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THE PINK 100

LGBT people have appeared on film as long as movies have been made, but it's only in the last few decades that they have really become visible. Between 1930 and 1968, filmmakers were crippled by the Hays Code, a set of industry guidelines intended to shape and guide the moral content of films. Within this code, the depiction of homosexuality was strictly forbidden, but some characters still appeared with a wink and a nudge to the audience; sissy boys, butch women, sexually ambiguous leads. But it wasn't until the ban was lifted and homosexuality decriminalised that gay people began to find themselves represented positively on screen.

As a result of the not-so-straightforward history of the representation of the LGBT Community on film, I set myself certain guidelines in compiling this list of the Greatest LGBT Films of all time:

• These films had to include a positive representation of the LGBT Community. This does not mean the characters have to be positive, just that it's message is not homophobic (subsequently ruling out films such as Rebecca and Cruising).
• The films had to include explicit representations of homosexuality, instead of implicit references that could be read as LGBT retrospectively (subsequently ruling out films such as All About Eve and Strangers On A Train).
• Films adopted by the LGBT Community as iconic, but still lacking LGBT characters could not be included (ruling out The Wizard Of Oz).
• Films that use homosexuality as a shock tactic could also not be included (ruling out Sebastiane and Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom).
• Films did not have to receive a cinema release to be included.

Obviously, there are many more than 100 truly great LGBT films. I've tried to be as objective as possible, including what I believe critics would cite as the Greatest LGBT Films Of All Time, but their positioning within the list is pretty subjective, however. If you think I've missed something important however, let me know! I want to know what your favourite LGBT films are too!

100. HOLDING THE MAN (2015)

STARRING: RYAN CORR, CRAIG STOTT. DIRECTOR: NEIL ARMFIELD.

 

In putting a human face on the AIDS Crisis, this love story serves as a reminder that the virus touched people from all demographics and though sometimes easy to pass moral judgement on moments of indiscretion, their ramifications so clearly outweigh their cause.

99. ROOM IN ROME (2010)

STARRING: ELENA ANAYA, NATASHA YAROVENKO. DIRECTOR: JULIO MEDEM.

 

In this erotic Spanish drama, we follow two women over the course of a single night during their vacations in Rome. With one insisting that she’s straight, the night initially depicts the slow breakdown of her boundaries after they meet in a club. Practically a 90 minute duologue in a bedroom, the sexual tension from the opening scene is palpable and sustained throughout the film, creating a genuinely engaging piece about lust, sexuality and sexual awakenings. Where most erotic films fail, this succeeds entirely in giving a compelling narrative as well as not holding back in depicting sex on screen. Between two very attractive women. 

98. KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN (1985)

STARRING: WILLIAM HURT, RAU; JULIA, SONIA BRAGA. DIRECTOR: HECTOR BABENCO. William Hurt won an Oscar for his depiction of a gay man in a Brazilian prison, recruited by intelligence officers to inform on his political prisoner cellmate. Winning his trust through elaborate stories about Nazi Germany and mysterious Spider Woman on a desert island, he soon realises that he is falling in love with the man he will be forced to betray. With tightly woven narratives between his fictions and reality, this is an exciting thriller underpinned by a fantastic performance by Hurt. 

97. THEO & HUGO (2016)

STARRING: GEOFFREY COUET, FRANCOIS NAMBOT. DIRECTORS: OLIVIER DUCASTEL, JACQUES MARTINEAU.

 

After two men meet in a sauna, they embark on a night wandering Paris together after they realised they shared a connection that neither have felt before. But when one reveals that he is HIV+ and they engaged in unprotected sex together, this initial deception seems poised to undermine the likelihood of their relationship ever finding its way to reality.

96. BEACH RATS (2017)

STARRING: HARRIS DICKINSON, MADELINE WEISTEIN, KATE HODGE. DIRECTOR: ELIZA HITTMAN.

 

A Brooklyn teenager spends his day hanging out with his friends and experimenting with drugs, but when night falls and he is alone, he looks for ways to explore his burgeoning homosexuality too. Meeting men online for sex, these two identities seem completely at odds with each other, but when the two worlds collide, fireworks can only ensue.

95. BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017)

STARRING: EMMA STONE, STEVE CARELL, ANDREA RISEBOROUGH, SARAH SILVERMAN, BILL PULLMAN, ALAN CUMMING. DIRECTORS: JONATHAN DAYTON, VALERIE FARIS.

