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‘Green Book,’ Rami Malek and more of the 2019 Oscar winners

Lady Gaga, Olivia Colman round out top honors

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Rami Malek wins Best Actor for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ (Screenshot via Twitter)

The 91st annual Academy Awards became a historic night on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles as the golden statues were handed out to first-time winners for both Hollywood newcomers and overdue veterans.

Queen, fronted by singer Adam Lambert, kicked off the show with a melody of Queen songs including “We are the Champions.” The hostless show was sped forward simply by presenters and kicked off with the comedian trio of Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler.

“We are not your hosts, but we’re going to stand here a little too long so that the people who get USA Today tomorrow will think we hosted,” Fey joked to the audience.

Soon after, the first major award of the night was given to Regina King for her role in the James Baldwin film adaptation, “If Beale Street Could Talk.” This was King’s first Academy Award win.

King thanked her mother and Barry Jenkins, who also directed Oscar winner “Moonlight.”

“To be standing here representing one of the greatest artists of all time – James Baldwin. James Baldwin bursts this baby and Barry nurtured her, surrounding her with so much love and support. So it’s appropriate to be standing here because I am an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone. God is good, all the time,” King said.

Lady Gaga won Best Original Song for “Shallow,” which she passionately performed with her “A Star is Born” co-star Bradley Cooper earlier in the show. The song beat out the popular song “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA from “Black Panther” and “The Place Where Lost Things Go” by Emily Blunt from “Mary Poppins Returns,” which was performed by Bette Midler at the ceremony.

Backstage, Lady Gaga was asked what she would say to her fans headed to the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia.

“I’ll tell you something, I hope that everyone there in Sydney feels so much joy and celebrates all sexual identities. And I also have a dream in our future as we evolve as humanity that these award shows not be male and female but include everyone,” Gaga replied.

Rami Malek won Best Actor for his portrayal of bisexual Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Malek is the first Arab-American to win Best Actor.

“I think about what it would have been like to tell little bubba Rami that one day this might happen to him, and I think his curly-haired little mind would have been blown,” Malek told the crowd in his acceptance speech. “That kid was struggling with his identity, trying to figure himself out, and to anyone struggling and trying to discover their voice — listen, we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life unapologetically himself. And the fact I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”

“Bohemian Rhapsody” also won awards for Best Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Film Editing.

Olivia Colman won Best Actress for her role as Queen Anne in “The Favourite.” In her light-hearted speech, Colman said: “This is hilarious. I’ve got an Oscar” and ended her acceptance by blowing a kiss to Lady Gaga.

“Roma” also won big for the night with a win for Best Foreign Picture, Cinematography and a Best Director win for Alfonso Cuarón.

Overall, the night was filled with diversity as a record-number of women won awards. These women included Ruth E. Carter (Best Costume for “Black Panther”) and Hannah Beachler (Best Production Design for “Black Panther”) who became the second and third black women to win non-acting Oscars in the span of a few minutes. Beachler was also the first black woman to ever be nominated for Production Design.

Film veteran Spike Lee won his first Oscar in the history of his career for Best Adapted Screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman.”

Perhaps the most controversial win of the night went to “Green Book,” which won for Best Picture. The film has maintained plenty of controversy since its release. The film is based on the true story of black pianist Dr. Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali) who hires Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) to be his driver and bodyguard. The film has been accused of using the “white savior” trope. Shirley’s family have also denounced the film as an inaccurate portrayal of the pair’s friendship.

Mortensen also came under fire during promotion for the film when he used the N-word to describe how race relations have changed over the years.

“For instance, no one says ‘N-word’ anymore,” Mortensen said at the time. He later apologized.

Despite the controversy, the film also nabbed a Best Supporting Actor win for Ali, his second following “Moonlight,” and a win for Best Original Screenplay.

Check out the list of winners below.

Best Picture “Black Panther” “BlacKkKlansman” “Bohemian Rhapsody” “The Favourite” “Green Book” “Roma” “A Star Is Born” “Vice”

Actress in a Supporting Role Amy Adams-“Vice” Marina de Tavira-“Roma” Regina King-“If Beale Street Could Talk” Emma Stone- “The Favourite” Rachel Weisz- “The Favourite”

Actor in a Supporting Role Mahershala Ali- “Green Book” Adam Driver- “BlackKKlansman” Sam Elliott- “A Star Is Born” Richard E. Grant- “Can You Ever Forgive Me” Sam Rockwell- “Vice”

Foreign Language Film “Capernaum” “Cold War” “Never Look Away” “Roma” “Shoplifters”

Documentary (Short) “Black Sheep” “End Game” “Lifeboat” “A Night at the Garden” “Period. End of Sentence.”

