I thought it was about time I updated my top gay films again, May 9th 2008 I first published my top 10 gay films, most are all still in this list, but there has been so many more I have seen since then. 2014 has been one of the strongest years in gay cinema, so strong I literally had to redo my entire Top 25 Gay Movies to accommodate four more films I have worshiped this year. Now these are purely my choices and there is only one lesbian film in there – I am a gay male, lesbian cinema is not really something I am drawn too 🙂 All of these films are available for purchasing or legal downloads online. I have been published as somewhat of a “gay critic” in a book called THE TOP 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL GAY MOVIES OF ALL TIME by Jason Shaw from my previous top 10 so I do hope you like my expanded, and somewhat eclectic list of gay movies. What would you have in your list? What do you love or hate in mine?
For more great gay movie reviews try GAY CELLULOIDandCINEMA QUEER. Or just google, but be careful what you find when Googling “gay movies” haha.
For films I have reviewed the film title is a link to the review.
Áron is a happy child in his family. But at some point things take a different turn, and his mother starts to lose her health rapidly. As this happens, the man in charge decides what’s best for Áron without consulting the young boy’s opinion, and the boy finds himself thrown out of his warm home into a brutal orphanage in the woods. He’s utterly displeased by what’s happening, without knowing he has yet to face much worse. After a hard time getting over the harassment of his classmates and being accepted as one of them, another obstacle on the way to his peace of mind faces him: His brutal teachers. He has no intention of being bad, but it’s beyond his ability to blend into the revolting place he’s in. The nasty treatment of the teaching crew gets the better of him, and he’s not all that calm and passive anymore. But that leads into unpleasant events which Áron himself wouldn’t want.
A brilliant and dark gay love story I got to see in 2014 as part of the Window’s on Europe Film Festival – this was an incredible surprise movie that punched me in the gut.
It’s a story of two love affairs. A father’s love for his five sons. And one son’s love for his father, a love so strong it compels him to live a lie. That son is Zac Beaulieu, born on the 25th of December 1960, different from all his brothers, but desperate to fit in. During the next 20 years, life takes Zac on a surprising and unexpected journey that ultimately leads him to accept his true nature and, even more importantly, leads his father to love him for who he really is. A mystical fable about a modern-day Christ-like figure, “C.R.A.Z.Y” exudes the beauty, the poetry and the madness of the human spirit in all its contradictions.
(I could not find a trailer with subs – trust me – it’s awesome)
What a superb, light, cleverly written gay movie this one is. Another surprise hit from 2014, a year that was so strong in gay cinema it has seen my top 25 have four movies removed so four could be added.
Imagine being gay, but also completely blind! This movie is told brilliantly!
Fifteen-year-old Howie loses just about everything and everyone in the space of a single week, but ends up finding himself in the process. His mother has just died. His father, a building contractor, can barely keep tabs on his young girlfriend, let alone his own son. Thusly, the teen must navigate his adolescence virtually unsupervised. Floating towards an ill-behaved existence, Howie and his crowd begin robbing houses in the middle-class neighborhoods off the Long Island Expressway. Together, he and his best friend Gary break into a place belonging to an old guy named Big John, a local man who is a respected pillar of the community. When Big John fingers Gary for the crime, Howie learns that his pal has been leading a secret, dangerous but also alluring double life. Subsequently, we also discover that Big John has secrets of his own.
This was such an incredibly powerful film for me in the year I came out. It is very controversial and the first film I can remember that deals with pedophilia – Paul Dano’s best performance.
The Billy Elliot/ Brassed Off work of joy of 2014 from the UK – just amazing – the gays join the miner’s in the battle against Thatcher. the strength of its words on discrimination are remarkable. Massive crowd pleaser that literally had my cinema clapping during the end critics.
MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE (1985)
My Beautiful Laundrette is set within the Asian community in London, during the Thatcher years, and displays those values, of money but ‘anybody can make it.’ Omar gains the running of his Uncle Nasser’s laundrette. He is helped by his friend Johnny who is an outsider, white but not entirely accepted by either the white or Asian Londoners. There are many memorable characters: Tania, Omar’s cousin whom he might marry. Salim the manager of Nasser’s garage and sometime drug importer. Rachel, Nasser’s white mistress, who like Johnny seems to be another outsider. The interaction of these people gives a comic insight into their world and makes a very refreshing film.
A piece of the Thatcherite British era starring a much younger but still amazingly acted Daniel Day Lewis. Originally shot for television in six weeks on a low budget, My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) was directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity), from author Hanif Kureishi’s first screenplay. Originally shot on 16mm, it was so well received by critics at the Edinburgh Film Festival that it was internationally distributed for cinema on 35mm. Heralded as one of Britain’s most commercially and critically successful films of 1986, it earned Kureishi an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. My Beautiful Laundrette was ground-breaking in its bold exploration of issues of sexuality, race, class and generational difference. It also sparked controversy, particularly within the Asian community, which was disgusted by its perceived degrading representation of Pakistanis. At a New York demonstration by the Pakistan Action Committee, banners called the film “the product of a vile and perverted mind”. My Beautiful Laundrette’s international success helped establish Channel 4’s fledgling feature film production arm, Film on Four, and confirmed a move away from television single drama.
