Case 021: Oscars So Straightfiled February 6, 2020
This year’s Oscar nominations caused the usual uproar; once again the Academy’s pledge to acknowledge and reward more diverse contributions went unheeded. It’s been pointed out at length that #OscarsStillSoWhite and #OscarsStillSoMale, but what struck those of us at The InQueery was that, repeatedly, #OscarsSoStraight.
Sure, there have been straighter eras in Oscar history, but a cursory look at the nominees in any other recent year reveals at least three films that are undeniably out and proud. According to our research, one would have to look back to at least 2005, when Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator reigned supreme, to find a crop of nominees so bereft of queerness. Which got us wondering—where would this year’s pictures fall on the Kinsey Scale?
The InQueery acknowledges that the Kinsey Scale is sorely lacking as a tool of measurement in today’s queer landscape: It doesn’t capture the intersecting arrays of human sexuality, relies too heavily on the gender binary…and frankly, six is a weird number to use for ranking things. That said, nobody who wants a nuanced discourse comes to the table for Oscars tea. These rankings are based on polling conducted at The InQueery’s Media Institute, and are not definitive, but rather a rough approximation based on our sample size. As a reminder, zero represents “exclusively heterosexual,” with six at the opposite end indicating “exclusively homosexual,” and separate from the scale continuum; a rating of X equals “no socio-sexual contacts or reactions.”
0. The Irishman: The InQueery could not find a single queer person who would admit to having seen this film, though all agreed that this was unequivocally the straightest in the bunch.
0. Ford v Ferrari: The only thing that could’ve saved this car movie would be a simmering sexual tension between Matt Damon and Christian Bale, but they just don’t seem that into each other?
0. Joker: It’s basically the story of a standup comedian and how his mommy issues drive him to kill, right? This is why we deactivated Twitter last year!
0. Richard Jewell: Living legend Kathy Bates is relegated to playing the “long suffering wife or mother” character. We thought that trend ended when Laura Linney played Alfred Kinsey’s partner.
.5. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: A movie about Sharon Tate and the Manson family should be way more fun and femme than this. We preferred The Haunting of Sharon Tate, starring Lizzie Maguire and Aaron Samuels from Mean Girls. This film almost makes a one for Brad Pitt’s gratuitous shirtless buddy scenes.
1. Marriage Story: Heteronormativity is literally in the title. Might as well be Boring Straight Upwardly Mobile Marriage Story. We’re giving this a one, though, for Laura Dern basically playing her character from Big Little Lies.
1. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The thing we always liked about Mister Rogers is that he represented a different sort of masculinity, one that allows men to be caring and in touch with their feelings. The focus on the GQ writer unfortunately knocked this back to a rating of one.
1. 1917: War movies are painfully straight, but they can sometimes be salvaged by a subtle undercurrent of homoeroticism. 1917 doesn’t go in that direction, and our audiences found the illusion of the single take uninspired. Rope did the same thing way back in 1948, and that movie has nearly Hays code-breaking levels of queerness.
2. Jojo Rabbit: Someone heard “Springtime for Hilter” from The Producers and decided a Nazi farce wasn’t a totally doomed concept.
2. Harriet: We think there’s room in the history books for a queering of Harriet Tubman, but this was a pretty direct historical reenactment. Points awarded for the inclusion of Janelle Monae.
3.5. Little Women: We stan a film that’s so femme-focused, and Little Women is a very queer story of sisterhood, including not depicting a single kiss between Jo and Laurie. Greta Gerwig can get it. But period pieces that are all about everyone nestled by the fire and being excited that mother’s coming home will always remain a little stiff and straight.
4. Parasite: Anything about class warfare and family secrets has a bit of a queer bent, but particularly if it’s coming from the guy who gave us a fucking indoor secret garden aboard a train in Snowpiercer. Extra points for the use of peach dust as a poison.
4. Bombshell: The full length movie never quite matched the excitement of the trailer, but queer points awarded for Kate McKinnon’s closet-liberal and barely closeted gay character Jess Carr, and Charlize Theron’s makeup artist.
5.5 Pain and Glory: The only film nominated this year that’s actually by a gay person, however points were dedcuted for the straight actor playing a gay protagonist.
6. Judy: A biopic of the original and most enduring gay icon should be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, Zellweger wasn’t quite good enough to make this great, and worse, not bad enough to qualify this for midnight movie infamy.
X. The Two Popes: The Catholic Church and all its accoutrements are pretty queer, but we can’t think of a less-sexual premise than a movie about two elderly celibate men wearing stupid hats and pontif-icating (pun intended).
Rating: The wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem.