Maria writes her own blog on the side of her ridiculous work hours, covering everything movie related for those of us like me who can't be arsed doing their own research and for those of us like me who don't have access to interviews with directors, writers and actors from across the freaking world. She even let me tag along once to meet Ryan Kwanten because her heart is made of candy. If you do not go and read/follow her blog I will place a curse upon both your houses. That shit is talented. Anyway, without further ado, read her guest post for me about the 13 greatest gay movie characters.
Gays in cinema have come a long way from being used as the butt of jokes, where their key purpose was to be a device for other characters to point at and go `he he he look, it’s a faggot’. Sure, the clichés still remain, but modern filmmakers have developed stories that are less about being gay and more about the issues associated with that i.e. sexual identity, freedom and that universal theme love. Within those films some truly memorable characters have been created, like Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia and Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun. Here’s 13 of the best gay movie characters:
George (Colin Firth), A Single Man
What’s not to love about love? Fashion designer Tom Ford took us on a visually stunning and moving exploration of love and the way it changes us in his directorial debut A Single Man. In the role that should have nabbed him the career Oscar (Jeff Bridges in A Crazy Heart? Really?) Colin Firth plays a college professor in the 1960s grieving the loss of his long time partner (Matthew Goode). Over the course of the day, he begins to come to terms with his broken heart and rediscover his passion for life through experiences with strangers (Nicholas Hoult, Jon Kortajarena) and old friends (Julianne Moore).
Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), The Rocky Horror Picture Show
You know, the great thing about Dr. Frank-N-Furter is that people in small towns (cough Boonah cough) think this is actually what all gays are like. Of course it’s true - they all sing, dress in drag and make their very own 6ft tall, bronzed love slave for kicks. In other news, Tim Curry has never been better as the Sweet Transvestite from Trannnnnnnsexual Transylvania.
Neil (Joseph Gordon Levitt), Mysterious Skin
There’s a lot of things I could say about Neil: he’s angry, damaged and destructive, all for reasons he can’t forget or get over. But he’s also enchanting and beautiful, much like Gordon-Levitt himself. However, Neil’s best friend Wendy (Michelle Trachtenberg) sums it up best:
“You don't have to tell me, I was infatuated with him too once. But I know all Neil's secrets and there's shit there you don't even want to know about. Trust me. Once I'm gone, you'll be all Neil has and you have to understand one thing. Where normal people have a heart, Neil McCormick has a bottomless black hole. And if you don't watch out, you c an fall in and get lost forever.”
Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin), Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Easily the best gay cinematic gay character of the year, easily. Biting wit? Check. Bone dry sense of humour? Check check. Sarcastic charm? Check check check. Shares a bed with multiple men? Yeah, you know where I’m going with this. The beautiful thing about Scott Pilgrim’s `cool gay roommate’ is that in the transition from comic to screen, he didn’t lose any of the intelligence and humour which made him oh-so-beloved by fans of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series. This is largely thanks to the spot on performance by Kieran Culkin and screenwriters keeping most of Wallace’s brilliant one-liners in the screenplay. My favourite: “Kick her in the balls!” Also noteworthy: “Okay, presumably, you may have just seen a dude's junk, and I'm very sorry for that... so is he.”
Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger), Brokeback Mountain
Ah, the role that should have won Heath Ledger his first Oscar. Sure, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Truman Capote was amazing, however, it was more obvious, unrestrained and flamboyant while Ledger was tormented, complex and understated. He got across the beautiful complexities of his love with Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) with what he didn’t say and the shadow of emotions as they flickered across his face. Despite the comedic outpouring that has followed the movie (“oh hey, don’t get all Brokeback on me man” etc etc) Brokeback Mountain is not a film about two gay cowboys – it’s just a sad, epic love story.