 

The true story of the tennis match between World Number One tennis player Billie Jean King and ex-World Champion, Bobby Riggs, this film shows how a woman took on the overriding chauvinist attitudes in a sport that assumed that men were both more interesting and better players than their female counterparts. Both Stone and Carell are magnetic in their performances that combine to create this battle of wits.

94. I KILLED MY MOTHER (2009)

STARRING: ANNE DORVAL, XAVIER DOLAN, FRANCOIS ARNAUD, SUZANNE CELEMENT. DIRECTOR: XAVIER DOLAN.

 

Director Dolan exploded into the film arena with this semi-autobiographical movie, in which he also stars as a boy whose disastrous relationship with his mother is fuelled both by her ambivalence and his volatile hormones. Pretending that his mother is dead at school, her fury is relentless when she finds out his deception. Dolan and Anne Dorval are electric as the leads, while the script is suitably and welcomely angst-filled, written as it was by Dolan aged 16. Released when he was just 20, this is a great debut that heralded the start of one of LGBT Cinema's strongest voices. 

93. CONCUSSION (2013)

STARRING: ROBIN WEIGERT, MAGGIE SIFF, JONATHAN TCHAIKOVSKY. DIRECTOR: STACIE PASSON.

 

A woman takes to the sex trade in an attempt to spice up her marriage... and finds she really likes it. Moody, atmospheric and intense, this story is striking for its ability to find a balance between the extremes of her life: escorting and being a mother. 

92. THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON (2017)

DIRECTOR: DAVID FRANCE.

 

This documentary tells the story of legendary black transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, who is one of the figures attributed with starting the Stonewall Riots. While exploring the highs and lows of her life, it also delves into the mystery of her murder, which remains unsolved to this day.

91. HEARTBEATS (2010)

STARRING: MONIA CHOKRI, NIELS SCHNEIDER, XAVIER DOLAN. DIRECTOR: XAVIER DOLAN.

 

Québécois auteur Xavier Dolan also starred in this, his second film as director (aged just 21). Following a boy/girl best friendship, it examines what happens when both fall in love with the same man, competing for his affection when neither know whom he favours. Indie in the extreme, the three leads are aspirationally quirky and the epitome of millennials. Brow-beating and earnest, this is a movie for a rainy day, but not Dolan's best. 

90. C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)

STARRING: MICHEL COTE, MARC-ANDRE GRONDIN, DANIELLE PROULX. DIRECTOR: JEAN-MARC VALLEE. 

 

In an early movie from director Jean-Marc Vallée, this Canadian film follows the true story of the early life of writer François Boulay, who co-wrote the screenplay. Following the young Boulay through the 60s and 70s, we see his struggle with his sexuality surrounded by brothers in a hyper-masculine Catholic household. A snappily edited film complimented by its wonderfully period soundtrack, this is a fantastic indie piece that is definitely worth exploring. 

89. BREAKFAST ON PLUTO (2005)

STARRING: CILLIAN MURPHY, LIAM NEESON, BRENDAN GLEESON, STEPHEN REA. DIRECTOR: NEIL JORDAN.

 

Cillian Murphy stars in this dramatisation of the landmark memoir by Patrick Kitten McCabe, a trans woman who escaped her small Irish town in the 1970s to London, under to find herself under suspicion as a member of the IRA. A black comedy underpinned by a zingy performance by Murphy, it is let down by its refusal to show Kitten as the highly sexualised character from the book. 

88. TANGERINE (2015)

STARRING: KITANA KIKI RODRIGUEZ, MYA TAYLOR, KARREN KARAGULIAN. DIRECTOR: SEAN BAKER.

 

In this street-smart comic drama shot entirely on an iPhone, we follow trans street-walker Sin-Dee as she decides to get revenge on her cheating boyfriend. Told across a single un-festive Christmas evening in Los Angeles, we meet the colourful characters that inhabit her life as she hunts the man who betrayed her. A fun but gritty piece that shows Queer street life at its most vibrant, this is wholly entertaining and a great piece of indie cinema.

87. THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK (1984)

DIRECTOR: ROB EPSTEIN.

 

Released in the early days of the AIDS Crisis, this bold documentary earned Oscar attention for its depiction of the first openly gay US politician, Harvey Milk. Charting the rise and assassination of this now iconic figure, we see a very early reflection on gay San Francisco in the 60s and 70s. A powerful and potent film, this is a useful companion piece to Milk and When We Rise, the Gus Van Sant/Dustin Lance Black collaborations on the same topic. 

86. VELVET GOLDMINE (1998)

STARRING: EWAN MCGREGOR, JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS, TONI COLLETTE, CHRISTIAN BALE. DIRECTOR: TODD HAYNES.