Also recently reviewed this one but what a superb film it is. A murder in 1944 draws together the great poets of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
Basically The Green Goblin gets it on with Harry Potter and this is the film that made me fall in love with Dane DeHaan, I have since been obsessed with him :).
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (1991)
This film is without question a love story between two women. It is true representation of the women’s love. The gay community has submerged this film in controversy since its release, Most people will see a beautiful film about best female friends that never touch, never kiss or never show more than friendship. But Fried Green Tomatoes has been given awards by GLAAD and other gay and lesbian groups for its “outstanding depiction of lesbians in a film.” I think this is why it was so accepted for its time. Yes, it may be about a gay relationship but NO ONE wanted it thrown in their face so it was subtly changed to show best friends but the people in the know could know better. The largest national gay magazine, The Advocate, charged Fried Green Tomatoes with the crime of delesbianization, and argues that “Hollywood has always been partial to deepsixing gay and lesbian material. I myself knew it was about a lesbian relationship and my grandma would have a heart attack if she knew I was gay but this did not stop me from taking her to watch it and crying with sadness and happiness with her. Must see film for the whole family. although it is a bit of a chick flick.
It also stars Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates, so the end, destined for awesome.
This was the last film I saw with my nan in an RSL on 16mm and sitting on fold out chair, holds a very special place in my heart for that.
LATTER DAYS (2003)
Aaron Davis (Steve Sandvoss) and Christian Markelli (Wes Ramsey) are the two most opposite people in the world. Aaron is a young Elder (or a Mormon missionary) who wants to do his family proud and is quite passionate about his religion and film. Christian is a shallow WeHo waiter/party boy who only looks forward to bedding a new guy every night. After Aaron and three other missionaries move into the apartment across from Christian, his friends bet him $50 that he can’t get one of them to jump into the sack, so he instantly latches onto Aaron. There are two problems, though – Christian is falling in love with Aaron and the Mormons are not the biggest fans of the homosexual community. Once Aaron is discovered, the two have to go through trials of regret, loss, perseverance, and forgiveness if they both want to get to the thing that matters to them most: each other.
This is such a beautiful, sad, comedic, soul searching, heart grabbing film. I pissed myself with laughter and I shook with sobs at the end. The acting may not be the best in the world but it feels real, it grabs you and holds you and takes you on a journey you would never have expected. This is the first film to actually show the dispute between gays and Mormon’s and I have been surprised in my brief research to have found so many comments from ex-Mormons who had been excommunicated for being gay and how they found this film beautiful and spot on. Kudos to the film just for that. A great viewing!!
And to only now discover that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the supporting borther mormon of the lead has made my day :).
If I had more spaces then every single Gregg Araki film ever made would be in this list, I literally worship the ground this guy walks on and his films are a revelation of difference. This one stands out for me though as the best love story of his film. It is 90210 on acid, or as the poster says “Clueless with nipple rings.” Filled with more cameos than you can imagine – Araki owned 90’s Hollywood and anything with his gay (but straight) muse James Duval in it is a winner for me.
The plot is basically a day in the lives of 90’s teens, but imagine everything through rose coloured wicked acid :). This film is perfect.
MYSTERIOUS SKIN (2004)
My second choice from Gregg Araki, this film is a lot more serious than all his others and is by far Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s best performance. This is also quite controversial due to it’s hustling storyline from young males. There is one particularly heavy scene towards the end that sticks out in my mind. This film is incredibly powerful.
A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth.
GET REAL (1998)
This gay coming-of-age drama from Britain was screened at many film festivals including Toronto, Edinburgh, and the 1999 Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema section). It tells the story of 16-year-old Steven (Ben Silverstone), a boy who can’t tell anyone of his sexual preference except an overweight girl named Linda, who is also unlucky in love. Steven (and most of his school’s female student body) have a crush on John, the school hunk, who dates a model. Before long, John and Steven finally meet and start a private romantic tryst. The lies, secrets, and deceit build to a head at the school’s commencement ceremony, where John is to be presented a prize for athletics, while Steven reads his award-winning essay on growing up. All is finally revealed. ~ Arthur Borman, All Movie Guide.
Truly a beautiful film, it made me laugh and cry at the joy of his outcome and at the sadness and remembrance of the same crap I had to go through. I buried myself deeper in the closet afraid to be bashed senseless as a gay boy at school. Steve, on the other hand goes a different and sometimes dangerous path filled with sadness and joy. It’s a nice romantic fantasy that will give you goosebumps.
