil on one of publishing’s biggest hoaxes—a fictional trans prostitute turned literary star who entranced Hollywood.
For another look at the judicial system, watch Free CeCe, from executive producer Laverne Cox. In 2011, CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman of color, was charged with second-degree murder after fighting back against an assailant attacking her and her friends.Free Cece
Accepting a plea bargain of second-degree manslaughter, she spent the next 19 months in a men’s prison, where she was frequently placed in solitary confinement (supposedly for her own protection). Filmmaker Jacqueline Gares (In the Life) chronicles McDonald’s struggle, as well as the day she was released in 2014.
Best Costumes: “Everybody Wants Some!”Everybody Wants Some!Everybody Wants Some!!Everybody Wants Some!!Everybody Wants Some!!Everybody Wants Some!
Need we say more?