Members of the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA), comprised of nearly 150 entertainment journalists nationwide, gathered Sunday in Los Angeles to celebrate their 2015 Dorian Award winners across film and TV. GALECA’s top titles and performances of the year were announced January 19, but the group eschews the award show format for an afternoon party where select winners enjoy champagne and some lighthearted questions before the crowd at its annual Winners Toast.
This year, Oscar nominee Phyllis Nagy, presented her Dorian Award for Screenplay of the Year for Carol, was asked by GALECA Board Member Trish Bendix (AfterEllen) about adapting novelist Patricia Highsmith’s classic lesbian romance for the screen. “Retaining the novel’s sense of mystery” was key, said Nagy. The writer also noted that the film, an international success, seemed to ruffle feathers in some circles. “Hollywood still isn’t used to seeing strong lesbian characters. Carol is a woman who knows what she wants,” Nagy said of the determined divorcee (Cate Blanchett) who intrigues younger Therese (Rooney Mara) in 1950s New York.
GALECA obviously responded to the film, however — Bendix and the organization’s president, John Griffiths (Us Weekly), had to jump in to help Nagy pose with Carol’s five awards in all. The movie, hailed by GALECA as a work “of precise beauty and huge emotional impact,” also had won Film of the Year, LGBTQ Film of the Year, Director of the Year – Todd Haynes and Film Performance of the Year – Actress for Blanchett.
Alexandra Billings, the groundbreaking transgender actress who costars on Amazon’s Transparent, accepted that show’s awards for TV Comedy of the Year, LGBTQ TV Show of the Year and TV Performance of the Year – Actor (Jeffrey Tambor). Billings, asked about her place as the first transgender performer to play a transgender character in a TV production, had fun roasting that turn in 2005’s Romy and Michelle: In the Beginning. The comedy prequel was “awful!” Billings had higher praise for her current gig, in which she plays Davina, a warm transgender woman who helps show Tambor’s character Maura transition. Transparent is “funny because it’s real and true. And [creator] Jill Soloway is a nut!”
Accepting on behalf of Jane Fonda for the Grace and Frankie’s star’s Timeless Award — GALECA’s career achievement honor previously given to the likes of Sir Ian McKellen — her sitcom costar Baron Vaughn raved about the legendary actress’s “approachable” charms and professionalism. On the Netflix hit, about the unlikely friendship between fastidious Grace (Fonda) and aging hippy Frankie (Lily Tomlin) and their suddenly out husbands, Vaughn plays Tomlin’s adopted son Bud. “When I’m in scenes with Jane and Lily, I’m thinking I’m basically the new Dolly Parton,” quipped Vaughn, referencing a certain Fonda/Tomlin/Parton comedy classic.
Other swells attending GALECA’s Hasty Pudding-esque Toast, held at Wilde Wine Bar and Restaurant in Los Angeles, were actor Jason Stuart (Unsung Film of the Year winner Tangerine and the upcoming The Birth of a Nation), rising star Corey Craig (Pee Wee’s Big Holiday) and reality star/actor Massimo Dobrovic (Euros of Hollywood). The afternoon was capped by Natalie Denise Sperl of the L.A. rock band Kill My Coquette, who sang a tribute to the late David Bowie.