 

Some of the late 90s’ biggest actors star in this glam-rock fictional biopic about the life of fictional rockstar Brian Slade. Told in flashback through interviews with a closeted journalist, the film charts the life of the bisexual star, looking at his affairs with men and women before his spectacular on-stage death. A vibrant explosion of glitter, music and 80s fashion, this is a wonderfully vivid movie that perfectly encapsulates the glam-rock era, brought to life by a handful of sensationally off-piste performances. 

85. THE WAY HE LOOKS (2014)

STARRING: GHILHERME LOBO, FABIO AUDI, TESS AMORIM. DIRECTOR: DANIEL RIBEIRO.

 

This wonderfully tender Brazilian film follows Leonardo, a young gay blind teenager. Searching for his independence, he finds it in his best friend Giovanna, but the way he experiences the world changes entirely upon the arrival of Gabriel. A beautiful depiction of young love, I defy anyone not to have their heart-strings well and truly plucked by the time the credits roll.

84. ALMOST ADULTS (2016)

STARRING: NATASHA NEGOVANLIS, ELISE BAUMAN, JUSTIN GERHARD. DIRECTOR: SARAH ROTELLA.

 

A girls' buddy movie that for light and frothy escapism, ticks all the right boxes. Reflective of contemporary Queer culture, it capably depicts the development of sexual identity in the digital age. Yes, it wanders into the realm of stereotypes at times, but this also detaches us enough to root for them even if we don’t necessarily like them.

83. BOY MEETS GIRL (2014)

STARRING: MICHELLE HENDLEY, MICHAEL WELCH, ALEXANDRA TURSHEN. DIRECTOR: ERIC SCHAEFFER.

 

A beautifully tender film about a trans girl exploring her sexuality, made all the more watchable by its extremely compelling lead. Exploring both gender and sexual identities, this is a frank and honest piece that will make you fall in love multiple times; alongside her and with her.

82. CLOSET MONSTER (2015)

STARRING: AARON ABRAMS, JACK FULTON, JOANNE KELLY. DIRECTOR: STEPHEN DUNN.

 

A painfully indie but beautifully composed Canadian gem, this coming-of-age story follows a teenager discovering his sexuality as he grows up alongside his talking hamster, voiced by Isabella Rossellini. Reclusive and shy, he realises that he needs to grow out of having an imaginary friend, but cannot bring himself to do so. A sweet and poignant portrait of growing up, this is a beautiful Peter Pan story for the hipster generation. 

81. APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR (2014)

STARRING: DESIREE AKHAVAN, REBECCA HENDERSON, HALLEY FEIFFER, RYAN FITZSIMMONS. DIRECTOR: DESIREE AKHAVAN.

 

A rare beast! A film actually about bisexuality! Witty, pithy and slick, this story about a 20-something stumbling through the dating pitfalls of life in 21st century Brooklyn is a film for all the socially awkward folks who don't succeed in passing off their quirks as being hipster. An indie gem for the Girls-generation. 

80. Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN (2002)

STARRING: GABRIEL GARCIA BERNAL, DIEGO LUNA, MARIBEL VERDU. DIRECOTR: ALFONSO CUARON.

 

Gabríel Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna star in this Mexican indie Drama by Alfonso Cuarón opposite Maribel Verdú as two teenage boys who go on a road trip across the country with an older woman. Discovering themselves along the way, they also discover the complexity of their friendship and sexualities. One of the very best Spanish-language films of the 00s, this is a joyous coming of age movie, depicting adeptly the nexus of teenage boyhood and sexual maturity. 

79. EDWARD II (1991)

STARRING: STEVEN WADDINGTON, KEVIN COLLINS, NIGEL TERRY, TILDA SWINTON. DIRECTOR: DEREK JARMAN.

 

Derek Jarman's adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's play looks at the relationship of the Plantagenet King with his "favourite" Galveston. Played in modern dress, Tilda Swinton looks like she has fallen out of the pages of Vogue as his beleaguered Queen who is insistent that he give up his lover. A punk biopic in Jacobean verse, this is Jarman at his best and Swinton at her most fabulous. 

78. THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VAN KANT (1972)

STARRING: MARGIT CARSTENSEN, HANNA SCHYGULLA, KATRIN SCHAAKE. DIRECTOR: RAINER WERNER FASSBINDER.

 

A deftly layered character study of a woman teetering on the verge of self-destruction, Fassbinder’s most strikingly LGBT film follows Petra, an arrogant fashion designer who falls in love with an icy beauty who wants to be a model. This is a theatrical slow-burner that allows its characters to be unflinchingly detestable, unabashed and gives Petra some seriously great wigs.

