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The 15 Top, Must-Watch Queer Movies

by danny's world 4 months ago in Relationships
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The 15 Top, Must-Watch Queer Movies
Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

As a queer writer, I love to see representation in media, but like anything else, this can be problematic. It's easy to be controversial in media, especially when it comes to actors playing characters whose experiences they cannot relate to (ie. an able-bodied actor playing a disabled character). I've curated a list of the fifteen best LGBTQIA+ plus movies for those looking for a little representation. I rated them based off of things like depth, realism, representation, and presentation, but I'm not a movie critic, so feel free to judge for yourself.

15. Duck Butter (2018)

Bisexual actress Alia Shawkat stars as Nima, an aspiring actress working on a small film. After meeting a singer named Sergio, they discuss their frustrations with dating and relationships, and Sergio makes an offer to have sex once an hour for twenty four hours as a new way of finding intimacy.

Filming of Duck Butter was done in ten days and lead to mixed reviews by critics and viewers. In my opinion, it's a movie with a decent message, but lacks depth, making it seem superficial and not very well thought through. In addition, it's not very emotional and focuses mainly on superficial sex, which is good if that's what you're into. Alia Shawkat, who helped write and produce the film, was nominated and won for best actress with the release of Duck Butter.

Watch on: Netflix

Rating: TV-MA

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%

IMDB rating: 5.3/10

My rating: 5/10

14. Imagine Me and You (2005)

Newlywed Rachel, played by Piper Perado, meets another woman who leaves her infatuated and questioning her sexuality, causing a stir among her family, friends, and brand-new marriage. Feeling torn between her marriage and her fascination to Luce (Lena Heady), Rachel finds herself increasingly distressed and forced to stifle her true feelings in order to appease those around her.

This British rom-com brought an overwhelming positive response from LGBTQ websites such as Autostraddle, an online news and entertainment network for queer and gender non-conforming people. Though it never won any awards, Imagine Me and You was nominated by GLAAD media in the outstanding film category.

Watch on: Prime Video

Rating: PG

Rotten Tomatoes: 35%

IMDB rating: 6.8/10

My rating: 6/10

13. Edge of Seventeen (1998)

This 1998 coming of age film stars Chris Stafford as protagonist Eric, a teenager who works a summer job at an amusement park alongside his best friend Maggie. When he meets a college student named Rod, Eric is thrown into a whirlwind of self-discovery and sexual exploration.

The majority of Edge of Seventeen was filmed in Ohio, where the movie takes place. There's no way of knowing for sure if lead actor Stafford is queer himself, which skews my judgement a little, but the film itself is emotional and realistic, and lead to rave reviews from critics and moviegoers. Edge of Seventeen won five awards, and contains tender, sensitive moments that leave the viewer feeling things.

Watch on: Netflix

Rating: PG - 13

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

IMDB rating: 6.8/10

My rating: 7/10

12. Single All The Way (2020)

Perpetually single Peter, who's grown tired of his family judgement and determination to find him in a partner, convinces his longtime best friend, Nick, to pretend to be his partner for the holidays. Unbeknownst to him, this holiday season, uncomfortable feelings will need to be confronted.

Rom-coms are often cliche, and Single All The Way is no exception. Instead of a conflicted female lead finding her way to a long-time guy friend, a media strategist finds confusion in a confession from his best friend. But like every romcom, our leads find their way to one another and live happily ever after. This sweeteningly deceptive trope, of course, doesn't usually happen this way in real life. That's why I enjoy them so much. I love a good romance story.

Watch on: Netflix

Rating: TV - PG

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%

IMDB rating: 6.2/10

My rating: 7/10

11. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal star as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, respectively, two sheepherders who meet one another at work. Despite both men planning on marrying their longtime girlfriends, a tragic and forbidden emotional and sexual connection ensues.

The film caused a flurry of discussion in regards to the sexual orientations of its male leads. It was frequently referred to in media as that gay cowboy movie, despite both its leads being in relationships with women. Some critics argue that both characters are bisexual, while others conclude their sexual orientation is irrelevant, and the film is about simply two souls who love each other.

Brokeback Mountain won three Oscars and several Academy Awards, as well as paving the way for LGBTQ+ cinema and influencing several other queer films and television shows.

Watch on: Prime Video

Rating: 14A

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

IMDB rating: 7.7/10

My rating: 7/10

10. Alex Strangelove (2018)

High school student Alex Truelove is a straight A student and class president with a new girlfriend. After meeting a fellow high schooler at a party, Alex becomes confused about his identity and begins to internalize conflicted feelings. With the help of his girlfriend and best friend, Claire, Alex learns to be true to himself and be proud of who he is.

Like a lot of teenage movies, Alex Strangelove is a cliche plot of boy-meets-girl-meets-boy, but it's riddled with emotion and tender moments between the characters. It was rated favourably by critics and moviegoers: a little awkward, a little clumsy, but human and real.

Watch on: Netflix

Rating: TV - MA

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%

IMDB rating: 6.3/10

My rating: 7/10

09. Rafiki (2018)

Swahili for friend, Rafiki centres on Kenyan women Kena and Ziki, and their fight against societal and familial pressures in a country with an outdated view on homosexuality. The film created outrage in Kenya and was banned throughout the country for its promotion of lesbian rights, which don't exist in Kenya. Despite the ban, it was received very well internationally by those in the LGBTQ+ community.

Rafiki won seventeen awards internationally upon its release. Actress Samantha Mugatsia, who portrayed Kena in the film, won an award for best actress in 2019.

