43-Must Watch Queer Films of All Time

The 43 Best Queer Films Of All Time

Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett in Carol.Courtesy Everett Collection

The history of LGBTQ+ cinema is one that remains hotly debated – in part given the slow and still-evolving journey that stories of queer life have taken from the margins to the mainstream over the decades. Still, few sub genres within the world of film have offered the same poignant visions of the meaning of love and the importance of living life to its fullest.

But what makes a queer film? Is it the pioneering meditations on forbidden love explored in films like Tea and Sympathy or Maurice? Is it the scrappy, DIY spirit of Derek Jarman in the 1980s, or the New Queer Cinema movement in the 1990s, courtesy of directors like Gregg Araki and Gus Van Sant? Or is it the new age of queer cinema we’re currently witnessing, as major studios finally begin throwing their weight behind telling LGBTQ+ stories on screen, and films like Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight take home the Best Picture Oscar?

At the end of the day, the magical thing about queer film is its mutability. It can be a heartfelt ode to two trans sex workers shot on an iPhone like Sean Baker’s Tangerine; a riveting documentary shining a light on an overlooked corner of queer history like Jennie Livingston’s deep-dive into ballroom culture, Paris is Burning; or a lavish studio film with a starry Hollywood cast, like Tom Ford’s A Single Man. Here, we round up all of our favourite LGBTQ+ films, from forgotten underground hits to splashy big-budget spectacles.

Strange Way of Life (2023)


Strange Way of Life is the new western drama from Pedro Almodóvar starring Ethan Hawke and the internet’s collective crush, Pedro Pascal. With a running time of just 31 minutes, the short was produced by Almodóvar’s El Deseo in association with Yves Saint Laurent. It follows Sheriff Jake (Hawke) as he tries to solve the murder of his brother’s wife after promising to care for her. Meanwhile, Silva (Pascal), an old friend and flame, visits Jake for the first time in 25 years, leading to a few steamy moments – and the case’s prime suspect is the victim’s boyfriend, Joe, who happens to be Silva’s son. As Sheriff Jake seeks justice and Silva attempts to protect his kin, the two must unpack their complex relationship. – Gia Yetikyel

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

Allyson Riggs

Although principally a film about immigration and intergenerational trauma, Everything Everywhere All at Once weaves queerness into its narrative through Joy (Stephanie Hsu), Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and Waymond’s (Ke Huy Quan) daughter; in the midst of chaotic universe-hopping and an audit of the family laundromat, Joy and Evelyn’s relationship is strained by Joy’s sexuality. If you haven’t seen it already, let this be your sign to take in EEAAO’s dazzling examination of familial dynamics – and finally understand why rocks with googly eyes now regularly have people tearing up. – GY

Bottoms (2023)

Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

Two unpopular queer high schoolers form a fight club in order to get closer to their cheerleader crushes in this foul-mouthed, slightly nonsensical, delightfully fast-paced romp from Shiva Baby director Emma Seligman. The whole cast is perfection, but Ayo Edebiri is perhaps the highlight when she’s landing a right hook. – Emma Specter

Fire Island (2022)

TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy Stock Photo

This (very loose) adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, from director Andrew Ahn and writer and star Joel Kim Booster, follows a group of gay friends who take their yearly summer trip to iconic queer vacation destination Fire Island, only to find that their days in the sun may be numbered. There’s plenty of romance in Fire Island, but the film really shines in its depiction of the ins and outs of queer friendship. – ES

Tár (2022)

Courtesy of Focus Features

It’s hard to think of a recent queer film that’s generated more discourse than Tár, Todd Field’s psychological drama about a world-renowned conductor facing misconduct allegations. Cate Blanchett brings range and depth to Lydia Tár that helps keep the role from being a mere stock villain, and the film’s exploration of queerness and gender (“I’m Petra’s father,” anyone?) is an important reminder that members of the LGBTQ+ community are very capable of doing harm. – ES

120 BPM (2017)

Nahuel Perez Biscayart in 120 BPM. Courtesy of Everett Collection

Set among an energetic but conflicted group of HIV/AIDS activists in early-’90s France, 120 BPM documents a key turning point in LGBTQ+ history, as ACT UP’s approach of radical, direct action moved the cause further into the mainstream. But more than that, it’s a jubilant, rip-roaring ride through the music (and, yes, the sex) that charged the movement, led by stunning performances from ​​Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois and Adèle Haenel, all as devastating as they are ultimately galvanising. – Liam Hess

