When Gold Derby recently ran through the history of actors who earned Oscar nominations for playing gay and gender-bending, we didn’t anticipate this to be the most LGBT inclusive year in SAG Awards history. One quarter of today’s Screen Actors Guild Awards film nominations are for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender performances. These roles are in films set in the 19th (Glenn Close and Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs“) and 21st centuries (Christopher Plummer, “Beginners“) as well as in “J. Edgar,” which spans the 20th century and got bids for Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer.
Greg Hernandez has a great piece over at Gay Star News on this LGBT-friendly trend. However, he is concerned that, besides Plummer in “Beginners,” there isn’t enough explicit discussion about characters’ sexuality in “J. Edgar” or “Albert Nobbs” to be sure they’re actually LGBT. Surely a fiery, impassioned argument between J. Edgar Hoover (DiCaprio) and colleague Clyde Tolson (Hammer) — which ends in a kiss and whispered confessions of love — leaves little room to speculate. Openly gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has been clear that their friendship was a bond with some romantic feelings, even if they were unfulfilled.
As Close and McTeer are playing women dressing as men whose lives depend on the illusion in the late 1800’s, words like “transgender” and “lesbian” are not in use for the sake of historical accuracy. However, McTeer’s Hubert Page character is married to a woman. And Close’s Albert Nobbs tries to emulate Page, wooing co-worker Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska), proposing marriage, and planting a kiss on her.
On the television side of things, SAG went even further in recognizing LGBT performances and performers. Three Best Comedy Series Ensemble nominees have LGBT actors or characters in their cast. Out actor Chris Colfer is cited as part of the “Glee” ensemble, as are Darren Criss and Naya Rivera for portraying gay and lesbian characters. Another out performer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, is part of the “Modern Family” cast. His Emmy-winning co-star Eric Stonestreet, who plays gay on the show, also contends as Best Actor in a Comedy Series. And on “The Office,” Oscar Nuñez plays a gay accountant. He is part of the show’s sixth consecutive Best Ensemble bid and was on the show when they triumphed in 2007 and 2008.
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