Home Movie Awards Gay Cowboy Fans Everywhere: Brokeback Mountain Is Near-Absolute Favorite

Gay Cowboy Fans Everywhere: Brokeback Mountain Is Near-Absolute Favorite

Gay cowboy fans mad about Heath Ledger + Brokeback Mountain
Gay cowboy fans shower movie awards on same-sex love story Brokeback Mountain, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Ang Lee’s (mostly) 1960s-set romantic Western Brokeback Mountain was the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Best Film of the year, while Heath Ledger, in the role of a laconic Wyoming-ite enjoying/suffering through a big gay cowboy romance with fellow buckaroo Jake Gyllenhaal, was the runner-up in the Best Actor category. The L.A. critics weren’t alone. In fact, gay cowboy fans could be found all over the U.S., as the majority of film critics groups also selected Brokeback Mountain as the year’s top release.

Plenty of gay cowboy fans among U.S. film critics groups: Star-crossed same-sex romance Brokeback Mountain is awards season favorite

Ang Lee’s (mostly) 1960s Wyoming-set, same-sex love story Brokeback Mountain has shown that there are lots of gay cowboy fans among the members of the multifarious U.S.-based film critics groups.

Brokeback Mountain was not only the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle’s Best Film but also the top choice of a total of 11 out of the 18 awards-giving groups listed further below. These are located throughout the so-called “American Heartland” and assorted Body-Partlands of the continental United States, including those in Boston, San Francisco, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Florida, Las Vegas, Utah, Iowa, and St. Louis. (March 2006 update: SAG Awards & Oscar shocker.)

Adapted by longtime collaborators Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (the TV series Streets of Laredo and Dead Man’s Walk) from Annie Proulx’s 1997 short story, the unusual Western/romantic melodrama mix also earned Taiwanese-born Ang Lee Best Director honors from gay cowboy aficionados in 12 groups, including those in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and the National Board of Review. McMurtry and Ossana’s screenplay was singled out by six groups (Dallas-Ft. Worth, Phoenix, Florida, Southeastern, Central Ohio, St. Louis).

Supporting actor Jake Gyllenhaal?

In the acting categories, five groups, including New York, selected Heath Ledger as their Best Actor, while his fellow leading man and romantic interest, Jake Gyllenhaal, was – however unfairly – the Best Supporting Actor winner in Phoenix and at the National Board of Review.

In addition, Gyllenhaal received a special mention for his 2005 Body of Work – Brokeback Mountain, Jarhead, and Proof – from the San Diego Film Critics.

Lastly, Michelle Williams – as one of the film’s cuckolded wives – was the Best Supporting Actress in Phoenix.

Lovestruck gay cowboys capture early 21st-century zeitgeist

As the fight for – and against – marriage equality continues in the U.S. and in a number of other countries*, Brokeback Mountain, also the Golden Lion winner at this year’s Venice Film Festival, seems to have captured the current zeitgeist vis-à-vis same-sex relationships and anti-gay bigotry.

Also in the Brokeback Mountain cast: Anne Hathaway as Michelle Williams’ fellow cuckolded wife, plus veteran Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Randy Quaid (The Last Detail, 1973), Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris, and Kate Mara.

* Last year, Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage. This year, Spain and Canada followed suit – trailing The Netherlands (2001) and Belgium (2003). Meanwhile, in the last year or so, 13 U.S. states officially banned gay marriage, including Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Check out: Brokeback Mountain censorship in the Muslim world & Spirit Awards win + another gay movie tops Canadian Academy Awards.

The gay ’60s

From gay cowboy fans to gay writer fans: Another modestly budgeted production revolving around a troubled 1960s gay character – Bennett Miller’s narrative feature debut Capote – has been U.S. movie critics’ other favorite this awards season, topping the following categories:

  • Film: National Society of Film Critics (NSFC) – where you apparently won’t find many gay cowboy fans, as the only Brokeback Mountain talent on their list of winners and runners-up was Best Actor third-place finalist Heath Ledger.
  • First Film: New York.
  • Director: San Diego.
  • Screenplay/Adapted Screenplay: Written by actor-turned-screenwriter Dan Futterman (The Birdcage, Urbania) Capote topped Washington D.C., San Diego, Boston, and Los Angeles (tied with writer-director Noah Baumbach’s 1980s Brooklyn-set divorce comedy-drama The Squid and the Whale).
  • Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman was the choice of 12 groups, including Los Angeles, Boston, and the NSFC. In Capote, Hoffman portrays flamboyant gay author Truman Capote as he becomes increasingly attached to a convicted murderer while doing research for his classic nonfiction book In Cold Blood.
  • Supporting Actress: as Truman Capote friend and To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee, Catherine Keener won in Los Angeles, Boston, and Dallas-Ft. Worth. (In the first two cities, other Keener performances were also listed. See further below.)

Kung fu fans

From gay writer fans to kung fu fans: Stephen Chow’s 2004 Hong Kong/Chinese action comedy Kung Fu Hustle was the top Best Foreign Language Film choice of six movie critics groups. Earlier this year, Kung Fu Hustle was the big winner at the Hong Kong Film Awards.

The Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Southeastern film critics opted instead for something vastly different (and darker): Michael Haneke’s French-Austrian, Paris-set sociopolitical/psychological drama Hidden / Caché, an unsettling glimpse into the mindset of the post-colonialist French/European bourgeoisie.

Starring Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche, and featuring veteran Annie Girardot (Rocco and His Brothers, The Piano Teacher), Hidden had previously collected four European Film Awards, including Best Film and Best Director.

In New York, the Best Foreign Language Film winner was Wong Kar-Wai’s dreamily 2004 romantic drama 2046, which also topped the Best Cinematography category (Christopher Doyle, Lai Yiu-Fai, and Kwan Pun Leung). In the all-star cast: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Faye Wong, Takuya Kimura, Dong Jie, and Chang Chen.

The NSFC’s pick was last year’s European Film Award winner Head-On / Gegen die Wand, Fatih Akin’s culture clash drama about a Turkish-German woman (Sibel Kekilli) who gets married (to Birol Ünel) so as to escape her stiflingly reactionary Muslim family.

Gay Cowboy fans love Brokeback Mountain + Jake Gyllenhaal Heath Ledger: Capturing zeitgeist
Brokeback Mountain with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Gay cowboy fans’ cinematic dream come true, Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain is mostly set in the wide mountainous spaces of 1960s Wyoming (though actually shot in Alberta), where a deeply closeted gay cowboy (Heath Ledger) – fearlessly macho on the outside, fear-consumed on the inside – divides his time and his self between his wife (Michelle Williams) and his fellow lovestruck gay cowpoke (Jake Gyllenhaal), who himself is married to a go-gettin’ Texan cowgirl (Anne Hathaway – who has been all but ignored this awards season).

Vera Farmiga & William Hurt among major surprises

From kung fu fans to major awards season surprises: Perhaps the biggest surprise among the various U.S. film critics groups’ dozens of winners was Vera Farmiga, Los Angeles’ Best Actress for her performance as a working-class mom and hardcore drug addict in Debra Granik’s little-seen, ultra-low-budget drama Down to the Bone.

Elsewhere, this particular field has been dominated by Felicity Huffman as a pre-op transgender woman who discovers her parental instincts in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica, and Reese Witherspoon as country singer June Carter in James Mangold’s Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.

Another surprise was the resurgence of veteran William Hurt (Best Actor Oscar winner for Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985) – Los Angeles and New York’s Best Supporting Actor – for his awards season comeback as Viggo Mortensen’s humorously psychopathic brother in David Cronenberg’s sociopolitical family drama A History of Violence. Both Cronenberg and the film itself were L.A. runners-up in their respective categories.

The veteran Cronenberg (Scanners, The Fly) was the NSFC’s Best Director, but A History of Violence lost Best Film by one single vote. On the plus side, the movie’s scarfaced villain, Ed Harris, was named Best Supporting Actor. (William Hurt wasn’t even among the top three; Harris’ runners-up were – in a tie – Frank Langella for Good Night and Good Luck. and Mathieu Amalric for Munich.)

Gong Li & Kevin Costner

A couple more surprises: The National Board of Review’s Best Supporting Actress, Gong Li, who brings to life – while struggling with the English-language dialogue – an embittered geisha in Rob Marshall’s lush Memoirs of a Geisha.

Lastly, veteran Kevin Costner (Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves), gone from the awards season radar for quite some time, was San Francisco’s Best Supporting Actor for his work in Mike Binder’s The Upside of Anger, which earned Joan Allen Best Actress mentions in San Diego and Iowa.

Richard Widmark & ‘Unseen Cinema’ honors

Well worth noting, the Los Angeles Film Critics will be handing out their the Career Achievement Award to veteran Richard Widmark, a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee for his star-making turn as a psychopathic murderer in Henry Hathaway’s 1947 film noir Kiss of Death, and the male lead/co-lead in numerous crime dramas, thrillers, and Westerns from the late 1940s to the late 1960s – e.g., Road House, No Way Out, Pickup on South Street, Two Rode Together.

And finally, both Los Angeles and the NSFC singled out the DVD collection “Unseen Cinema,” which includes efforts by Lois Weber (Suspense), Charles Vidor (The Bridge), and Fernand Léger (Ballet mécanique). David Shepard, Bruce Posner, and the Anthology Film Archive worked on the compilation.

Bigger fare mostly bypassed

Bear in mind that kung fu and/or gay cowboy fans or no, just about every U.S. film critics group had one thing in common: a preference for lower-budget, independently (or quasi-independently) made fare.

Aside from the technical categories, noticeably absent from most U.S. film critics’ list of winners and runners-up were Peter Jackson’s King Kong (San Diego was the glaring exception), Steven Spielberg’s Munich (the Best Film in Washington D.C.), Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, Rob Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha, and Terrence Malick’s The New World.

Among the “smaller” movies mostly missing in action were Hany Abu-Assad’s political critique/terrorism drama Paradise Now and Woody Allen’s An American Tragedy-inspired Match Point.