All About My Mother (1999)

Director Pedro Almodovar and Cecilia Smith on the set of All About My Mother. © Sony Pictures / Courtesy of Everett Collection

While just about any of Pedro Almódovar’s campy, oversaturated melodramas from the 1980s and 1990s could be added to this list, few had the same heart – and worldwide impact, after it picked up an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film – as 1999’s All About My Mother. Telling the story of Manuela, a single mother whose son’s recent death sets her on a journey to reconnect with the boy’s father, now a transgender woman, the film’s sensitive, humanised portrayal of the trans community and its probing questions about motherhood and chosen families makes it one of the most dazzling jewels in Almódovar’s crown. – LH

Angels in America (2003)

Emma Thompson in Angels in America. Courtesy of HBO

It’s not a film, strictly speaking, but between its legendary director and starry cast, HBO’s iteration of Angels in America is as richly cinematic as anything else on this list. Adapted for the screen by Mike Nichols, Tony Kushner’s sprawling “gay fantasia” – a Pulitzer, Tony and Drama Desk-winning phenom centred on the AIDS epidemic in 1980s New York – became a devastatingly good miniseries starring Al Pacino, Emma Thompson, Mary-Louise Parker, Patrick Wilson, Jeffrey Wright and a brilliant, shape-shifting Meryl Streep. – Marley Marius

Beau Travail (1999)

A scene from Beau Travail. Courtesy of Janus Films

Loosely inspired by the Herman Melville novella Billy Budd, Claire Denis’s gorgeous (and brutal) Beau Travail considers jealousy, machismo and the trappings of latent desire in the markets, nightclubs and deserts of Djibouti. Denis Lavant stars as Galoup, an adjudant-chef in the French Foreign Legion who develops a tense and ultimately dangerous relationship with one of his soldiers, the handsome and capable Commandant Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor). Come for the subtle performances and Agnès Godard’s masterful cinematography; stay for one of the greatest endings in movie history. (You’ll never hear Corona’s “The Rhythm of the Night” the same way again.) – MM

Benediction (2021)

Jeremy Irvine and Jack Lowden in Benediction. © Roadside Attractions / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Jack Lowden turns in another stirring performance as decorated WWI soldier turned government critic and acclaimed poet Siegfried Sassoon in Terence Davies’s Benediction. Alternating between sharp humour and deep sorrow, the film follows him (and his love affairs) as he drifts through England’s post-war aristocratic, literary and stage circles seeking a kind of redemption. – Lisa Wong Macabasco

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)

Adèle Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in Blue Is The Warmest Colour.© IFC Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

First premiering to a divisive critical response at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 – both for its graphic depictions of gay sex, and the allegations of mistreatment by director Abdellatif Kechiche on set – Blue Is the Warmest Colour still serves as a powerful testament to the tumultuous love between its two main characters, Emma and Adèle, as they drift in and out of each other’s lives over the course of many years. The real draws, however, are the two star-making performances by Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, whose extraordinary and viscerally raw explorations of sensuality and heartbreak saw them jointly (and deservedly) awarded the Palme d’Or with the film’s director. – LH

A Bigger Splash (1973)

The 1974 poster of A Bigger Splash.Photo: Getty Images

Art meets life in A Bigger Splash, Jack Hazan’s fascinating portrait of the artist David Hockney and his social milieu in 1970s London. The film follows Hockney’s painful break-up with model Peter Schlesinger – who appears in several of his dreamy pool paintings – and subsequent work on Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), for which he asked Schlesinger to pose one final time. Combining documentary elements with a few racy fantasy sequences (including a sex scene between Schlesinger and another man that landed the film an X rating in the UK), A Bigger Splash granted rare visibility to London’s real-life queer community, besides anticipating the craze for somewhat staged reality television decades later. – MM

The Birdcage (1996)

Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in The Birdcage.© United Artists / Courtesy Everett Collection

A remake of Édouard Molinaro’s La Cage aux Folles (1978) – itself adapted from the 1973 French farce of the same name – The Birdcage stars Robin Williams as Armand, the owner of a drag club in South Beach, and Nathan Lane as his partner, Albert, better known to club regulars as Starina. When Val (Dan Futterman), Armand’s son with a long-ago fling (Christine Baranski), announces his plans to marry the daughter (Calista Flockhart) of a conservative senator and his wife (Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest), Armand and Albert attempt to appear as the perfect future in-laws. Wonderful high jinks ensue. – MM

