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TOP 20 OF 2022

2022 might not go down in history as a golden year for the UK - or the world - with the Russian invasion of Ukraine having massive consequences for us all. At year-end, we are midway through a second 'Winter of Discontent', with workers striking up and down the country following massive inflation, the Cost of Living Crisis and energy firms raising prices so high that it's become difficult to even keep warm. And while this has been a global problem, the UK has been so much worse affected thanks to Brexit pouring petrol on the bonfire and leaving the UK unable to get back on its feet post-pandemic. And don't even get me started on Liz Truss. We started the year with Boris Johnson and Elizabeth II, we ended it with Rishi Sunak and Charles III and what a rollercoaster it's been. 

In the land of cinema, things have been thankfully much more rosy. With Top Gun: Maverick surpassing both box office and critical expectations to become the highest grossing film of the year, we also saw Marvel and DC continue their cinema saturation with films like The Batman and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever unsurprisingly finding massive audiences. Jurassic World Dominion and Avatar 2 proved once again that sequels are a surer box office bet than originals, but The Northman and The Woman King continued to show how much we all love a historical epic. And though it was a quiet year for auteurs, we did see a return to form for Baz Luhrmann, in his glorious musical biopic Elvis. 

The Oscars saw CODA inexplicably pick up Best Picture, while Will Smith's antics following his Best Actor win made headlines worldwide when he punched Chris Rock on stage. Jessica Chastain finally got her Oscar for The Eyes Of Tammy Faye and Jane Campion became the third woman to win Best Director. Meanwhile at Cannes, the zany but brilliant Triangle Of Sadness picked up the Palme d'Or.

In LGBT+ Cinema, two of the year's strongest - Nope and Everything Everywhere All At Once - both had incidentally lesbian lead characters; something unusual until now in mainstream cinema. Firebird and My Policeman lit our romantic fires, while comedies Bros, Fire Island and My Fake Boyfriend all made us laugh. But even though the Potter-verse finally explored Dumbledore's sexuality in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore, it left audiences somewhat cold. So go on then, what were the Top 20 LGBT+ Films of 2022? Take a look at each of them below!


Starring: Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, David Dawson, Gina McKee, Rupert Everett, Linus Roache

Director: Michael Grandage

Country: UK

UK Release: Amazon Prime

My Policeman.webp

When Marion meets handsome policeman Tom they embark on what she thinks is a conventional romance. Then she meets his friend Patrick, a cultured and artistic bachelor, with whom her new beau has a deep bond. Unbeknownst to her, the pair have actually been sleeping together for months, but because being gay is still illegal in 1950s England, they have been forced to keep their relationship a secret and Tom is using her to mask his secret identity. Told through a dual-narrative, we also meet the characters in the 1990s, with the older Marion insistent that she look after Patrick following a stroke, even though Tom really doesn’t want him there. What follows is the joining of the dots between these two stories. What was an acclaimed narrative has now transformed the novel into a film caught up in the discourse surrounding Harry Styles’ star persona. Of course it’s a moving drama with plenty to say about Queer history in the UK. It depicts a tragic but ordinary story from a time where every LGBT+ person had a heartbreaking history, but the whole thing is overshadowed by the perplexing casting of a megastar in a role wholly unsuited to the distraction of his fame.


Starring: Alexander Lincoln, Alexander King, Peter McPherson, William Hearle, Chris Garner, Carl Loughlin

Director: Matt Carter

Country: UK

UK Release: Verve Pictures

In From The Side.webp

Mark plays for a cash-strapped gay rugby team in London, where he plays on the B-squad. On a night out after the first game of the season, he meets and beds Warren, a confident player on the A-squad, but who also has a boyfriend on the team. Mark is in a relationship too - albeit open - but as they begin to secretly meet up regularly, he breaks the rules he had set in his relationshop. Their illicit affair becomes increasingly passionate, but both know that its exposure would not only cause a tumult in their private lives but also carve a fissure right through the heart of the team they love so much. But with Gareth watching suspiciously on - a jaded teammate who wants to make his presence felt - it’s only a matter of time before the affair is explosively revealed. Like Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, this zooms in on the minutiae of rugby itself, depicting in extreme close-up the moments of contact and conflict, making us feel impact and hear every breath. With a moody palate of browns and blues, it looks stylishly muddy, with its stupidly handsome leads feeling like they’ve stepped straight from a Ralph Lauren sportswear spread. 


