It remains one of the most confounding traits of awards season. A strong movie year comes to an end, and critics and industry people inevitably manage to find a way to bestow laurels on one statuette-hungry mediocrity after another. Meanwhile, the works that will likely be remembered years from now are too often passed over, or have to settle for smaller consolation prizes.
But that's not what happened this year with the Dorian Awards, the annual best-of showcase held by GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics. As a member for two years, I had a say on how this year's roster turned out, and it gives me great pride to report that the results exceeded my expectations in several ways.
First, the good news: There is no bad news. I can vouch for just about every single name and title that got the most votes in every category, beginning with a solid showing for Luca Guadagnino's “Call Me by Your Name,” a beauty of a film that withstood extended debate both within and outside of GALECA to take home Film of the Year honors, as well as Best Performance of the Year, Actor, for current Oscar contender Timothée Chalamet. At 22, the talented whippersnapper stands to become the youngest Best Actor Oscar recipient, that is, in the unlikely but still possible case he can beat Gary Oldman and his prosthetic jowls. Chalamet also picked up GALECA's “We're Wilde About You!” Rising Star of the Year award.
But the CMBYN freight train doesn't stop there. Oscar might have passed over the esteemed Michael Stuhlbarg, but we just couldn't resist naming him Best Supporting Actor for his terrific turn as a dad with life lessons to impart on his son Elio, the lovelorn teen played by Chalamet. Even the film's detractors (grudgingly) admit Stuhlbarg knocked it out of the park with his climactic heart-to-heart between father and son. (Though for the life of me I can't quite grasp how a movie that makes you feel so fully engulfed by love could be so coolly dismissed by so many peers and friends.) Last but certainly far from least, Guadagnino's marvelous love story was also named LGBTQ Film of the Year for deftly dramatizing a story that highlights the “B” in LGBTQ. Do not miss this gem, and do not wait for DVD or streaming. Catch it on the big screen where it belongs.
Stuhlbarg pulled triple duty in 2017, also co-starring in Steven Spielberg's disarmingly Capraesque “The Post” and Guillermo del Toro's “The Shape of Water.” The latter was another big winner at the Dorians, picking up Best Actress honors for the lovely Sally Hawkins, the mute but eloquent heroine in this Cold War-set interspecies romance. The 1960s fantasy also nabbed GALECA's Visually Striking Film of the Year award for its impeccable production design and cinematography, which recalls “Amélie,” early Tim Burton and Del Toro's own past work. (“Shape's” not his best from where I was sitting, but wholly deserving of the accolades it's been garnering.) Will this beloved love letter to cinema and outcasts outmuscle the competition come Oscar night? In a year where the top prize is still a wide open race, the suspense continues to build.
The Oscar race is almost as heart-stopping as the best moments in Jordan Peele's “Get Out,” a razor-sharp horror/social satire that overcame a February 2017 release date to stay in the year-end kudos conversation. The film's writer-director, comedy vet-turned-filmmaker Jordan Peele, is GALECA's belle of the ball. Not only is the Key & Peele thesp walking away with Best Screenplay honors, a feat that I'm hoping he gets to repeat come Oscar night. He was also named Wilde Artist of the Year (after all, the “Dorian” in Dorian Awards is a none-too-subtle reference to Oscar Wilde's literary creation Dorian Gray). Thirdly, Peele is sharing the Wilde Wit Award with fellow comedian Kate McKinnon.
Another big winner with GALECAns was A24's bittersweet coming-of-age tale “Lady Bird.” Writer-director Greta Gerwig broke through the gender glass ceiling of the Academy's movie directors' boys club to nab a much-deserved nod. How could we resist her tender yet brutally honest storytelling approach? She earned Best Director honors from us, and she is joined by Supporting Actress winner Laurie Metcalf, a bracing mix of warmth and tough love as the matriarch of a Sacramento household in the shadow of 9/11. Too many telecasts have relegated her to awards bridesmaid in favor of Allison Janney's mighty but rather grotesque turn in the (wildly overpraised) Tonya Harding docu-comedy “I, Tonya.” (Though, in Janney's defense, she handles the prosthetic makeup far more adeptly than Gary Oldman's, who might just get away with murder, and an Oscar, for his exhausting scenery chewing.)