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name. © Sony Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Set in northern Italy in 1983, Call Me by Your Name chronicles the romance between teenager Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and a strapping young American grad student (Armie Hammer) working with Elio’s archaeologist father. Awash in golden light, leisurely outdoor meals and stolen sensuous moments, the film garnered four Oscar nominations (including Best Picture and Best Actor for Chalamet, the third youngest in the category at age 22) and set millions of hearts aflutter for Mr Chalamet. – LWM

Carol (2015)

Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett in Carol.Courtesy Everett Collection

A master of the modern melodrama (see: 2002’s Far from Heaven) Todd Haynes brought an early Patricia Highsmith novel to thrilling, swooning life with the 1950s-set Carol. Working from a script that had existed in some form or another for almost 20 years – screenwriter Phyllis Nagy wrote her first draft in the late 1990s – Haynes made Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara the story’s central lesbian lovers, a pair that suffer threats and blackmail from their existing partners in order to go on seeing each other. Its cult following already firmly in place, the film was up for six Oscars in 2016, including for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. – MM

Crush (2022)

Teala Dunn, Rowan Blanchard, and Tyler Alvarez in Crush.© Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

Teen artist Paige is thrown out of her comfort zone when she’s forced to join her high school track team, but things start looking up when the obligation brings her closer to her longtime crush, Gabriella. However, there’s also the matter of Paige’s budding flirtation with Gabriella’s sister, AJ…If you’re looking for maximum queer drama in a fun and surprisingly touching package, this is the film for you. – ES

Desert Hearts (1985)

Patricia Charbonneau and Helen Shaver in Desert Hearts.© Samuel Goldwyn Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

An English professor in the process of divorcing her husband begins a sultry, extremely torrid affair with a young female sculptor in this absolute classic of lesbian cinema. Hot tip: If you have a sapphic crush you’re hoping to move things to the next level with, invite them over to watch this movie and things are all but guaranteed to get flirtatious. – ES

Edward II (1991)

Tilda Swinton in Edward II. © New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection

Another director whose canon features a number of queer masterpieces, Derek Jarman’s radical adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s history play Edward II saw the director apply his signature time-hopping spirit to draw parallels between the life of the controversial medieval king and the vibrant spirit of gay life in ’90s London. (The film features both members of a contemporary gay rights organisation as Edward’s army, and a cameo by Annie Lennox singing a Cole Porter song to the film’s central lovers.) – LH

The Handmaiden (2016)

Kim Tae-ri and Kim Min-hee in The Handmaiden. © Magnolia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Park Chan-wook’s deliciously sinister reinterpretation of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters transplants the British novelist’s original setting of Victorian England to early 20th-century Korea during the Japanese occupation – with riveting, ravishing results. Charting the forbidden romance between a peasant girl serving as a maid to a wealthy heiress through a series of contradictory, Rashomon-style perspectives, The Handmaiden is a meticulously calibrated erotic thriller for the ages. – LH

Happy Together (1997)

Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung in Happy Together. Courtesy Everett Collection

Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together stars Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung as Lai Yiu-Fai and Ho Po-Wing, fractious lovers from Hong Kong who plan a visit to Argentina, only to run out of money and be forced to stay there. An important entry to the New Queer Cinema canon, Kar-wai’s drama is passionate, moody and deeply evocative, tracing the jagged edges of an on-again, off-again romance in seedy 1990s Buenos Aires. – MM

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures.© Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection

Anchored by breakout performances from Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey, Peter Jackson’s dark psychological drama explores the intense, quasi-sexual relationship between two girls that turns violent. Based on the Parker-Hulme murder case that gripped New Zealand in the 1950s, the film’s dreamy, fantastical air explores the imaginary worlds constructed by queer youth to escape their drearier realities – and how those imaginary worlds can also go off the deep end. – LH

Looking For Langston (1989)

