Oscars 2022: Two Queers Discuss the Actually Kinda Gay 94th Academy Awards

For the third year in a row, Riese and I are here to give our thoughts on all the Best Picture Nominees for the Academy Awards. This has been a long Oscars season with a lot of annoying discourse. I’ve tried very hard to mostly not tweet and now this conversation is my reward! There’s nothing we can do to change the terrible decision not to air EIGHT categories at this year’s ceremony, but we can give our thoughts on the movies that will be highlighted.

Beyond the discourse, this is an exciting year for the Academy Awards. There are some really good films and artists being honored and, even better, a lot of those films and artists are QUEER. (You can read more about the history of queer women nominees for the Academy Awards here.)


Riese: I was just re-reading our chat from last year. Did you know that you said “If the pandemic hadn’t happened, In the Heights would be the frontrunner”?

Drew: Lmaoooo. Well, I’m wrong sometimes.

Riese: SOMETIMES.

Drew: I do think In the Heights is better than a lot of the movies nominated this year even if I have issues with it.

Riese: True.

Drew: Something that is exciting about this year though is that I have seen all the Best Picture and Best Actor nominees. AND this year’s Oscars are very gay.

Riese: Omg you saw all the Best Picture nominees!!! Drew!!!

The past two years you didn’t do it and it was I alone who suffered. For self-inflicted reasons.

Drew: Yeah I haven’t done that since 2017 when I saw EVERY movie nominated including the shorts. I’m not sure why I decided to do it this year.

Riese: This year involved slightly less suffering and the reason is that Belfast was shorter than 1917.

Drew: Belfast is so short! That’s what convinced me.

Riese: So short I barely remember watching it at all.

Drew: Should we start with Belfast?

Riese: Yes.

Drew: Get it out of the way.

Riese: SNOOZER. This year’s 1917/Mank prize goes to Belfast for a film about dead white men in History.

Did you love it?

Drew: Haha no I did not.

Riese: Okay phew.

Drew: It’s so… mild??

Riese: I barely paid attention tbh

I’m confident I was doing something else at the same time.

Drew: I thought it was aggressively fine. Putting something in black and white doesn’t automatically make it great art…

Riese: Yeah tell that to Riese in 1995. But in my defense video quality was so low that black and white was the only way to make your student film not radiate VHS energy.

Drew: Lol I made movies in black and white for similar reasons.

screenshot from Belfast of three white people on a couch laughing, a little boy in the middle

This is not a picture of Riese and Drew watching Belfast (BY FOCUS FEATURES.)

Riese: I think Belfast was the only one I hated this year. And even that hate is sort of vague and not really pointed — like I don’t have Joker or Mank feelings about it.

Drew: Oh Belfast was not my least favorite at all.

Riese: What was your least favorite!!!

Drew: Don’t Look Up !!!

Riese: !!!!!

Drew: I haven’t hated a movie that much in sooo long and I went in with such low expectations.

Riese: That’s the only Best Picture nominee I’d already seen when the Oscar nominations were announced. I enjoyed it. I like Adam McKay, I’m sorry. Jennifer Lawrence bisexual bangs??

Why did you hate it?

Drew: I found it self-important in the worst kind of way. It has the energy of all those mid-00s satires where pop stars who are a bit vapid are treated with as much vitriol as war criminals. And the overall conceit just felt very lacking to me? A giant asteroid destroying the Earth is not a one-to-one comparison with climate change the way the movie seems to want it to be. Climate change affects different classes, different races, and different places far more than a world-destroying asteroid. I wish the spaceship taking the elite class away was more of a through-line instead of an end gag. That would’ve grounded the message more for me.

Riese: I didn’t really think very hard about the climate change parallel. I was aware that was the “thing” but it wasn’t very compelling as a metaphor, so I accepted it as literally a movie about an impending asteroid situation and thought, “I feel entertained!!!!!”

Drew: See, I didn’t. Putting aside my political issues with it, I just didn’t think it was funny or entertaining! Jonah Hill was the only one who seemed to get the tone right. It’s an incredible cast but I think it would be a better movie with comedians instead of Oscar winners.

Riese: Jonah Hill is funny!

Drew: It’s also just so long!!!

Riese: ALL THE MOVIES ARE SO LONG NOW DREW

DON’T LOOK UP (L to R). Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky. Cr. Niko Tavernise / Netflix © 2021

Drew: I can’t totally complain because I LOVE some of the long ones. It’s just if you’re going to be long you have to be great and I only thought a couple earned their length.