77. LONGTIME COMPANION (1989)

STARRING: CAMPBELL SCOTT, PATRICK CASSIDY, JOHN DOSSETT, MARY-LOUISE PARKER, STEPHEN CAFFREY, BRUCE DAVISON, DERMOT MULRONEY.

 

The first depiction of the AIDS crisis in a mainstream movie, this is Philadelphia but without its "safe" straight angle. Depicting the emergence of the disease and its subsequent devastation of the gay community, it follows a number of gay man in the 1980s. Earning Davison an Oscar-nomination, this is the first time Hollywood put a human face on the disease, which is arguably better than its more famous successor, four years later.

76. LILTING (2014)

STARRING: BEN WHISHAW, CHENG PEI-PEI, ANDREW LEUNG. DIRECTOR: HONG KHAOU.

 

Ben Whishaw stars in this British drama about the death of a Chinese-Cambodian man, who leaves behind a male partner and his mother who doesn't speak a word of English. Having lived entirely separately from one another, their grief brings them together as they realise that while they loved him different ways, they both still loved the same person. A beautifully tender film, this is a moving film about multiculturalism and the universality of grief. 

75. THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT (1975)

STARRING: JOHN HURT, LIZ GEBHARDT, PATRICIA HODGE. DIRECTOR: JACK GOLD.

 

In his BAFTA-winning tour-de-force, John Hurt stars as the flamboyant icon Quentin Crisp in this adaptation of his seminal autobiography. Uncompromising in his determination to express himself, the film shows Crisp's refusal to conform, even against the threat of prison. Funny and thoroughly uplifting, Hurt's performance is almost as iconic as the person he's playing. 

74. HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (2012)

DIRECTOR: DAVID FRANCE.

 

During the AIDS Crisis, activist group ACT UP was hugely outspoken in its resistance to the government's apathy toward the disease. But where it began with fervent focus on pushing for a cure for the disease, this documentary shot by one of its members shows how the organisation descended into political squabbles that distracted from the initial goal and distracted from the cause they had been fighting so desperately for. This film masterfully portrays how even the best of intentions can be soiled by politics, even when lives are at stake. A brilliant film. 

73. THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY (2000)

STARRING: MATT DAMON, JUDE LAW, GWYNETH PALTROW, CATE BLANCHETT, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. DIRECTOR: ANTHONY MINGHELLA.

 

Minghella's follow-up to his Oscar triumph goes far beyond the quality of The English Patient. This slick and stylish thriller set in 1920s Italy follows Tom Ripley (in a masterful performance from Matt Damon) a fledgling conman who convinces an American industrialist of his friendship with his son. Employed by the father to track him down, he cajoles his way into his home, he double-crosses his way through friendships, murders and an exceptionally tense game of cat and mouse with those who suspect the truth about him. With Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman in support, this is a gripping and stunning film, with a gay lead character whose repressed sexuality further adds to the tension. 

72. IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK 2 (2000)

STARRING: VANESSA REDGRAVE, MICHELLE WILLIAMS, CHLOE SEVIGNY, ELLEN DEGENERES, SHARON STONE. DIRECTORS: JANE ANDERSON, MARTHA COOLIDGE, ANNE HECHE.

 

Following its first incarnation as an ensemble Drama about abortion, the series' second instalment sees three episodic stories about lesbian issues. The first, starring Vanessa Redgrave, is set in 1961 and explores LGBT inheritance rights. The second, starring Michelle Williams and Chloë Sevigny, depicts prejudice amongst their own toward butch lesbians and is set in 1971. The last, set in 2000, stars Ellen DeGeneres and Sharon Stone as a couple who are trying to become pregnant. Starting dark and ending on a light story, this is a very strong collection that adeptly shows how society has changed for the better. Released at the height of the ensemble drama craze, this HBO movie is definitely worth your time. 

71. PRAYERS FOR BOBBY (2009)

STARRING: SIGOURNEY WEAVER, HENRY CZERNY, RYAN KELLEY. DIRECTOR: RUSSELL MULCAHY.

 

Sigourney Weaver stars in this Emmy-winning TV Movie of a true story, which depicts the crusade of a woman's crusade for Gay Rights after her son committed suicide due to her own religious intolerance of his sexuality. A real weepy, Weaver is phenomenal in this moving drama that explores how attitudes and deep-set prejudices can be subject to change if effectively challenged. 