BAD EDUCATION (2004)
In the early 60s, two boys – Ignacio and Enrique – discover love, movies and fear in a Christian school. Father Manolo, the school principal and Literature teacher, both witnesses and takes part in these discoveries. The three characters come against one another twice again, in the late 70s and in 1980. These meetings are set to change the life and death of some of them.
One of Pedro Almodóvar’s greatest works starring the sensational Gael García Bernal known from Amores Perros (2000), Y Tu Mamá También (2001) & Babel (2006). This film stands out among Almodóvar’s work in that it features a nearly all-male cast (among Almodóvar’s trademarks are stories about women) and it’s among his most serious works. The reception of the movie among audiences was mixed. It received the honor of opening in the 57th Cannes Film Festival in 2004, the first Spanish film to do so. Due to its homosexual nature it received a very limited release in the US despite its rave reviews the world around. It is said Almodóvar’s later made his film Volver as a more traditional work, as an attempt to cleanse himself from the “too controversial” Bad Education. It’s bloody brilliant – check it out! Gael García Bernal is remarkable.
I love this film. Have a framed poster for it and it covers my life growing up pretty much. Australia, surfing, the beach, lots of straight guys, and me, the gay guy. It also helps it stars Xavier Samuels, my favourite Australian actor.
NEWCASTLE is a coming-of-age/family drama/surfing movie. 17-year old Jesse lives in the shadow of his older brother Victor’s failure to become surfing’s Next Big Thing. Even when he’s in his natural habitat of magnificent surf breaks, his blue-collar future is brought home by the coal barges that constantly line his horizon. Jesse has the natural skills to surf his way out of this reality and onto the international circuit but can he overcome his equally natural ability to sabotage himself? A momentous weekend away with his mates that includes first love and tragedy leads him to discover what’s really important.
The trailer really avoids the gay characters and sells it as a blokey surfing film, but I love this film and the gay character.
Click on the title above for my full review on this one.
Yet another amazing coming of age film about discovery and first love. I loved how this was set against the backdrop of an incredibly remote and isolated town.
Pim, the emotionally abandoned and affection-starved young gay son of a small seaside town’s resident floozy, grows up dreaming intensely of a loving father who will someday come for him, but never does. Frequently home alone, Pim often spends time at a neighbor’s house where another single mom and her two teenage children accept him matter-of-factly. As Pim is about to turn 15, he and neighbor boy Gino become each other’s friend-with-benefits, entering a period of sexual awakening together. Life, however, is all about change, and while Gino (a couple years older) is ready to move on and move out, Pim is not, leaving Pim behind to carry on with his continuing crush for Gino (while Gino’s sister Sabrina develops an unrequited crush for Pim).
So so so so so so good, this film took me by surprise, I got to see it at some film festival in Australia a few years back and have since bought a copy. I never even knew the Polish made films (I am 1/4 Polish) and this film is just remarkable, it combines reality and virtual reality and discusses depression and suicide and the effects of bullying.
After suffering extreme humiliation at school, Dominik holes himself up in his room and begins spending all his time in a virtual reality chat room.
Cannot rave about this film, or basically every film in this list enough.
MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO (1991)
Surreal character study focusing on the friendship between two male hustlers, Mike and Scott, in Portland, Oregon. They live on the streets, do drugs, and sell themselves to men and women. Mike is quiet, gay and suffers from narcolepsy. Abandoned as a child, he is obsessed with finding his long-lost mother. Scott is the rebellious son of a high-ranking family, who lives this life mostly to embarrass his father. Mike is in love with Scott, who still maintains he is straight and insists that his wild lifestyle on the streets is only temporary. Together, they embark on a quest to find Mike’s mother, traveling from Portland to Idaho to Italy, with Scott picking up a beautiful girl along the way.
Gus Van Sant’s greatest work starring two of my fave’s, Keanu and the late and who would have become the greatest actor of all time, god rest his sole, River Phoenix. I still have a large print of River on my wall from this film. It is truly a remarkable and a completely different release for its time. It was the first art house commercial film I can remember that blended an brilliant art house story and director with two of the hottest and talented actors for their time. It was a massive risk for both actors and one that has benefited them immensely.
The day River died I cried for hours. The loss to the world of this talented genius is by far the greatest loss in the acting world of all time.
Trivia: 1) Many members of the cast (including River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, Flea, and Michael Parker) moved into director Gus Van Sant’s large old house in Portland, Oregon during filming. They apparently caused such a disturbance (staying up late, getting drunk, partying, and playing music) and overtook the house to such an extent that Van Sant eventually had to move out of his own house and stay with a friend in order to get some sleep. 2) For its initial American video release, this gay themed movie was packaged as a straight film, with both of its stars Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix in clinches with women on the video jacket. 3) The campfire speech when River Phoenix’s character declares that he is in love with Keanu Reeves’ character was written by Phoenix.