I did really love Drive My Car

Riese: I loved it too.

Drew: Oh yay!! I’m so glad!

That’s the kind of long movie I like. When it really feels like a journey, a novel.

Riese: I didn’t know it was based on a Murakami short story!

Drew: Right, it’s based on a short story. But it feels novelistic to me — whatever that means.

Riese: Yes, it was a journey.

Drew: Also I love Chekhov.

Riese: That tracks.

Drew: Hahaha

Riese: Does the driver count as a lesbian character do you think?

Drew: How could she not be?? Did you see her blazers??

Riese: I SAW THE BLAZERS DREW! Iconic.

Drew: Hamaguchi’s other movie from last year Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is explicitly lesbian.

Riese: Oh really?? I will have to watch.

Drew: Yeah and that makes me more inclined to read that here.

Riese: Yes, so this was lesbian then. I realized near the end that I was not stressed about a romantic storyline being shoehorned into it because I had decided she was a lesbian.

Drew: I thought Tôko Miura as the aforementioned lesbian and Hidetoshi Nishijima as the lead were both phenomenal. I wish they’d gotten nominated.

Riese: The fucking Oscars!!!! This happens SO MUCH. Films with majority-Asian casts that get nominated for Best Picture are often overlooked for acting awards. It happened with Drive My Car, Parasite, The Last Emperor, Slumdog Millionaire, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Life of Pi, and Letters From Iwo Jima. Of 12 films that’ve won Best Picture without any acting nominations, three had majority-Asian casts.

Drew: I thought that might be changing last year with Minari but the Oscars love to do things right for one year, act like they’ve been fixed, and then return to their usual bullshit.

Riese: It’s so wild that the Academy has not maybe taken a minute to think about this pattern.

Drew: It’s very frustrating.

But I just loved the film so much. It’s not surprising given the collective trauma of the last couple years that there has been a lot of work about the importance of art in the face of tragedy. But I love all of it! Like this movie could be in conversation with Station Eleven.

Riese: Absolutely yes.

It had that same dynamic of working through interpersonal dynamics through theater. And when the lines between text and life begin to feel arbitrary. It also just had a lot going on w/r/t language.

These are my smart film thoughts: “a lot going on w/r/t language.”

Drew: Okay but it really does!

And I appreciate the way theatre is viewed as a sort of unifying space — not in a cloying way but in a genuine way.

Riese: Yes.

Drew: It’s a film that really earns its sentiment.

Driver and passenger in 'Drive my Car"

Sideshow/Janus Films

Riese: Speaking of sentiment (and language), should we talk about CODA?

Drew: Because we follow each other on Letterboxd I go into this conversation knowing where you stand on some of these. And I think this is our biggest point of disagreement…

Riese: Hahahahahaaha.

I cried, sorry. Marlee Matlin is hot.

Drew: I mean I also cried and also think Marlee Matlin is hot. So maybe we do agree.

Riese: I don’t know if it was like PERFECT CINEMA or whatever but as a film product it stood up for me. Although I did think that guy was a little mean to her about being late for her singing practice.

Drew: I feel like I could copy paste a lot of the things I wrote last year about Sound of Metal.

Once again we have a film about deafness written and directed by hearing people. And while at least this film cast deaf actors in deaf roles — which Sound of Metal largely did not — I still found the film frustrating. The sort of Orange is the New Black approach of focusing on a “normal” character to get at stories of “different” people works a lot more in television and worked a lot more in 2013. I thought Matlin, Troy Kotsur, and Daniel Durant were sooo good and I just wanted the movie to be about them. My favorite stuff was with the brother.

I’m glad Troy Kotsur got nominated and I’m really rooting for him. We’re just decades after Matlin’s own Oscar and I’m tired of the narrative being that these are necessary stepping stones when it’s 2022. I want major movies from deaf writers and directors! I want movies where I am not the primary audience but am still lucky enough to experience the art.

I mean someone like Jules Dameron is a queer deaf director who made a web series I really liked and I want to see her movies instead of this.

Riese: Once again, I imagine that this is a good point and I was just a girl crying on the carpet. Like I cried describing the movie to my therapist?

Drew: Look… it’s a nice movie. It did make me emotional. I saw it at virtual Sundance and enjoyed myself. It’s just frustrating to me from a “where we’re at in Hollywood” sense.

Riese: Right, that we need that entryway person into stories about any group outside of the center to make it marketable.

Drew: It always feels like a declaration of audience to me. And I’m not sure we need more movies about people with disabilities made for audiences without disabilities.