70. OTHER PEOPLE (2016)

STARRING: JESSE PLEMONS, MOLLY SHANNON, BRADLEY WHITFORD. DIRECTOR: CHRIS KELLY.

 

Jesse Plemons stars as a young gay man who has a strained relationship with his father. He has spent his whole life dealing solely with his mother, but shen she is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he is forced to attempt to reforge a relationship with his Dad. A painful story about terminal illness and the people left behind, both Plemons and Shannon give career-best performances in this touching Drama about the love between parents and their son.

69. HAPPY TOGETHER (1997)

STARRING: TONY CHIU-WAI LEUNG, CHEN CHANG, LESLIE CHEUNG. DIRECTOR: KAR-WAI WONG.

 

This LGBT classic from Hong Kong auteur Kar-Wai Wong depicts a couple who take a trip to Argentina but find their lives drifting apart in opposite directions. An intense no-holds-barred depiction of a destructive relationship between two men who cannot live with or without each other. A seething depiction of happily never after. The gay Blue Valentine. 

68. DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975)

STARRING: AL PACINO, JOHN CAZALE, PENELOPE ALLAN. DIRECTOR: SIDNEY LUMET.

 

Based on the true story of a bank robbery that goes wrong and turns into a hostage situation in New York, Al Pacino stars as Sonny, the somewhat dim ringleader, whose sexuality becomes a major plot-point in the later stages of the film. Married to a man who is just beginning his transition to become a woman, the robbery began as his attempt to obtain money to fund the surgery. As such, this Hollywood crime thriller thrust both sexuality and gender centre-stage at a time when this was relatively unheard of. With Oscar nominations aplenty, this is 70s cinema (and Pacino) at their very best. 

67. REAL BOY (2017)

DIRECTOR: SHALEECE HAAS.

 

This intimate documentary about a transgender teenager is a tender portrayal of a person trying to find their voice having already made their transition. Bennett is a musician who is now trying to find himself as a musician now that he has found himself as a person. A fascinating exploration of how being trans extends far beyond just gender identity, this is a must-watch for understanding the new generation of LGBT+ youth.

66. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)

STARRING: JAMES DEAN, NATALIE WOOD, SAL MINEO. DIRECTOR: NICHOLAS RAY.

 

As early LGBT films go, this film is almost without comparison. With a (albeit closeted) LGBT director and LGBT actors, the film ended up seeped in gay undertones and somehow managed to stay just on the right side of the Hays Code to get a worldwide cinema release and become one of the most iconic films of the 50s... and it has an openly gay character in it, who is portrayed in a positive light! Though his sexuality is only hinted at, the hints are many and blatant, making it possibly the very first LGBT Hollywood Movie of all time. 

65. RENT (2005)

STARRING: ADAM RAPP, ADAM PASCAL, ROSARIO DAWSON, JESSE L. MARTIN, WILSON JERMAINE HEREDIA, IDINA MENZEL, TRACIE THOMS, TAYE DIGGS. DIRECTOR: CHRIS COLUMBUS.

 

Based on the Broadway musical, the film of Rent reassembled most of its original cast to tell the story of a group of Bohemian friends as they struggle with the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York. Though a sanitised account of the period, the story presents a palatable version of the pandemic to a mass audience, with plenty of room for tear-jerking ballads and sassy belters. Menzel is obviously the stand-out, though Heredia's Angel is the film's endearing heart.

64. I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS (2009)

STARRING: JIM CARREY, EWAN MCGREGOR, LESLEY MANN, RODRIGO SANTORO. DIRECTORS: GLENN FICARA & JOHN REQUA.

 

After coming out of the closet, a policeman turns con man and winds up in jail, where he meets the love of his life. From thereon out, his mission becomes to find a way they can both be free together. Apparently based on a true story, this farce is packed with gags and laughs, but at its centre is a wholly believable relationship. Carrey and McGregor are delectably convincing as their love compounds the film's heart, allowing a comedy film to accept sexuality as incidental for the very first time. And the film fizzes as a result.

63. LAURENCE ANYWAYS (2012)

STARRING: MELVIL POUPAUD, SUZANNE CLEMENT, NATHALIE BAYE, MONIA CHOKRI. DIRECTOR: XAVIER DOLAN.

 

In the third feature from Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan, this French-language film follows Laurence over ten years as he begins to live as a woman, focusing on his relationship with his girlfriend Fred throughout the process. Notable for its very fluid depiction of gender, its two leads are remarkable, refusing to accept binaries either toward their sexuality or, for Laurence, gender identity. Funny and intense, this is a three hour emotional epic that will make you rage as much as Fred that people feel such entitlement to pass judgement on others. 