Watch on: Prime Video

Rating: PG

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

IMDB rating: 6.8/10

My rating: 8/10

08. Boy Erased (2018)

Jared Eamons is the son of a Baptist preacher, forced to participate in church-supported conversion therapy after being outed to his religious family. The film is based on a memoir of the same name by Garrald Conley, an LGBTQ+ activist who grew up in a fundamentalist family in Arkansas. During his stay at conversion therapy, Jared meets other young men who are eager to become straight, as well as a boy named Gary, who offers him a refreshing new perspective on life and sexuality.

In 2018, lead actor Lucas Hedges stated that he's definitely not straight, and that sexuality is a fluid experience. Boy Erased was nominated for fifty one awards and was the winner of eleven awards internationally, including Best Adapted Screenplay. It also features a soundtrack featuring LGBTQ singer, actor, and cast member Troye Sivan.

Watch on: Netflix

Rating: R

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

IMDB rating: 6.9/10

My rating: 8/10

07. The Half Of It (2020)

Ellie Chu, played by Chinese-American actress Leah Lewis, is a studious and articulate high school student who offers to write papers for fellow students in exchange for payments. When school jock Paul Munsky enlists Ellie's help writing a love note to his crush, Ellie accepts on the reason that she needs money to help her father pay the electricity bill. During her correspondence with Paul's crush Aster, Ellie develops an emotional connection - and a little more - with her.

The Half Of It won three awards upon its release, and Leah Lewis won a Gold List award for best actress in a feature film.

Watch on: Netflix

Rating: PG - 13

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

IMDB rating: 6.9/10

My rating: 8/10

06. Tomboy (2011)

This French drama follows a gender non-conforming child who takes up the name Mikael upon moving to a new neighbourhood. Like any gender non-conforming child, Mikael is faced with judgments and questions from neighbours and friends, and is forced to come to terms with their identity while struggling to appease others.

In Europe, Tomboy won ten awards and was received positively by critics. Most of the criticism it received was due to its name - implying that Tomboy is equivalent to transgender or GNC roles. Despite this, the film was well-liked and made waves in the French film industry.

Watch on: Microsoft Store, Kodi, or Prime Video (location dependent)

Rating: PG

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

IMDB rating: 7.4/10

My rating: 8/10

05. Tangerine (2015)

Transgender sex worker Sin-Dee Rella, upon her release from prison, discovers that her pimp and boyfriend has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman. Heartbroken, Sin-Dee storms the town searching for her pimp and his new girlfriend. The film made its debut in 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival, and was received positively by critics and LGBTQ+ viewers.

Tangerine was filmed in Hollywood using only three iPhones instead of camera equipment. Lead actress Kitana Rodriguez is transgender, and was nominated for two awards upon the release of Tangerine. It won twenty five awards, including best cinematography and best feature film.

Watch on: Tubi or Prime Video

Rating: R

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

IMDB rating: 7.1/10

My rating: 8/10

04. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age film based off the novel by Andre Aciman. It stars Timothee Chalamet as protagonist Elio, a seventeen-year-old student in Northern Italy. When Elio's father invites American student Oliver into their home to help with academic papers, Elio becomes increasingly drawn to the older man.

Call Me By Your Name was nominated for two hundred fifty nine awards worldwide, and it won ninety five, including movie of the year in 2018. Lead actor Timothee Chalamet won at least nine awards for best lead actor and breakthrough actor with the release of Call Me By Your Name.

Watch on: Prime Video

Rating: R

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

IMDB rating: 7.9/10

My rating: 9/10

03. Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)

High school student Adele undergoes a personal transformation upon meeting an older woman with blue hair. With the help of her newfound love, Adele learns to finds herself, and to grow stronger through love and loss.

Though neither of our female leads are queer, both portray their parts emotionally and sensually. Blue is the Warmest Color is jam packed with self-discovery, sex, and emotion. This French film won eighty six awards, despite the controversy surrounding its graphic sexual scenes. Blue remains a significant colour throughout the film: from Emma's hair to the lighting in a gay bar. It also serves as a metaphor for curiosity and emotional intimacy.

Watch on: Ronemo or Vimeo

Rating: R

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

IMDB rating: 7.7/10

My rating: 9/10

02. Love, Simon (2018)

Closeted high school student Simon begins regularly communicating anonymously with a fellow closeted student at his high school. When he is blackmailed by a student, Simon is forced to come out and come to terms with the consequences of what he's been exposed to. A subsequent television show called Love, Victor was directed by Nick Robinson, who played our titular character Simon.

Love, Simon was based off of the novel "Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda" by American author Becky Albertalli. It won eight awards and was generally well-liked among the LGBTQ+ community internationally.

Watch on: Hulu or Prime Video

Rating: PG - 13

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

IMDB rating: 7.6/10

My rating: 9.5/10

01. The Way He Looks (2014)

The Way He Looks is a Brazilian coming-of-age drama based on the 2010 short film I Don't Want To Go Back Alone. Blind teenager and protagonist Leonardo attends high school and gets by with the help of his best friend and confidante, Giovana. Discouraged by his overprotective mother and his bullying classmates, Leonardo plans on moving overseas to participate in a student exchange program. When new student Gabriel is partnered with Leo for a project, tension begins to bloom between Leo and Giovana, and the decision to move overseas is reconsidered.

The Way He Looks was awarded twenty seven awards internationally and won best film in Brazil the year of its release. The film is tender and emotional, using a disabled, gay protagonist to become a breakthrough in the Brazilian film industry. Despite the fact that lead actor Ghilherme Lobo is not blind himself, The Way He Looks is a must-watch for everyone, not just queer youth.

Watch on: MyReadingManga, Kanopy, Prime Video, or Google Play

Rating: Not rated

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

IMDB rating: 7.9/10

My rating: 10/10

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About the author

danny's world

neurodivergent, trans writer and parent. canadian. lover of nature, animals, mythology, travel, and knowledge. doing my best to feel comfortable inside this flesh vessel i call home.

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