After celebrating my 10th anniversary last year, writing hundreds of in-depth reviews over the years as film critic for Windy City Times, 2015 seems like a good time to introduce a different type of movie coverage. This new version of my column takes into account our speed-of-light lives in which culturally we often prefer to browse; to window-shop through an assortment of information at our own leisure.
So … welcome to the new edition of Knight at the Movies. Check here biweekly to find highlights for your movie calendar, lists of film recommendations, trivia, predictions, moviemaker interviews and, yes, even a review here and there. In short, it's a film buffet with a variety of selections to peruseall with an emphasis ( of course ) on LGBT film fare. This is a work in progress so expect to see tweaks in the weeks and months ahead ( and please feel free to send along your coverage suggestions to me via Editor@WindyCityMediaGroup.com or Andrew@WindyCityMediaGroup.com ).
A trio of Oscar predictions
These three are likely bets and we'll know soon enough if they make the cut. ( The nominations will be announced Jan. 15 very early in the morning. )
Best Picture: The Imitation GameChicago native Graham Moore's adaptation ( another probable nomination ) and Morten Tyldum's direction of the story of British mathematical genius and historical gay figure Alan Turing, whose success at breaking the Nazi enigma code, turned the tide during WWII, was the year's classiest prestige picture.
Liked it? Check out Claire Bevan's Codebreaker which has an even greater focus on Turing's gay life ( available on DVD ).
Best Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation GameThe brainy hunk riveted audiences with his performance as Turing, whose queer sexuality had tragic consequences.
Loved him? Check out Cumberbatch in Sherlock, the BBC's modern-day TV adaptation of the famed detective series ( seasons one through three available on DVD ).
Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Still AliceWith multiple nominations in her past ( including 2003's Far From Heaven from queer writer/director Todd Haynes ), Moore may finally find herself in the winner's circle playing a linguistics professor challenged by early onset Alzheimer's. Richard Glatzer co-wrote and co-directed with his life partner, Wash Westmoreland.
Loved her? Don't miss Moore's performance in Haynes' 1995 Safe, in which the actress plays a housewife who develops a toxic allergy to the environment ( recently released on Blu-ray in a definitive Criterion Collection edition ).
My Favorite Dark Horse Contender: Love Is Strange, my top LGBTQ movie of 2014, might ( it's a big might but one can always hope ) pick up nods for Best Actor for John Lithgow as one half of the Manhattan-based gay couple struggling with financial difficulties after their marriage as as Best Original Screenplay for Ira Sachs ( who also directed ) and Mauricio Zacharias.
More Ira Sachs: This out writer-director has made several memorable queer-themed movies, including 2012's Keep the Lights On, which details the struggle of addiction between an urban gay couple.
Anne Hathaway's advice to this year's Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris: "Do everything I didn't, and you'll be fine." ( source: New York Times )
All about Oscar
Here are three movies featuring the all-important little gold statuette.
1. The Oscar ( 1966 ): It's a dreadful campfest about a really nasty actor ( Stephen Boyd ) and his noxious quest for Oscar gold. Jill St. John, Eleanor Parker and Tony Bennett ( in a non-singing role ) co-star.
2. A Star is Born ( 1954 ): Judy Garland as Vicky Lester wins Best Actress but James Mason as her drunken husband steals the spotlight ( and accidentally slaps her face ) during her acceptance speech. Can you say "awkward?"
3. In & Out ( 1997 ): Matt Dillon plays an egomaniacal actor who outs his high school drama teacher ( Kevin Kline ) during his Oscar speech and then travels to his small town in Ohio to help quell the ensuing brouhaha. Joan Cusack won a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her hilarious performance as Kline's fiancée in this beloved comedy.
Upcoming movie calendar
Highlights from films opening in Chicago, Jan. 16 and 23 ( or available online or OnDemand ):
American Sniper ( 1/16 ): Bradley Cooper ( who played gay in American Wet Hot Summer ) plays the lead in Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the best-selling autobiography of the decorated war veteran.
Paddington ( 1/16 ): Yes, it's a movie about a cute, cuddly bearno, not Jon Hammbut the stuffed variety, a hallmark of British children's literature. Out actor Ben Whishaw voices Paddington and Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville co-stars.
Two Days, One Night ( 1/16 at the Music Box ): French actress Marion Cotillard, who won Oscar gold as the bisexual chanteuse Edif Piaf in 2007's La Vie en Rose, is another possible nominee for this performance as a woman about to lose her job after taking time off to combat depression.
The Boy Next Door ( 1/23 )Jennifer Lopez returns to movie theatres in this thriller about a divorced high school teacher who quickly comes to regret her one-night stand with her hunky next-door neighbor ( Ryan Guzman ).
Strange Magic ( 1/23 ): An animated musical fantasy comedy for kids inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream features Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristen Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Sam Palladio and Alfred Molina among its cast of gay and gay-friendly voices.
The Loft ( 1/23 ): Five married men ( including out screenwriter-actor Wentworth Miller, James Marsden and Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet ) share the title co-op, where each brings his mistress for afternoon delightuntil a murdered woman is found there.
Match ( opening 1/23 at the Gene Siskel ): Patrick Stewart ( who performed the wedding ceremony for close friend Sir Ian McKellen and his partner ) stars as a sexually ambiguous ballet choreographer who gets involved in a very interesting triangle between husband Matthew Lillard and wife Carla Gugino in director Stephen Belber's adaptation of his 2004 play.
Interested in reading some of my in-depth reviews? The Best of Knight at the Movies: 2004-2014a compilation book of more than 150 of my film reviews from a queer perspective for Windy City Times is available through www.knightatthemovies.com .