We may still be some months away from the end of this decade, but if there is one thing we should all agree on is that the 2010s were a great period for LGBTQ cinema. More than that, the quality of films regarding this subject was not only incredible but they were also celebrated on big film awards such as the Cannes Film Festival, the Baftas, and the Academy Awards. Since this year I’ve covered the 100 most important and influential movies of the 2010 decade, I’ve decided to briefly talk about the best 25 LGBTQ movies I’ve seen during the last nine years.
25. Boys (2014) by Mischa Kamp
I would like to start this list with this amazing coming of age film from the Netherlands, which despite having a similar story with a thousand gay films released during this decade, I believe Boys is the strongest when it comes to exploring sexuality between two friends during adolescence. Not only that, the film has a touching and positive ending, proving that not every gay love story needs to end in tears.
24. Lilting (2014) by Hong Khao
Being an amazing movie that people never talk about, Lilting is a touching portrait of grief about a gay man who is struggling with his boyfriend’s death. When the Cambodian mother of his boyfriend shows up and discover they had a homosexual relationship, both of them need to understand how to communicate with each other, not only for accepting themselves but also because the mother doesn’t speak English. Ben Whishaw gives a special performance on this, and Hong Khao’s original script makes Lilting one of the most special films from 2014.
23. Moonlight (2016) by Barry Jenkins
Moonlight may have won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2017, but I regard this film in number 23 because I believe the rest of the movies of this list have stronger qualities in terms of representation of LGBTQ on film. Either way, we can’t forget the importance of Moonlight for being the first film portraying a gay black man to have won an Oscar for Best Picture.
22. The Way He Looks (2014) by Daniel Ribeiro
Inspired from the short-film I Don’t Want to Come Back Alone, The Way He Looks is everything Love, Simon should have been. Focusing on the friendship of three friends, one of them being blind, the film is a beautiful and touching coming of age story about friends discovering the importance of friendship and love while they go through their first sexual experiences. It won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.
21. Free Fall (2013) by Stephen Lacant
Probably the sexiest film from the list, Free Fall is a German movie that talks about a police officer who falls in love for a new member of the police team. This does not only cause trouble within the super-masculine world of policemen but also turns the man’s life upside down when he discovers he is soon to be a father. Max Riemelt and Hanno Kloffer give incredible performances and make Free Fall a touching and moving film, which according to rumors, there is a sequence coming up.
20. Sorry Angel (2018) by Christophe Honoré
Being on the main competition at 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Sorry Angel is the latest Christophe Honoré’s film, a gay director who has given us amazing movies such as Love Stongs, The Beautiful Person and Ma Mére. Here, the French director focuses on the relationship between two gay men of different ages and their differences towards life, sex and worldview, resulting in a very mature, exquisite and very french gay drama.
19. A Fantastic Woman (2017) by Sebastián Lelio
Winner of the Best Foreign Film at the 2018 Academy Awards, A Fantastic Woman is a beautiful and yet, heavy drama about a transgender woman who loses her husband and needs to fight for her rights against her husband’s family, who does not only accept their relationship, but will do anything in their power to get their apartment she currently lives. The film also focuses on the difficulties that transgender people face in society, especially in developing countries like Chile, where the movie is from.
18. Departure (2015) by Andrew Steggall
Another movie that people don’t usually talk about is Departure, a film starring Alex Lawther and Phénix Brossard that I simply adore. With a very touching and original screenplay and direction, the film focuses on a young boy and his mother who spend time on their countryside in France. There, this young boy becomes attracted to a straight French teenager who he befriends. This friendship is not only about attraction but also finding closure after the departure of his own father. Definitely a must-watch from the list.
17. The Ornithologist (2016) by João Pedro Rodrigues
From the same director who made the incredible O Fantasma, The Ornithologist is a surrealistic religious odyssey about a man who after suffering an accident, is tied up to a tree by two girls who accuse him of being a non-believer and that he should beware of the evil spirits of the forest. Living him alone to die, the man is able to free himself but starts a dream-like journey where he meets up with tribal men, Jesus, angels and dead people. An extremely creative and mysterious film that I believe is more to be felt than understood.