SOMMERSTURM (SUMMER STORM) 2004
Tobi and Achim have been best mates for years. As cox and oarsman, they have lead their rowing club to win several rowing cups in the past and are now looking forward to win a big regatta in the countryside of Germany. But this trip isn’t your usual summer camp experience and problems soon arise. As Achim’s relationship with his girlfriend Sandra, who’s also on the team, grows more and more serious, Tobi starts to realize that his feelings for Achim run much deeper than he’s willing to admit to himself. He feels confused, unsure of himself and increasingly left out by his friend Alex and the team. When Sandra’s best friend Anke shows her interest in him, his anxiety starts to grow. When it turns out that the much-anticipated Berlin girls’ team has been replaced by a team of athletic, cliché-bursting young gay men, Tobi and his teammates are suddenly forced to grapple with their prejudices, their fears, and, perhaps, their hidden longings. As the tension grows, Tobi, Achim and the others head towards a confrontation as fierce and liberating as the summer storm that’s gathering over the lake. And Tobi realizes he has to start facing some facts about himself he didn’t dare to face before.
Probably the best coming out movie ever made. It deals with the issues facing closeted gay teens with humor, sensitivity, reality and pure honesty. I believe this should be a film studied in all schools around the film. Directed, acted, filmed and cast to perfection. Brilliant.
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
One of the greatest gay love stories of all time. It makes my top 20 films of all time.
This film is HEAVY. Think “Kids” on crack that are forced to do things they don’t like just to survive.
This isn’t one of those movies you can pop in your DVD player or VCR anytime of the day and enjoy it. This isn’t a movie you rent with your girlfriend to make out too. It’s not a movie you would recommend to your friends, and it’s not a movie you get a bag of popcorn and sit down with your family and enjoy. This movie will disturb you. This movie will make your stomach feel awful, hours and possibly days after you watch it.
Marek is a troubled teenager who is having trouble at home and at school and he realizes he’s much different than they are. His father finds out Marek has stopped going to school and tries to talk some sense into him. Talking turns into yelling and this pushes Marek further and further away and decides to runaway from home, which takes him into the dark underworld and streets of Prague. In Prague, Marek is drugged, raped and forced into a life of hustling for money, where AIDS is always a threat.
It twists and turns down dark roads without a light and by the time the movie ends, you feel a little sick to your stomach. It’s a side of life we’re not used to seeing, we know it’s there, but either we don’t care or we realize we can’t do anything to help make matters worse. Wiktor Grodecki makes you care. He shoves it right in your face in plain view. You have no choice but to look. Wiktor Grodecki pulls at your heartstrings and breaks your heart over and over throughout the movie.
Besides its gut wrenching honesty and subject matter the film is made brilliantly – I mean Academy Award brilliantly. It is just amazing and made with such top notch production skills that I was flabbergasted. The story is so well told you will feel like a cast member in each scene. It will tear at your heart, make you frightened, make you squirm and bring forth so much compassion for these poor kids surviving in the dark underbelly of what the rest of us think of as beautiful Prague. Miroslav Caslavka is beyond sensational in his portrayal of the lead character.
(I could not find a trailer with subs – trust me – it’s awesome)
Just brilliant, this isn’t just a gay film, it’s a film about love and family and doing what’s right regardless of the sexuality of people. It is like a cross between Newcastle and Any Day Now (to some extent).
Everything about this film is awesome!! Reminds me of my life growing up on the beach again :).
BEAUTIFUL THING (1996)
The first gay film I saw that made me happy to be gay. It is pure joy and the end scene has you sobbing with happiness. It has been my favourite gay film ever since I saw it. Every time I watch it I love it even more.
A tender love story set during a hot summer on a South-East London housing estate. Jamie, a relatively unpopular lad who bunks off school to avoid football, lives next door to Ste, a more popular athletic lad but who is frequently beaten up by his father and older brother. Such an episode of violence brings Jamie and Ste together: Sandra (Jamie’s mum) offers refugee to Ste, who has to ‘top-and-tail’ with Jamie. Hence, the story tells of their growing attraction for one another, from initial lingering glances to their irrefutable love, which so magnificently illustrated at the end of the film. In deals with the tribulations of coming to terms with their sexuality and of others finding out, in light of Sandra’s unwavering loyalty and defence of Jamie and the fear of repercussion should Ste’s family find out. The plot is set against sub-texts of Sandra’s desire to manage her own pub, and thus escape the estate, and of her new relationship with her hippy boyfriend Tony; and of Leah, the brassy girl next door who has been expelled from school and spends her time listening to Mama Cass records and tripping on a variety of drugs.
HOPE YOU LIKED MY LIST 🙂 THANKS FOR VISITING AND HAVE A GREAT DAY!!