In the wake of Moonlight winning Best Picture, we have another LGBTQ+ film that makes a strong case to win Best Picture. That film is Call Me By Your Name, an entrancing portrait of first love that is both tender and quietly devastating. Even when the film cuts to black after the last frame, it never loses its grip on you.
Italian maestro Luca Guadagnino directs the film as if it is a beautiful postcard come to life that is filled with emotion. Even if there aren’t many words being exchanged between Elio and Oliver, the two main characters, both Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory let romantic gazes they give to one another along with their sensual hand gestures that slowly morph into physical intimacy do most of the talking.
Also, the cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is picturesque, beautifully capturing the scenic Northern Italy, and lets small shots like Elio and Oliver slowly placing hands on each other with a cigarette in between act as a mode of storytelling. Even the original songs composed by Sufjan Stevens: “Visions Of Gideon” and “Mystery Of Love,” feel as if they are narrating Elio’s thoughts that he is unable to say out loud and they are captivating to listen to thanks to Stevens’ vocals.
Despite Call Me By Your Name not possessing a political agenda, it shows that not all Oscarworthy films depicting the queer experience have to delve into queer politics. While LGBTQ+ films that are political, like Philadelphia and Milk, are meant to be told, Call Me By Your Name is proof that those are not the only stories that should be told. It does show the struggle of being a gay teenager but it shows how it’s a struggle nobody has to go through alone.
Elio is able to discover his sexuality thanks to his “once in a lifetime” romance with Oliver who offers him patience and comfort. Meanwhile, his father is accepting of him and gives a monologue, delivered with tenderness and grandeur by Michael Stuhlbarg, that reminds Elio to cherish his love with Oliver and that no matter where Elio may go, Elio will always have his father’s love and support.
On the surface, Call Me By Your Name seems like a breezy coming-of-age story. But, it’s also about the people around you offering kindness and love when needed and it demonstrates the power of memories we want to hold on to. The passionate filmmaking along with the intoxicating chemistry by Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer as Elio and Oliver make the film an instantly ageless classic.
A nomination for Call Me By Your Name would not only be an honor for the film itself but it would be the cherry on top of a rich year for queer cinema as well. From the Chilean transgendered drama A Fantastic Woman to Professor Marston & The Wonder Women, which depicts the polyamorous creators of the famed superhero Wonder Woman, to the sci-fi romance Thelma to Beach Rats, a quietly devastating portrait of repressed sexuality, we’ve seen the LGBTQ+ experience demonstrated on film in variously innovative ways
The Best Picture win of Moonlight was a complete game changer. But with the success of Call Me By Your Name, its win shouldn’t have to feel anomalous.