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14 amazing gay directors who are slaying Hollywood

14 amazing gay directors who are slaying Hollywood

Tom Ford has branched out from fashion to direct A Single Man and Nocturnal Animals

With the Oscars fast approaching (and Moonlight hotly-tipped to win big) we’ve been thinking a lot about queer film lately.

And while we often give our favorite LGBTI characters/actors a lot of love, we think it’s high time their directorial counterparts got some recognition, too.

Here, we count down 12 of our favorites, who’ve won a haul of Oscars between them…

1 Xavier Dolan

Best known for: Laurence Anyways, Tom at the Farm

A Hollywood wunderkind, handsome Xavier has achieved an astonishing amount in his 27 years. His trans epic, Laurence, Anyways, tells the beautiful story of an evolving heterosexual relationship, when one half decides to transition their gender. Meanwhile Tom At the Farm is a queer horror-thriller about a bereaved gay guy hunted after visiting the family of his late boyfriend.

Also check out Mommy, I Killed My Mother and last year’s It’s Only the End of the World, starring Marion Cotillard. However, one of Xavier’s greatest career moments so far was landing the video for Adele’s 2014 comeback single Hello. (Plus he’s a Louis Vuitton model. Husband material, obviously.)


2 Jodie Foster

Best known for: Money Maker, Orange Is the New Black

So, you’ll know Jodie first and foremost for her stellar acting work (spanning five decades). She won the Best Actress Oscar in 1989 and 1992, for The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs, respectively. You’ll also know her for coming out in style at the Golden Globes in 2013, where she won the honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award.

However, the star has worked up quite a few directing credits, too, from 1991’s Little Man Tate (which she also starred in) to last year’s Money Monster (starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney). She’s even found time to direct two eps of Netflix’s OITNB and one of House of Cards in recent years. Go Jodie!

Photo by @DLanceBlack

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3 Gus Van Sant

Best known for: Milk, Good Will Hunting

His first big movie was 1989’s Drugstore Cowboy starring Matt Dillon. Since then, Gus Van Sant has been nominated for the Best Director Oscar twice: in 1998 for Good Will Hunting, and in 2009 for Milk. The latter is, of course, a biopic of the late Harvey Milk, the first openly gay American to be elected to public office.

The film’s star Sean Penn won Best Actor, and, in case you didn’t know (we’re looking at you Sam Smith), screenwriter Dustin Lance Black won Best Original Screenplay. Other great Van Sant films include Elephant – winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003 – and the vastly underrated Psycho remake from 1998.


4 Pedro Almodovar

Best known for: Volver, Julieta

A weekend spent binge-watching this Spanish director’s extensive, vibrant back catalogue is a gay rite of passage. Almodóvar burst onto the scene with Oscar-nominated melodrama Woman On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in 1988. He’s since explored themes of sexuality, gender and the trans experience in films like I’m So Excited and Bad Education. One of his most accessible films is 2007’s lovely family drama Volver, starring Penelope Cruz.

He won the 2000 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for All About My Mother, and the 2003 Best Original Screenplay Oscar for 2003’s Talk To Her. He scored some of the best reviews of his career for last year’s Julieta (read our review here). More Oscar nominations are inevitable.

#thankful 🙏🏿

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5 Lee Daniels

Best known for: Precious, The Butler

He’s recently experienced success in the world of TV (he helped create Empire and Star), but Lee Daniels is also an incredible maker of movies. We still haven’t recovered from the trauma of 2009’s Precious, which stars Gabourey Sidibe as a young woman coming of age in impoverished Brooklyn, and Oscar-winner Mo’Nique as her abusive mother. The film was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.

While 2012’s Paperboy features Zac Efron in various states of undress, it earned a lukewarm response compared to Precious. But Daniels knocked it out the park the following year with The Butler, which, astonishingly, didn’t pick up any Oscar nominations.


6 Andrew Haigh

Best known for: Weekend, Looking

If you haven’t seen 2011’s Weekend yet, where on earth have you been? The almost unbearably intimate love story of two gay Brits over the course of a weekend is the benchmark of a modern gay classic. Andrew went on to direct several episodes of HBO’s excellent gay drama Looking, starring Jonathan Groff. It was dropped after two series, but not before a feature-length send-off, screened last year.

But we mustn’t overlook 45 Years, 2015’s restrained drama about a married couple whose loving marriage is called into question when the husband’s old girlfriend is found perfectly preserved in ice, after falling to her death many years before. Charlotte Rampling was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for her starring role.