But then there’s the other side of it which is what movies are getting funding. And I am really happy the deaf actors got these roles. But is it worth it? I’m never sure.

a loving family loves each other in CODA

Riese: Apparently it’s been controversial that it was nominated at all? People think it’s just like a corny movie that doesn’t deserve a nod.

Drew: This has been annoying me too!!!! The way film snobs have been upset at the movie for being corny when there are ACTUAL reasons to be upset about it!

Riese: And bad corny movies are often nominated for Best Picture, so that line of thought feels motivated by the idea that it’s just a “social issue” movie.

Drew: I like a corny movie. That’s not a dealbreaker for me. As long as it feels grounded and specific.

Another nominated film with a lot of sentiment is King Richard.

(Not my best segue but I wasn’t sure how to jump from CODA to Dune.)

Riese: (Wow, I forgot about Dune!!!)

I mean King Richard hit for me, I love an inspirational story of Sport. Again we find Black stories are most revered by the Academy when they involve Black people having to contend with the white people who ultimately accept them. This movie felt like everybody involved knew it would be nominated for Best Picture.

I really enjoyed his outfits.

Drew: Hahaha I watched it with Elise and the whole time she was like: I want his wardrobe. I want to dress like a 90s sports dad.

Riese: Yes!! 90s sports dad attire. Prime.

Drew: I also love a sports movie! And I got on board with this by just accepting what it is. I think there is absolutely a more interesting movie that could be made about Venus and Serena Williams. I would’ve liked it if we got their perspectives more even though the movie focused on their dad. I just feel like there’s this really interesting question about raising kids to excel at things like sports or ballet or gymnastics and how it really has to be the parent pushing them from a young age. Richard was even harsher than we see on-screen but also he had to be and I wish the ethics of that were explored more and we learned how Venus and Serena felt as kids.

But also… I get that this wasn’t going that deep and I at least appreciate the depth that was hinted at. And I thought the performances were good.

Riese: Why do you think they decided to focus the movie on Richard instead of Venus and Serena? Or why was that the movie that got made?

Drew: I mean it is an incredible story. His vision and commitment to both himself and his family seems like a story worth telling. Buuuut I also think it was probably easier to make an Oscar-y movie out of his story. Letting us more into the experiences of the kids probably would’ve made things less simplistically inspirational.

Reading about the true story after the movie did interest me a bit more. Like knowing Richard brought kids to practice to yell at Venus and Serena so they’d be used to it. That’s so heartbreaking and so harsh and also makes sense? I actually think some of the more uncomfortable aspects of the story wouldn’t have taken away from it being overall positive.

Riese: That is interesting — it definitely did inspire some discomfort as is.

Drew: I feel like some of the complexities were voiced by their mom.

Riese: Yes absolutely.

Drew: I was grateful for those scenes. And that Aunjanue Ellis was nominated too!

Riese: Me too because the girls were very good at going with the flow. I was like wow they are really putting up with some wild behavior here!

Drew: I don’t think I registered that Venus went pro at 14. I appreciated the aspect of Richard’s character wanting them to have childhoods. Because God 14 is so young !!!

Riese: It is.

I didn’t even know how tennis games were scored until I saw King Richard. So I learned a lot.

Demi Singleton as Serena, Saniyya Sidney as Venus and Will Smith as the future tennis stars’ father, Richard Williams, in “King Richard.”Credit...

Warner Bros

Drew: Oh one thing I want to shoutout is Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew, the actress who plays their older sister, is the lead in this really great queer short Pure that’s on HBO Max!

And now here’s my segue for Dune because speaking of movies on HBO Max…

Riese: I have actually nothing to say about Dune.

Drew: Hahahaha

Riese: I did view the film. And I paid attention. And I left the experience feeling precisely the same way I felt prior to the experience. I recall apparently very little.

I remember sand? And his hand was in a box that hurt?

Drew: I’m assuming you haven’t read the book?

Riese: I have not. Does Zendaya have a bigger part in the book?

Drew: I haven’t read it either. But one of my roommates has and she answered a lot of my questions.

I liked Dune but the problem for me is it really feels like the first half of a movie. And how I feel about this first half of the movie will depend a lot on how the second half is done.

Like obviously it’s a book and a movie about colonialism and ideally is about the falseness of this sort of One Chosen Hero archetype in literature and on-screen. But with only the first half of the first book in this movie I wasn’t sure how much the movie was going to underline that and how much it was just going to be sort of neutral on the politics? Which then makes the story not really land?