62. WE WERE HERE (2011)

DIRECTORS: DAVID WEISSMAN, BILL WEBER.

 

The AIDS pandemic is probably the worst crisis to hit the world since the end of WW2. But at its height, because of its association with gay people it was seen by many in the USA as little more than retribution for immorality. We Were Here is a documentary record of the community who fought back. With heart-breaking accounts from survivors and medical staff living and working in San Francisco from the 1980s to date, this is a beautiful record of the pandemic's scale, its tragedy and exists as a reminder of how any community can support the afflicted, no matter how disparate and different its people. An absolute must-watch.

61. PINK FLAMINGOS (1972)

STARRING: DIVINE, DAVID LOCHARY, MINK STOLE. DIRECTOR: JOHN WATERS.

 

There's no denying that Pink Flamingos is a disgusting film. Its purpose was to shock and appal and to play on the grim fascination of revulsion-junkies to gain as wide an audience as possible. And it completely succeeded. As the resplendently vile Divine competes with a sleazy couple for the title of "The Filthiest Person Alive", the film's nauseating climax has gone down in film legend. But the significance of the Divine/Waters long-term collaboration cannot be understated in terms of Queer Cinema. In equal measure fascinated and appalled by their work, audiences came from far and wide to see bawdy celebrations of Queer Culture. And despite its lurid nature in Pink Flamingos, this was a massive step.

60. TOM AT THE FARM (2013)

STARRING: XAVIER DOLAN, PIERRE-YVES CARDINAL, LISE ROY, EVELYNE BROCHU. DIRECTOR: XAVIER DOLAN.

 

In what is probably Xavier Dolan's most accessible film to date, the director also stars as Tom, who travels the the funeral of his lover in the countryside. Upon learning that his family were unaware of his sexuality, Tom maintains his charade that he had a girlfriend. But as the lie starts to get out of hand, he finds himself drawn all the more into the family's archaic lifestyle and wanting to become part of it. What starts as a character piece transforms into a tightly wound thriller that sees Dolan playing with his unique hipster stylings and applying them to a genre movie. 

59. BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (2013)

STARRING: MICHAEL DOUGLAS, MATT DAMON, ROB LOWE. DIRECTOR: STEVEN SODERBERGH.

 

You mean to tell me people didn't KNOW Liberace was gay?? How??? In this remarkable biopic however, Michael Douglas stars as the epically flamboyant performer Liberace and documents his relationship with his much younger lover, Scott. Douglas and Damon are remarkable here, as the film explores the dark recess of fame, especially when trying to conceal your sexual preference. But as time goes on, the pressure of juggling his public and private lives begins to severely affect Liberace's mental health. And the story of a wild eccentric becomes something much darker.

58. G.B.F. (2013)

STARRING: MICHAEL J. WILLETT, PAUL IACONO, SASHA PIETERSE, ANDREA BOWEN, XOSHA ROQUEMORE. DIRECTOR: DARREN STEIN.

 

Frothy and light this may be, but the quality of G.B.F. cannot be understated. This is as good a teen comedy as Clueless or Mean Girls and the way it effortlessly deals with LGBT teen issues is remarkable. On the one hand it plays for laughs, but on the other it brings surprising depth to a pair of likeable gay protagonists, whose issues and experiences are notably recognisable to most LGBT people. It ticks every box for a good teen comedy, but it's a teen comedy made ABOUT gays, FOR gays. It's brilliant.

57. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975)

STARRING: TIM CURRY, SUSAN SARANDON, BARRY BOSTWICK, RICHARD O'BRIEN, PATRICIA QUINN, MEAT LOAF. DIRECTOR: JIM SHARMAN.

 

No list of LGBT films would be complete without The Rocky Horror Picture Show, despite my personal dislike for it. Its cult status and cultural significance continues to this day, as audiences go wild for the bizarre tale of a couple whose car breaks down, leading them to visit the zany and dangerous home of the transvestite Dr Frank-N-Furter. Playing on transvestism as an element of horror, its lingering popularity is unsettling, but its high-camp and zesty vigour makes this a refreshingly energetic pastiche, with songs that even I accept are pretty damn catchy.

56. GOD'S OWN COUNTRY (2017)

STARRING: JOSH O’CONNOR, ALEC SECAREANU, GEMMA JONES. DIRECTOR: FRANCIS LEE.