7 Dustin Lance Black

Best known for: When We Rise, Virginia

Back to Dustin. As we mentioned, his greatest success has been as screenwriter of Milk. His most notable directing credit to date is 2010’s Virginia, starring Jennifer Connelly, which attracted poor reviews.

However, he returns to the director’s chair as director (and writer) of this year’s queer miniseries When We Rise. He has directed two of its seven parts. The first premiers on 27 February on ABC.


8 John Waters

Best known for: Hairspray, Pink Flamingos

Another director with a fascinating back catalogue we’d recommend binge-watching in rapid succession. Just remember the sick bucket. His slew of gross-out 70s comedies starring frequent collaborator Divine – Pink Flamingos, for example – push the boundaries of good taste to the extreme, even 50 years later. (We recently saw a remastered version of Multiple Maniacs ahead of its rerelease, and are still having nightmarish visions of Lobstora).

The eccentric Waters is also famous for the 80s cult classic Hairspray. It went on to inspire the musical of the same name, and a 2007 remake. The original stars Debbie Harry, a young Ricki Lake and Divine.

Tom Ford at the 74th Annual #GoldenGlobes. #TOMFORD

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9 Tom Ford

Best known for: A Single Man, Nocturnal Animals

He’s the international style icon and fashion designer who’s helmed his own label since 2006. But the working dad also juggles a career as a director of impeccably-handsome films on the side.

Colin Firth was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in 2009 as the titular A Single Man in Ford’s close examination of a heartbroken lecturer. Ford’s latest directorial offering is last year’s thriller Nocturnal Animals starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, which is likely to score at least a few Oscar nods next month. It tells the story of a divorced couple whose lives have gone in very different directions, and a violent, subtext-heavy manuscript Jake’s character dedicates, and sends, to Amy’s. This film is amazing.


10 Todd Haynes

Best known for: Carol, Far From Heaven

Todd – pictured above with Carol stars Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett – sadly did not take home any statues at the 2015 Academy Awards for his nuanced lesbian romance, despite six nominations.

He similarly went home empty-handed in 2003, when perky drama Far From Heaven, featuring Julianne Moore as a 50s housewife who discovers her husband is gay, failed to win any of its four nominations. No matter – both are incredible films, as are 1998’s Velvet Goldmine and 2007’s I’m Not There. (Cate Blanchett was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the latter, while the former was nominated for Best Costume Design).


11 Kimberly Peirce

Best known for: Boys Don’t Cry, Carrie

Kimberly helped Hilary Swank win the first of two Best Actress Oscars with her searing trans drama Boys Don’t Cry, from 1998. Chloe Sevigny was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress. A doomed tale of love set in rural Nebraska, for me, it’s a sort of companion piece to 2004’s Brokeback Mountain.

While Peirce hasn’t reached the dizzying heights of Academy recognition since the 90s, she’s turned in two pretty great films. Stop-Loss from 2008, about Iraq War soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, and 2013’s amazingly trashy remake of Carrie, starring Chloë Grace Moretz.


12 Tate Taylor

Best known for: The Help, The Girl On the Train

He scored a huge hit with last year’s The Girl On the Train, starring Emily Blunt, even if it did earn mixed reviews at best. But Tate’s little-seen 2010 movie Winter’s Bone is about five times better. It scored Jennifer Lawrence – playing a resourceful teenager holding together her family in the grip of poverty, drug addiction and death – her first Oscar nomination.

Critical and commercial success came in abundance the following year with The Help, which looked at aspiring journalist Emma Stone’s connection with two black maids in 1960s Mississippi. Plus, 2014’s James Brown biopic Get On Up got excellent reviews.


13 Rob Marshall

Best know for: Chicago, Into the Woods

Marshall’s filmography dazzles – he directed 2009’s Nine, 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and 2014’s Into the Woods.

His biggest successes were 2005’s Memoirs of a Geisha, which received six Oscar nominations and won three, and Chicago, which received 13, and won six, including Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actress for Catherine Zeta Jones.

#BeOurGuest and see an all-new look at Beauty and the Beast tonight during the #GoldenGlobes 🌹

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14 Bill Condon

Best known for: Dreamgirls, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and 2

A Hollywood stalwart, Bill’s best moment came in 2007, when his screen version of Dreamgirls won two Oscars; one for Best Sound Mixing and one for Best Supporting Actress (the inimitable Jennifer Hudson). Plus, there was 2004’s Kinsey (based on the man who invented the Kinsey Scale).

We’ll gloss over his Twilight efforts, and instead look to what will surely be Condon’s biggest film to date, if not one of the biggest films of all time: the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, out later this year. The film stars Emma Watson, Sir Ian McKellen and Luke Evans.