Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 010616 Contents 44 • 01.06.2016
best lgbt FilMs oF 2015 David-Elijah Nahmod
The Danish Girl
“Best” of course is a relative term. From my vantage point, these
are the best LGBT films of 2015. MIA are several films that I suspect would
have made the list had I seen them: the lesbian dramas “Freeheld” and
“Grandma,” and the documentary “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” – I
look forward to catching them on DVD.
Of the films I did see, it was “The Danish Girl,” a riveting trans themed
biopic from “Les Misrables” director Tom Hooper which tops the list. There
are in fact two trans themed films on this list, as the trans community
continues to emerge from the shadows and take their place at the table.
There’s also one controversial choice, but as stated earlier, these are just my
opinions. We’d love to know what your favorite films are, please let us know.
Happy New Year!
Director Tom Hooper and star Eddie Redmayne both
deserve to win second Oscars for their work in this mesmerizing
biopic. The film tells the true life story of LIli Elbe, believed to
be the first transwoman to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
“The Danish Girl” is, first and foremost, a love story between
Lili and her wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), who remain together
even after Lili transitions. Though Gerda sees herself as losing
her beloved husband, she stands by Lili’s side. Even as their
relationship becomes platonic, Lili’s and Gerda’s deep love for
each other remains fully intact.
Redmayne gives an extraordinary performance both as Lili,
and as Einar, the male persona she leaves behind. In other
films where transwomen are played by cisgender men, the
trans character often looks like a drag queen. Not so in “The
Danish Girl.” Redmayne’s power as an actor allows a woman
to emerge on screen He completely alters his onscreen body
language as he transitions from Einar to Lili.
The story’s setting, 1920s Copenhagen Denmark, is lovingly
recreated in his heartbreaking and heartwarming history
lesson. Lili’s tale serves as an education to us all, whether trans
or not: find the courage and strength to be yourself.
Queen Latifah stars in this beautifully produced biopic of legendary blues singer
Bessie Smith. Smith (1894-1937) was an African American woman who walked to the
beat of her own drum at a time when most “colored folks” knew their place. Smith lived
her life to the fullest and partied hard. She loved men and women alike, and the film
doesn’t shy away from her bisexuality.
Sumptuously produced, “Bessie” recreates Smith’s era – including the blatantly
harsh racism which was still socially acceptable during those days. The film features
a number of riveting musical numbers with Latifah belting them out as she struts her
stuff across the stage. “Bessie” is grand entertainment – it’s a fitting tribute to a woman
who kicked open a few doors as part of the generation which preceded the civil rights
Amazingly, filmmaker Sean Baker shot his film with an iPhone. Thanks to
current technology, “Tangerine” has a somewhat polished look, while also capturing
the harsh realities of transgender street life. Real life transwomen Mya Taylor and
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez star as Alexandra and Sin-Dee, best friends and prostitutes on
the streets of Hollywood.
“Tangerine” is a no-holds bared look at a dangerous lifestyle that many transwomen
of color are forced to endure due to a society which often still refuses to accept them.
This is strong stuff – the film illustrates in no uncertain terms how unsavory and
violent Alexandra and Sin-Dee’s world can be. But “Tangerine” is also funny and
sweet--the girls are loud and foul mouthed – and they genuinely love each other.
“Tangerine” is an important film that might open people’s hearts and minds as
how many in the trans community have been forced to live, even as they hope and
yearn for something better.
“Boulevard” is not a great film – the script needed some
work. But “Boulevard” marks the final performance of the
late, great Robin Williams (1951-2014), who was given one last
hurrah as Nolan - a sixty year old man in a somewhat friendly
but loveless marriage to Joy (Kathy Baker). Nolan and Joy create
the illusion of themselves as a happily married couple, even as
they hide the truth from their friends and from themselves:
they sleep in separate rooms and have not made love in
After Nolan meets Leo (Roberto Aguire), he’s able to
face the truth about himself. Leo is a troubled hustler, and
Nolan tries to mentor him. It’s a lost cause, but their strange
friendship enables Nolan to accept his own long suppressed
The flawed script doesn’t allow viewers to learn who Leo and
Joy really are, but William’s performance is so powerful that
“Boulevard” becomes a rewarding viewing experience. At the
time the film was shot the actor was struggling with his own
inner demons. Williams allows the audience to peak inside
Nolan’s soul and to see the character’s torment – we might just
be seeing a bit of Williams’ own torment as the story unfolds.
It’s an extraordinary performance from a great actor. A most
fitting final bow.
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