Part of me feels like the way to do Dune would be similar to Starship Troopers where it’s very obviously a satire.

Anyway I sure do love Oscar Isaac. Lovely man.

Riese: I think Dune was sort of boring.

Drew: It was another very long one. I’m glad I saw it in theatres.

Riese: They’re all long ones this year!!

Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem and Timothee Chalame in Dune

Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem and Timothee Chalamet.

Riese: Speaking of films that are long and did not need to be: Licorice Pizza.

Drew: This movie has HAUNTED me. I keep having dreams that I rewatch it and have no idea why??

Do you generally like Paul Thomas Anderson?

Riese: I do, yes.

I enjoy him and I enjoyed the vibe but it was also incoherent and there was absolutely nothing gained by making that boy 15 years old, especially when the actor was older.

Drew: Agreed! I like his style and was into the movie but the two random racist scenes and the age difference paired with the ending really hurt the film for me. And the discourse around both has been exhausting and had a lot of bad faith arguing.

Riese: I like the sun-bleached wild west of it all and I liked the portrayal of being a young woman surrounded by terrible men at every turn, but my LORD what was the idea here?

And yes the racism has been discussed like “well for the time i think that was accurate” but just because something is accurate doesn’t mean it needs to be in the movie! Also was it accurate??? Like do you really think those women would put up with that??

[SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING OF LICORICE PIZZA START HERE]

Drew: There is absolutely a difference between showing something in art and approving of it. But the racist scenes add nothing to the film and do feel played for laughs. And the age difference builds to a romantic ending! Change the ending and I’d like the film so much more. But if you want it to be a romance then make the age difference less.

Riese: Right, I was like oh I guess the age difference is okay because nothing happens and then we get to the very end and I was like… wait. We were supposed to be rooting for them? I guess he was 16 by that point but still I mean come on.

Drew: I saw people comparing it to The Graduate to imply the big romantic ending isn’t supposed to be read as romantic. But that makes no sense because The Graduate ends with their faces dropping! The text of the film tells us they might regret their decision. There is nothing like that here. It’s meant to be happy and romantic.

I genuinely think PTA — like so much of society — has this false idea that if you’re a 15 year old boy getting to be with your older woman crush is great and not bad. But it is !!! It is bad !!!!

Riese: Right, yeah, there’s nothing about this ending that would be dark at all if we didn’t think the guy was 16.

Drew: Again I’m not against showing things that are complicated or wrong on-screen. I just don’t think it’s done well here. I don’t like their romance. I’m not rooting for it.

[SPOILERS END HERE]

Riese: And that’s just entirely what is happening in our own heads as viewers about his age. None of that discomfort is on the screen. That’s part of what frustrates me. I feel like they could’ve made him 18 and told the same story.

Drew: Even just like he’s 17 and she’s 21. That’s still weird! That’s still a big difference! But 15 and 25 is gross.

My favorite section is the one with Bradley Cooper in part because it ends with her realizing how immature he is and that she needs space from him.

Riese: Yes, I related to that section and being with a boy — not necessarily a younger boy — but a man who was clearly making little boy decisions.

Drew: There is good stuff in the movie. PTA is very talented. He just sometimes gets in his own way artistically and politically.

Riese: As Fiona Apple would sing, “I thought he was a man but he was just a little boy.”

Drew: My favorite PTA movie! The “Paper Bag” music video!

Riese: Anyhow, Hari Nef’s Letterboxed review of it was a great sell.

Drew: I will read that review. I mean I keep dreaming about it so clearly it’s stuck with me. I do think it’s a good movie but it’s just indicative of so much I find frustrating with movies and film culture and arts discourse.

Alana haim and Cooper Hoffman in "Licorice Pizza", Cooper leaning on a blue car, Alana with her hands on her hips wearing a "you've come a long way baby" tiny tee

Paul Thomas Anderson / MGM

Drew: Should we keep the “well-made movies that frustrate me” streak going and move to West Side Story?

Riese: Haha yes.

Drew: Are you a fan of the musical and the original?

Riese: Okay so… yes, as a child I was actually pretty obsessed with it.

I saw the Broadway tour when it came to Detroit. Then the high school did it and I saw it like three nights. And then I saw the movie 500 times.

But also my name is Marie and I was born in 1981, so pretty much my whole life people were like MARIAAAAA. So I was aware of it as a toddler because of that damn song and then I just really liked it.

And Anybodys, you know. As a little theater kid it was wild to see a role I could actually play. I was always cast as a boy, but this was a tomboy part! In a musical!!! Wild.