Akim Mogaji and John Wilson in Looking for Langston.Photo: Alamy

Directed by the British art filmmaker Isaac Julien, Looking for Langston serves as a powerful, prismatic celebration of the irrepressible creative spirit of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as a window into the lives and work of a handful of queer Black pioneers from across American literary history – most notably, the titular Langston Hughes, but also James Baldwin, Essex Hemphill, and Richard Bruce Nugent. A dream-like and exquisitely beautiful portrait of desire and the artistic impulse, the film offers an unprecedented exploration of pivotal figures in queer history who remain regularly overlooked to this day. – LH

Maurice (1987)

James Wilby and Hugh Grant in Maurice. Courtesy Everett Collection

Ismail Merchant and James Ivory were the perfect people to adapt EM Forster’s Maurice, an epic gay love story written in the 1910s but not published until after Forster’s death, nearly 60 years later. In their ravishing film, a towheaded James Wilby plays Maurice Hall, an Oxford man who falls in love with his best friend, Clive Durham (Hugh Grant, in an early breakout role). The attraction is mutual, but Clive has a social position to maintain, so in time he breaks off their (chaste) romantic relationship – only to inadvertently drive Maurice into the arms of Alec Scudder (Rupert Graves), the under-gamekeeper at Clive’s family estate. – MM

Moonlight (2016)

Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight.Courtesy Everett Collection

While a snafu at the 2016 Oscars saw Moonlight achieve a very different kind of notoriety, the film remains widely regarded as the year’s indisputable Best Picture. Directed by Barry Jenkins and adapted from a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight serves as a powerful coming-of-age story across three chapters in the life of a gay Black man growing up in an impoverished corner of Miami. The film’s climactic scene, which sees the two romantic leads reconvene at a diner after years apart, is one of the most moving explorations of the unbreakable bonds of queer love in recent memory. – LH

Mysterious Skin (2004)

While there are plenty of Gregg Araki films that could have made the list, the director – who served as a pioneer of the New Queer Cinema movement in the 1990s – arguably reached the height of his powers with the devastating coming-of-age drama Mysterious Skin. Starring an extraordinary Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a rent boy coming to terms with the harassment he suffered at the hands of a childhood baseball coach, the film made headlines for its unflinching depictions of sexual abuse. But it also contains a palpable and unexpected spirit of hopefulness, quietly illustrating that the traumas of our youth don’t need to define us all the way to adulthood. – LH

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves in My Own Private Idaho.© Fine Line Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

Another classic of the New Queer Cinema movement, Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho has partly become a cult classic for the magnetism, sensitivity, and sheer beauty of its two leads, River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, who play two best friends and hustlers on a meandering journey through the Pacific Northwest (and eventually all the way to Italy and back), as Phoenix’s Mikey develops an unrequited love for Reeves’s Scott. But Van Sant’s imaginative and deeply poignant retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV is a pleasure in its own right, its sweetness and gentle touches of surrealism coming together to form a heartbreaking ode to young love. – LH

The Novice (2021)

Isabelle Fuhrman in The Novice.© IFC Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

The Novice, the debut feature from queer filmmaker Lauren Hadaway, is a sports movie that is also a kind of psychological horror movie, and a startlingly cathartic portrait of obsession. In it, Hadaway pours her own experience as a collegiate rower into the story of 18-year-old Alex Dall (Isabelle Fuhrman) who joins the women’s rowing team at a fictional northeastern college. Alex drives herself well beyond her limits to compete for one of eight coveted spots on the varsity boat, horrifying her girlfriend (played by the actor-model Dilone) and alienating everyone around her. In a scarily committed performance, Fuhrmann channels the darkness behind determination, and the way it can shade into self-destruction. – Taylor Antrim

Orlando (1992)

Tilda Swinton in Orlando.© Sony Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

In Sally Potter’s 1992 masterpiece Orlando, Virginia Woolf’s classic novel of a British aristocrat who is born in the Elizabethan era and goes on to live for hundreds of years – oh, and who also changes genders at around the age of 30 – is brought to bold and brilliant visual life. Starring Tilda Swinton (and thus making full use of the actor’s striking, androgynous features), the lavishly costumed epic has become a queer classic that continues to inspire generation after generation of artists and fashion designers. – LH

Paris Is Burning (1990)

Octavia St. Laurent in Paris Is Burning.© Off White Productions / Courtesy Everett Collection

