It’s February 2021, and away from all the COVID-19 madness, it is also LGBT history month. To celebrate, I’ve picked out five films that I feel are some of the best mainstream gay movies ever released.
Emily White shared with us her picks for the best alternative LGBT films of the last decade, and I thought it was only right to pick out the five best mainstream LGBT movies ever made. In the interests of clarity, mainstream in this list is determined by box-office success, a wide theatrical release and by having well-known and recognised stars in a pivotal role within the movie.
Any of those three criteria can be met for a film to be featured in this list. So without further ado, shall we begin? Here are our picks for the five best mainstream gay-themed films ever made.
21 Extremely Gay Movies You Can Stream Right Now
We get it — there’s a lot movies in that “Suggested For You” section of your streaming queue, but how do you sift through all the straight-to-DVD white gay rom coms starring D-list celebs to find something of true substance? Look no further. With our careful curation from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO NOW we have found what are the gayest streamable movies right now, according to science. Some old, some new, some canon, some hidden gems. There’s a movie here for every queer. Enjoy!
The Boys in the Band
Based on the groundbreaking 1968 play of the same name by Mart Crowley, The Boys in the Band is a look into the lives of gay men in 1960’s New York. Featuring a cast of all openly gay actors, this is a must see for anyone interested in gay history.
This clever and hilarious coming of age film stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two teenage best friends who decide to go to one last party now that high school is over. Dever’s character has one of the realest young lesbian stories you’ll see in a movie.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Yearning, yearning and more yearning await you in this beautifully shot and acted period piece about two women falling love in 18th century France. The film stars lesbian actress Adèle Haenel, and picked up many awards, including the Best Screenplay and Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Catherine Yen’s superhero movie unlike any other superhero movie is all about awesome, complex women, including lesbian police officer Renee Montoya and bisexual Harley Quinn. This is the most fun you’ll have watching superheroes this year.
Want to watch a lesbian movie where neither of the leads die, get disowned or end up alone? Happiest Season is for you! Kristen Stewart, Mary Holland, and Dan Levy shine in this lesbian Christmas romcom, but Aubrey Plaza is definitely the breakout star. The movie has its fair share of tears, so be ready.
Your Name Engraved Herein
This film follows two teen boys, Jia-han and Birdy as they fall in love in the 1980’s just after Taiwan lifted its martial law. As the nation transitions from strict authoritarianism to become the most LGBTQ+ friendly country in Asia, the two boys grow and have their love tested.
#5 I Love You Phillip Morris
If there was an award for funny LGBT movies, then I Love You Phillip Morris could take home the crown. The film received a relatively small theatrical release and only just managed to recoup its $13million budget, but I Love You Phillip Morris but two Hollywood names in leading roles in this gay comedy drama.
Jim Carrey may not have been at the pinnacle of his career in 2010, but he remains one of the world’s most recognised actors, so having him in a starring role was a true win for the LGBT community. Alongside him was Ewan McGregor, arguably now a bigger household name than his co-star. They each bring a warmness to the table and the film is genuinely funny. Based on the true-story of con-man Steven Jay Russell, is graphic at times but ultimately heart-warming and with some great messages buried within.
Now probably more infamous for the monumental cock-up at the 2017 Oscars, Moonlight is a beautiful portrait of growing up in a non-accepting society. The film presents three stages in the life of the main character; his youth, adolescence, and early adult life. It explores the difficulties he faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up.
Beautifully filmed and with astounding performances from Trevante Rhodes and Mahershala Ali, Moonlight is one of the first LGBT films to win big at the Academy Awards. It took home three trophies from eight nominations – an incredible feat.
One of the first films to showcase homosexuality, as well as HIV/AIDS and homophobia in mainstream cinema, Jonathan Demme’s ( is a masterclass in movie-making.
With one of the best performances of his career, Tom Hanks’ Andrew Beckett is shunned by co-workers, family and friends as his comes to terms with both his sexuality and his life-changing illness. Although fictional, the events in the film are similar to the events in the lives of attorneys Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain. Bowers was an attorney who in 1987 sued his law firm in one of the first AIDS discrimination cases.
#2 Love, Simon
The newest film on our list, Love, Simon is a true representation of how far we’ve come. Starring Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson in the titular role, Love, Simon is the first Hollywood mainstream rom-com to feature a gay character as the lead. Full of stylish cinematography and a great soundtrack, it’s a cracking film for all the family to enjoy.
Nick Robinson performs beautifully throughout and both Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel provide some emotional warmth as his parents. Watching Simon discover his sexuality without being able to confide in friends and family is tearjerking and watching his character grow throughout the film is a lovely experience.
#1 Brokeback Mountain
An emotional rollercoaster and one of the most successful LGBT-related films of all time, Brokeback Mountain delivered emotional punches from start to finish. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, the film explores the relationship of the two lead characters in the American West between 1963 and 1983.
Filled with beautiful performances, Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain was a critical and commercial success, taking home over $150million at the global box office. It was also richly rewarded come awards season, taking home three Oscars from eight nominations. BAFTA gave it Best Film and Best Director too, making it the most successful LGBT film of all time.
There you have it, the best LGBT movies ever made, well the mainstream ones anyway. Do you think we’ve missed anything from our list? Let us know in the comments box below.
12 of the Best Gay Films You Missed in 2017
Gay filmmaking no longer has to “go mainstream” because, for the past few years, the best new movies have been gay movies. It’s a privilege to chronicle this advance of queer cinema that now dominates movie culture for the first time in film history.
But these twelve pioneering films are not the ones that got the most media attention. Anyone interested in gay experience or gay films already knows to distrust mainstream media’s efforts to exploit and categorize queerness by promoting gay movies as different, and each so-called advance as a breakthrough simply because it finally breaks into the media’s usual indifference.
As the Hollywood film industry goes through its biggest sexual panic since the 1920s, reflecting a breakdown in heterosexual relations, gay filmmakers who previously were swept to the margins by cowardly homophobic critics and gatekeepers, have steadily made the only movies concerned with what it means to be human among humans.
Each of these twelve superb films transcend Hollywood’s condescending approach to gay self-pity disguised as romance. Instead, they share a common idea that goes beyond social-climbing and narcissistic self-flattery: Know Thyself To Know Each Other.
1. A Quiet Passion
1. A Quiet Passion is Terence Davies’ biography of poet Emily Dickinson starring Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle and Keith Carradine. It is sexually discreet but also stylistically bold enough so that Davies confesses the sensuality and spirituality of his own gay person’s creativity and experience.
5. My Life as a Zucchini
5. My Life as a Zucchini is the year’s best animated film. Director Claude Barras and screenwriter Celine Sciamma (Girlhood) apply childlike purity to gay innocence and self-awareness — what you’ll never get from Pixar.
9. Tom of Finland
9. Tom of Finland is Dome Karukoski’s instant-classic bio-pic about the icon of gay erotica (played by Pekka Strang) who made graphic reality of his sexual desire and permanently imprinted the imagination of gay men everywhere.
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