However, did I think deeply about the actual plot of this show or the politics involved? I did not. But also did Sondheim?

I was surprised that I still knew all the words.

Drew: I also really loved it as a kid. I was in a summer school drama production of it between 5th and 6th grade but our Maria ended up going on a family vacation the week of our low-key show so we ended up performing a Maria-free production?? Chaos.

Riese: CHAOS.

Drew: But yes I also wasn’t thinking of the politics. I haven’t seen the original since high school and watching this version made me wonder if I would even like it now?? But maybe I would because I have very different expectations for a movie from 2021 and 1961.

Riese: I remember a point in time when it became silly. When it was like lol that musical where boys in gangs do ballet lol. 

Drew: Which I loved !!! Badass ballet boys??? Come on!

Riese:  So in the 2021 version, they made Anybodys trans!

Drew: They did! That was cool. Did they give them a bunch more lines? They did not. That’s sort of how this whole movie felt. Small progressive changes but nothing too drastic or deep.

Riese: Yeah that’s a good summary. I mean what can you really do with this story? But it was visually very exciting. Lovely costumes and sets. Ariana DeBose, very nice work.

Also I forgot the ending???? It’s so sad.

Drew: Yes. Except this version I was happy Tony died so not that sad.

I was actually very on-board with a West Side Story remake. It felt like with Latine involvement there could be a much better take on the story that still keeps the incredible music. But then it was made by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner — as if what West Side Story needed were more white Jews. Add in the casting of Ansel Elgort and instead of getting an exciting new take we just have another problematic West Side Story movie where Anita is the breakout role.

Riese: Ansel Elgort wasn’t even good!!

Drew: HE WAS SO BAD.

That character is also a tough sell. Romeo as a character asks a lot from us. We need to root for this girl having sex with this boy she barely knows hours after he kills her family member. And here I was rooting against Maria and Tony the whole time.

Riese: Right, Gretchen had never seen it before.

Drew: Elise hadn’t either.

Riese: And she was like OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK HOW IS SHE — HE JUST KILLED HER BROTHER?!?!

Drew: Which I don’t remember ever feeling with the original?? But Elgort is so bad and David Alvarez is so good as Bernardo.

Riese: Yeah he was.

Drew: And Tony Kushner did add some lines that really put me on Bernardo’s side. When he tells Tony that he’s just using Maria to make himself feel better I was like yeah that’s a great point. But now I’m rooting against our central romance so the story doesn’t work. That’s the problem with cosmetic changes to art that maybe should be left in the past.

Riese: Right, I don’t think there’s much that can really be done here. The story is silly and messed up.

Drew: It needed a radical reimagining.

Riese: Like the stakes of the rumble have always been a bit too low. And the original didn’t pit these two groups against each other out of a desire to say something political — they did it because it seemed like a way to “modernize” Shakespeare.

Drew: Do you know what detail I hated that summarized the perspective of the film for me? The white girl shouting at the Jets not to rape Anita. It just felt so “ah yes this is made by liberal white men” to have that be a moment of female solidarity instead of highlighting that white women can be racist monsters too.

Riese: I liked that they had Anybodys warning her not to go in there right after he’s accepted as one of them. He’s still like, but not this.

Drew: I’m not sure I agree that the original wasn’t political. I just think it was political in a very 1950s made by liberal white people way. I mean, “America” is an explicitly political song.

Riese: I guess I mean it didn’t seem like it came out of wanting to represent a political issue upon which they were informed, or really understood. (ETA: here’s an article about why Robbins, Laurents and Bernstein decided to “make the show about teenage gangs” and to make one of the gangs Puerto Rican.)

Drew: Yeah that’s fair.

But in this case I think the added politics also feel like they’re coming from a place of wanting to modernize an old story, not from a genuine knowledge or desire.

Riese: Yes, and I think part of that is filling in gaps that the original truly didn’t care about.

Drew: I love Spielberg and Kushner! They just should stay in their lanes!

I do think this movie showed that Spielberg should’ve been directing musicals his whole career. I just need more than good cinematography

Riese: Yes.

Drew: Like ya know not hating the protagonist.

Riese: I mean the music is great.

Drew: It is.

Riese: That’s what stuck with me, not the plot.

Drew: Absolutely.

Riese: My memory is all songs and dancing.

Drew: And Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, and Mike Faist.

It was also nice that Rita Moreno got this moment. But I think the documentary about her last year was a better work of legacy than this. I really loved that doc.

