The 2019 Oscars turned out to be better than ever for LGBT movies. Eight total awards went to movies with queer themes, which is more than ever before. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite” and “Green Book” all prevailed, joining the list of LGBT Oscar winners throughout history. That includes one acting award apiece — three out of four acting Oscars for queer roles is unprecedented. Scroll through our gallery above of 27 champs from “Cabaret” to “Moonlight” and more.
Best Picture winner “Green Book” admittedly falls into a grey area in terms of LGBT representation. The film is set in the Jim Crow South and focuses more on race than on gender or sexuality. It only references the homosexuality of classical pianist Don Shirley in a few scenes, and the film’s depiction of that character has been the subject of much debate, but Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor for playing that role, and not that many actors have won Oscars for queer roles in any context, so the accomplishment is still significant.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” tells the story of queer rocker Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the British rock band Queen, and it was the biggest winner of the night with four awards. Mercury was played by Rami Malek, who won Best Actor. And the music-driven film also claimed Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing. But this wasn’t the only historic moment for “Rhapsody.” It also made history as the highest grossing LGBT movie in box office history. It took in $213 million domestically and a whopping $860 million worldwide.
“The Favourite” tells the fictionalized story of Queen Anne (played by Olivia Colman) and her love affairs with her advisor Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and her servant Abigail (Emma Stone), who jockey for position in the queen’s court — and in the queen’s bed. The film had 10 nominations, which tied it with “Roma” as the year’s most nominated film, and it came away with one victory, and it wasn’t the one we were expecting: Best Actress for Colman, who upset the heavily favored and extraordinarily overdue Glenn Close (“The Wife”).
This isn’t the first time multiple films with LGBT themes have won Oscars in a single year, but it doesn’t happen often. 1999 had “Boys Don’t Cry” (Best Actress for Hilary Swank) and “All About My Mother” (Best Foreign Language Film), as well as Best Picture champ “American Beauty,” which had a pivotal subplot about a closeted military man (Chris Cooper). 2005 had a pair of winners: “Capote” (Best Actor for Philip Seymour Hoffman) and “Brokeback Mountain” (three wins including Best Director for Ang Lee). And just last year there were a pair of queer winners: “Call Me by Your Name (Best Adapted Screenplay) and “A Fantastic Woman” (Best Foreign Language Film).
But it must be said that when LGBT movies win Oscars, it’s not usually for LGBT artists or actors. Indeed, none of the main queer characters in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite” or “Green Book” are played by openly queer actors. So while representation improves in terms of the stories being told on-screen — depending on how well you think “Bohemian” and “Green Book” handle their representation — there’s still room for improvement in casting and hiring.