16. Kife+Heart (2018) by Yann Gonzales
Another extremely original film from the list, Knife+Heart competed for the Palm d’Or at 2018 Cannes Film Festival. With many references from slasher and giallo films, the movie tells the story of a gay porn producer who becomes threatened when she discovers that all her starts are being murdered. Mixing gay porn with elements of dreams, Knife+Heart is a sensual and colorful must-watch queer horror film.
15. Stranger By the Lake (2013) by Alain Guiraudi
With explicit sex scenes, Stranger By the Lake is a Hitchcockian thriller about a French man who becomes obsessed with another man on a cruising beach where people are getting murder. The more he spends time with this other man, the more he starts to suspect he is the one behind the killings. Being sex and death the two main themes of the movie, Stranger By the Lake excels for being a mysterious and minimalistic film that is more concern in creating a feeling than answering all the questions.
14. Sauvage (2018) by Camille Vidal-Naquet
Being one of the most talked-about gay movies of 2018, Sauvage is an intense film about a male prostitute trying to survive on the streets of France. More than that, Sauvage tells the story of a man completely driven by desire, who has no interest in the conventions of life and society, resulting in a very interesting and transgressive film.
13. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) by Abdellatif Kechiche
Winner of the Palm d’Or at 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Blue is the Warmest Color is probably the most famous LGBTQ film of the decade for not only having won the biggest award in Cannes but also for having long and explicit sex scenes. With three hours of runtime, the film focuses on the relationship of two young girls throughout several years, with intense performances of Adéle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux.
12. Consequences (2018) by Darko Štante
I’ve always loved films about troubled teenagers and reformatories, which are actually great themes to explore subjects like masculinity and homoeroticism. Consequences gathers all of that by telling the story of a rebellious teenager who is sent to a reform school in Slovenia and ends being attracted to one of his peers. More than that, the movie explores homosexuality in a super-masculine environment, resulting in a powerful and violent film about repression.
11. You and the Night (2013) by Yann Gonzalez
From the same director of Knife + Heart, You and the Night is a crazy dream-like film about different people from all sex and ages who come together to have an orgy. When they all meet, they start talking about their sexual experiences, resulting in almost different short-films that explore their identities in a surrealistic background featuring characters such as a man with a giant penis, a prostitute and a travesty. Just like Knife+Heart, the soundtrack was composed by M83, who gives a special touch to the film.
10. We the Animals (2018) by Jeremiah Zagar
A movie that reminds me a lot of Moonlight but is so much better for focusing more on the childhood and having a Where the Wild Things Are vibe is We the Animals, an incredible coming of age debut film about a gay black kid who is not only struggling with the constant fights of his parents but also creates an alternative world to express his feelings. With amazing cinematography and script, the movie is extremely touching when it portrays the rapture of this “alternative” world we all create when life forces us to grow up. A magical film.
09. Girl (2018) by Lukas Dhont
Many people had problems with this film for having a young man portraying the role of a transgender woman. Even though Victor Polster did an amazing job in the film, I believe we should be talking about what Girl’s main messages here, which are the pressure and difficulties transgender people put on themselves to accept who they really are. Telling the story of a transgender teenage girl who is preparing herself to have sex surgery while trying to excel in her ballet classes, the film explores social, physical and psychologic conflicts in a very interesting way, resulting in a film that I consider to be of main importance.
08. Canary (2018) by Christiaan Olwagen
A lot of people don’t know about this film, which is exactly why I consider one of the best LGBTQ movies of the decade. Being from South-Africa, Canary tells the story of a young man who joins the army’s choir during the Apartheid. There, he becomes attracted to one of the choir boys but has to deal with his self-acceptance in a country where homosexuality was considered abnormal at the time. With very strong passages and incredible cinematography, Canary is an amazing film about pride and acceptance.