But there's nothing iffy about this year's recipient of GALECA's Timeless Star honor, our group's equivalent of a career achievement award. In a year where Meryl Streep not only did a lot of the heavy lifting in “The Post” as Washington Post owner Katherine “Kay” Graham. The three-time Oscar winner was also outspoken about the disturbing sexual misconduct allegations that gave rise to the #MeToo movement.
Crossing the pond to France, the empowering ACT UP Paris chronicle “BPM (Beats per Minute)” emerged triumphant as this year's GALECA Best Foreign Language Film. The solid Cannes Film Festival winner didn't make the final cut as one of the five movies vying for the Oscar in this category, so I'm so glad we could play our part in helping rectify this glaring snub. It's one of this year's sweetest victories.
Documentary of the Year honors also went to a French production. The irresistible “Faces Places” a playful travelogue/celebration of street art by French New Wave luminary Agnès Varda and muralist JR, rose above a competitive field to pick up the top nonfiction prize. Wouldn't it be super to see Varda's name be called on Oscar night? She's mighty special to us arthouse peeps, so to see her exposure stateside heightened is a rare thrill.
Two solid titles also given the cold shoulder by the Academy films round out the cinema section of the Dorians, which also celebrate the best in TV. Darren Aronofsky's “mother!” might have been slapped with an “F” Cinemascore by mainstream moviegoers, but its stylistic flourishes landed it in GALECAns' crosshairs. We've named the wild thrill ride Campy Flick of the Year. And tying up everything in a golden bow is Francis Lee's luminous, fiercely“God's Own Country,” a fiercely moving English romance between two young men set in Yorkshire. The win gives me the opportunity to give a special shout out to this film's loyal following on social media. To follow the way it's captured hearts on both sides of the Atlantic is like being enveloped in a big, warm virtual hug.
There's also plenty to get excited about regarding GALECA's TVwinners in the TV. I'm including all the winners below, but before I bid you a fond adieu, I'd like to give a tip of the hat to French Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée, who has redeemed himself after the borderline unwatchable Jake Gyllenhaal stinker “Demolition” by his work in the HBO miniseries “Big Little Lies. Congrats are also in order for Kyle MacLachlan, who wins the Best TV Performance of the Year, Actor, for his sterling work in David Lynch's “Twin Peaks: The Return,” a victory for cinephiles and fans of long-form television alike.
Here is the full list of winners:
- Film of the Year: “Call Me By Your Name”
- Director of the Year: Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
- Best Performance of the Year, Actress: Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”'
- Best Performance of the Year, Actor: Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”
- Supporting Film Performance of the Year, Actress: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
- Supporting Film Performance of the Year, Actor: Michael Stuhlbarg, “Call Me By Your Name”
- LGBTQ Film of the Year: “Call Me By Your Name”
- Foreign Language Film of the Year: “BPM (Beats Per Minute)”
- Screenplay of the Year (Original or Adapted): Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
- Documentary of the Year: “Faces Places”
- Visually Striking Film of the Year (honoring a production of stunning beauty, from art direction to cinematography): “The Shape of Water”
- Unsung Film of the Year: “God's Own Country”
- Campy Flick of the Year: “mother!”
- TV Drama of the Year: “Big Little Lies”
- TV Comedy of the Year: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
- TV Performance of the Year, Actress: Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies”
- TV Performance of the Year, Actor: Kyle MacLachlan, “Twin Peaks: The Return”
- TV Current Affairs Show of the Year: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
- TV Musical Performance of the Year: Kate McKinnon, “(Kellyanne) Conway!” “Saturday Night Live”
- LGBTQ Show of the Year: “RuPaul's Drag Race”
- Unsung TV Show of the Year: “American Gods”
- Campy TV Show of the Year: “Feud: Betty and Joan”
- ‘We're Wilde About You!’ Rising Star Award: Timothée Chalamet
- Wilde Wit of the Year Award: Kate McKinnon, Jordan Peele
- Wilde Artist of the Year: Jordan Peele
- Timeless Star (to a living actor or performer whose exemplary career is marked by character, wisdom and wit): Meryl Streep