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Straights Who Play Gay and Die Painful Death Win the Oscar

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood November 15, 2011 at 2:23PM

In Gays: Dying for an Oscar, Gold Derby spells out the rules for winning an Oscar in a gay role: "Gay roles can win Oscars but only if the characters, who must die hideous deaths, are portrayed by straight people." Among the Oscar-winners included in their round up: Charlize Theron ("Monster," death by lethal injection), Best Actress, 2003; Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia," death by AIDS), Best Actor, 1993; Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry," death by gun, knife), Best Actress, 1999; and Sean Penn ("Milk," death by gun), Best Actor, 2008. Colin Firth was of course nominated for "A Single Man" but lost (was death by heart attack not painful enough?). Here's the rest.
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Theron in "Monster"; Penn in "Milk"; Swank in "Boys Don't Cry"; Plummer in "Beginners"; Hanks in "Philadelphia"; DiCaprio in "J. Edgar"
Theron in "Monster"; Penn in "Milk"; Swank in "Boys Don't Cry"; Plummer in "Beginners"; Hanks in "Philadelphia"; DiCaprio in "J. Edgar"

In Gays: Dying for an Oscar, Gold Derby spells out the rules for winning an Oscar in a gay role: "Gay roles can win Oscars but only if the characters, who must die hideous deaths, are portrayed by straight people." Among the Oscar-winners included in their round up: Charlize Theron ("Monster," death by lethal injection), Best Actress, 2003; Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia," death by AIDS), Best Actor, 1993; Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry," death by gun, knife), Best Actress, 1999; and Sean Penn ("Milk," death by gun), Best Actor, 2008. Colin Firth was of course nominated for "A Single Man" but lost (was death by heart attack not painful enough?). Here's the rest.

This gives Leonardo DiCaprio a leg up in the best actor race for "J. Edgar." SPOILER ALERT: And now we know why we're calling "Beginners" star Christopher Plummer, 81, who both comes out and dies of cancer, as the frontrunner for the supporting actor Oscar.

This article is related to: Awards, Oscars, Headliners, Genres, Media


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.