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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

2SLGBTQI+ Content That Everyone Should See Before Awards Season

We thought it might be fun to detail some of the queer content already released or soon to be released that will be part of the conversation…

By Matthew Creith

The holiday season and 2023 came to a close before we knew it – wow, who saw that coming? Hollywood writers have secured a deal with the major studios to go back to work, but as of this writing, many actors are still striking for what they consider to be a fair deal. International film festivals and high-profile movie and television premieres have continued to see a lack of promotion from actors. Some studios delayed blockbuster projects in 2023 and audiences have begun noticing that Dune: Part TwoChallengersKraven the Hunter and The Bikeriders will no longer be part of the 2023 awards season contention.

However, some movies and television shows have premiered during the 2023 calendar year that have proven to be critically and commercially successful, almost guaranteeing some time in the sun at the Oscars or Golden Globes. A few smaller production and distribution companies are confident in their LGBTQ+ content and were expected to release some projects before the end of the year. Some of these have had world premieres at festivals, while others will debut on streaming platforms very soon if they haven’t already. Here’s a roundup of what to watch, to help you hold your own when discussion turns to what’s hot and not on the screen.

Rustin

Rustin had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before its official streaming debut on Netflix in 2023. The biographical film highlights Bayard Rustin, a gay civil rights activist who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., to organize the famed March on Washington in 1963. Directed by out helmer George C. Wolfe and co-written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, the film explores Rustin’s life and influence on the American political system. Colman Domingo stars as the titular character in a commanding performance that will undoubtedly be noticed by awards enthusiasts, and might reward the talented gay actor with an Academy Award for his performance.

Rustin is streaming on Netflix as of November 17, 2023.

All of Us Strangers

Writer and director Andrew Haigh has never shied away from developing characters that highlight his perspective on the gay experience. The British filmmaker is primarily known to North American audiences for his successful series Looking, which starred Jonathan Groff and Murray Bartlett as gay San Franciscans trying to survive love, loss and life in the big city. Now, the talented Haigh has adapted the 1987 novel Strangers into All of Us Strangers, an Oscar-contending film starring out actor Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Claire Foy and Jamie Bell.

Set in an empty residential tower in London, the film follows Adam (Scott) and Harry (Mescal) as they embark on a romantic entanglement while Adam wrestles with the loss of his parents. The film is a romantic fantasy where Adam fantasizes about going back in time to confront his parents with his coming-out journey and relive the pain of his past. Searchlight Pictures is currently campaigning for Andrew Scott in the Lead Actor category, while the rest of the cast has been relegated to supporting roles. That strategy might prove successful come award season.

All of Us Strangers was released theatrically in North America on December 22, 2023.

Maestro

After a successful feature film directorial debut with 2018’s A Star is Born, multihyphenate talent Bradley Cooper’s sophomore effort Maestro might be the most anticipated film of 2023. Leaning on the biographical elements of composer Leonard Bernstein’s life and romantic interests, the film is directed, co-written by and stars Cooper in Bernstein’s role. Maestro deals heavily with Leonard Bernstein’s life as a composer and conductor while focusing on his closeted life as a queer man during a time when such a thing would be unacceptable for a person of his stature. The film is a testament to the power of love and lust, with an ensemble that includes the ever-charming Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman and Jeremy Strong. With heavy-hitting producers Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese in Maestro’s corner, Carey Mulligan’s performance as Bernstein’s long-suffering wife, Felicia Montealegre, is gaining steam in the awards conversation as of late.

Maestro is available to stream on Netflix as of December 20, 2023.

Nyad

Actor Annette Bening has always surprised audiences with bold choices in performances that have netted the veteran four Academy Award nominations during her lengthy career. Her latest turn in the Netflix biographical drama Nyadmight just be the ticket to winning gold come awards season this time around. Portraying the real-life long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, Bening crafts a perfectly courageous sports figure who doesn’t understand the word “quit” as she attempts to swim the 100-mile open water journey from Cuba to Florida.

The influence of Nyad doesn’t stay within the treacherous waters of Diana’s swim, but rather the power of female friendship between the swimmer and her supportive coach (Jodie Foster). Along the way, sexual identity is explored, and Diana’s role in defining her own story at age 60 helps propel the movie in an inspiring direction.

Nyad was available to stream on Netflix as of November 3, 2023.

Strange Way of Life

2023 will be remembered as the year famous feature film filmmakers dabbled in the short film space. After all, director Wes Anderson unveiled four short films this year alone on Netflix. Taking himself into the same genre, Pedro Almodóvar has ushered in a new direction for his stunning filmography with the introduction of Strange Way of Life, starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. While the film stars two straight actors playing lovers in a Western motif, the 31-minute project is at the top of the list of those competing for the coveted Live Action Short Academy Award nomination this year.

Having premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2023 before Almodóvar took the film to the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, Strange Way of Life was released theatrically to the general public. In some markets, the movie is still available in theatres but was released to streaming audiences in late 2023.

Kokomo City

The documentary category during awards season is one of the most sought-after by filmmakers looking to own the moment. This year, some documentaries have chosen to focus on the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and one to watch is Canadian production Summer Qamp, which centres on queer kids at a summer camp in Alberta. Another is Kokomo City, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last January and instantly became a frontrunner for an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

Kokomo City explores the lives and encounters of four Black trans women as they operate as New York City and Georgia sex workers. Directed by D. Smith and produced by queer performer Lena Waithe, the movie had a theatrical release in July 2023 and is currently available to rent on Prime Video. It’s powerful, honest, and earned positive reviews from critics upon its release.

Fellow Travelers

Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, Fellow Travelers is a sexy and powerful lesson in gay romance taking place through several decades of American history. The limited series stars out actors Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey as two men who meet in Washington, D.C., quickly become lovers and experience life from the anti-communist era of the 1950s to the AIDS epidemic times of the 1980s. While the series was not released in time to make the cut for the 2023 Emmy Awards this year, it surely will be recognized by the Golden Globes in the television categories. Fellow Travelers is unapologetically raunchy and authentic in its approach to sex between two men. It seeks to portray the closeted dynamics between the rich and powerful in the form of corrupt politicians who think they are bulletproof.

Fellow Travelers released on October 27, 2023, and continued its seven-episode run through December 10, 2023.


MATTHEW CREITH is a freelance journalist based in Austin, Texas. He is a member of GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and participates in the association’s Dorian Awards. You may also know him for his work on Matinee With Matt, Screen Rant and Giant Freakin Robot. You can find him on Twitter: @matthew_creith, or Instagram: matineewithmatt.

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