Documentary Feature “Free Solo” “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” “Minding the Gap” “Of Fathers and Sons” “RBG”

Original Song “All The Stars” – “Black Panther” “I’ll Fight” – “RBG” “Shallow” – “A Star Is Born” “The Place Where Lost Things Go” – “Mary Poppins Returns” “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” – “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Animated Feature Film “Incredibles 2” “Isle of Dogs” “Mirai” “Ralph Breaks the Internet” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Adapted Screenplay “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” “BlacKkKlansman” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” “If Beale Street Could Talk” “A Star Is Born”

Original Screenplay “First Reformed” “Green Book” “Roma” “The Favourite” “Vice”

Actor in a Leading Role Christian Bale- “Vice” Bradley Cooper- “A Star Is Born” Willem Dafoe- “At Eternity’s Gate” Rami Malek-“Bohemian Rhapsody” Viggo Mortensen- “Green Book”

Actress in a Leading Role Yalitza Aparicio- “Roma” Glenn Close- “The Wife” Lady Gaga- “A Star Is Born” Olivia Colman- “The Favourite” Melissa McCarthy- “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Director Spike Lee- “BlacKkKlansman” Pawel Pawlikowski- “Cold War” Yorgos Lanthimos- “The Favourite” Alfonso Cuarón- “Roma” Adam McKay- “Vice”

Production Design “Black Panther” “The Favourite” “First Man” “Mary Poppins Returns” “Roma”

Cinematography “Cold War” “The Favourite” “Never Look Away” “Roma” “A Star Is Born”

Costume Design “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” “Black Panther” “The Favourite” “Mary Poppins Returns” “Mary Queen of Scots”

Sound Editing “A Quiet Place” “Black Panther” “Bohemian Rhapsody” “First Man” “Roma”

Sound Mixing “Black Panther” “Bohemian Rhapsody” “First Man” “Roma” “A Star Is Born”

Animated Short Film “Animal Behaviour” “Bao” “Late Afternoon” “One Small Step” “Weekends”

Live Action Short Film “Detainment” “Fauve” “Marguerite” “Mother” “Skin”

Original Score “Black Panther” “BlacKkKlansman” “If Beale Street Could Talk” “Isle of Dogs” “Mary Poppins Returns”

Visual Effects “Avengers: Infinity War” “Christopher Robin” “First Man” “Ready Player One” “Solo: A Star Wars Story”

Film Editing “BlacKkKlansman” “Bohemian Rhapsody” “Green Book” “The Favourite” “Vice”

Makeup and Hairstyling “Border” “Mary Queen of Scots” “Vice”

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Outfest

Blow your mind with today’s hottest Queer TV- 2nd annual OutFronts

Queer television is here, and it is just getting started to shine.  Buckle your rainbow belts, this unicorn is ready to fly

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WEST HOLLYWOOD – Back in the day, getting a whisp of any queer media, whether it was a short “gay” movie or a quick queer themed storyline, was hard to come by. Sure, there was OutFest started in 1982 by some UCLA students. Roseanne kissing a girl, a lesbian wedding on Friends, and Ellen’s bursting media’s mind before it crashed and burned her.

Not anymore. OutFest has made that clear with its second annual OutFronts, a four-day hybrid festival. Queer television is here, and it is just getting started to shine.  Buckle your rainbow belts, this unicorn is ready to fly.

The festival combines free-to-view virtual panel discussions with ticketed in-person events as part of the Los Angeles area’s Pride season. The festival kicks off on Friday June 3rd and extends through Monday, June 6th. It features episodic premieres, advanced screenings, and both in-person and virtual discussions with the talent from some of the most exciting LGBTQIA+ programs available on television today.    

