Two school-friends share a horrifying history together, although only one of them can remember. Brian wants to remember what happened to him during a blackout when he was eight years old. Believing his friend to be the key to his memory, he tracks him down to New York, where he's working as a hustler on the streets. This film is a dark and horrifying tale of abuse, where the adult boys live against the backdrop of the AIDS pandemic, where hustling is even more dangerous. Gordon-Levitt and Corbett are outstanding in their roles and the climax will live with you long after the credits role.
9. TRANSAMERICA (2005)
An unusual take on the standard roadtrip genre, Transamerica earned Huffman an Oscar nomination for her role as Bree, a transsexual woman who discovers that she fathered a son when she was younger. Her son is now a teenage hustler in New York, so Bree bails him out of jail and takes him by road across America on his quest to track down his biological father, without telling him who she really is. Huffman and Zegers are remarkable in their roles as questions of parenthood bubble through to create a tense but heart-warming film.
8. MY SUMMER OF LOVE (2004)
In Emily Blunt's impressive debut, this coming of age story of obsession and deception is an angst-ridden boiling pot of lust and rich subtext. When two teenage girls meet at the start of a long hot summer, the next six weeks are spent amusing one another, before their relationship develops into something deeper and darker. As we learn to trust Blunt less and less, her girlfriend falls further and further in love with her, piling tension into this sun-drenched and atmospheric film. Smouldering, patient and paced, this superb movie is still probably Blunt's best. And yes, that includes The Devil Wears Prada.
7. THE HOURS (2002)
In an experimental film about the life and work of Virginia Woolf, The Hours contrasts three storylines: the life of Woolf, a parody of Mrs Dalloway set in 1950s suburbia and a woman reading the book in the present day. While Kidman and Moore are mesmerising in their storylines, Streep's projects the story against the lives of a lesbian couple who are struggling with the deterioration of their friend with AIDS. A fascinating and compelling story, the film won Oscar nominations aplenty (including winning Kidman the Best Actress award), whilst playing with a truly original narrative structure.
6. MONSTER (2003)
Despite becoming the poster-girl for the cause of Oscar bids based on uglification, Charlize Theron's performance as notorious American serial killer Aileen Wuornos is a striking and disturbing film, whose real power comes from its in-depth exploration of the psychology of a murderer, helping to explain and even sometimes justify her actions. Though Wuornos remains a disquieting character, the depiction of her relationship with her female partner humanises her, allowing us to see the person behind the monster. A fascinating and sinister film.
5. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)
In David Lynch's trippy masterpiece, Naomi Watts stars opposite Laura Herring, who survives a car crash on the titular LA street. Left with amnesia, she teams up with Watts' doe-eyed Hollywood starlet in a journey across the city, where lines between dreams and reality are crossed, blurred and called wholly into question. Chasing a dangerous director, a mysterious blue box and a club named Silencio, whilst exploring their feelings for each other, this richly complex visual miasma of styles and genres has been named by some critics as the greatest movie of the century so far. Don't expect to understand it, but do expect to be greatly rewarded for your time.
4. A SINGLE MAN (2009)
In fashion-designer Ford's directorial debut, Firth is captivating in his Oscar nominated role as the bereaved George, who is unable to cope with the loss of his boyfriend a year earlier. Set in 1960s Los Angeles, the film covers just a single day; the day on which George intends to kill himself. Setting his affairs in order, George heads out into the world to experience life for the very last time. Despite its potentially bleak subject matter, A Single Man is a life-affirming story about the latter stages of grief, all stylishly captured in slick and chic detail by a director with an eye for its aesthetic. Subsequently, this is a visually stunning and emotionally gut-wrenching film, which features Firth's finest performance to date.
3. MILK (2008)
The story of San Francisco politician Harvey Milk is Van Sant's tour-de-force. Charting the rise of the first openly gay politician to take office in the US, this remarkable story of uncompromising personal strength is respectfully and reverently painted against the newly liberated Gay Community in the Castro. But as his flame burns brighter, so too does his homophobic opposition that would eventually lead to his assassination. Winning Penn his second Oscar, this incredible story of courage in the face of tremendous adversity is the gay To Kill A Mockingbird, and its origins from real life make it all the more tragic.
2. HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2000)
Hedwig saw the arrival of one the Gay Community's strongest voices, and by God did he arrive in force. Writing, directing and starring in this film adaptation of the off-Broadway musical, John Cameron Mitchell created a rock masterpiece in the shape of a transsexual "internationally ignored song-stylist" from Communist East Berlin. Now revived on Broadway in a hugely successful stage show, Hedwigexplores one woman's journey through sexualities and gender identities, as she wrestles to come to terms with who she really is. Set against a punk interpretation of Plato's Symposium, this indie masterpiece is equal parts a trumpet for progressive liberalism and a nostalgic ode to the era of glam rock. I could watch this film again and again. And I have. I once watched it three times in a day.
1. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
It is still the greatest injustice in the history of the Oscars that Brokeback Mountainmissed out on the Best Picture prize to the now dated Crash. A heart-wrenching story of forbidden love, this masterpiece of epic cinema places two insignificant cowboys against the backdrop of harsh social oppression, set in the sweeping landscapes of Wyoming. Both married and starting their own families, Ennis and Jack fall in love on their trips to the mountain together. But as time passes and they can't bear to be apart, the unfeasibility of their creating a life together becomes impossible for either to bear. Peppered with astonishing performances from all of its leads, Brokeback Mountain isn't just one of the finest LGBT films ever made, it's one of the greatest films of any kind. Period. Its calamitously heartbreaking story is one that will live on as one the greatest stories of star-crossed lovers in the history of modern cinema.