These films are proving audiences and critics want to see stories from different points of view…
Since 2013, GLAAD has been publishing their annual Studio Responsibility Index that analyzes the quantity, quality and diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer characters in film released by seven major film studios in the last year. While there are plenty of minor LGBTQ+ characters in film, many of them fall under a certain trope or stereotype like the gay best friend in a romantic comedy. There is still plenty more room to bring LGBTQ-centric stories to the big screen.
For example, GLAAD has been recommending that comic-book adaptation films make queer representation a priority almost every year since they started releasing this list, but it has taken until now to really see any progress with Marvel’s first-ever major character explicitly identifying as a lesbian (Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder). While the film industry as a whole still has a long way to go, there have been plenty of LGBTQ+ films in the last decade that have told authentic queer stories and made history doing so. Here are 10 of the best queer movies of the 2010s you should re-watch over and over.
This coming-of-age story written and directed by Barry Jenkins follows Chiron, a black male living in Miami through his youth, adolescence and early adulthood as he navigates his sexuality and identity while enduring physical and emotional abuse. Moonlightwas critically acclaimed and included on many lists of the best films of the 21st century. It became the first film with an all-black cast and LGBTQ-related storyline to win the Best Picture Oscar and earned Mahershala Ali an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Based on the novel by Andre Aciman, Call Me By Your Name portrays a romantic relationship between 17-year-old Elio (played by Timothee Chalamet) and his father’s 24-year-old grad student Oliver (played by Armie Hammer). Directed by Luca Guadagnino as the final installment in his thematic “Desire” trilogy, the film was praised by critics and received a 10 minute standing ovation when it screened at the New York Film Festival—the longest in the festival’s history. Chalamet and Hammer were praised for their performances and it won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. A sequel exploring the paths Elio and Oliver’s lives take is already in the works.
Boy Erased (2019)
Based on the memoir of the same name by Garrard Conley, Boy Erased follows Jared Eamons, the son of Baptist parents who is forced to attend a gay conversion therapy program. Written and directed by Joel Edgerton and starring Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman, the film reveals how abuse is disguised as therapy to make gay people think they can change their sexuality if they just want to bad enough. The performances and adaptation of Conley’s real-life experiences were praised by critics and Hedges was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role.
Love, Simon (2018)
Based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Love, Simon is a romantic teen comedy that has been compared to classic John Hughes films. It was also the first film by a major Hollywood studio to focus on a gay teenage romance. Simon is a closeted gay high school student who, along with his group of friends, is figuring out what falling in love means. While he knows he’s gay, Simon hasn’t come out yet and he’s trying to avoid being outed by someone who got ahold of emails he has been exchanging with a mystery pen pal. Critics called the movie “a charming crowd-pleaser” and “a modern classic for today’s generation”. It also won a few awards—including an MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Kiss—and Disney+ is currently working on a series set in the same universe.
BPM (Beats Per Minute) (2017)
BPM (Beats Per Minute) is set in Paris in the early 1990s at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis following a group of activists who decide to take a stand against the government and major pharmaceutical companies by staging bold, aggressive protests. Since many of the activists are gay and HIV-positive, they embrace their mission with a literal life-or-death urgency. Screenwriters Robin Campillo and Philippe Mangeot drew on their real-life experiences with ACT UP, an international organization devoted to ending the AIDS pandemic. The film premiered at Cannes and wracked up a number of awards including the prestigious Grand Prix.
God’s Own Country (2017)
Called the “British Brokeback”, God’s Own Country is set in Yorkshire on a sheep farm where Johnny is taking over for his father to run the business. A Romanian migrant worker named Gheorghe comes to help during lambing season and as the two spend more time together, the attraction between them grows. The film premiered at Sundance where it won the world cinema directing award. It has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the site’s critical consensus calling it “a quiet, moving rumination on loneliness and newfound intimacy”.
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt, Carol is about a forbidden affair between an aspiring female photographer (played by Rooney Mara) and an older woman (played by Cate Blanchett) going through a painful divorce. The film received a 10-minute standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival where it debuted and also won the Queer Palm, a prize selected for LGBT-relevant films entered into the festival. Despite it being called the best film of the year by many critics, Carol was snubbed in the Best Picture Oscar category. Many have suggested that the predominately male voting base couldn’t connect with a film that was unapologetically both gay and female.
The Kids Are Alright (2010)
As one of the first mainstream movies to show a same-sex couple raising teenagers, The Kids Are Alright portrayed what a non-traditional family can look like. Julianne Moore and Annette Benning star as a married couple who conceived two children via sperm donor. Interested in finding out who their biological father is, the kids, who are now teenagers, contact the sperm bank and get in touch with Paul (played by Mark Ruffalo). The film explores the complexities of not just a same-sex relationship but of marriage in general and was included on many critics top ten lists for the year as well as earning Benning and Ruffalo Oscar nominations.
Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Based on a graphic novel by the same name, Blue is the Warmest Colour was both controversial and beloved by critics. While it won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival where it premiered, many people—including Julie Maroh, the writer of the original graphic novel—thought the graphic sex scenes were unrealistic and too much like pornography. Still, it was nominated for best foreign language film at the Golden Globes and the BAFTA’s and made it onto many top 10 lists for the year.
When transgender sex worker Sin-Dee Rella (played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) who has just finished a 28-day prison sentence finds out her boyfriend Chester cheated on her while she was locked up, she and her friend Alexandra (played by Mya Taylor) set out on a mission to find him. Tangerine was praised by critics and The Hollywood Reporter called it “a singularly delightful girlfriend movie with an attitude”. Rodriguez and Taylor’s performances also prompted the first-ever Academy Awards campaigns for openly transgender actresses supported by a film producer, although neither one of them ended up being nominated.