The in-person festival events include:

  • QUEER AS FOLK presented by Peacock  This is the world premiere screening of the new Peacock series, a vibrant reimagining of the groundbreaking British series exploring a diverse group of friends in New Orleans.  The program includes a panel talkback with cast and creative team.
  • “Love, Victor” presented by HULU and DISNEY+  It is the show’s third and final season, and OutFronts is proud to show the premier episode of the season!  The program includes  “Love, Victor’s” showrunner and young cast present to discuss the impact of the show’s run, what we might expect from season 3, and bid a farewell to the groundbreaking series.  
  • QUEER FIREFIGHTERS ONSCREEN AND IRL Queer firefighters on TV sit down with their real-life counterparts to discuss being queer and saving lives. The in-person discussion will include Ronen Rubenstein (9-1-1: Lone Star), Brian Michael Smith (9-1-1: Lone Star), Traci Thoms (Station 19), others.
  • LEGENDARY   LEGENDARY is the groundbreaking competition series now in season 3 on HBO Max.   The OutFronts program includes LEGENDARY host and MC Dashaun Wesley will conduct a talk-show style look back at some of the most earth-shattering moments from the show’s history, and a candid talk about all the unfolding drama of the current season.

The virtual events include:

Topic panels  

  • Presented as virtual panels, these panels cover hot queer television topics. These include exploring social media influencers who have used their clout to cross over into the acting world – with Gigi Gorgeous, Kalen Allen, and Boman Martinez-Reid. Another panel looks at “TV’s Queer Pioneers”, with actors who were among the first to regularly appear as three-dimensional queer characters on television, including Wilson Cruz, Amber Benson, and Jane Sibbett. A panel looking to create the next icons spotlights actors who have created some of the most impactful queer characters of recent years, including Harvey Guillen (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS), Javicia Leslie (BATWOMAN), Brandon Scott Jones (GHOSTS), and Vico Ortiz (OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH).

Series panels  

  • Presented as virtual panels, these programs feature discussions of hot shows and their new season offerings:  a talk on SyFy and USA Network’s CHUCKY moderated by Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller, with CHILD’S PLAY franchise creator Don Mancini and cast members Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Fiona Dourif, Zackary Arthur, and Bjorgvin Anarson; a one-on-one career-spanning conversation with comedy legend Paula Pell upon the release of GIRLS5EVA season two on Peacock; a discussion with the cast and creators of Freeform’s MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM in advance of the series’ final season; a talk with GENTLEMAN JACK creator Sally Wainwright and actor Lydia Leonard; a focused conversation with the queer talent and characters from Showtime’s smash-hit YELLOWJACKETS; as well as panels featuring talent from HBOMax’s SORT OF and THE SEX LIVES OF COLLEGE GIRLS, VH1’s RuPaul’s DRAG RACE, Prime Video’s HARLEM and THE WILDS, The CW’s TOM SWIFT and THE 4400, and HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL – THE SERIES from Disney Plus and Disney Branded Television.

The inaugural year of OutFronts saw nearly 70,000 participants from across the globe. This year should see even more. “It’s inspiring to know that one festival couldn’t possibly cover all the wonderful LGBTQIA+ stories being told on television today,” said Outfest’s Director of Festival Programming, Mike Dougherty. “The OutFronts by no means represents an exhaustive account of all that is queer in TV, but they do gather a multitude of brilliantly talented queer artists and allies whose diversity of perspective and experience are on full display in these funny, entertaining, and emotional conversations. I can’t wait to share them with the world.”

It’s time to join the Queer Television Fandom community, whether you want your seat to be in a happening LA theater, or in your own living room, your piece of the rainbow awaits! See you at OutFronts 2022!

All panel discussions will be free of charge to view online and via Outfest’s OutMuseum platform. The OutFronts are presented by IMDb and media sponsors are The Los Angeles Blade, ABC7 Los Angeles, Clear Channel Outdoor, Edge Media, KCET/PBS SoCal, Pride Media, Queerty, Rainbow Media, Autostraddle, and Variety. RSVP and view the full calendar of The OutFronts programming at theoutfronts.com

**********************

Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more. He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine. He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] .

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Movies

Join Joel Kim Booster on ‘Fire Island’ this summer

Gay rom com features queer Asian cast

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Joel Kim Booster stars in ‘Fire Island.’ (Image courtesy of Searchlight Pictures)

It would be an understandable mistake to see Joel Kim Booster on one of the two “Out Traveler” magazine covers he’s gracing this month and assume he was just another sexy fashion model, but the 34-year-old Korean-American comedian is not having a moment in the blazing sun of queer pop culture just because of his undeniable talent for rocking a Speedo. 

He is actually in the middle of the publicity push for the upcoming film “Fire Island,” which he wrote and in which he co-stars with (among others) close friend Bowen Yang and comedy legend Margaret Cho, and which begins screening exclusively on the Hulu streaming service just in time for Pride month.

