When it comes to TV shows, queer women don’t have it so great with representation as the few characters we do see are typically young, white and femme. When it comes to film, the picture is even worse as one the rare occasion that we see queer female characters in films, they almost always end up cheating on their female partners with men, or they barely get one line to say.
But as luck would have it, there will be plenty of lesbian representation to choose from in the run up to ‘Oscar’ season, where films are released with the best possible chance at being nominated (and eventually winning) an Academy Award. Several films are garnering Oscar buzz, including Carol, Freeheld and Grandma.
Carol, which stars Cate Blanchett in the title role, is based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, The Price of Salt.
Set in 1952, Carol, who’s 46 and married, meets and falls for a shop clerk named Therese (played by Rooney Mara) who is 30 years old. That plot alone would be interesting to watch – the two women have a class difference as well as that age gap – and it seems that critics have really taken to it.
Not only did Carol win the Queer Palm awards at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year (which is awarded to the best LGBTQ+ movie at the event), but reviews of the movie have also been incredible positive. One review suggested that Blanchett and Mara carry the film with ‘glamorous allure’ while another said that the film is a ‘masterpiece’ from director Todd Haynes. It’s also said that to be a strong Oscar contender.
And then there’s Freeheld which stars Julianne Moore and Ellen Page (in another May/December relationship), a drama based on a real story. In real life, a police officer named Laurel Hester was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and wished for her pension benefits to be passed on to her domestic partner Stacie Andree. Not only is this film a real tearjerker (albeit a hopeful one) but the cast is made up of many actors who have won or have been nominated for Oscars – something which could positively influence Oscar voters into supporting the film.
Grandma, meanwhile, stars Lily Tomlin (who is gay in real life) as a 75-year old lesbian grandmother who breaks up with her 40-year old girlfriend and goes on an adventure with her granddaughter as they try and raise $600 before sundown.
Stellar performances are presented throughout this movie but according to critics, Tomlin really shines, which is why some are quite certain that she’ll get an Oscar nomination too.
Unfortunately we won’t know which films are nominated until sometime in January, but the fact that these three movies are in the running at all is brilliant.
As mentioned, queer female representation in Hollywood is abysmal – especially when it comes to older women (and older women in relationships with younger women too) – and so it’s incredibly uplifting to see that some some filmmakers are bucking a trend. Roll on 2016.