Ariana DeBose as Anita in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY.

Ariana DeBose as Anita in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY.

Riese: I cannot figure out a segue to Nightmare Alley.

Drew: Okay well I thought we only had one movie left but we actually have two because I forgot Nightmare Alley

Riese: I think somehow this was my first Guillermo del Toro movie.

Drew: NO!!! It’s like his worst one !

Riese: Wild, right?

It did remind me of how much I enjoyed The Greatest Showman.

Drew: Nooooo. Riese.

Riese: :)

Drew: I hate that movie so much !!!!!

Riese: I mean The Greatest Showman is objectively BAD, Drew, but I enjoyed it.

Did you like Nightmare Alley?

Drew: I didn’t. I didn’t hate it. I just expect more from del Toro.

The original is much better but it’s another classic that felt primed for a remake so I’m bummed with how this turned out.

Riese: I didn’t know there was an original!

Drew: Yes! It’s a real classic of film noir but, like this movie, it’s structurally a mess and I think a new version could’ve been even better instead of… worse

Riese: What was the point of the film? That swindlers gotta swindle?

Also I don’t think it was the Rooney Mara-Cate Blanchett rematch we were anticipating.

Drew: No it was definitely not Carol 2.

There’s a polish to this one that takes some of the grime out of the original. The original is a nasty little take on American capitalism and masculinity. This just felt… there.

I liked the circus first half far more with this one. That was fun.

Riese: I kept thinking wow this would be great with a musical number about believing in your dreams.

Drew: Hahaha

Riese: It was quite lengthy as well.

Drew: So long !!!! So unnecessary.

And we can say that because we loved Drive My Car.

Riese: Yes.

Everybody else needed to tighten it up. Gretchen said “just two more hours to go” at 14 points during West Side Story.

Screenshot of Rooney Mara and Bradley Cooper at the merry-go-round from Nightmare Alley

Kerry Hayes/20th Century Studios

Drew: Oh I loved our last long one and last nominee to discuss: The Power of the Dog.

Riese: Is that your favorite film of the year? Of the nominees, I mean.

The Power of the Dog?

The Power of the Pup

Puppy Power

Homoeroticism in the Mountains with Cowboys 2

The Wild Fields of Montana

Mighty Be the American Wheatstalks

Drew: It is. And actually was my favorite of the year including all movies.

I’m a big fan of Jane Campion. Seeing Bright Star when I was 15 genuinely changed my life. I had pretty much only seen movies directed by men and seeing Bright Star and then quickly seeking out all of her other movies showed me a cinema that felt so much closer to me. The way she shows femininity, yes, but also the way she shows masculinity! There’s a softness to her portrayals — even when the point is male brutality.

THAT SAID. Campion’s weird jokey dig at Venus and Serena Williams was a reminder that she’s still a wealthy cishet white woman. And I do think that’s clear in her movies even though I love them. There’s a limit to her perspective even if it was radical in 2009 when all the movies I’d seen were by wealthy cishet white MEN. Like she apologized and it doesn’t change how much I love this movie but it does lessen the intensity of my enthusiasm toward this person I’ve long-admired as we go into what should be her much deserved victory lap.

Riese: Yeah her weird dig at Venus and Serena was profoundly disappointing.

Also, I don’t want to do spoilers but the ending THREW ME.

Drew: The ending is definitely surprising but the movie REALLY holds up on rewatches. I’ve liked it more the more I’ve seen it.

Riese: Yeah I can imagine it’s a movie where the ending opens up a whole new way of viewing the film in its entirety

Do you think Power of the Dog is going to win?

Drew: I hope so! I do think it deserves it. I’m also happy that Kirsten Dunst finally got an Oscar nom.

But I could see CODA winning Best Picture and this just winning Best Director.

Riese: Oh I took notes during Power of the Dog:

“very awkward dinner party”

“omg this boy on the ranch is very relatable”

“internalized homophobia”

“porn! why would he put his name on his gay porn!”

Those are my notes.

Drew: I agree with them all.

Riese: I think next year i need to come up with smart comments to make about the cinemas ahead of time.

Drew: Hahahaha.

This is Campion’s first film without a female protagonist, but her male characters have always fascinated me and I’m glad she adapted this book. It’s funny because so many of the things I usually preach about queer filmmakers telling queer stories and queer actors playing them disappears if the movie is good. Like speaking of gay cowboys, Brokeback Mountain is another movie from a straight director with ostensibly straight actors that I love.