Adam/Felicia (Guy Pearce), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Dessert
Possibly my favourite `gay’ movie ever, this Australian charmer gives us a glimpse behind the drag queen guise to see the real people within. And by people, I mean fabulous, extravagant queens! While Tick/Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) and Bernadette (Terrence Stamp) each brought something different to the table, or bus as it was in this case, it was Adam/Felicia who stole the show. Loud and proud, Pearce’s character is a force of nature and one of the most unrelenting homosexual characters on screen. When he was surrounding by backwards attitudes in homophobic small towns in the Australian outback, what does he do? Walks through the streets dressed in full drag. But his best moment is the iconic scene where he sits atop the bus as it drives through the desert, with the wind trailing an enormous silver train behind him while lip-synching opera. Lets not forget his blunt throwaway lines that popped up more often than their cattle rods in sparkly lycra hotpants: “The only life I saw for the last million miles were the hypnotized bunnies. Most of them are now wedged in the tires.”
Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), Milk
For someone who’s such a snarly, self-involved bastard, the vibrancy and joy for life Sean Penn managed to portray in Harvey Milk is simply astounding and well-worth his second Oscar. Also, James Franco swims naked in a pool. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to see the Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, the accuracy and humanity of Penn’s performance is incredible. Milk was the first openly gay official elected into public office in America and what stays with you long after the credits role, be
sides the tragic circumstances of his death, is although he was unsure of himself, of his actions and substance as a human – he fought for what he believed in. He fought for it passionately. Much like the people who were involved in the film, namely openly gay director Gus Van Sant and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. In fact, Black’s acceptance speech when he took out the Oscar for best screenplay in 2008 remains one of the most powerful and moving moments in the awards history (watch the video below). Did I mention James Franco swims naked in a pool?
Patrick `Kitten’ Braden (Cillian Murphy), Breakfast On Pluto
Those eyes, those lips . . .Cillian Murphy’s angelic features have never been put to such divisive use as they were playing a transgender lad who leaves his small Irish town for adventures in London during the 70s. Kitten is simply such a fascinating and fragile character, you can’t help but be drawn in to the complexities of his life and identity largely thanks to an absolutely draw-dropping performance from Murphy.
Armand and Albert Goldman (Robin Williams and Nathan Lane), The Bird Cage
`What? Two characters from the one movie? That’s cheating!’ That’s also called counting and seriously, how do you choose between these two characters? The answer: you can’t. I like to think of them as the perfect couple, yin and yang, the fact that they’re gay is really an afterthought. The proud parents are so comfortable with each other and accustomed to their own antics, it’s their interactions with others that will have you gut-laughing like Roman Polanski watching A Clockwork Orange.
Mr Garrison (Trey Parker) South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
One of the best South Park characters got some of the best fleeting moments in the film, despite the absence of his better half Mr Slave. Never fear, Mr Garrison got to be just as big, long and uncut as the rest of the cast and that double entendre. Best line? “I'm Sorry Wendy, but I don't trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die.”
Zachary (Marc-Andre Grondin), C.R.A.Z.Y
This little-seen French film has become a foreign language favourite on my radar and follows five brothers over the course of several Christmases. The main protagonist is Zachary (Marc-Andre Grondin), a sensitive and artistically orientated kid-teenager-adult who struggles to fit in with his family, namely his traditional father. As the years pass, we go on a journey with him as he discovers his sexual identity and tries to come to terms with it.
Truman Capote (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), Capote
With the mannerisms of a gentleman, the wardrobe of Tom Hardy and the voice of a five-year-old girl dropped down a well, Truman Capote was always going to be as mesmerizing on screen as he was off. Seymour Hoffman cemented his place as one of Hollywood’s greatest character actors with this role which in turn led us inside the mind and workings of a troubled literary genius. Also worth a mention is Toby Jones, who also plays Capote in the unfortunately timed film Infamous which was literally about exactly the same period in the author’s life. As someone who has always teetered on the border of premature midget and hobbit, this was a rare leading role for Jones and one that he performed with gusto. Although Capote got the Oscar kudos, Infamous is the better film and features the extra punch of Sandra Bullock as Harper Lee and Daniel Craig as the (also gay) murderer Perry Smith.
Ari (Alex Dimitriades), Head On
Everyone’s favourite Aussie-Greek Alex Dimitriades plays a 19-year-old in Melbourne, as he struggles with his sexual identity through various homosexual and heterosexual encounters. Raw, gritty and urban, Head On is a tough film but nothing compared to the source material Loaded, a novel by Christos Tsiolkas, which is one of the most potent forms of gay literature I’ve read.