Scroll To Top

10 Oscar-Nominated LGBT Roles We Love

10 Oscar-Nominated LGBT Roles We Love


Thirty-seven actors have been nominated for playing LGBT characters. These 10 are close to our hearts.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a Best Actor nominee this year for his fine turn as Alan Turing, the brilliant gay cryptologist who broke the Nazis' Enigma code, helped the Allies to win World War II, and invented what we now call the computer, in The Imitation Game.
He joins a long line of actors who've been Oscar-nominated for playing LGBT characters, including Peter Finch, who was the first to be nominated, for his role as a gay doctor in the 1971 film Sunday Bloody Sunday, and William Hurt, who was the first to win, for his performance as an incarcerated gay man in 1985's Kiss of the Spider Woman.
In the 44 years since Finch's milestone nomination, 37 actors have been nominated for LGBT roles and 11 of them have won. Nevertheless, the following 10 performances stand out as being especially dear to our hearts.
Crying-gamex633_010. Jaye Davidson in The Crying Game (1992)
In his film debut, the androgynous actor played the enigmatic lover of a murdered British soldier, and the character was drawn into a web of intrigue and romance. This twisty thriller became a sleeper hit -- and the "reveal" of his true identity is one of the great surprise moments in all of film.
Silkwood-cherx633_09. Cher in Silkwood (1983)
Nobody knew Cher could act when Mike Nichols cast her as the lesbian roommate of Meryl Streep's Karen Silkwood in this true story of a plutonium plant whistle-blower. Cher's low-key performance triggered a string of leading roles, including her Oscar-winning turn in 1987's Moonstruck.
Gods_n_monstersx633_08. Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters (1998)
Before the brilliant Brit became a household name as Magneto and Gandalf, McKellen starred as James Whale, the gay film director behind Frankenstein, whose last days (in this fictional telling) were consumed by an obsession with his hunky gardener (Brendan Fraser).

Transamerica-felicity-huffmanx633_07. Felicity Huffman in Transamerica (2005)
Huffman turned in a delicately sensitive and humorous performance as a transgender woman on an unexpected road trip with the son she unknowingly fathered many years ago.
Notes_on_a_scandal_judi_dench_x633_06. Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal (2006)
The incomparable Dame Judi went deliciously dark as a lesbian teacher whose obsession with her married colleague (Cate Blanchett) leads to disastrous results for both. It's a fine meditation on the dark side of jealousy and desire.
Robert-preston-in-victor-victoriax633_05. Robert Preston in Victor/Victoria (1982)
The Music Man himself earned his only Oscar nomination as a flamboyantly gay nightclub entertainer in 1930s Paris who transforms Julie Andrews's starving songstress into a drag queen superstar. Preston is warm and witty in one of the best queer comedies of all time.

Jared-leto-dallas-buyers-clubx633_04. Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Leto completely disappears into the role of Rayon, a transgender woman with HIV, who joins forces with Matthew McConaughey's homophobic con man to get lifesaving drugs to those who need them during the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
Annette-bening-in-the-kids-are-all-rightx633_03. Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Bening gives a beautifully layered and lived-in performance as the lesbian mother of two children, who must contend with the appearance of their sperm donor father (Mark Ruffalo) and the infidelity of her free-spirited wife (Julianne Moore).
Heath-ledger-and-jake-gyllenhaal-in-brokeback-mountainx633_01./ 2. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The two actors gave the most powerful performances of their respective careers as two cowboys who try to deny their lifelong love for each other. Ang Lee earned a Best Director Oscar for this masterpiece that forever changed the image of gay characters in film. The fact that Brokeback lost Best Picture to Crash is considered by many to be one of the most glaring injustices in Oscar history.
And the Oscar went to...
The actors who won the Oscar for portraying gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual (or bi-curious) characters are: William Hurt for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), Tom Hanks for Philadelphia (1993), Hilary Swank for Boys Don't Cry (1999), Nicole Kidman for The Hours (2002), Charlize Theron for Monster (2003), Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote (2005), Sean Penn for Milk (2008), Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010), Christopher Plummer for Beginners (2010), and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club (2013).
Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Adam Sandel