I just want queer art that’s good. Obviously I want queer artists to get opportunities but mostly I want good queer art. And the duality of softness and harshness in Campion’s cinema and the way she portrays masculinity feel so fitting for this story.

Riese: Yeah the film had interesting things to say about masculinity so I didn’t feel that drag of “another movie about men,” in the same way that I felt about Licorice Pizza or Belfast.

Drew: So many of my favorite films about masculinity come from women directors.

Have you seen In the Cut?

Riese: No.

Drew: That’s a film of Campion’s I definitely recommend.

Riese: I think generally white cis men don’t have that many interesting things left to say for themselves.

Drew: White cishet men should only make Magic Mikes.

Riese: Yes and bless those Magic Mikes, great cinema. Stay in your lane!

Drew: Exactly.

Riese: Were the actors straight? In Power of the Doggo?

Drew: I think, officially, yes.

Riese: Well! Interesting. I don’t care about gay actors playing gay characters generally.

Big Montana sky the power of the dog

Drew: Well this year we have two gay actors playing STRAIGHT characters.

I’m rooting for Kstew even if I didn’t like the movie all that much.

Riese: Yes I am rooting for Kstew and did love the film. But I feel like it’s a long shot.

Drew: Who do you think is going to win? My dream and personal choice is Penélope Cruz, another straight playing queer in Parallel Mothers.

I’d also be fine with Olivia Colman, a straight playing straight but who is someone who always feels a little queer to meeee.

Riese: I think Olivia Colman will win. I feel like she always wins! But I am rooting for K-Stew.

Drew: I love Nicole Kidman but Being the Ricardos was awful.

Riese: Oh yeah that was bad.

Drew: And Tammy Faye may be another gay icon but I do not like performances that are all about prosthetics !!!!

Riese: I loved The Eyes of Tammy Faye!

Drew: It’s whatever but just cast a fat actor or in this case cast Jessica Chastain but just let her be as is because Tammy Faye wasn’t even fat??

I just feel so lost when a performance is all about transformation.

Riese: I do think Ariana will win.

Drew: I’d be really happy with that.

Riese: I would too!

Drew: She deserves it.

Riese: She does.

Drew: I’d be happy with her or Kirsten. And I could see them going with the latter because the Oscars love to snub someone for decades and then give a legacy award.

But either way I want to see everything Ariana does for what will hopefully be a very long and very gay career.

Riese: Yes, me too!!!!

I feel more excited about this year for those reasons: Ariana and K-stew.

Drew: We’ve been talking for over two hours but we can’t end without mentioning how much other gay stuff there is in the various categories. In animation, especially, we have Encanto starring Steph Beatriz and Jessica Darrow, Flee which is gay, and Mitchells vs. the Machines which is a kids animated movie with an actual queer lead!

Riese: Yes that was a cute fucking movie!

Drew: I really loved Mitchells vs. the Machines. But I do hope Flee wins Animated. It’s also nominated for Doc and International Feature but Drive My Car will win International and I want Summer of Soul to win Doc.

With both the movies and the nominees, this might be the gayest Oscars ever.

Riese: We’ve got a lot of gay stuff in there as well as our lesbian driver friend.

Drew: We do have our lesbian driver friend. I love her. And her blazers.


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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is an LA-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. Her writing can be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Thrillist, I Heart Female Directors, and, of course, Autostraddle. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about trans lesbians. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @draw_gregory.

Drew Burnett has written 313 articles for us.

Riese

Riese is the 40-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2988 articles for us.

11 Comments

  1. Wow. I find this discussion very mean-spirited and problematic.

    “The white girl shouting at the Jets not to rape Anita. It just felt so “ah yes this is made by liberal white men” to have that be a moment of female solidarity instead of highlighting that white women can be racist monsters too.”

    Well maybe she was once a victim of abuse in the past and didn’t want to see it happen to another woman in front of her regardless of race? Just because she didn’t want her to speak Spanish, you automatically label her a monster? Not cool, methinks.

    “As if what West Side Story needed were more white Jews”, I found very offensive as well as the repeated use of the phrase “Stay in your lane!” What if someone had said that to a black or asian person? Or to a woman?

    Also, why did the term cishet become such a dirty word? It’s very confusing to me.

    To be clear, the Williams sisters did not find Jane’s comment about them offensive as they were seen talking and dancing with her afterwards. It seems only the internet had a problem and stirred up unnecessary drama.

    I’m totally rooting for The Power of The Dog to take home all of the awards, anyway.

