By Toby Ashraf, Austin Dale, Peter Knegt, Matthew Hammett Knott, Sophie Smith, Oliver Skinner and Erin Whitney | Indiewire December 6, 2013 at 12:43PM
This year was so strong for documentaries featuring LGBT content that they could easily fill this list on their own. And while it is indeed reductive to just throw them all into one blurb, it would be more unfortunate to not mention them at all. There were takes on LGBT culture past and present: Jeffrey Schwarz's "I Am Divine," a look at the life of John Waters' muse Divine; "Continental," Malcolm Ingram's take on the influential New York bathhouse where Bette Midler got her start; Dan Hunt's "Mr. Angel," a bio of trans male porn star Buck Angel; Travis Mathews and James Franco's semi-fictional "Interior. Leather Bar," which deconstructs queer sexuality in Hollywood through an attempt to recreate lost footage from "Cruising"; Nicholas D. Wrathall's Gore Vidal doc "The United States of Amnesia," which profiles the late, great gay icon. There were docs about human rights efforts in parts of the world where being LGBT can often mean death: Roger Ross Williams' "God Loves Uganda" and Katherine Fairfax Wright & Malika Zouhali-Worrall "Call Me Kuchu," both of which take on the horrific situation in Uganda. There were explorations of issues facing American LGBTs: Martha Cunningham's "Valentine Road," a harrowing
take on the story of openly queer eighth grader
Larry King and his ultimate murderer Brandon McInerney; PJ Raval's incredibly affecting look at gay seniors, "Before You Know It"; Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's "Bridegroom," which gives an intensely personal story that reflects the importance of same-sex marriage; Yoruba Richen's "The New Black," which details the complex relationship between the African-American civil rights and the LGBT rights movements. And then there's "What Now? Remind Me," Portuguese film industry veteran Joaquim Pinto's 164-minute portrait of his one-year experience taking experimental medication for AIDS and Hepatitis-C, an incredible feat of personal artistry that belongs in its own category. Alongside the aforementioned "Bambi," that makes 13 fantastic docs from '13, and I'm sure sure I'm missing a few. [Peter Knegt]
The Library Scene in "Kill Your Darlings"
In John Krokidas’ film, Allen Ginsberg’s infatuation with Lucien Carr does not -- spoiler alert! -- exactly have a happy ending, with even their first kiss going swiftly downhill. Indeed, perhaps its one true moment of consummation is the unlikely scene in which Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) lures librarian Gwendolyn (Erin Darke) into a tryst among the bookshelves so that Carr (Dane DeHaan) can steal the keys to some hallowed banned books. It’s a potentially ludicrous setup which Krokidas somehow turns into one of 2013’s most sexually charged screen moments. As Ginsberg struggles to maintain his enthusiasm for the act, so to speak, Carr re-emerges -- unseen by Gwendolyn -- and meets his friend’s gaze with such charged intensity that... well, let’s just call it the happy ending they never had. [Matthew Hammett Knott]
Maria Bello's "Modern Love"
It's hard to know what to adore most about the New York Times op ed in which, amongst other things, Maria Bello announced her relationship with best friend and crazy fabulous social activist Clare Munn. Was it the charming, disarming description of past relationships -- with both sexes -- as background to all that is singular about her current arrangement? Or perhaps the image of her “traditional” Philadelphian father puffing a cigar whilst offering acceptance atop an Atlantic city casino? Or her son, Jackson, proving for the umpteenth time that homophobia exists only insofar as it's taught? All good candidates, but for me this was a year high for Bello’s calm articulacy in revealing the lattice of cooperating partnerships which make up her modern family. It was a win, too, for those looking to discuss sexuality without resorting to restrictive labeling: Bello presented hers as a story which unfolds, often unexpected, always complex and not one that can be summarized in a single word. [Sophie Smith]
Ohad Noller in "Yossi"
Ohad Knoller’s performance in Yossi was a small sensation for me this year. His body bloated, his face in great despair and deep sadness, mourning the loss of Jagger, his secret boyfriend that he met and lost in the army. "Yossi" -- a sequel to a small independent gay production from Israel -- is unusual and yet the best and most mature film Eytan Fox has made to date because it leaves the big political and historical questions out and concentrates on his protagonist’s internal state of affairs instead. Yossi is much bigger than he used to be, and despite the normative body images he is subjected to he doesn’t care to optimize and shape his outside according to the visions of others. Once he tries to get away with it by going on an online date after using an old pic of himself. The reaction from his potential lover couldn’t be crueler and Yossi’s self-esteem not be further lowered. Ohad Knoller plays the older Yossi like he’s been waiting for this part his entire life -- every gesture is precise, each small movement tells a story of a life of sadness and insecurity. Until he meets Tom, played by straight TV superstar/hottie Oz Zehavi with equal fearlessness, full frontal nudity and all. For your consideration, Academy (but who am I kidding?). [Toby Ashraf]