It's Oprah's world. We just live in it. It wasn't the plan to feature two of Oprah Winfrey's recent pet causes (lesbian documentarian Kimberly Reed and gay Precious director Lee Daniels) in one post, but that's the way it shook out. You may recall that I first raved about the superb GLBT documentary PRODIGAL SONS way back in April 2009 right here at Towleroad while reporting from the Nashville Film Festival. Oprah discovered it much later but I'm assuming her decision to devote a whole episode to the movie, finally gave it the shove it needed to land in theatrical waters.
Prodigal Sons is at first glance, and only first glance, yet another in a long line of familiar and weirdly interchangeable personal documentaries about coming out ... whether that be in regards to gender identity, sexual orientation or both. It begins like a typical memoir with an introspective trip to a high school reunion for lesbian filmmaker Kimberly (née Paul the Quarterback) in Montana. Kimberly would also like to see her estranged adopted brother while she's in town but she's brought her girlfriend with her and she's a little nervous about how that might go. The movie quickly expands to become something far greater than the norm, encompassing religious differences (some of the family is Mormon), movie history (Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth figure in, believe it or not), mental health, family bonds and nature vs. nurture arguments. The movie has so many satisfying twists and turns, and they're captured and edited with such thoughtful precision, that it puts all recent Hollywood thrillers to shame. Best of all, these plot turns play completely authentic because they are. Truth is stranger than fiction. In the hands of a gifted and fearlessly honest filmmaker like Kimberly Reed, truth can also be greater than fiction.
Prodigal Sons opens tomorrow in limited release with additional cities to be added throughout March. If you don't expect that it'll hit your city, "save" it on Netflix. It's unmissable.
Oscar night arrives in less than two weeks and many of the nominees are still on the campaign trail. Like Lee Daniels (pictured below with his Precious pop star cast members Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz). It's not only about winning but about getting your movie seen and bolstering your career.
An excerpt from an exclusive interview with Best Director Nominee Lee Daniels,
AFTER THE JUMP...
I caught up with Daniels by phone to ask him a few questions about his Oscar campaign experience. He was a little loopy from constant travel but funny and friendly until it came to the work and the media circus that follows it on the road to Oscar.
Nathaniel: With all the buzz
about Kathryn Bigelow being the first possible female director winner and
yourself being only the second black director nominated and an out gay
man — do you feel like that's a lot of pressure on you, that you're categorized in that way. Is that coming up at all?
I mean, yeah. Kathryn puts it best so I'm going to steal her line. You
know, I wasn't born a filmmaker. It was something I really fought hard
to be. I was born gay and I was born black. That's just something I am.
I should be categorized as something I really fought hard to be — not
that I'm embarrassed about either of the two, far from. I wear it like
a badge, my color and my sexuality — but I think the media makes a big
deal about it as they do about the competition between us all.
Click here if you'd like to read the whole interview. It's not about the "badges" so much as about his acclaimed film, the brief expected backlash and his magical rapport with his actresses. But sorry, diva lovers: Mariah Carey goes unmentioned.
- Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker.
Critics and (some) audiences finally caught up to this gifted action director.
- James Cameron, Avatar.
He advanced motion picture technology and made the #1 movie ever… again.
- Lee Daniels, Precious.
He captured two of the year's most impressive performances with his second film.
- Jason Reitman, Up in the Air.
Speaking of high altitudes… this is his 2nd nomination. He's only made 3 films.
- Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds.
One of the few directors that's film star famous. But he earns the rep.
Oscar's pre-season hoopla has made Kathryn Bigelow the spotlit member of this diverse group. The gorgeous Amazonian fifty-eight year old was once married to competitor James Cameron (Avatar). But try as the media might, there's just no juicy drama to be had there. Their divorce was amicable and they've even worked together in the intervening years.
If you've been following awards season you'll notice that Bigelow is always surrounded by gorgeous younger men. Maybe she learned this trick once she got Keanu Reeves in that snug wetsuit in Point Break? Her Hurt Locker actors Jeremy Renner (pictured left with Kathryn in Venice), Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty seem über fond of her. The Oscar nominated screenwriter of the movie Mark Boal is definitely never far from her side. We must redub her brilliant movie The Sexy Locker. In all likelihood Bigelow will soon add another hot man to her collection. On March 7th she'll probably be going home with that world famous 13½" golden guy.
Be very jealous!
Which nominee gets your vote?
Surely you've given some thought to the men (and women) behind the curtain of this year's Best Picture nominees.