Brokeback Mountain awards: winners include director Ang Lee, star-crossed gay cowboy lovers Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, supporting actress Michelle Williams, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Dallas, Florida, Phoenix), composer Gustavo Santaolalla (Las Vegas), and the film itself. In fact, Brokeback Mountain has turned American film critics into major gay cowboy fans, as the romantic Western seems to have captured – a portion of – the early 21st-century zeitgeist in the U.S. (and in Venice, where Brokeback Mountain won the Golden Lion).

Brokeback Mountain awards

Below is a partial list of winners from the following movie critics groups: Los Angeles, New York, NSFC, Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington D.C., Dallas-Ft. Worth, New York Online, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Florida, Utah, Southeastern, Iowa, Central Ohio, and St. Louis, plus the National Board of Review.

Los Angeles

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: Hidden.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Vera Farmiga, Down to the Bone.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener, Capote, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and The Interpreter.

Supporting Actor: William Hurt, A History of Violence.

Screenplay (tie): Dan Futterman, Capote & Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale.

Nonfiction Film: Grizzly Man, dir.: Werner Herzog.

Animation: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, dir.: Nick Park & Steve Box.


New York

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: 2046.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actor: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Supporting Actress: Maria Bello, A History of Violence.

Supporting Actor: William Hurt, A History of Violence.

Screenplay: The Squid and the Whale.

Animated Film: Howl’s Moving Castle.


National Society of Film Critics

Picture: Capote.

Foreign Language Film: Head-On.

Director: David Cronenberg, A History of Violence.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Supporting Actor: Ed Harris, A History of Violence.

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug.

Screenplay: The Squid and the Whale.


National Board of Review

Film: Good Night and Good Luck.

Foreign Language Film: Paradise Now.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Felicity Huffman, Transamerica.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Supporting Actress: Gong Li, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Supporting Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain.

Ensemble: Mrs. Henderson Presents (Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Will Young, Christopher Guest, Kelly Reilly, etc.)

Adapted Screenplay: Stephen Gaghan, Syriana.

Original Screenplay: The Squid and the Whale.

Documentary: March of the Penguins / La marche de l’empereur, dir.: Luc Jacquet.

Animated Feature: Corpse Bride, dir.: Tim Burton & Mike Johnson.

Directorial Debut: Julian Fellows, Separate Lies.

Career Achievement: Jane Fonda.

Freedom of Expression: Innocent Voices & The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till.


Boston

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: Kung Fu Hustle.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man.

Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener, Capote, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.


San Francisco

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: Hidden.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actor: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug.

Supporting Actor: Kevin Costner, The Upside of Anger.

Screenplay: George Clooney & Grant Heslov, Good Night and Good Luck.


San Diego

Film: King Kong.

Foreign Language Film: Innocent Voices, dir.: Luis Mandoki.

Director: Bennett Miller, Capote.

Actress: Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener.

Supporting Actor: Jeffrey Wright, Broken Flowers.

Adapted Screenplay: Capote.

Original Screenplay: Shane Black, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.


Washington D.C.

Film: Munich.

Foreign Language Film: Kung Fu Hustle.

Director: Steven Spielberg, Munich.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug.

Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man.

Original Screenplay: Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, Crash.

Adapted Screenplay: Capote.


Dallas-Ft. Worth

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: Paradise Now.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Felicity Huffman, Transamerica.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Supporting Actor: Matt Dillon, Crash.

Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener, Capote.


New York Online

Film: The Squid and the Whale.

Foreign Language Film: Downfall, dir.: Oliver Hirschbiegel.

Director: Fernando Meirelles, The Constant Gardener.

Actress: Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug.

Supporting Actor: Oliver Platt, Casanova.


Las Vegas

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: Kung Fu Hustle.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actor: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Supporting Actor: Matt Dillon, Crash.

Supporting Actress: Frances McDormand, North Country.


Phoenix

Film: Cinderella Man, dir.: Ron Howard.

Foreign Language Film: Kung Fu Hustle.

Director: George Clooney, Good Night and Good Luck.

Actor: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Felicity Huffman, Transamerica.

Supporting Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain.

Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain.


Florida

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: Kung Fu Hustle.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug.

Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man.


Utah

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: Kung Fu Hustle.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Supporting Actor: Andy Serkis, King Kong.

Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener.


Southeastern

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: Hidden.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Felicity Huffman, Transamerica.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man.

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug.


Iowa

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener.

Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man.


Central Ohio

Film: A History of Violence.

Director: David Cronenberg, A History of Violence.

Lead Performance: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain.

Supporting Performance: Maria Bello, A History of Violence.


St. Louis

Film: Brokeback Mountain.

Foreign Language Film: Tsotsi, dir.: Gavin Hood.

Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain.

Actor: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain.

Actress: Judi Dench, Mrs Henderson Presents.

Supporting Actor: George Clooney, Syriana.

Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener.


Los Angeles Film Critics Association website.

Images of Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in gay cowboy fans’ favorite Brokeback Mountain: Focus Features.

“Gay Cowboy Fans Everywhere: Brokeback Mountain Is Near-Absolute Favorite” last updated in June 2020.

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