A rare, pioneering window into the (then largely hidden) world of ballroom culture, Jennie Livingston’s classic documentary leavens the funny, fabulous spirit of its eclectic cast of characters – many of them Black, Latinx or trans – with more probing insights into the challenges faced by this marginalised, if eternally defiant, community. Questions of race, class, poverty, violence, and the devastation of the AIDS crisis all feature in this moving tribute to those who have found themselves overlooked by society, but the thrilling voguing scenes and breathtaking runway walks make it a document of queer joy, too. – LH

Pink Narcissus (1971)

Bobby Kendall in Pink Narcissus. Courtesy Everett Collection

You don’t necessarily come to James Bidgood’s influential 1971 arthouse film Pink Narcissus for the plot – it mostly consists of the whimsical, hallucinogenic sexual fantasies of its central character, a male prostitute, that take in everything from matadors to male harems to leather bikers – but instead for its outrageously kitschy visuals. (Think pink satin, peacock feathers, golden swans, and lavish floral bouquets.) The film’s maker went unknown for many decades, with some speculating it had been directed by Andy Warhol, but in 1999, Bidgood’s true identity was discovered – and the underground classic underwent an ongoing process of rediscovery. – LH

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel in Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Courtesy Everett Collection

Already well-practiced at capturing nascent queer desire on screen – please watch 2007’s Water Lilies and 2011’s Tomboy if you haven’t already – Céline Sciamma made her grandest romantic gesture to date with Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a period drama that mines extraordinary feeling from perfect restraint. In it, Noémie Merlant plays Marianne, an artist hired to paint the portrait of a young woman (Adèle Haenel) being married off to an Italian nobleman. Yet as the two women slowly form a friendship, that friendship gives way to a brief but passionate love affair – and some of the decade’s most astonishing filmmaking. – MM

The Power of the Dog (2021)

Kodi Smit-McPhee and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog.Courtesy of Netflix

Set in 1920s Montana, The Power of the Dog details the tensions and secrets that emerge when a wealthy rancher (Jesse Plemons) brings his new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) to live with his surly cowboy brother (Benedict Cumberbatch). A slow-burn portrait of toxic masculinity that received 12 Oscar nominations, Jane Campion’s film sparked a dialogue about whether it had a “beautiful, indefinable queerness” or “a queer problem,” not to mention the debate about straight actors portraying queer characters. – LWM

Princess Cyd (2017)

Jessie Pinnick in Princess Cyd.Courtesy Everett Collection

Sent away from South Carolina to Chicago for the summer, a young woman (Jessie Pinnick) gets to know her long-estranged aunt (Rebecca Spence) better – and begins to explore her nascent queerness – in this sweet yet deeply moving film that gets to the heart of what we can learn from family and romantic bonds. – ES

Saving Face (2004)

Lynn Chen and Michelle Krusiec in Saving Face.Photo: Alamy

Director Alice Wu’s feature-length debut follows Wilhelmina (Michelle Krusiec), a successful young Chinese American surgeon, as she tries to navigate her mother’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy and her secret relationship with her dancer girlfriend (Lynn Chen). The intergenerational film was made in 2004, but it’s well worth a rewatch (or more than one, if you’re a serial rom-com viewer). – ES

A Single Man (2009)

Colin Firth and Julianne Moore in A Single Man.© Weinstein Company / Courtesy Everett Collection

When Tom Ford first announced he would be adapting Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 A Single Man for the screen, there were murmurings that the fashion designer’s film might prove to be a classic case of style over substance. Not so: While the film is, indeed, sumptuously stylish with all its mid-century architecture and jaw-droppingly gorgeous 1960s costuming, it has a powerful beating heart too. Ford’s tale of a grieving professor (Colin Firth), his female best friend who holds an unrequited love for him (Julianne Moore), and a sexually ambiguous student who promises the possibility of a forbidden love (Nicholas Hoult), is a moving portrayal of grief and desire that deserves all of the accolades it received. – LH

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson, and Murray Head in Sunday Bloody Sunday.Courtesy Everett Collection

Director John Schlesinger followed up his darkly compelling drama Midnight Cowboy (1969) with Sunday Bloody Sunday, a rather bold examination of the loosened sexual mores in early 1970s London. It sees a gay doctor, Daniel (Peter Finch), and a divorcee, Alex (Glenda Jackson), in an open relationship with the same handsome young artist, Bob Elkin (Murray Head), whom both are afraid of losing. Developed with some difficulty due to the material, which both financiers and numerous actors found too risqué, Sunday Bloody Sunday was finally released to considerable acclaim, earning four nominations at the 1972 Academy Awards. – MM

