Top 10 LGBTQ+ Movies



Top 10 LGBTQ+ Movies

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
There are more than a few gems in this genre of film. For this list, we're looking at films that center around LGBTQ+ stories and characters. We're considering how acclaimed and culturally significant they each are, how good the performances are, and most importantly how well they capture LGBTQ+ experiences. Our list includes “Milk”, “Brokeback Mountain”, “Moonlight”, “Call Me by Your Name”, “Paris is Burning”, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 LGBTQ+ Movies.

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Special thanks to our user Deathmatch1959 suggesting this idea!
Script written by Caitlin Johnson

Top 10 LGBTQ+ Movies

There are more than a few gems in this genre of film. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 LGBTQ+ Movies.

For this list, we’re looking at films that center around LGBTQ+ stories and characters. We’re considering how acclaimed and culturally significant they each are, how good the performances are, and most importantly how well they capture LGBTQ+ experiences.

#10: “Call Me by Your Name” (2017)

Set against the background of rural Italy, celebrated director Luca Guadagnino brings to vivid life the 2007 novel of the same name. The story follows 17-year-old Elio and his sultry relationship during the summer of 1983 with his father’s assistant, 24-year-old grad student Oliver. The film is beautiful in every sense of the world, capturing the pure essence of first love and first heartbreak amidst a gorgeous location. By all accounts, “Call Me by Your Name” has blown critics away, receiving the longest-ever standing ovation at the New York Film Festival and having the best opening for a gay romance since “Brokeback Mountain” 12 years earlier.

#9: “All About My Mother” (1999)

The central theme of “All About My Mother” is one of sisterhood and companionship between all women, including the prominent trans characters in its message. The vibrant visuals, bitter irony, and all-round tragicomedy of this poignant, Spanish-language movie have been lauded by critics and theater-goers for decades. Nurse Manuela’s teenage son Esteban is killed at the movie’s outset in a car accident, leading her to go and inform Esteban’s father – who is actually a transvestite named Lola – of the son they never knew about.

#8: “Moonlight” (2016)

“Moonlight” is the kind of ground-breaking film that only comes along once in a generation. Exploring what it means to grow up a gay, black man in America, it give a voice to people who are underrepresented in contemporary cinema. We see main character Chiron through the many stages of his life; his childhood, his adolescence, and later early adulthood, as he navigates a complicated world. An astounding exploration of character and identity, this masterstroke has taken home more than 150 different awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture.

#7: “Longtime Companion” (1989)

This movie derived its title from what the New York Times called the same-sex partner of somebody who died of AIDS in the 1980s. “Longtime Companion” chronicles the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and the effects it had. The first wide-release film to actually talk about AIDS, it revolves around a group of characters trying to keep going in the face of this devastating crisis – which had already killed 120,000 Americans by the time the movie came out. A heart-breaking story about grief and death, “Longtime Companion” also radiates a deep sense of warmth, friendship, and courage.

#6: “Paris Is Burning” (1991)

While it remains controversial in some circles, this documentary on the ball culture of the minorities in 1980s NYC is responsible for putting one of history’s most important subcultures in the spotlight. Jennie Livingston’s seminal piece of filmmaking explored the lives of a group of black and Latino gay men, trans people and drag queens, and brought drag acts and voguing firmly into the mainstream. Filmed over a period of several years, “Paris Is Burning” artfully chronicles the most important figures in the “golden age” of drag balls and is one of the most culturally significant documentaries in history.

#5: “Milk” (2008)

Sean Penn stars in the role of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in the United States. Though he only served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for about 11 months until his tragic assassination in 1978, the movie charts his campaign for office and the many LGBT+ people and allies who helped him on his way. His optimism, courage, victory, and eventual martyrdom have all served to make Harvey Milk one of the most important politicians in US history. Only a year after the movie’s release, Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to commemorate his life.

#4: “Tangerine” (2015)

The fact that this comedy-drama, set on a sun-soaked Christmas Eve in LA, was shot entirety on iPhones isn’t the only impressive thing about it. “Tangerine” aims to capture the realities faced by trans sex workers every day, bringing an area of street culture rarely seen in the media plenty of much-needed attention. Its lead roles, Sin-Dee and Alexandra, are played by first-time trans actresses Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, and it was shot on a minuscule budget of $100,000. Despite its production obstacles, director Sean Baker still released a hilarious, heart-wrenching, age-defining film.

#3: “Brokeback Mountain” (2005)

The tragic bond between Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar is a landmark love story in queer cinema. Ang Lee has been credited, along with A-list leads Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, with paving the way for blockbuster movies to finally show gay characters. Named for the location of the unforgettable summer the two characters share together, “Brokeback Mountain” captures the pain of being closeted and has become one of the all-time greatest romance tales. Its cultural impact is undeniable, despite it being made the butt of many unpleasant jokes since its release.

#2: “Weekend” (2011)

This bittersweet British movie captures a chance encounter between two men who form an intense relationship over the course of a brief weekend. Meeting just days before one of them is planning to leave the country, audiences are acutely aware that as the minutes go by Glen and Russell are running out of time together. “Weekend” also discusses many social and political issues faced by LGBT people in the modern world in-depth, such as heteronormativity and gay marriage. This makes it down-to-earth and incredibly relevant to the lives and struggles of queer people today.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few Honorable Mentions:

“The Way He Looks” (2014)

“The Handmaiden” (2016)

“Dallas Buyers Club” (2013)

#1: “Carol” (2015)

Todd Haynes’ cinematic masterpiece explores the affair between housewife Carol Aird, played by Cate Blanchett, and photographer Therese Belivet, played by Rooney Mara. The film is set in New York in 1952. While neither of them feels shame about their love, it needs to be kept secret so that Carol won’t lose custody of her young daughter as she goes through a divorce. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Price of Salt,” the relationship between Carol and Therese is beautifully translated to the big screen and offers an uplifting ending rarely seen in a gay period drama. The critically-acclaimed “Carol” goes to show that even in the repressed 1950s, love will always win.
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