In this tender depiction of sexual awakening, this British indie film follows Johnny, a young man taking over his father’s farm and falling in love with the handsome Romanian labourer hired to help with the manual farm work. Johnny slowly comes to terms with his sexuality as he leaves the alcohol and promiscuity with which he had been numbing his feelings previously behind, but damaged from his years of repression, his newfound contentment is threatened by his inability to leave old habits behind. An honest depiction of a person’s internalised homophobia and the pressures of a hyper-masculinised society, this is also a film that explores xenophobia in the age of Brexit Britain.

55. CABARET (1972)

STARRING: LIZA MINNELLI, MICHAEL YORK, JOEL GREY. DIRECTOR: BOB FOSSE.

 

Is there a film much gayer than Cabaret? With Liza Minnelli in her Oscar-winning role as the iconic Sally Bowles, songs that have become the staple gay man's diva standard AND a storyline that includes its lead male's bisexuality, it's like the Gay Fairy sneezed and accidentally made a film. But above all of this, Cabaret has a phenomenal story with one of the darkest plots ever to appear in a musical. Set in 1930s Weimar Berlin, Sally finds herself in the middle of a sexually confused love triangle while the Nazi Party is rising to power. Using its cabaret performances at 'The Kit Kat Club' (where Sally performs) to reflect the film's context like a Greek Chorus, the depiction of the sleazy Berlin lowlife makes its narration as unsettling as its action. A real masterpiece. And tremendously gay.

54. THE MILLENNIUM SERIES (2009, 2010, 2012)

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011) STARRING: ROONEY MARA, DANIEL CRAIG, CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, STELLAN SKARSGARD, ROBIN WRIGHT. DIRECTOR: DAVID FINCHER. 

In David Fincher's adaptation of the best-selling Swedish novel, Rooney Mara stars opposite Daniel Craig as the iconic pierced and tattooed bisexual goth hacker, Lisbeth Salander, as they try to solve the mysterious disappearance of a young girl some thirty years before. Working in an isolated community in the depths of winter, Lisbeth's unlikely pairing with a renowned journalist makes for magnetic viewing in one of the absolute best stories of the century so far. With the original Swedish incarnation of the film also a full five stars, this is unique enough to stand on its own two legs without detracting from its earlier adaptation. Craig is fantastic, but Mara is utterly compelling as the legendary heroine of Nordic noir. 

THE GIRL… WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2009); WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (2009), WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST (2010) STARRING: NOOMI RAPACE, MIKAEL NYQVIST, LENA ENDRE. DIRECTORS: NIELS ARDEN OPLEV, DANIEL ALFREDSON.

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy has become one of the biggest literary forces of the twenty first century, but for many, the Swedish cinema adaptations are the definitive film version of both the story and it's now iconic protagonist, Lisbeth Salander. A bisexual goth computer-hacker, she is hardly the most conventional movie heroine, but Noomi Rapace plays her with such integrity that it's hard to dislike her, even if she does lash out at everyone around her. Initially just instrumental to catching a murderer, the series soon shifts its focus wholly onto her as we learn of all the injustices she has suffered at the hands of her family, social services and the government. One of the greatest pieces of Scandinavian cinema ever and the archetypal piece of Nordic Noir, this has understandably gone on to become one of its biggest worldwide exports. And all with a bisexual heroine! 

53. GAY SEX IN THE 70S (2005)

DIRECTOR: JOSEPH F. LOVETT.

 

Anyone watching We Were Here should watch Gay Sex In The 70s beforehand. Where the former is an impassioned memorial to the generation who dies of AIDS, the latter is a record of their lives beforehand. Though focusing solely on the gay scene in New York, this fascinating documentary shows an era long overshadowed by the plight of the Gay Community in the 1980s. On the one hand giving explanation to the rapid spread of HIV, on the other it celebrates a liberated community who were finally free to live the lives they always craved. Racy, dirty and exciting, the almost forgotten memory of a brief flash of sexual liberty is told by a handful of nostalgic survivors, who live as rare reminders of what life could have been like if the pandemic had never occurred.

52. SHORTBUS (2006)

STARRING: SOOK-YIN LEE, PAUL DAWSON, LINDSAY BEAMISH, PJ DEBOY, JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND, JAY BRANNAN. DIRECTOR: JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL.

 

The detractors of Shortbus say it contains too much sex... but in a film solely ABOUT sex, could it really exist without it? Exploring the lives of several interconnected characters, the film focuses on a sex-therapist who has never had an orgasm. On a quest to discover her sexual identity, she comes across a host of Queer characters, all of whom are seeking sexual fulfilment in different ways, coming together at the Shortbus nightclub in New York, run by the scintillating Justin Bond. With its actors engaging in real sex on screen, the film explores the quirks and excitement of sexuality without venturing into titillation or the pornographic. In celebrating sexuality itself, it normalises sex to the point of it appearing as explicit as having a cup of tea. As a result, it's a remarkable piece of film-making.

