The nominations for the 94th Academy Awards are finally here! The film and entertainment industry has returned after another year of combating global challenges. The Oscars stand as a night of celebration for the many actors, writers, and directors of the previous season. This particular year stands out for its increased amount of LGBTQ+ representation. Two nominees in particular, Kristen Stewart and Ariana DeBose, are among a handful of openly LGBTQ+ performers nominated.
Stewart, a bisexual actress, is nominated for her role as Princess Diana in Spencer for the Best Lead Actress category. She is widely recognized for her role as main character Bella Swan in the Twilight Saga. Since her Twilight days, she has starred in multiple films such as Charlie’s Angels and Snow White and the Huntsman. This is Stewart’s first Oscar nomination and the only for the film in a major category. Before this announcement, the Golden Globes were the only other major award body to recognize Spencer.
Meanwhile DeBose, who is queer, is vying for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story adaptation. Like Stewart, this is her first Oscar nomination. She is best known for her work on stage in musicals including Hamilton, A Bronx Tale, and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Rita Moreno previously won this award for the same role in the 1961 adaptation. West Side Story is nominated in 6 other categories including Best Director, Best Cinematography, and the coveted Best Picture.
These aren’t the only actors and films regarded for their LGBTQ+ representations. Andrew Garfield received a nomination for Best Actor for his role as straight ally and genius behind Rent Jonathan Larson in Tick, Tick… Boom! The queer-inclusive The Power of the Dog leads the pack with 12 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch, and Best Supporting Actress for Kirsten Dunst. Nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best International Feature Film, Flee tells the story of a gay Afghan refugee. Fellow Best Animated Feature nominee The Mitchells vs. The Machines features a queer daughter character. The allegedly queer-coded film Luca is also up for the Best Animated Feature title.
Off to a good start
With the growing need for diversity in the film industry, it’s refreshing to see that LGBTQ+ representation is being recognized and praised more. Actor Ian McKellen is often credited as the first gay actor to be nominated after receiving nods over 20 years ago for his roles in Lord of the Rings and Gods and Monsters. Jaye Davidson, who is also gay, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor following his role in The Crying Game in 1992. Although we will have to wait for the results, the nominations alone are leaps and bounds ahead of where the industry was years ago. These actresses stand as examples and inspirations for future generations. There is still, however, much more work that could be done to make Hollywood a more inclusive place.
The 94th Academy Awards will premiere on March 27 on local ABC stations.