As awards season arrives, we look at
several groundbreaking film and TV projects that addressed HIV/AIDS and those that were recognized with statuettes.
The 2014 Academy Awards favored Dallas Buyers Club with three Oscars, including Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto, making it one of only five films with the distinction of winning both Best Actor and Supporting Actor in the same year. The film has been hailed as a landmark for its portrayals not only of the plight — and fight — of people with HIV in the time before treatment, but also for the particularly sensitive light it casts on the gay and transgender communities. But Dallas Buyers Club isn’t the only time that AIDS has been examined on film; here is a selection of the subject’s most significant screen times over the last two decades:
An Early Frost (1985)
ABOUT THE FILM: Lawyer Michael Pierson is confronted with the news that he has contracted AIDS and returns home to tell his parents the news in the first major film to deal with the topic of AIDS.
FEATURING: Aidan Quinn, Terry O’Quinn, Bill Paxton
Parting Glances (1986)
ABOUT THE FILM: First-time director Bill Sherwood’s impressive story of 24 hours in the lives of a young gay couple in New York City as one prepares to leave for Africa and the other tends to his ex (an HIV-positive punk rocker on the verge of making it big). Sherwood himself died of complications from AIDS in 1990, leaving this lone testament to his craft.
FEATURING: Richard Ganoung, John Bolger,
ABOUT THE FILM: When an HIV-positive man is fired because of his condition, a homophobic lawyer becomes the only person who will stand up for him.
FEATURING: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jason Robards
Academy Awards: Best Actor, Best Original Song
And the Band Played On (1993)
ABOUT THE FILM: The story of the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and of the efforts to understand and fight the disease in the scientific and gay communities.
FEATURING: Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Richard Gere, Anjelica Huston, Phil Collins
Emmy Awards: Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Individual Achievement in Casting, Individual Achievement in Editing for a Miniseries or a Special, Single Camera Production
The Real World: San Francisco (1994)
ABOUT THE SHOW: The first reality-TV show to feature an openly HIV-positive individual (Pedro Zamora). Zamora would later use his fame in AIDS activism, including testimony before the U.S. Congress.
Angels in America (2003)
ABOUT THE FILM: Tony Kushner’s adaptation of his Tony Award–winning play about living and dying with AIDS in Ronald Reagan’s America.
FEATURING: Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Patrick Wilson, Emma Thompson, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeffrey Wright
Golden Globe Awards: Best Mini-Series, Best Actor in a Mini-Series, Best Actress in a Mini-Series, Best Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series, Best Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series
Emmy Awards: Outstanding Miniseries, Director, Lead Actor, Lead Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Casting, Art Direction, Makeup, Single-Camera Sound Mixing, Writing.
ABOUT THE FILM: The film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize– and Tony Award–winning musical about life, love, and AIDS in New York’s East Village.
FEATURING: Taye Diggs, Rosario Dawson, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel
The Normal Heart (2014)
ABOUT THE FILM: The film adaptation of activist Larry Kramer’s seminal work about the founding of Gay Men’s Health Crisis during the heartbreaking early days of the epidemic.
FEATURING: Mark Ruffalo, Jonathan Groff, BD Wong, Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer
Emmy Awards: Outstanding Television Movie, Outstanding Makeup
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Last modified: July 26, 2018