With media attention focused on Bruce Jenner and his revealing interview regarding being Transgender it’s notable how ahead of the curve Hollywood, or at least the Independent Film community, has been on portraying thoughtful, fully formed Transgender characters. Dating back to the early 90’s Hollywood independents have mined the Transgender community for true life and dramatic fiction stories on the struggles, triumphs and tragedies of transgender characters. In honor of Bruce Jenner and his bold, brave, coming out, here’s a look at Hollywood’s best Transgender movies.
“Boys Don’t Cry” In 1999 Hillary Swank earned her first of two well deserved Academy Awards for Best Actress with her tragic portrayal of Brandon Teena in “Boys Don’t Cry.” Teena was a transgender teenager in Kansas who’s life was tragically cut short after it was revealed that Brandon was a girl. The film sensitively portrays Brandon’s struggle to be true to who he is while hiding from those who refused to understand. The fact that Brandon Teena’s story is real only adds to the film’s extraordinary power.
“The Crying Game” Though often derided for using Jaye Davidson’s Dil as a twisty surprise for Stephen Rea’s conflicted IRA member, “The Ctying Game” gave Davidson, a real life Transgender actor, an exceptionally rich role. Davidson earned an Academy Award for the performance which never shies away from depicted its highly conflicted romance.
“Transamerica” Felicity Huffman is yet another performer who earned an Academy Award nomination for exploring the complexities of being Transgender in the sensitive and smart “Transamerica.” While the film may be best remembered for Huffman’s eye catching nude scene, it is the films tenderness and sense of humor that led the film to triumphs at the Independent Spirit Awards, the Cannes Film Festival and Huffman’s Academy Award nomination.
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” The power of Rock N’Roll and true love power this unique and wildly funny character study. John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig is a force of nature who cannot be defined by gender but only by the transformative power of rock.
“Paris is Burning” One of the finest, most human and joyous documentaries of the past 30 years, “Paris is Burning” takes audiences behind the scenes of the biggest drag shows in New York City while introducing a host of gay, straight and transgender characters whose calling can’t be defined by gender but only by the desperate need to entertain people.