07. Disobedience (2017) by Sebastián Lelio
From the same director of A Fantastic Woman and being one of the best movies of 2018 in my opinion, Disobedience is a powerful and touching film about a British photographer who meets her past lover when she goes to her father’s funeral in an extremely conservative Jewish community back in London. More than a forbidden love story between two women, Disobedience gives us a closer look inside a community that many people know nothing about, resulting in a powerful movie about religion and tradition. Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams give the performance of their careers, making me wonder how they weren’t nominated for an Oscar.
06. Beach Rats (2017) by Eliza Hittman
Definitely one of my favorite movies of the list, Beach Rats focuses on the summer of a Brooklyn kid named Frankie, who while he meets up with girls during the day with his friends, he meets up with older men online at night to have sex. Struggling with who he is and what he wants, Eliza Hittman creates a beautiful and sexy coming of age portrait about sexuality, identity, and desire. Not only extremely well directed, but Harris Dickinson also gives us a remarkable performance.
05. Carol (2015) by Todd Haynes
The movie that should have probably won Best Picture at the Academy Awards and gave Rooney Mara a Cannes Award for Best Actress, Carol is a beautiful movie by Todd Haynes that talks about the relationship of two women from different ages in the 50s. Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, the movie explore a gay romance in a time where homosexuality wasn’t spoken of and the beauty of secrecy of forbidden love.
04. 120 Beats Per Minute (2017) by Robin Campillo
Winner of the Grand Prix at 2017 Cannes Film Festival, 120 Beats Per Minute is one of the most powerful movies of the list for portraying the activities of the ACT UP movement, an organization in Paris during the 90s who were trying to bring awareness of HIV to the public in a time where the disease wasn’t talked about in the media. The film focuses on the relationship of two men and the activities they perform, resulting in almost like a riot film where people are not only trying to raise awareness of public health but also protest for injustices and to celebrate who they really are.
03. God’s Own Country (2017) by Francis Lee
2017 was not only a fantastic year for cinema but for LGBTQ films as well. God’s Own Country is Francis Lee’s debut film, an incredibly moving story about the son of a farmer who becomes attracted to a foreign immigrant who arrives to help them out. More than a love story between two men, God’s Own Country is a story about learning how to love the other and oneself, resulting in a beautiful and touching story set on the fields of Northen England and an amazing performance by Josh O’Connor.
02. Call Me By Your Name (2017) by Luca Guadagnino
Nominated for Best Picture at the 2018 Academy Awards and having won Best Adapted Screenplay, Call Me By Your Name was not only one of the most talked-about movies of the year, but probably one of the most beautiful ones. Written by James Ivory and directed by Luca Guadagnino, the movie portrays the relationship of a young boy and an older man on the country-side of Italy during the 80s. With strong influences of Eric Rohmer, Call Me By Your Name is a moving story about our first love and heart-brake. Rumour has it a sequel should come up, based on the sequence written by author André Aciman called Find Me.
01. Weekend (2011) by Andrew Haigh
Nine years have passed and after all these films, I still think Weekend is the best gay movie of the decade – and probably the best ever made. Being the debut film of Andrew Haigh, who later directed 45 Years, Lean On Pete and the Looking TV Show, this film excels for being extremely touching and human, portraying the story of two men who have a one night stand and start opening up about their lives. I simply love how simplistic this film is and how the connection of two people builds an entire film that talks a lot about being gay and young in our modern society without tackling common themes that are usually part of any LGBTQ movie made.
While these are so far the best gay movies from this decade in my opinion, many titles about this subject are schedule to hit the big screen this year such as And Then We Danced by Levan Akin, Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan and Matthias & Maxime, Portrait of a Lady On Fire by Céline Sciamma, Tremors by Jayro Bustamante, and Clément, Alex et tous les autres by Kuo Cheng-Chui. What are you excited about?