Directed by Andrew Ahn (“Spa Night”), it’s a movie that’s generating a lot of buzz, partly because it’s the first predominantly queer film to be backed by a major movie studio (Disney, through its Searchlight Pictures division). We’ve been burned too many times not to be skeptical about such a project, but anyone already familiar with Booster’s work will undoubtedly tell you it’s not likely to be another watered-down, safe-for-the-mainstream offering designed to check off boxes on the diversity agenda. Since he first made a splash with an appearance on “Conan” in 2016, he has gained a following among queer and straight audiences alike with his unapologetically gay, unabashedly sex-positive comedy, leading to what some might call a meteoric rise to the brink of superstardom through an acclaimed stand-up career, his roles on TV in shows like the short-lived sitcom “Sunnyside” (on which he was a regular), “Shrill,” and “The Week Of” (as well as his writing for shows like “Billy on the Street” and “The Other Two”), and his popular podcasts (“Urgent Care with Joel Kim Booster + Mitra Jouhari” and “The Joy Fuck Club”).

Now he’s poised to become a movie star with “Fire Island,” a gay romantic comedy set in the titular vacation retreat that dares not only to feature a cast made up entirely of queer characters, but doubles down by putting the focus on queer characters who also happen to be Asian. To top it all off, it gives Booster a chance to show off his literate side with a story – which concerns a group of gay best friends out for sexual adventure, and possibly even romance, on what might be their last trip to the iconic gay getaway – adapted from no less esteemed a literary source than Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

The Blade was fortunate enough to chat with Booster in the middle of this very high-pressure month before his feature film debut, and our conversation was informed by the kind of erudite and compassionate intelligence that has marked the young comedian’s career from the start.

BLADE: In your comedy, you’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from being raised as a Korean adoptee by white American parents in a deeply Christian midwestern community. Does that experience figure into the movie, too?

BOOSTER: Of course! As a transnational adoptee, my entire life I’ve been fighting against this nagging feeling of not quite fitting in – and that’s whether I’m around white people, or Asian people, or even some gay people. It’s tough, and it’s been such a paramount part of my life to find people who make me feel seen and accepted and to keep them close, so it felt really important for the theme of chosen family to stay in the forefront when I was making this movie. As much as it’s a “rom com,” it’s also about friendship – about relationships with people who, like I say in the movie, “fill in the gaps.”

BLADE: How did you hit on using Jane Austen as a source?

BOOSTER: It was really a lucky accident. I brought “Pride and Prejudice” with me on the first trip Bowen and I ever took to Fire Island. I would be lying there on the beach reading it and thinking, “It’s amazing how the things she was writing about are so relevant to what we’re experiencing on this island right now.” It was kinda wild, and it started out as threat, a joke – I would keep saying, ‘I can’t wait to write an all-gay adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ set on Fire Island,’ and people would boo and throw things at me. But after that I would always bring an Austen book with me to read on the island, because it felt special to me. There was just something so prescient about what she wrote, and about her observations on class, especially reading it in this place where we had sort of created our own class system, as gay men.

BLADE: When did it stop being a joke?

BOOSTER: Actually, my agent suggested that I should write it, because I was in between projects. I just had a pilot that was passed on by Comedy Central, I was depressed, I had nothing to do – so I ended up writing it as a half-hour pilot script. But nobody wanted it until Quibi [the short-form entertainment platform that launched and folded in 2020 after failing to meet projected subscription levels]. Say what you will about them, but they really invested a lot of money and time into new and young voices, and they took a lot of chances. They took a chance on me, and when they folded I had this script that I could point to which I had written and developed with them. This movie was a tough pitch to sell on just a log line, but I had this finished project, this complicated piece of work to show people, that was much more intricate than I think “Gay ‘Pride and Prejudice’” would maybe lead people to believe.

BLADE: Your movie is just one of several big queer titles on deck for 2022, including Billy Eichner’s rom com, “Bros.” How do you feel about that?

BOOSTER: Honestly, it really takes some of the pressure off. When we get, like, one gay movie a year, a lot of attention and scrutiny gets put on that movie and it’s expected to be everything to everyone in our community. And our community is huge, and it’s diverse, and there are so many stories that aren’t being told. I’m so glad Billy’s movie is coming out as well, he was my first comedy boss, and I’m really happy that people in our community are going to have two big gay rom coms to choose from.

