I wrote up the the two best gay films, the lesbian dramedy The Kids Are All Right (which sold to Focus Features) and the Peruvian closeted romance Contracorriente "Undertow" (which sold to Wolfe) for Towleroad, so click on over and read my reviews.
But for those of you who are hopeless Oscar addicts (I feel and share your pain), I'm certain you've already begun thinking about Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right. I'd advise more caution with its awards prospects than you're hearing 'round the net.
This is already a case study in how buzz becomes immediate deafening hype through the speed of online regurgitation and hyperbole. The movie is definitely a charmer but one of its best and most curious attributes is the laid back and breezy way it approaches complicated people and tense situations.
Laid back and breezy, as you may know, aren't Oscar's favorite moods. And they're also fragile feelings, the type that excessive expectations can smother. I hope that Focus releases it in the summer actually, a la Little Miss Sunshine, rather than building a year of crushingly heavy expectations onto a small and frisky film.
<--- God visiting Park City to promote Kids
It'd be politically satisfying if Oscar went for a funny lesbian family film but they're generally more conservative than that. The initial reaction to The Kids Are All Right at Sundance was compared in several articles to the Little Miss Sunshine premiere a few years ago. That's not a bad comparison point when it comes to the performances, which have definite dramatic detailing but are also comedic. No one towers above anyone else so any golden attention will have to develop organically, with no obvious slam dunk "roles", the kind that win instant awards traction. We'll see how it shakes out.
Annette Bening's performance felt unusually authentic to me. What's more you already know that darkly comic family dinner sequences are a Bening specialty. Mark Ruffalo has the most difficult role in the film I think. There are so many ways this performance could have gone wrong and he makes splendid highly specific choices about his character. It's his best work since You Can Count on Me. Julianne Moore, on the other hand, has the Oscar advantage of having the film's big climactic monologue and the most screen time. But that's a minor point since this is truly an ensemble film, all five characters getting plenty of the movie's attention.
Unless Julianne or Annette have other roles released this year that interfere with this film's eventual campaign, I assume that they'll demote Moore to supporting and push Bening as lead. It's the same "top/bottom" situation I accurately predicted for Brokeback Mountain's Oscar campaigns (before anyone knew what that movie was like) only with women so we're speaking figuratively: Bening is the bread winning head of the household and Moore, her younger flightier wife, is more of a big sister type of mom.
I hope you all see and enjoy it but I really hope this warm funny experience isn't spoiled by expectations of golden statuettes.
once again, my review.