    That being said I absolutely agree with your stance: “I just want queer art that’s good”, as well as the fact that straight people can play gay and gay people can play straight.

  2. To be honest these Autostraddle oscars discussions are always one of the best parts of this. Reminds me I’m not the only one looking at these movies with a very gay brain. My thoughts briefly
    Drive my car was very long but very very investing and i also loved it
    CODA I really loved, despite having that twinge of disappointment looking at it from the “how far we’ve come in Hollywood point’ I did think the dialogue was good though and the cast was fantastic and worked very well together. I loved Troy Kotsur as the dad and i think it’d be fantastic if we won best supporting actor.
    West side story has always been a very huge mess. I feel like this time around Ariana saved the whole fucking movie and I loved her and Rachel. There were moments where I was literally just like FUCK TONY IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ANITA AND MARIA. I recently read this very interesting piece from Bitch Media about more of the complexities within this movie. Culturally and politically and also cinematically (also it’s written by an actual Boricua; https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/west-side-story-steven-spielberg-oscars-review
    Flee was a stunning movie and the idea behind animating it to protect the real man’s identity was also very innovative. Production wise it was also brilliant.
    I could not get all the way through tragedy of Macbeth Not that I didn’t like it because I was! I think I’m gonna try to rewatch it again. I was initially trying to do so at almost one in the morning and I wasn’t used the all the Shakespearian talk and passed out.
    Also i would love Campion getting something tonight. She deserved it ages ago. The lost daughter was also brilliant.
    Brief thought though since I just saw it last night: The Pink Cloud definitely deserved something in the best international film category. The lighting the emotional irony the torture: it’s kinda a masterpiece to be honest. Also Faye Dayi! The cinematography was freaking gorgeous but of course it had to get snubbed this year.

  3. Very entertaining….some top of mind thoughts:

    – Glad I am not the only one who feels like they should watch all the movies even the shorts. I have done this for several years now and is my only bow to popular culture….

    – Fav was CODA: I am a big sucker for coming of age stories and Emilia Jones as Ruby pulled it off beautifully. I teared up through much of it….Emilia was so sweet and adorable…….i wanted to reach into the screen, give her a kiss on the cheek and say “you go girl!!”..I was rooting her on all the way….

    – Least Fav Don’t Look Up: I found it pretentious, condescending and tried way to hard to make what is essentially a very valid point. It tried to be Dr. Strangelove of our time, but failed miserably. jennifer Lawerence was the only bright light in an otherwise very dark room.

    – Not Fav but entertaining: West side story. After coming of age stories, musical are probably my next favorite. I forgot how many wonderful songs there were in West Side Story. It was way too long since I saw it last.

    – Best movie I didn’t really feel I got: parallel mothers. I loved everything about the two mothers and their babies. I loved the interactions and just the daily conversations. It had me totally hooked all the way until the last few minutes. The story between the two women fizzled out at the end. I was expecting some Hitchcockian twist and there was none. I get the political story it was trying to tell, but in someways it felt like two disparate movies fitted awkwardly together. It may have been my fav if it focused solely on the two women and their life experiences. Both Penelope (love that first name!) and Milena were exceptional.

    OFF TO WATCH THE OSCARS!!

  4. Thank you both for doing this and making my painful choice to watch every single Oscar nominated movie actually feel worth it!

    “It’s funny because so many of the things I usually preach about queer filmmakers telling queer stories and queer actors playing them disappears if the movie is good.” – THANK YOU DREW. Truly my feelings on the whole “should queer actors play queer roles” debate – like yeah probably as a rule they should, but mostly I’m just concerned with actors actually having chemistry and the material actually being good, since we still are mostly not at that point with most (at least mainstream) queer art!

    Also loved all your comments on West Side Story! I rolled my eyes SO HARD at the jet girl thing, thank you for articulating why!

    And thanks for the shoutout to all the gay ass animated movies – that was honestly my main takeaway from watching all the Oscar movies. I would also add Luca and Raya and the Last Dragon were both sooo so gay – both in theme and in that their characters were in love with each other! Such a nice surprise!

    • Funny, right before I saw Kristen Stewart, I saw Jessica Chastain in her beautiful purple and copper princess gown (stunning with her red hair)…talk about opposite ends of the fashion spectrum!!

      I agree about Kristen Stewart…love or hate her….its difficult to take your eyes off of her……

  5. Uhh, was going on about how the last thing we need are “more white Jews” a necessary comment? Mentioning they’re white, sure, but the way you phrased that felt incredibly antisemitic.

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