BLADE: We haven’t seen “Bros” yet, but we’ve seen “Fire Island.” There’s a review embargo [until May 23], but I think it’s safe to say nobody is going to boo or throw things at you. Do you feel any sense of competition about it?

BOOSTER: My hope is that people love both, but it’s nice that if somebody goes to see my movie and says, ‘That’s not for me, I don’t see myself there,’ then a couple months later they’ll see Billy’s and they’ll have another shot at it. And I hope both of our movies are successful enough that they create a million clones. I hope it’s just the beginning.

“Fire Island,” which also stars Conrad Ricamora (“How to Get Away With Murder”) and a host of other familiar queer performers, premieres on Hulu on June 3. 

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Television

Check out final season of ‘Grace and Frankie’ — it ends well

Groundbreaking show highlights queer, straight elders

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Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are wrapping their groundbreaking series. (Photo by Melissa Moseley; courtesy Netflix)

They make up a fake Jewish holiday (M’Challah) to avoid seeing their friends, lie to their kids about killing their bunny, obsess over playing John Adams in a (very gay) community theater production of the musical “1776” and create vibrators that glow in the dark. Their children sell their house out from under them and make them wear panic alerts.

These people might well creep you out in real life.

But, thankfully, they’re the funny and engaging characters on “Grace and Frankie,” the series, whose seventh and final season has recently dropped on Netflix.

The  show, starring Lily Tomlin, 82, (Frankie) and Jane Fonda, 84, (Grace) as two hetero elders whose husbands (Martin Sheen, 81 as Robert and Sam Waterston, 81, as Sol) leave them to marry each other, is, deservedly, Netflix’s longest-running series.

In 2019, there were 54.1 million people in the United States over 65, according to a Administration for Community Living of the U.S. Department of Human Services report. Elders, the study says, are expected to make up 2l.6 percent of this country’s population by 2040.

There are nearly three million (2.7 million) LGBTQ people over aged 50 in the U.S. and 1.1 million queer elders 65 and older in this country, according to a 2017 Movement Advancement Project and SAGE report.

Yet aside from “Transparent,” few TV series (broadcast, cable or streaming) have featured, let alone, been centered around, older queers.

“Grace and Frankie” is the rare series that’s focused on the lives of elders (hetero and queer). Unlike some shows that showcase older people, it’s been mostly entertaining, even thought provoking, rather than dull or didactic throughout its run.

Set in San Diego, “Grace and Frankie” throughout its seasons has told the story of how Frankie and Grace have created a life of their own as Robert and Sol have entered a new chapter of their lives as a same-sex couple. 

Frankie, Grace, Robert and Sol, who are in their 70s, are affluent. Robert and Sol are successful divorce lawyers. Grace has run a flourishing cosmetics company. Frankie is a new-agey artist who teaches art to ex-convicts.

When Robert and Sol say that they’re leaving them to wed each other because same-sex marriage has become legal in California, Frankie says she’s done a fundraiser for that.

The beach house where Grace and Frankie live is breathtakingly gorgeous. Yet these characters encounter the indignities and dilemmas of aging from learning about social media to coming out in late life to memory loss to end-of-life decisions.

Grace and Frankie run up against the condescension that older women often face. Yet though these are serious concerns, “Grace and Frankie” hasn’t been a downer. 

In one episode, as I’ve written before in the Blade, Grace and Frankie, though they’re practically jumping in front of his face, can’t get a store’s sales clerk to notice them. Because he’s paying so much attention to a young woman. Frankie gives up and steals a pack of cigarettes. If “you can’t see me,” Frankie says, “you can’t stop me.”

In season two, their friend Babe (Estelle Parsons), who is terminally ill, tells Frankie and Grace that she wants them to help her end her life. Though it’s difficult emotionally for them, the women give their friend Babe a good-bye party that’s joyous without being maudlin.

Robert and Sol deal with Robert being in the early stages of dementia. This narrative is touching, but not sappy. Though you should have a tissue in hand for Robert and Sol’s elevator moment in the show’s finale.

Like many old people, the characters have their ups and downs in relating to their adult children. These off-spring from Brianna (June Diane Raphael), a 21st century Cruella de Vil, to Bud (Baron Vaughn), the often wrong-headed “good son,” would try any elder’s soul. 

The main pleasure of “Grace and Frankie” is watching Tomlin and Fonda. The two forces of nature, friends since their “9 to 5″ days, make you laugh and cry with the BFFs Grace and Frankie.

TV series, like everything, have to end. Check out “Grace and Frankie.” It ends well.

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