‘Tangerine’ stars Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor could make Oscar history

Tangerine Kitana Kiki Rodriguez Mya Taylor Oscar 13579086

Could Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor become the first transgender actresses to be nominated for Oscars? In the critically acclaimed drama “Tangerine,” they play best friends and sex workers Sin-Dee and Alexandra. Indie Spirit winner Sean Baker (“Starlet”) directed and co-wrote (with Chris Bergoch) the film, which was shot entirely on three iPhone 5s. Over the course of its 88 minutes, Sin-Dee searches for the pimp who broke her heart while Alexandra gets ready for her stage show. Their personal dramas are set against the backdrop of Christmas in Hollywood.

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After debuting at Sundance, “Tangerine” played other festivals around the country and then had a limited release by Magnolia Pictures this summer. Critics embraced the film and it scored a staggering 95 on Rotten Tomatoes (which scores on a pass-fail basis) and an impressive 85 on the sliding scale of MetaCritic. It is nominated for Best Film at the Gotham Awards. 

And both Rodriguez and Taylor are in contention at these kudos for Breakout Actor, which will help distinguish their “For Your Consideration” ads from the rest of the pack. They can also draw on their great reviews. Dana Stevens of Slate says they “both shine in their roles,” while Manohla Dargis of The New York Times describes them as “fluid, forceful screen presences.”

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2015 has been a banner year for LGBT rights, from the emergence of Caitlyn Jenner to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states. And “Transparent” just picked up five Primetime Emmys, including Best Comedy Actor for Jeffrey Tambor as the show’s transgender heroine.

The motion picture academy looks set to embrace “The Danish Girl,” which stars Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo a sex change operation. So the time feels right for the Oscars to recognize the trans community with nominations for Rodriguez and Taylor. It would be playing catch-up with the TV academy. Last year, Laverne Cox became the first transgender actress to earn an Emmy nomination (for her guest role on “Orange is the New Black“) 

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Photo: Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

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