ParaNorman Picks up Oscar Nod in an Awards Season Light on LGBT-Inclusive Films

In addition to a well-deserved nomination for the stirring documentary How to Survive a Plague, the only only LGBT-inclusive film to receive a substantial Oscar nomination this year was actually the animated family film, ParaNorman.

The stop-motion animated horror-comedy from Focus Features was nominated in the Animated Feature Film category alongside films like Disney’s Brave and Wreck-It Ralph, which may be the first time that an (openly) LGBT-inclusive film has ever been recognized in this category.  ParaNorman includes the major character of Mitch Downe; the school jock who is revealed at the film’s end to be gay.

Unfortunately not one of the nine Best Picture nominees is an LGBT-inclusive film this year, nor are any of those recognized in the acting, directing, or writing categories.  The expanded Best Picture field led some to speculate that The Perks of Being a Wallflower might sneak into one of the final spots, but that wasn’t the case.  What’s worse, Perks was also shut out of the Adapted Screenplay category where many had predicted it was a lock for a nomination.  Skyfall - the latest Bond film featuring Javier Bardem’s bisexual antagonist, Silva - did receive some technical nods for Cinematography and Sound, as well as Music.

In fact, it’s still relatively rare for films with significant LGBT characters and stories to be recognized by mainstream awards like the Oscars at all.  It’s been a few years since The Kids are All Right received some Oscar attention, and even longer since Brokeback Mountain emerged as an Oscar front-runner.  Much of the problem lies in the fact that mainstream film studios are still not green-lighting inclusive films, despite Kids and Brokeback (both from ParaNorman distributor Focus Features) proving they can be both awards-magnets and box office hits. 

By comparison, mainstream television programming is more diverse than ever, with inclusive shows like Modern Family consistently dominating both the ratings and awards categories.  In 2012, GLAAD’s Where We Are On TV report recorded the highest ever number of LGBT characters in the broadcast networks’ fall lineups thanks to news shows like Chicago Fire and The New Normal

This year’s crop of Oscar nominees is further proof that the mainstream film industry still has quite a ways to go before it catches up with television in more accurately reflected the diversity of its audience.  The Academy Awards will air Sunday, February 24 on ABC.