Starring: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho, Conrad Ricamora, James Scully

Director: Andrew Ahn

Country: USA

UK Release: Disney+

Fire Island.webp

In this adaptation of ‘Pride & Prejudice’, Noah reunites with his friends for their annual vacation on Fire Island. His best friend Howie, however, is disillusioned with the place, feeling out of place among the white muscle-bound clones. Noah vows to help him find the man of his dreams, putting his desire to hook-up second, only to find himself over-invested as Howie meets the dreamy Charlie and his miserable friend Will, whose rich and beautiful lifestyle is a million miles from their unabashedly queer one. Its biggest problem is that the film sits firmly on the fence, completely undecided as to whether Fire Island is a wonderful or terrible place. Noah and his friends hate the people, but still fancy them; they complain about its commercialism, but fully buy into it; they bemoan the shallowness, but behave in completely the same way. For a film clearly virtue-signalling to its audience, there is still absolutely a focus on the prettiest, the strongest and the people who look nicest in a pair of trunks. And while that is clearly what Fire Island Pines is about, isn't that the opposite of what the film is trying to achieve? 


Starring: Keiynan Lonsdale, Dylan Sprouse, Samer Salem, Marcus Rosner, Karen Robinson, Sarah Hyland

Director: Rose Troche

Country: Canada

UK Release: Amazon Prime

My Fake Boyfriend.webp

When Andrew breaks up with his soap star boyfriend, best friend Jake intervenes to help him get over the break up by inventing “Christiano”, a fake boyfriend on social media. But while Andrew doesn’t really invest in this avatar spouse, Jake and his girlfriend create an entire life for their creation, which begins to get out of control as Christiano becomes an influencer with advertising deals and virtual media appearances. Meanwhile, Andrew meets the hunky Rafi and decides he longer needs the assistance of Christiano, but the world’s newest online sensation is harder to shake off than he was to create. If the plot sounds absolutely bonkers to you, then you are absolutely right. If you’re willing to overlook logic and reality, then this is a hilarious and well-written comedy. But if you’re not… maybe watch some mumblecore. 


Starring: Phillip Lewitski, Joshua Odjick, Avery Winters-Anthony

Director: Bretten Hannam

Country: Canada

UK Release: Peccadillo Pictures


Link is an angry teenager living with an abusive father. Having spent years believing that his mother was dead, the discovery that this is a lie sends him travelling across Nova Scotia with his brother to find her. On their way, they encounter openly two-spirit Pasmay, who becomes the guide on their journey, only to become something much more meaningful too. Link has bleached his hair to conceal his Native American heritage, of which he knows very little, but through Pasmay he encounters a community that want to help and nurture him; something that he has never experienced before. From furious despondency to elated bliss, Link’s journey delivers the full pantheon of emotions. With a powerful central performance, this is a subtle and nuanced film that vividly brings to the screen a profoundly personal journey of cultural re-engagement. Delivered unsensationally but with an abundance of feeling, this is a starkly realistic film that might be driving home a socio-economic agenda, but also doesn’t hold back on the romance.


Starring: Giancarlo Commare, Gianmarco Saurino, Carlo Calderone, Michela Giraud, Eduardo Valdarnini

Directors: Alessandro Guida, Matteo Pilati

Country: Italy

UK Release: Peccadillo Pictures


Antonio has spent his whole adult life with his husband, but when they unexpectedly split he has to find a new apartment and a job. He stays with Denis, a free-spirited and promiscuous drug-dealer, who sets out to show him how fun single life can be. He starts working in a patisserie, starts sleeping with his boss and slowly discovers a sex positive identity along the way. A fun and smart comedy-drama, this is an astute twenty-first century portrait of being a single gay man. The script is sharp and it looks luscious, with beautifully composed art direction and editing that finds the balance between sexy and clever. Less a rom-com, more a belated coming-of-age story, this is a film that lives up to its title. Rich, succulent and delicious, Mascarpone is a tasty treat, both on your plate and on screen.


Starring: Anaïs Demoustier, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Denis Podalydés, Christophe Montenez

Director: Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet

Country: France

UK Release: Peccadillo Pictures

Anais In Love.webp

Anaïs is a flighty Parisienne living pay-check to pay-check in a flat she can’t afford, supplementing her income by letting her home on Air B&B and sleeping on friends’ couches. Following a split with her boyfriend because she tends to have affairs with older men, she goes to a party and on cue, meets an older man and begins an affair with him. However, when she meets his wife, Emilie, a novelist with the same world-view as her, Anaïs begins an intense pursuit of the unsuspecting older woman instead. Demoustier is absolutely resplendent as Anaïs. Endearing, sweet and the epitome of the scatterbrained but refined mademoiselle, she is both magnetic and irritating in equal part. Anaïs In Love sums up everything we love about Le Cinéma Français: idealised but pragmatic, witty but razor-sharp, playful but realistic. In the feature debut from director Bourgeois-Tacquet, this is confident filmmaking that establishes her as a name to watch in French cinema.


