On July 19 of 2019, I made a post talking about the best LGBTQ movies of the decade until that point. Many movies came after that and now that we are almost in the middle of 2020 and I have watched probably the most important LGBTQ movies of 2019, I’ve decided to update this list to a final version. It’s also important to say that the movies that fits into this criteria are films that deals with concerns of this community or uses its central story or theme to tackle subjects related to the gay community. I also have personal favorites that I decided to ignore on this list such as We the Animals, Girl and Canary – just like I ignored many cinephiles favorites such as Moonlight since I believe there are much more powerful and important films. Here’s the final list of Papiro & Mint’s 25 best LGBTQ movies of the decade:
25. Boys (2014) by Misha Kamp
I would like to start this list with a very simple but powerful film from the Netherlands called Boys. The story follows the coming of age of a young teenager and his relationship with a boy while he discovers his interests and sexuality, which despite being classical tropes of LGBTQ films, Boys stands out for its empathy and a positive ending, proving that not every gay love story needs to end in tears.
24. The Way He Looks (2014) by Daniel Ribeiro
Coming after the short-film I Don’t Want to Come Back Alone, The Way He Looks is everything Love, Simon could have been. Focusing on the friendship of three friends, the film is another beautiful teenage coming of age story about friends discovering the importance of friendship, loyalty and love while they go through their first sexual experiences. It won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.
23. Free Fall (2013) by Stephen Lacant
Probably one of the most sexy films 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 doest 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, that according to rumors, there is a sequence coming up.
22. Departure (2015) by Andrew Steggall
An incredible movie that not many people know, Departure stars Alex Lather and Phenix Brossard in a very touching and original screenplay with a fascinating direction by Andrew Steal. The film focuses on a young boy and his mother who go to spend some time in the French countryside. There, this young boys becomes attracted to a straight French teenager, who he becomes friends with. This friendship, however, will not only affect his life but also his relationship with his mother while both of them are trying to find some closure.
21. 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 disturbing drama about a transgender woman who after losing her partner, she needs to fight for her rights against her husband’s first family, who doesn’t only not accept their relationship, but also will do anything in their power to get the apartment where she currently lives. The film also focuses on the difficulties that transgender people face in society, especially in developing countries like Chili, where the movie was made.
20. Saint Laurent (2014) by Bertrand Bonelli
A film that wasn’t initially on this list but I’ve decided to put since it’s such an extravagant and elegant piece is Saint Laurent. More than a biography of the famous french designer, Bertrand Bonelli creates a movie about the excessive lifestyle of Yves Saint Laurent, resulting in a film full of parties, drinks, sex and fashion. Gaspard Ulliel is amazing as Yves, just like the incredible rest of the cast formed by Louis Garrel, Jérémie Renier, Léa Seydoux, Aymeline Valade and Brady Corbet.
19. Sausage (2018) by Camille Vidal-Nanuet
Being one of the most talked-about gay movies of 2018, Sauvage is an intense film about a male prostitite trying to survive on the streets of France. More than that, it’s a movie that its characters are driven by desire, who have no interest in the conventions of life and society, resulting in a very interesting and transgressive film.
18. Sorry Angel (2018) by Christopher Honoré
Disputing the Palm d’Or at 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Sorry Angel is one of the latests films by Christopher Honoré, a gay director who has given us amazing movies such as Love Songs, 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 exquisite, mature and very french gay drama.
17. The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (2018) by Xavier Dolan
It’s such a shame what have happened with this film that it ended up being one of the reasons I wanted to put it in this list. I don’t understand the love-or-hate reaction Xavier Dolan has with the public, but we can’t deny the fact that The Death and Life of John F. Donovan is a very important film. It may not be a story that we haven’t seen before, but the way Dolan tells this story it’s incredibly fascinating, especially with its amazing cast formed by Kit Harrington, Natalie Portman, Jacob Trembley, Thandie Newton, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates and Chris Zylka.
16. Tom at the Farm (2013) by Xavier Dolan
And speaking of Xavier Dolan, Tom at the Farm is his Michael Marc Bouchard’s adaptation from the book of the same name about a young man who travels to his lover’s family house to attend his funeral. There, he starts a strange, violent and sexual game with the brother of his lover, who does not only approve of his existence but also doesn’t want his mother to know his son was gay, resulting in a very interesting, obscure and Hitchcockian thriller.
15. The Ornithologist (2016) by João Pedro Rodrigues
From the same director who made the incredible 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.
14. 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.
13. Knife + Heart (2018) by Yann Gonzalez
Having also competed for the Palm d’Or at 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Knife+Heart is an extremely original and fun film with many references from slasher and giallo movies from the 60s and 70s. Following the story of a gay porn producer who becomes threatened when she discover that all her starts are being murdered, Yann Gonzales creates a visual stunning film by mixing gay porn with dream-like elements, resulting in a very colorful and sensual must-watch queer horror picture.
12. 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 and the most controversial for not only having won the biggest award in Cannes at that year 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.
11. Consequences (2018) by Darko Stante
Being one of my favorite films from the list, Consequences may be a recent one but it already has great importance for exploring homosexuality in a super-masculine environmen. Not mentioning I’ve always loved films about troubled teenagers and reformatories, which are 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.
10. 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.
09. 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.
08. Beach Rats (2017) by Eliza Hittman
Another big personal favorite from 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.
07. 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.
06. And Then We Danced (2019) by Levan Akin
This is not only one of the best movies of 2019 but also one of the best LGBTQ films of the decade. Coming out of Georgia, And Then We Danced tells us the story of a young male dancer who puts his career in danger when he falls in love for another boy from this class. Living in an extremely conservative country, Levan Akin builds his love story not only as a mirror to his country’s society but he also uses the dance as a character in the film to express liberty, freedom and more importantly, resistance.
05. Portrait of a Lady On Fire (2019) by Céline Sciama
And speaking of amazing movies from 2019 that are also the best LGBTQ movies of the decade, how about the importance of Portrait of a Lady On Fire? Celine Sciama builds an extremely minimalistic and sensitive film about two women falling in love for each other on a romantic and ghostly atmosfear of the late 1700s. A lesson of mine en scene for young filmmakers, Portrait of a Lady On Fire has also a touching and creative script that is brought to flames with Noémie Merlant and Adele Hazel’s performances.
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.