A Big Win for Gay Hollywood after Jamie Lee Curtis Oscar Nomination
Jamie Lee Curtis was up for practically every precursor award, but her name was not expected to be mentioned. Allison Williams and Riz Ahmed then announced Actress in a Supporting Role, and to everyone’s joy, Ahmed named Curtis as a nominee for her work in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Jamie Lee Curtis eventually broke the Gay Diva Oscars Curse with her first – and long overdue – Oscar nomination.
The Hollywood industry has previously shunned gay-endorsed Hollywood divas
The Academy has a history of ignoring performances like Jamie Lee Curtis’s despite their significance during award season over the past few years. Hollywood divas with famous gay endorsements frequently fall short of receiving a nod. For Your Consideration campaigns be darned.
Toni Collette was not eligible to get a nomination for Hereditary in 2019. Jennifer Lopez’s Hustlers hustle didn’t succeed in 2020. Lady Gaga failed to make the Academy laugh in House of Gucci the previous year. Every year, one of the homosexual community’s beloved divas gets overlooked by the Oscars, leaving the gay community to lament.
The failure of these oversights to recognize long-supported divas for Oscar glory is only one aspect of the disappointment. Furthermore, it has to do with the underappreciation of performances that elevate campiness to a prestige level and, as a bonus, are created by women with sizable gay fan bases. By its very essence, Camp is not a severe aesthetic.
Many camp acts get their camp status by being so severe that they eventually revert to being absurd. Nonetheless, each of the performances mentioned above manages to strike the proper balance between exaggerated fantasy and sympathetic realism, making them both fantastical and grounded simultaneously.
Think about Collette’s dual roles in Hereditary as Annie Graham. When Annie struggles to come to terms with the unexpected loss of her baby, Collette effectively conveys the depths of her spiraling anguish. On the other hand, she plays a possessed lady who does absurd things like climbing on ceilings and cutting off her head when taken out of the context of the movie. Collette’s portrayal of Annie grounds the character with natural emotional resonance, which helps to keep it from overstepping into exaggeration even though the over-the-topness of her possessed behavior.
Lopez and Gaga, who play very different characters in very different movies, respectively, succeed in Hustlers and House of Gucci. Both Lopez’s portrayal of Ramona and Gaga’s portrayal of Patrizia perfectly capture the cunning and assurance of their respective characters as well as their multi-dimensionality. Notably, the costuming and hairstyles of each of these characters also set them up for the visual register of Camp. Although Ramona’s stage costumes and Patrizia’s succession of wigs push their personas to the brink of fantasy, Lopez and Gaga maintain their characters seeming genuine through their emotionality.
The Oscar nomination for Jamie Lee Curtis is a triumph for Camp
It made sense that this curse would persist after each of these performances was ignored. Enter Curtis’ portrayal of Deirdre Beaubierdre, an IRS inspector whose capacity for love has been supplanted by a meager grasp on power. Finally, Curtis is ready to enjoy Camp from an aesthetic perspective. Deirdre has an instantly recognizable character design that wonderfully captures her personality thanks to her jagged hair, mustard turtleneck, and canary vest. Curtis accurately portrays Deirdre in the first realm of the movie with a condescending tone, furrowed brows, and punctuated line delivery.
No matter how many different characters Curtis plays throughout the movie’s parallel universes, she can balance these aspects of her performance, which is what makes it so outstanding. For instance, in the world of the hot dog fingers, Curtis gives the situation the essential funny touches while evoking genuine sympathy for her character. Likewise, when a character plays the piano with her toes, it takes a brilliant performance to move listeners to tears, and Curtis masterfully transforms the absurdity of the situation into a true passion. Praise the Oscar gods that they have finally acknowledged such a polished camp performance.
The Gay Diva Oscars Curse, hopefully, has been permanently broken for good. Perhaps this is the start of a new era in which LGBT people can receive the recognition they deserve at the Oscars, such as five backdated Best Actress statuettes for Neve Campbell or an honorary trophy for M3GAN’s achievements in hunting. Instead, the Academy recognizes the work of women who flawlessly combine fantasy and reality on screen in a way that delivers fantasy to our reality, which is why Curtis’ well-deserved nomination is so significant.