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After another smash hit year at the box office, the next 12 months promises more of the same … with added controversy

The lights are bright on Broadway. Blinding even. With 35 plays and musicals now running, Broadway looks likely to have grossed over $1bn in 2019, having played to more than 8 million people. National tours have become de rigueur for every musical that doesnt absolutely flop and satellite productions pop up across the globe.

But with big business comes big risk. Running costs remain steep. Most shows fail to recoup. A few New York not-for-profits (Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, Lincoln Center Theater) have Broadway houses, yet even those companies rarely program shows without the reassurance of a well-known star or creator. Both the not-for-profits and the for-profits have been busily making wagers on which known quantities and out-of-town successes will attract New York audiences and the tourist trade. 2019 was fairly lively Slave Play, What the Constitution Means to Me, Choir Boy, Freestyle Love Supreme, American Utopia, a recuperated Oklahoma!, Hadestown, Gary (a miss, but still a big swing). But looking ahead to 2020, most of those wagers appear conservative, probably too conservative. Subtract the star casting and only a few plays and musicals will generate much excitement.

Of the musicals so far announced, six are new (or newish) and four are revivals. Two jukebox musicals are promised, one relatively innovative and one baffling. In Girl from the North Country, which had a successful run at the Public Theater two years ago, Conor McPherson transposes the songs of Bob Dylan to Depression-era Duluth. Why the playwright Lynn Nottage and the director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon are charging ahead with MJ, a biomusical based around Michael Jackson, remains a mystery, but it seems telling that the production has revised its former title, the innuendo-available Dont Stop Til You Get Enough, with the more innocuous MJ.

Queens, princesses, an unlikely drag act and an unlikelier acid trip inspire the other new musicals, such as Six, the hit London power-pop musical about the wives of Henry VIII. It joins Diana, with music by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, a biomusical about the peoples princess. Following in the high-heeled footsteps of Tootsie comes Mrs Doubtfire, an adaptation of the Robin Williams movie about a divorced dad who puts on a dress to get closer to his children. Perhaps the most original entry is Flying Over Sunset, a new musical with a book by James Lapine and music by Tom Kitt that details the mid-50s LSD experiments of Cary Grant, Clare Booth Luce and Aldous Huxley.

If that doesnt sound like enough of a trip, Katrina Lenk, a Tony winner for The Bands Visit, will star in Marianne Elliotts gender-flipped Company, and Hugh Jackman, that great showman, will lead a revival of The Music Man. Ivo van Hove returns the Sharks and the Jets to the stage in a new version of West Side Story, with choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Sharon D Clarke will reprise the title role in Caroline, or Change, in Michael Longhursts celebrated revival of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesoris underrated blues and klezmer musical.

Laura Linney during the My Name Is Lucy Barton photo call. Photograph: Walter McBride/Getty Images

Its difficult to discern much of a melody in the varied roster of new plays. Two of them, Martin McDonaghs Hangmen, now starring Dan Stevens, and Stefano Massinis The Lehman Trilogy, with Simon Russell Beale, arrive after successful runs both in London and Off-Broadway. Two solo shows chronicle the stages of a womans life, Elizabeth Strouts My Name is Lucy Barton, adapted by Rona Munro and starring Laura Linney, and Noah Haidles Birthday Candles, starring Debra Messing. Grand Horizons, the Broadway debut of the celebrated off-Broadway writer Bess Wohl, centers on a golden-years divorce. The not-so-happy couple: Jane Alexander and James Cromwell. Tracy Letts, who brought Linda Vista to Broadway in 2019, returns with The Minutes, in which he also stars, alongside Armie Hammer and Jesse Mueller. Directed by Steppenwolfs Anna D Shapiro, it charts a town council meeting in real time.

When it comes to play revivals, producers have stuck to American properties, all of them penned in the last 60 years. It hasnt been long since Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf and American Buffalo were on Broadway. But here they are again, with Laurie Metcalf (who can never, it seems, not be on Broadway), Rupert Everett, and Russell Tovey attached to the former and Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell to the latter. (One might have anticipated that after Bitter Wheat, the theater might want a David Mamet breather. Not so much.) Paula Vogels How I Learned to Drive was recently revived off-Broadway, but it has its keys in the ignition again, this time with its original stars, Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse, attached.

