Films that feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender themes have historically been under-rewarded at the Oscars. In honor of LGBT Pride Month, we’ve compiled a list of great LGBT-themed films that either failed to win Oscars, or failed to earn nominations in the first place. Click through the gallery above.
The Oscar-nominated “The Children’s Hour” (1961) only hinted that its main characters — played by Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn — were sexually involved, so it wasn’t until 1971’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” that a film with expressions of physical intimacy between same-sex characters would be honored by the academy. In that film Murray Head played a bisexual artist who begins intimate relationships with a female businesswoman (Glenda Jackson) and with a middle-aged doctor (Peter Finch). It earned nominations for Best Director, Best Actor (Finch), Best Actress (Jackson), and Best Screenplay, but was inexplicably snubbed for Best Picture.
In recent years, a similar fate was still befalling other critically acclaimed films such as “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999), “Far From Heaven” (2002) and “Carol” (2015). In the case of “Carol” the snub was particularly egregious after it had received Best Picture and Best Director nominations at the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and BAFTA Awards. In a year that prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite many journalists argued that homophobia was to blame for the snub, and the Los Angeles Times suggested the creation of the hashtag #OscarsSoStraight.
Many wondered the same thing just a decade earlier, when many prognosticators predicted that “Brokeback Mountain” would be the first LGBT-themed film to win Best Picture, particularly after the film won top honors at the BAFTA, PGA, Golden Globe, and Critics’ Choice Awards. Even presenter Jack Nicholson seemed shocked when he opened the envelope at the end of the Oscar telecast and announced “Crash” had been named Best Picture.
Fortunately, the academy took a giant step forward this year by awarding its top prize to an LGBT-themed film for the first time in history. In one of the great upsets in recent Oscar history, Barry Jenkins‘s “Moonlight”– the story of an African-American boy and his struggles with accepting his sexuality – bested presumed favorite “La La Land” in the Best Picture category after the latter had swept the precursor awards. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 89 years for it to happen again.