2022 was a robust year of queer film content all year long, with big studio releases and smaller independent work. Although conversation centered largely around one particular film, it was a rich and varied season.
Nicholas Stoller’s “Bros” dominated talk before it was released and after. The romantic comedy stars Billy Eichner, the first openly gay man to co-write and star in his own major studio film, and features an entire LGBTQ principal cast, including the amazing Luke Mcfarlane. “Bros” underperformed at the box office and every LGBTQ person on the planet seemingly offered a take on why. Some felt it was bad timing for a rom-com; some opined that the marketing didn’t promote the comedic side of the film enough and overbilled its importance and others felt that Eichner himself was a deterrent, both as a sourpuss romantic lead and a spokesman for the film, knocking what he referred to as disposable LGBTQ content on streaming services before the release and later knocking straight people who didn’t see the film.
Here’s my critical take, though. “Bros” didn’t break ground, but at times it was genuinely funny and a perfectly enjoyable romantic comedy. Kudos to Universal Pictures for having the nerve to open a gay-themed film in theaters literally across the country.
Cate Blanchett stars as Lydia Tár, the groundbreaking conductor of a major German Orchestra, in Todd Field’s “TÁR.” Lydia is a lesbian, and the film revolves around her relationships with other women. Long and leisurely at two and a half hours, it nonetheless features another superb performance from Blanchett, iconic in the LGBTQ community for her work in “Carol” and so many other defining roles. She’s a definite Best Actress Oscar® contender.
Ironically, Blanchett’s biggest competition for the award may come from Michelle Yeoh in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” The surprise hit of the year features Yeoh as a Chinese-American woman who runs a laundromat. In addition to an audit, she is having all sorts of family problems, including her daughter’s efforts for her to accept her girlfriend. The frenzied “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is one of my favorite films of the year.
Directed by Elegance Bratton in his feature film debut, “The Inspection” is based on Bratton’s own story about a young Black gay man (portrayed by Jeremy Pope) and his decision to join the Marines. There he meets Rosales (Raul Castillo), with whom he shares certain similarities. Some of the film’s sharpest scenes are between a never-better Pope and his unaccepting mother, played memorably by Gabrielle Union.
Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge star in the holiday release, “Spoiler Alert,” based on Michael Ausiello’s memoir about his relationship with Kit Cowan and Kit’s diagnosis with terminal cancer. I could have done without the cutesy elements of the film, where Ausiello imagines his life as a sitcom, and the central relationship moves from meet-cute to married-13-years-and-at-each-other’s throats way too quickly. Yet “Spoiler Alert” has some genuinely affecting moments, and Sally Field and Bill Irwin lend lots of dignity as Michael’s parents.
Another film based on a book was “My Policeman,” about the romantic entanglements of three young people — played Harry Styles, Emma Corrin and David Dawson — in 1950s London and the same trio — Linus Roache, Gina McKee and Rupert Everett — in the ’90s. “My Policeman” is a little tepid and Oscar bait-y, but it does have nice performances and a beautiful final few moments.
Wait — there was even more this year! Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun” features a teenage girl and her girlfriend, while the wonderful “Bodies Bodies Bodies” was a queer horror film with lesbian characters. Andrew Ahn’s utterly engaging “Fire Island” landed on Hulu this summer (instead of getting a theatrical release) and made a lot of fans, while the year ended with the terrific “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” featuring the queer character of Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) and a dazzling ensemble, led by Atlanta’s own Janelle Monáe in a role that could land her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar® nomination.
Other noteworthy LGBTQ films included “Nelly & Nadine,”“Mars One,” the superb horror film “Sissy,”“They/Them,”“Three Months,”“My Fake Boyfriend,”“The Swimmer,”“Girl Picture,”“Wildhood,” “Anything’s Possible,”“Peter von Kant,” and “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” my favorite documentary of 2022. Many more 2022 festival faves will appear next year.
Three noteworthy LGBTQ-themed films are appearing at the close of the season. Brendan Fraser makes a high-profile comeback, of sorts, in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” (December 16 in Atlanta) as an English teacher dealing with severe obesity. He has lost touch with his family after coming out and starting a relationship with another man.
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” directed by Kasi Lemmons, charts the life of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest singers of all time. Due in theaters December 23, it stars Naomi Ackie as Houston, and many wonder if the rumored relationship between the singer and Robyn Crawford will feature prominently in the film. Finally, there’s Lukas Dhont’s highly acclaimed “Close,” about the friendship of two 13-year-old boys. It opens in theaters early next year (sadly, with so many end-of-the-year contenders out, I was not able to see these three films before my deadline).
All in all, 2022 was a very strong year for cinema, one that had an impressive share of LGBTQ stories.