Variety reports that Producers Jay and Mark Duplass and distributor Magnolia Pictures will push for Kitana Kiki Rodriguez to become the first ever transgender actress pushed for an Oscar. Co-star Mya Taylor will be campaigned in supporting. What this is means is that industry voters will have to watch Tangerine. It got rave reviews, like this one from NY Times’ Manohla Dargis:
Mr. Baker has justifiably received a lot of attention for shooting “Tangerine” with a few tricked out iPhones and some special lenses. His low-budget triumphalism and mother-of-invention ingenuity hews to a familiar heroic indie-film arc, though more remarkable still is Mr. Baker’s casting of Ms. Rodriquez and Ms. Taylor, both fluid, forceful screen presences. He met Ms. Taylor at the Los Angeles L.G.B.T. Center, the 21st-century version of Lana Turner’s apocryphal discovery at Schwab’s; Ms. Taylor introduced him to Ms. Rodriguez. Like Turner, an old-fashioned Hollywood invention, the women embody an on-screen ideal of sexualized, glamorized femininity that means radically different things depending on the bodies expressing it. For Turner, femininity could look like a bad performance, like tawdry drag, even prison. Here, it looks like liberation.
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez makes her acting debut with Tangerine, which could mean an Oscar nod. It’s tough to say how that one will play out. The question to ask is would her performance be worthy for Oscar consideration if she weren’t transgender? Not having yet seen Tangerine I can’t say. I do know that this is the kind of story that will get a lot of press. It could turn into THE story of Oscars 2016 the same way Caitlyn Jenner turned into such a big story. It is so hard for any woman to get any film made about her – ten times harder for transgendered actors. Complaints erupt every time one is played by a cis gendered actor, like Eddie Redmayne this year, and Jared Leto two years ago.
The Best Actress race is stuffed to the gills, however, and that will make it an extremely hard category to crack. On the other hand, Oscar is just the end game. There are plenty of other awards coming up where she might see her first nomination. The Spirit Awards, for instance, will be all over this thing. Shot on a low budget and using an iPhone 5? To receive such great reviews?
Either way, it is an interesting development to be sure. I will certainly put Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor on the Contender Tracker. I can’t wait to see it myself.