Starring: Elz Carrad, Arlo Green, Awhina-Rose Ashby, Kirk Torrance

Director: Max Currie

Country: New Zealand

UK Release: Peccadillo Pictures


Trans activist Caz left Rūrangi - his home town - a decade ago to live in Auckland. Now, he returns in an attempt to reconcile with his estranged father, who has yet to meet him as a man. Sparks fly when they meet, but Caz perseveres in trying to reestablish a relationship with his Dad, while reuniting with his ex-boyfriend, who struggles to comprehend who Caz actually was when they dated. With a positive trans narrative and a captivating lead, this is an indie romance that deserves all your attention. Moving, nuanced and overwhelmingly human, you’ll fall in love with Caz, who not only is a bonafide hunk, but who also displays a moving but masculine vulnerability, quietly restrained but uncompromising in his identity. 


Starring: Mauricio Di Yorio, Umbra Colombo, Diego Starosta

Director: Felipe Gomez Aparicio

Country: Argentina

UK Release: TLA Releasing

The Perfect David.webp

David is a young bodybuilder. Still at high school, he spends most of his time in the gym sculpting his muscles. His mother is an artist who uses her son’s body for inspiration for her sculptures. Inspecting and measuring his muscles daily, she moves him onto a course of steroids provided by his trainer and becomes as obsessed as he is with creating the perfect version of her son. David must maintain a strict diet and absolute abstinence from alcohol and when his peers are all out partying, he finds it hard to continuously restrict himself, especially as he begins to become sexually aware. Despite the fact this film revolves around the male physique, this is not a showy or gratuitous film. If you’re coming at it expecting a gay Magic Mike, you’ll be greeted instead by a subtle and nuanced character piece. 

11. BROS

Starring: Billy Eichner, Luke MacFarlane, TS Madison, Miss Lawrence, Bowen Yang, Debra Messing

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Country: USA

UK Release: Universal Pictures


Billy Eichner plays Bobby, a thinly veiled version of the comedian, who is a podcaster now trying his hand at opening New York’s first LGBT+ museum. He’s been single for most of his life, preferring to find intimacy with his friends and through hook-ups with random guys from apps. That is until he meets Aaron, a beefed up circuit party gym bro, whom he assumes he will have nothing in common with. Dating glacially slowly with the duo competing for the title of Most Emotionally Unavailable, they gradually realise they had more in common than they first expected. The plot is pretty thin adhering stoically to the romantic comedy playbook, but it’s definitely helped by a strong script with rich dialogue penned by a writer who is clearly an expert on the community he is satirising. The dialogue is pithy and fun for sure, with both its romantic heroes well-drawn and vivid characters. Their back-and-forth dysfunctional romance provides enough meat for its audience and Eichner makes for a fun lead, while the criminally underrated Macfarlane is utterly charming and the director dines OUT on his gym-pumped physique. LGBT+ audiences will love Bros, but that widespread appeal that Eichner was scrabbling for won’t come until he delivers something truly hilarious. It might have the glossy sheen of a big budget Hollywood romcom, but the emphasis is on the rom over the com and broader audiences won’t come until the emphasis is clearly more on the latter.


Starring: Samuel H. Levine, Ron Rifkin, Christopher McCann, Mark Margolis, Alex Hurt

Director: Eric Steel

Country: USA

UK Release: Peccadillo Pictures


David is seventeen and a good yeshiva student, living in Brooklyn in the 1980s. At night he sneaks out to drink in gay bars, where he meets hunky barman Bruno and begins a love affair, while befriending two closeted old men back in his community. On a journey of self-discovery, David begins to learn that his sexuality and religion need not be mutually exclusive. A flawlessly dressed period piece, this is a remarkably realistic slice of the 1980s, with its dusty brown palate complimented by perfectly selected locations. Minyan is an effective character piece creating a picture-perfect snapshot of ‘80s normalcy that feels both suffocating and a breath of fresh air. 