51. FAR FROM HEAVEN (2002)

STARRING: JULIANNE MOORE, DENNIS QUAID, DENNIS HAYSBERT, PATRICIA CLARKSON, VIOLA DAVIS. DIRECTOR: TODD HAYNES.

 

In what is probably her finest performance to date, Julianne Moore was Oscar nominated for this film, which explores racial tensions in 1950s Connecticut as she comes to terms with her husband's sexuality. Falling in love with her African-American gardener, she and her husband struggle to keep their marriage afloat while he tries to conceal his homosexuality. A subtle and brooding tour-de-force, this is a film that will live with you for a long time afterwards, as Moore cracks the veneer of all-American domesticity.

50. MAURICE (1987)

STARRING: JAMES WILBY, HUGH GRANT, RUPERT GRAVES. DIRECTOR: JAMES IVORY.

 

Based on the real-life story of novelist E.M. Forster, Merchant Ivory's exploration of homosexuality in the Edwardian era is a difficult but luscious watch. After his lover and school-friend decides to give into societal pressure and marry, Maurice continues to struggle with living as a gay man in secret. Falling in love with a gamekeeper, the oppressiveness of their society leads to a truly heartbreaking ending. Grant is smoulderingly cocky, while Graves outlines perfectly why he was my teenage posh-boy crush.

49. GODS AND MONSTERS (1998)

STARRING: IAN MCKELLAN, BRENDAN FRASER, LYNN REDGRAVE DIRECTOR: BILL CONDON.

 

Exploring the life of Frankenstein director James Whale, Gods And Monsters focuses on his latter years, during his complex relationship with a young male gardener. Having literally created monsters in his films, Whale struggled all his life with his own monstrosity - his sexuality. In one of McKellan's finest performances, the film is set in 1950s Hollywood where Whale has been ostracised and forced into a hermetic life because he refuses to die alone. Finding companionship with his gardener, this nuanced character study explores the need for happiness in the present over looking back on the glories of the past.

48. PARTY MONSTER (2003)

STARRING: MACAULAY CULKIN, SETH GREEN, CHLOE SEVIGNY, WILSON CRUZ, MARILYN MANSON, DYLAN MCDERMOTT, WILSON CRUZ. DIRECTORS: RENTON BAILEY, RANDY BARBATO. 

 

In the true story of the New York club kids, Macaulay Culkin stars as the iconic Michael Alig, a party promoter whose riotous drug-fuelled life propelled him to infamy. Told through the eyes of James St. James, played by Seth Green, this is a technicolor vibrant homage to an artistic party movement whose antics are now legendary, especially with Alig's cataclysmic fall from grace. Culkin and Green are both fantastic and the film brought New York club style to a worldwide audience. 

47. BEFORE NIGHT FALLS (2000)

STARRING: JAVIER BARDEM, JOHNNY DEPP, OLIVIER MARTINEZ, DIEGO LUNA. DIRECTOR: JULIAN SCHNABEL.

 

Javier Bardem was Oscar nominated for his performance as gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in this biopic by director Julian Schnabel. Following his life from childhood, through living openly as a gay man, into oppression under Castro's Communist regime and his eventual flight to the US, this is a fascinating portrait of a colourful literary figure and a vivid insight into what life was like as a gay person both in Cuba and under Communism. Bardem is magnetic, while two cameos from Johnny Depp add theatrical spice to this masterpiece of a film. 

46. THE CRYING GAME (1992)

STARRING: STEPHEN REA, JAYE DAVIDSON, FOREST WHITAKER, MIRANDA RICHARDSON. DIRECTOR: NEIL JORDAN.

 

The twist at the end of The Crying Game is what includes this film on the list, so SPOILER ALERT, stop reading now. After being captured, a British soldier forms an unlikely friendship with a member of the IRA, but after his escape he tracks down his friend's lover in London, a hairdresser called Dil with a massive secret. Earning Oscar nominations aplenty, the film played on the tagline "The movie everyone is talking about... But no one is giving away its secrets." And even though they were sensationalising the shock discovery of a character's transgenderism, at its centre, Rea and Davidson give sensitive and subtle performances creating real and relatable people, when audiences came out of morbid curiosity.

45. BENT (1997)