Nowhere near as queer as 2002, a year in which the best movies included The Hours, Far From Heaven, Kissing Jessica Stein, Frida, The Cockettes and Chicago, the films of 2003 did have their share of people like us represented on-screen. Could you imagine Finding Nemo without Ellen DeGeneres providing the voice (and certain facial expressions) for Dory, a role she was undoubtedly born to play? What about the scene in X2, gay director Bryan Singer's X-Men sequel, in which a young man comes out to his parents as being a mutant? Did you see Will & Grace's Sean Hayes play the Jack Russell-terrier-toting, sexually ambiguous Wayne in Pieces Of April? What of the sexual tension, and innocent kiss, between the mother and daughter's best friend in Thirteen? And Sir Ian McKellen starred in two (X2 and Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King) of my top 10 choices for best movies of 2003, to boot.
1. Lost In Translation: In which Bill Murray gave the best performance of the year and the best performance of his career.
2. Finding Nemo: Nemo is Pixar's crowning achievement.
3. Dirty Pretty Things: Directed by Stephen Frears, who directed the gay film My Beautiful Laundrette nearly 20 years ago.
4 X2: An exhilarating experience that should be seen regardless of whether or not you saw the first one.
5. Pieces Of April: As an overly critical, dying mother, Patricia Clarkson once again demonstrates that she is a national treasure.
6. Thirteen: Holly Hunter in the comeback performance of the year.
7. The Magdalene Sisters: Listen to the Joni Mitchell song 'The Magdalene Laundries,' then see this movie.
8. Kill Bill, Volume 1: This hyper-violent live-action cartoon has me wringing my hands in anticipation of the next installment.
9. 21 Grams: Without Clint Eastwood's heavy-handed Mystic River direction, Sean Penn gives his weightiest performance in years. Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro are also amazing.
10. Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King: The ring is toast.
12. House of Sand and Fog
13. Cold Mountain
14. Something's Gotta Give
15. American Splendor
16. Shattered Glass
17. Capturing The Friedmans
18. The Cooler
19. L'Auberge Espagnole
20. Swimming Pool
21. Mystic River
Limited runs and special events:
@ Gerber/Hart Library, 1127 W. Granville, (773) 381-8030: Queersploitation—monthly film series viewing and examining the treatment of homosexuality in some exploitation films of the 70s and 80s. Vampyr Lesbos—Jan.. 8; Thundercrack—Feb. 12; Satan's Children—March 11; Nightmare on ElmStreet 2—Apr. 8
@ Navy Pier IMAX Theatre, (312) 595-5MAX (5629): Santa vs. the Snowman 3D— LGBT moms, dads, aunts, uncles and others looking for a holiday movie experience that can be enjoyed by viewers young and old, need look no further than the clever and colorful Santa Vs. The Snowman. Santa (voiced by Jonathan Winters) tells the story of the Christmas that almost wasn't which involves a lonely snowman, a stolen flute, and a newfound friendship. The 3D effects are spectacular, particularly in the scenes in the elves workshop and also in the Star Wars-like battle scenes (really!). This collaboration between writer/director John Davis and the multi-talented Steve Oedekerk has the potential to become a holiday classic for all sorts of families. (B) - Dec. 31 – Jan. 4; Young Black Stallion—Dec. 31-March 18; Galapagos 3D—Jan. 16-May 20; NASCAR: The IMAX Experience 3D (March 13 through summer )
Luster: Following Jackson (Justin Herwick), a gay, blue-haired poet, skateboarding, indie record store clerk and 'zine publisher through a weekend that begins with him waking up in a pile of 'post-drugged-sex' orgy bodies, Luster isn't exactly polished, but it does shine on occasion. Sam (Shane Powers), the store owner and Jackson's best friend, is secretly in love with Jackson. So is Derek (Sean Thibodeaux), a customer. Meanwhile, Jackson lusts after his hunky sexually ambiguous cousin Jed (B. Wyatt) who is visiting from Iowa and the unattainable Billy (Jonah Blechman), whose closeted rock star boyfriend Sonny (Willie Garson) likes it rough. Chris Freeman, of Pansy Division, plays a lascivious author in L.A. for a book signing, and Susanna Melvoin and Pamela Gidley, add some female energy as a lesbian couple. The DVD edition includes commentary by the filmmakers and the director documentary Everett On Film. (C+)
Pop (IndieDVD) – Shortly before he became fabulous and famous for playing Emmett on Queer As Folk, Peter Paige teamed up with Elisa (Morgan from Sabrina The Teenage Witch) Donovan to play a 21sr century Nick (Paige) and Nora (Donovan) in this zany pop-culture-reference packed comedy set in Portland. It seems that friend and co-worker from the Oppenheimer Lab, Hugo (Michael Fetters), has absconded with the 'Fat Boy Numeral,' a code that is valuable to some shady bad guys. Pretty soon Nick, Nora, Hugo and Hugo's Martian girlfriend Five are all being surveyed and pursued by fumbling Feds and a cute pair of goons. As indie features go, this one is pretty small scale, but Paige's presence adds an air of panache and parody that makes Pop go pop. (C)
Sundance Channel (check local listings): Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss – Jan. 1, 10, 13, 19, 23; Gods and Monsters - Jan. 1, 7, 20, 31; Princesa - Jan. 2, 14, 17, 29; By Hook or by Crook – Jan. 3, 7, 13, 22, 30; Get Real - Jan. 4, 9, 14, 24, 29; È Minha Cara/That's My Face - Jan. 5, 11, 19, 23, 26, 29; Lan Yu - Jan. 5, 13, 16, 22; Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End - Jan. 5, 18, 27; The Adventures of Sebastian Cole – Jan. 6, 16, 18, 22, 28; Priest - Jan. 6, 19, 28; The Cockettes – Jan. 9, 19, 29; Silverlake Life: The View from Here - Jan. 13, 26; 'Anatomy of a Scene: Die Mommie Die! ' – Jan. 19 8:30 pm; Trembling Before G-d - Jan. 19, 27.