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NYT List of 21st Century's 'Greatest Actors' Omits Out LGBTQ+ People

Melissa McCarthy and Mahershala Ali and Gael Garcia Bernal in LGBTQ roles

The New York Times has released a list of the "The 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century (So Far)." And sadly, this selection does not include any out LGBTQ+ people.

Times film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott curated the list, which does, however, include many actors who portrayed LGBTQ+ characters in their careers. Many were praised for these performances in the write-up, including Gael García Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También, Bad Education), Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Julianne Moore (The Hours), Saoirse Ronan (Ammonite), and Nicole Kidman (The Hours). 

The list, in its makeup, is not lacking in racial and international diversity. While diversity was not stipulated as a consideration by the film critics, it is present in these regards.

European actors include Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Tilda Swinton, and Toni Servillo. Asian actors include Kim Min-hee, Zhao Tao, and Song Kang Ho. Black actors include Rob Morgan, Alfre Woodard, Michael B. Jordan, Viola Davis, and Denzel Washington. On the list, there is an Indigenous actor, Wes Studi. Oscar Isaac is Latinx. Keanu Reeves, a Canadian actor, is of Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Irish, and Portuguese descent.

Cognizant that their list might cause controversy and be "possibly scandalous in its omissions," Scott and Dargis provided a disclaimer in their introduction.

"There’s no formula for choosing the best (just squabbling), and this list is both necessarily subjective and possibly scandalous in its omissions," they wrote. "Some of these performers are new to the scene; others have been around for decades."

"In making our choices, we have focused on this century and looked beyond Hollywood," they continued. "And while there are certainly stars in the mix and even a smattering of Oscar winners, there are also character actors and chameleons, action heroes and art-house darlings. They’re 25 reasons we still love movies, maybe more than ever."

Historically, out actors were less likely to be cast in starring roles, even gay ones, as this list of 61 straight people who received Oscar nominations for LGBTQ+ roles attests. Critical acclaim and media attention are integral parts to elevating the careers of out actors, who continue to be eclipsed by their straight (or closeted) counterparts, perpetuating a cycle of discrimination in the entertainment industry.

The list comes after a year of groundbreaking performances from out actors, including Portrait of a Lady on Fire's Adèle Haenel, Antebellum's Janelle Monáe, and Happiest Season's Kristen Stewart.

While the list focuses on film résumés, there have been a number of game-changing roles in television this year as well, such as Ratched's Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon, Westworld's Evan Rachel Wood and Tessa Thompson, Hollywood's Jeremy Pope, Joe Mantello, and Jim Parsons, Euphoria's Hunter Schafer and Barbie Ferreira, and Pose's Indya Moore, Mj Rodriguez, and Billy Porter.

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