"Boy Erased": Nominated for two Golden Globes including Best Actor for Lucas Hedges, this drama from writer/director/star Joel Edgerton adapts Garrard Conley's memoir about a young man who is forced to undergo gay conversion therapy by his parents. Russell Crowe gives a remarkable turn as the father, a Baptist preacher who cannot accept his son coming out. His demure mother, played by Nicole Kidman, is not one to rock the boat. While she initially thinks this program is the best thing for her son, she slowly begins to question the methods of therapy being used and why they're so secretive. Hedges, who has already earned himself an Academy Award nomination for "Manchester by the Sea," gives a beautifully restrained performance as someone who has started to accept himself but is breaking inside because nobody else is doing the same. An intriguing side effect of being sent away, his time spent inside in the Love in Action program really introduces him to other gay teenagers for the first time.
Gary (played by Australian pop star Troye Sivan) encourages him to just wait things out — to play the game until he can get released and to tell his parents what they want to hear. For others who are not so strong, the experience is far more damaging. While some have criticized this particular story being adapted and directed by a straight man, I think that Edgerton is very compassionate and deliberate behind the camera, and it's worth noting that the entire production had Conley's involvement and blessing. While 14 states across the country have now banned conversion therapy for minors (plus New York's upcoming ban), it's heartbreaking that people across the country are still putting their children through this in the name of religion. Hopefully, the star power behind this film can help keep the conversation going and encourage more states to do the right thing. (Digital HD Purchase now, rental on Jan. 29, 4K Ultra HD available)
Also on streaming services
"Kusama: Infinity": You've likely seen the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama on your social media feeds, but this new documentary from Heather Lenz will introduce you to the top-selling female artist in the world. Her installation "Infinity Mirrored Rooms" first began in 1965. She has subsequently designed over 20 distinct rooms for exhibition, and they've been breaking attendance records at museums all over the world. Despite seemingly insurmountable experiences of sexism, racism, her own parents not believing in her work and struggling with mental illness, Kusama's strength has remained in her extraordinary talent and grace. (Hulu)