9. X

Starring: Mia Goth, Brittany Snow, Martin Henderson, Kid Cudi, Stephen Ure

Director: Ti West

Country: USA

UK Release: A24


It is 1979 and Wayne is a movie director who has seen the potential for low-budget pornography in the newly created VHS market. Together with his girlfriend, stars and crew, they head to a secluded cabin in the wilderness to shoot their movie, but upon arrival meet its elderly redneck owners Howard and Pearl, who really aren’t keen on their visitors. Taking offence at their immodesty and licentiousness, the couple embark on a gruesome killing spree, with the group oblivious as to why it’s happening. Because surely the elderly couldn’t possibly by killers, right? Mia Goth is a perfect scream-queen, but starring as the villain too adds an unsettlingly narcissistic edge, especially as old Mia sexually assaults young Mia in her sleep. Pearl has a voracious sexual appetite, whether for the boys on their ranch or the girls. The film uses elderly sexuality to underpin its antagonists’ motives, dining out its shock factor and using it as their motive. There is certainly nothing monumental about its plot, strictly following the rules - and narrative tropes - of its genre. But if you go into this with your eyes open, it delivers a well-crafted slasher horror on all counts, even if its finale and body-count are hardly a surprise.


Starring: Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Daphne Patakia, Lambert Wilson

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Country: France

UK Release: Pathé Distribution


Benedetta is gifted to a nunnery by her father, where she begins to believe she is married to Christ and has dreams in which he protects her from the marauding hordes of men that want to violate her. Upon the arrival of Bartholome, a wild and seductive novice, Benedetta’s visions give her the stigmata and the community declare a miracle, but the abbess invites a diocesan investigator to discern if these visions are genuine, or if Benedetta is doing something much more sinister. This is a film absolutely laden with sex. In a film that revolves entirely around the temptations of the flesh, Verhoeven dines out on his license to plaster nudity - and girl-on-girl action - across the screen; not that he’s ever needed justification before. This is a luscious enactment of a rare example of an actual documented LGBT+ history and if you can get past the initial pearl-clutching outrage and go where Verhoeven wants to take you, this is a rich and evocative film. 


Starring: Sophie Marceau, André Dussollier, Géraldine Pailhas, Charlotte Rampling, Grégory Gadebois

Director: François Ozon

Country: France

UK Release: Curzon

Everything Went Fine.webp

When Emmanuèle and Pascale arrive at the hospital following their father’s stroke they find him half-paralysed and in agony. As they readjust to his new life, both sisters are horrified when he suggests helping him to end his life. Once the shock subsides and he remains insistent of his wish, Emmanuèle finds a clinic in Switzerland that will perform this final service for him, but with the practice totally illegal in France, enacting his will proves much harder than any of them had anticipated. In a classically French drama exhibiting superb hyper-realism, Ozon is level-headed in what could have been an emotive heart-string plucker. Based on the memoir of novelist Emmanuèle Bernheim, it gives an authentic and compelling face to euthanasia and its moral conundrum. 


Starring: Omer Perelman Striks, Asaf Jonas, Nadia Kucher, Igal Reznik

Director: Adam Kalderon

Country: Israel

UK Release: Peccadillo Pictures

The Swimmer.webp

Erez is an accomplished swimmer who has been selected to compete in swimming at the highest level and train at the national swimming centre. But when Erez meets handsome teammate Nevo, the team’s “no relationships” rule proves harder to follow than anticipated as his feelings develop distinctly toward him. Unlike similar films this is decidedly not a romance, but instead a sexual awakening coming-of-age film in which Nevo unwittingly stirs Erez’s unacknowledged sexual longings. And the film focuses heavily on the sexual. For a film that already parades its stars for ninety percent of its runtime in tiny speedos, it manages to go even further and yet stay on the right line of gratuity. The filmmaker is playing up the eroticism for sure, but when the nature of the sport you’re portraying is already pretty nude, he’s managed – with aplomb – to turn up the voyeurism to thirteen. And no wonder Erez’s sexuality its awakened! 


Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen

Country: Denmark

UK Release: Curzon


In this Oscar-nominated Danish animated documentary, filmmaker Jonas is interviewing Amin, whom he has known since they were teenagers. Slowly, the latter begins to reveal the story of his childhood. During the Soviet-Afghan war, Amin’s father became a political prisoner. Following the Soviet withdraw from Kabul in 1989, the family fled to Russia, fearing reprisal from the mujahideen. His older brother is living in Sweden, who tries to arrange for human traffickers to take them across the Baltic Sea, but attempt after attempt is thwarted or goes awry, leaving the family increasingly desperate to live together in safety. And all the while, Amin is struggling to accept his sexuality. An original format – I’ve certainly never seen an animated talking-heads interview before – it finds its stride quickly and we lose ourselves in this animated world, albeit never far away from the horrific reality of what it means to be a refugee. 


Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong

Directors: Daniels

Country: USA

UK Release: A24

Everything Everywhere All At Once.webp

Evelyn Wang and her husband, Waymond, are Chinese immigrants living in the US who run a laundromat with their family, but are struggling to pay their taxes. Meeting with an IRS agent, Evelyn is taken aback when her husband is temporarily possessed by another version of Waymond from another universe, who tells her that she can hop countless plains of reality, witnessing different outcomes from her many life decisions. Scared and wary, Evelyn isn’t interested in this hallucinatory craziness until she learns that there is a vengeful figure who has been murdering other versions of her in numerous other realities. A phantasmagorical time-shifting multiverse explosion of kung-fu sci-fi, the film revolves around Evelyn’s evolving relationship with her daughter, who is gay and wanting to come out to her grandfather. Take away all the universes, explosions and martial arts and this is the story of a daughter seeking approval from her mother. But it’s all this window-dressing that makes this film so extraordinary. It looks, smells and feels remarkable, with Yeoh giving her strongest performance in a decade, but I dare anyone to try and plot the narrative of that final hour, because even casually following it is a Hurculean task. 


Starring: Tom Prior, Oleg Zagarodnii, Diana Pozharskaya, Margus Prangel

Director: Peeter Rebane

Country: Estonia

UK Release: Roadside Attractions


Sergey is a young recruit serving his military service on a Soviet Air Force Base in occupied Estonia in the 1970s. Though he and his friends quietly break the strict rules of the base regularly, it isn’t until he meets handsome fighter pilot Roman that he begins to surreptitiously rebel against the world around him. As the two embark on a clandestine relationship, Sergey is willing to throw caution to the wind to be together, whereas Roman is too keen to maintain his position in the Air Force, faking a relationship with Sergey’s best friend to mask the truth. But with the KGB watching their every move, it’s only a matter of time before the truth begins to creep to the surface. Looking like an immaculate photo-shoot for GQ, this is an exquisitely composed film with strong performances captured by a magnificent crowd-pleasing director who gives his audience of the Instagram-generation exactly what they want. Succulent, moving and delicious, this is a romance for the ages that you can completely lose yourself in. 


Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Stephen Yeun, Michael Wincott

Director: Jordan Peele

Country: USA

UK Release: Universal Pictures


OJ and his sister Em run a horse ranch in California, where they train horses to be used in movies. Next door, former child-star Jupe runs a failing theme park. When both discover there is some form of flying saucer frequenting the skies above them, they react differently, with the former trying to capture it on the film, while the latter tries to exploit it for commercial gain. But ultimately, this presence in the sky above their heads is entirely hostile and wants to kill every life form in its path, which includes all of them, regardless of their intentions. Peele has created a wonderful slice of genre cinema with all the hallmarks of a modern populist classic. While maybe not as a good as Get Out, it certainly beats Us and reaffirms that Peele is at the top of his game. A tense, gory and unsettling thrill-ride, it’s also wittily restrained, with something weirdly satisfying about the characters sparingly finally uttering the titular “Nope!” in moments of extreme peril. 


Starring: Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans, Michael Urie

Director: Todd Stephens

Country: USA

UK Release: Peccadillo Pictures

Swan Song.webp

Pat Pitsenbarger is in a nursing home, where he passes his time folding napkins and trying not to reflect on the glamorous life he had before. In his heyday, he had been the stylist to the rich and famous in his town, including a rich socialite with whom he was best friends but is now estranged. When a lawyer visits the home and tells him that she has died, Pat is surprised to learn that she has made arrangements in her will for him to style her hair for her funeral, hoping this final act would be a way to extend the olive branch post-mortem. Reluctantly accepting, Pat leaves the home and gather the tools he needs to complete this final job. Along the way he meets an array of gloriously colourful characters, including the resplendent Jennifer Coolidge, who plays his long-time rival Dee Dee. In several pearl-clutching exchanges, Pat rediscovers his inner bitch, even if their enmity is smoke and mirrors, masking their affection for one another. Coolidge delivers one of her finest performances in years, but that’s nothing in comparison to Udo Kier, who is nothing short of remarkable as Pat. 

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