With hopes of an Oscar nod, director Tom Ford's freshman effort A Single Man opens Friday in limited release.

The film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, where it took home 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.

Playing George, Firth told Variety, was an opportunity to experience a range of subtle emotions.

“[George] was smart, and the way he masks his massive despair is poignant,” Firth said. “That obsession with external perfection is a sign of panic. He has to control his exterior world because his interior one is chaos. His precision is all desperate measures.”

Critics have already singled-out Firth's performance for a possible Academy Award, but whether the film gets an Oscar nod remains to be seen. 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.”

Firth agreed, saying the movie is “a love story, and love is love.” “George misses the love of his life, and that's that. … George is struggling with an awful lot but not with his homosexuality. There's a lot of dignity in that.”

Gay Entertainment Report is a feature of On Top Magazine and can be reached at ontopmag@ontopmag.com.