Tom Ford's directorial debut A Single Man will open December 11 in limited markets, renewing hope for a gay-inclusive Oscar best movie race.

The film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, where it took the 3rd annual Queer Lion award and Colin Firth was named best actor.

Firth stars in Ford's big-screen adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel of the same name as professor George Falconer, a gay man struggling with the loss of his longtime lover, Jim (played by Matthew Goode). George is the ultimate outsider in 1960s Los Angeles: middle-aged, gay and British.

In accepting the award, Firth, 49, called the win “possibly the greatest honor of my life.”

The film's December release gives it a shot for a possible Oscar nod. The academy has only nominated two gay-themed films to win its top best movie prize: Brokeback Mountain and last year's Milk. But neither film took home the statue.

Fashion designer turned film director Ford has said the film has a universal message and should not be confined to a gay niche.

“It's really a film about love and isolation that I think all of us feel, so it is very universal,” Ford said at its Venice premiere. “When I see someone who sees the film and says, 'It's a gay story,' I don't even know what they are thinking, it just seems to me a human story.”

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