Star casting will also gin up anticipation for Kenny Leons revival of Charles Fullers wrenching drama A Soldiers Play, now starring David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood, and Richard Greenbergs comedy-drama of baseball and sexuality, Take Me Out, with Jesse Williams and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Husband-and-wife Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker star in Neil Simons Plaza Suite, playing two couples and one near couple, all occupying the same hotel room.

Want to place bets on which shows will still be running this time next year? Ante in.

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Luca Guadagninos gorgeous coming-of-age tale oozes nostalgic melancholy and avoids the cliches in many films about gay love

Is Hollywood really changing? Or is just going through poses, like a self-conscious teenager at an outdoor disco in 1980s Italy? If Call Me By Your Name wins best picture at this years Academy Awards, well have our answer.

Luca Guadagninos film tells the story of two young men falling in love, but its also an irresistible seduction in itself. One which began before the films official release, with a flirtatious clip of Armie Hammer dancing, and continues over the course of a long Italian summer. Like young grad student Oliver (Hammer) and Elio (Timothe Chalamet), the 17-year-old son of his professor-host, we contentedly while away the films running time, discussing art and politics in whichever European language feels right, going for long bike rides, taking dips in the nearby lake, and dining outdoors under the peach trees; all of it depicted with languid sensuality by Guadagninos lens.

This is a coming-of-age film, but one that achieves an unusual emotional immediacy. It does so partly by omitting the retrospective narration of an older Elio (present in both Andr Acimans original novel and earlier drafts of James Ivorys screenplay) and also by wearing its period setting lightly. Elios full New Romantic get-up only makes an appearance in the final scene, and the Psychedelic Furs 1982 hit Love My Way shares top soundtrack billing with a trio of specially composed contemporary songs by Sufjan Stevens. This invitation to indulge in what Guadagnino has called the melancholy of lost things extends not only to nostalgic fiftysomething gay men, but to anyone with a love affair in their past worth remembering.

Languid sensuality Timothe Chalamets Elio Perlman meets Oliver. Photograph: Allstar/Sony Pictures Classics

Depictions of same-sex relationships have been deemed Oscar-worthy before (Philadelphia in 1993; Brokeback Mountain in 2005 and, of course, last years Moonlight), but this film goes further by allowing Elio and Oliver to escape the usually devastating consequences that cinema dishes out to its gay protagonists. Not only is Elio not struck down by a life-limiting illness, persecuted by unjust laws or turned out on the streets, he enjoys the support of a loving, emotionally intuitive family. Michael Stuhlbarg may have missed out on an Oscar nomination for the role of Elios father, but the speech he gives on heartbreak will surely save audiences years of therapy by enacting the ideal parent figure we all wish wed had.

The 22-year-old Chalamet wasnominated in the best actor category, and that final close-up of his face as the credits roll should be enough on its own to justify his inclusion alongside the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Gary Oldman. If factors besides the nominated performance are allowed to weigh in, then hes more deserving still. Not only does Chalamet also appear in Lady Bird, another of this years most exciting best picture nominees, but this very model of a post-Weinstein star has shown more courage off-screen that most actors twice his age. Last month he announced he would be donating the entire fee he earned from Woody Allens upcoming film A Rainy Day in New York to charities Times Up, the LGBT Community Center in New York, and Rainn [the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network].

Chalamet courage off-screen. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

It isnt taboo-busting which makes Call Me By Your Name a deserving winner; past LGBT films have done the hard work here, and some future, more courageously raunchy film, will have to do more yet. Call Me By Your Name deserves to win because, as great cinema should, it beautifully conveys the universality of a specific human story.

Moonlights triumph at last years Academy Awards proved that excellent cinema can, on occasion, get noticed amid the film industrys white, straight, male hegemony, but so what? Only when Hollywood consistently recognises that supposedly niche subject matter is no barrier to a films ability to connect can it truly claim to reflect our changing world. Maybe 2018 will be that year.

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