What Ever Happened to Queer Cinema?
Oscar Night 2006 feels like a million years ago. You remember – it’s the night that Brokeback Mountain (2005), although being shamelessly robbed of its deserved Best Picture statuette, still managed to take home three awards. It’s the night that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s gay novelist squeaked past Heath Ledger’s gay cowboy in the Best Actor race. Felicity Huffman was up for Best Actress for playing an MTF in Transamerica (2005). And at the previous day’s Independent Spirit Awards, pioneering queer filmmaker Gregg Araki was basking in multiple nominations for Mysterious Skin (2004), a film considered to be a high watermark in an already remarkable career.
GLBT stories had made it to the grown-up’s table. More importantly, they’d made it to the multiplex where they were enjoying both good reviews and impressive box-office tallies. The terrain was changing.
So what happened?
Yes, the success of Brokeback lifted long-gestating projects like The Mayor of Castro Street (2011), The Front Runner (2011), Stone Butch Blues (2011), and The Dreyfus Affair (2011) out of development limbo, but as of today none of them have a firm shooting date set. And independent cinema, where queer voices have been breaking the rules of cinema and exciting audiences with new possibilities for at least the past few decades, seems content to make one toothless genre picture (lesbian romantic comedies! gay thrillers!) after another.
The integral version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!