Search form

Scroll To Top
Armond White

Gaying the Oscars

Gaying the Oscars

Brando Reflections

The Brandos: honoring the gay performances the Academy overlooked

What if the Academy Awards really were seals of approval? The film industry Oscars usually rubber stamp mainstream movies with big budgets and hype but ignores breakthroughs in movie history and gay culture.

So, here's The Brandos: a list honoring film performances you should know that deserve the big prize but never got it. These iconic characterizations recognize gay experience and, through imagination, compassion and talent, validate gay people's humanity.

Saluting Marlon Brando's performance in Reflections in a Golden Eye -- an act of artistic genius and cultural courage -- the great actor revealed depths of desire and critiqued the misery of repression. Not the first such achievement (Richard Barthelmess in Broken Blossoms, Julie Harris in The Member of the Wedding, Murray Melvin in A Taste of Honey, Dirk Bogarde in The Servant are among many early examples) Brando's revolutionary characterization created an unforgettable signpost for cultural awakening two years before Stonewall.

Marlon Brando Reflections in a Golden Eye

Marlon Brando, Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)

As Major Pendleton, Brando cruises soldier Robert Forster in a film where sexual awareness shakes up a Southern Army base.

Anthony Perkins Play It As It Lays

Anthony Perkins, Play It As It Lays (1972)

Playing confidante to a neurotic actress (Tuesday Weld), Perkins gave his most explicit finely etched gay characterization.

ninjinsky bates as diaghliev

Alan Bates, Nijinsky (1980)

As ballet impresario Diaghliev, Bates commemorated a classic ideal of gay sophistication and desire.

Paul Winfield, Mike's Murder (1982)

Acting out the client-hustler dynamic, Winfield brought weight to the drama of aging in gay subculture opposite hustler Mark Keyloun.

Whoopi Goldberg Color Purple

Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple (1985)

Celie, from Alice Walker's novel, remains Hollywood's foremost lesbian heroine and Goldberg's career peak.

Beautiful Laundrette

Daniel Day Lewis, My Beautiful Launderette (1986)

As punk-era Johnny, Day-Lewis broke Thatcher-era expectations in this cross-cultural British-Pakistani romance.

Steve Buscemi Parting Glances

Steve Buscemi, Parting Glances (1986)

Memorably portraying the screen's first AIDS martyr, Buscemi avoided self-pity combining poignant humor and rage.

Antonio Banderas Carmen Maura Law of Desire Almodovar

Carmen Maura and Antonio Banderas, Law of Desire (1987)

As transexual and piece-of-ass, Maura and Banderas in Almodovar's breakout classic, were interchangeably hot and wild.

Vincent Perez

Vincent Perez, Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (1999)

In Patrice Chereau's magnificent epic of family and sexual identity, Perez turned transitioning into a metaphor for spiritual growth.

Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive (2001)

Classic movie-movie made real by Watts' sensitive withdrawal from Hollywood tragedy into same-sex comfort, confidence, love.

Infamous Toby Jones

Toby Jones, Infamous (2006)

The good Truman Capote biography minus pessimism, Jones tied the writer's wit to his passion for jailbait Daniel Craig.

Catherine Keener, Maladies (2014)

Another career peak, Keener's transvestite fights pre-Stonewall oppression, turning her usual snark into compassion.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Armond White