Tangerine (2015)

Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mickey O’Hagan in Tangerine.Courtesy Everett Collection

In Sean Baker’s breakout film Tangerine – infamous for having been shot entirely on an iPhone, even if with its hazy visions of pink and purple Los Angeles sunsets, you wouldn’t be able to tell – is a rip-roaring, brilliantly funny and surprisingly touching vision of a day in the life of two trans sex workers as they seek vengeance on a boyfriend who cheated while one of them was in jail. A dazzling portrait of an unbreakable friendship forged on the margins of society, its two endlessly charismatic stars – Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez – bring their boundless energy and wicked sense of humour to every scene. – LH

Tea and Sympathy (1956)

John Kerr and Tom Laughlin in Tea & Sympathy. Courtesy Everett Collection

Director Vincente Minnelli (Meet Me in St LouisAn American in ParisGigi) sensitively depicts a young man on the margins – and the woman who meets him there – in this quietly daring drama, based on the 1953 play by Robert Anderson. It stars ​​John Kerr as Tom, a shy high school senior who prefers classical music and theatre to boyish roughhousing, and Deborah Kerr (no relation!) as Laura Reynolds, the coach’s wife, who strikes up a friendship (and more) with Tom over afternoon teas. At its best, the film rebuffs standard-issue 1950s heteronormativity, validating queerness at a moment when the Motion Picture Production Code forbade explicit reference to it. – MM

Torch Song Trilogy (1988)

Matthew Broderick and Harvey Fierstein in Torch Song Trilogy.© New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection

Harvey Fierstein adapted his own Tony-winning play into a fiercely affecting comedy-drama with Torch Song Trilogy, about a female impersonator named Arnold (Fierstein) who navigates three starkly different phases of his life between 1971 and 1980. The film’s strong featured players include Brian Kerwin (as Arnold’s bisexual lover, Ed); Matthew Broderick (as the great love of Arnold’s life, Alan, a role that he originated off-Broadway in 1981); and Anne Bancroft (as Arnold’s surly “Ma”). – MM

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)

Wesley Snipes, John Leguizamo, and Patrick Swayze in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.Courtesy Everett Collection

First things first, who could resist watching 115 minutes of Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo (mostly) in drag? The uproarious – and somewhat clunkily titled – To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar is a sheer delight from beginning to end, charting a road trip taken by a trio of New York drag queens heading to California to compete in a national drag pageant, featuring plenty of the expected bumps in the road as they navigate small-town America along the way. Come for the bawdy humour, and stay for the roll call of icons who make cameos throughout: RuPaul, Quentin Crisp, Robin Williams and, of course, the titular Julie Newmar. – LH

Weekend (2011)

Tom Cullen and Chris New in Weekend.Sundance Selects / Courtesy Everett Collection

Andrew Haigh’s sensual, tender, utterly charming portrait of two young British men (Tom Cullen and Chris New) meeting and falling in love over the course of 48 hours is frank in its depiction of sexuality as well as emotion, touching on the specificities of gay life today as well as the universal aspects of an electric and immediate connection. With long, observational takes and lots of revealing details and dialogue, it’s an extended one-night stand you hope never ends. – LWM

Women in Love (1969)

Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, Alan Bates, Jennie Linden, and Eleanor Bron in Women in Love.Courtesy Everett Collection

Perhaps best remembered for a scene in which Alan Bates and Oliver Reed wrestle naked before a roaring fire, Ken Russell’s Women in Love – adapted by Larry Kramer (yes, that Larry Kramer) from the 1920 novel by DH Lawrence – is principally about the courtships of two sisters, Ursula (Jennie Linden) and Gudrun (Glenda Jackson, in an Oscar-winning role). Ursula loves the dashing Rupert (Bates), a school inspector, and Gudrun loves Gerald (Reed), a local industrialist and Rupert’s close friend. Yet as both relationships deepen and, in the case of Gudrun and Gerald, begin to warp, Rupert comes to understand that he wants more than a workaday friendship from Gerald. “We ought to swear to love each other, you and I – implicitly, perfectly, finally, without any possibility of ever going back on it,” he says after their wrestling match. “Shall we swear to each other one day?” Although Women in Love’s not-so-subtle homoeroticism caused it to be banned in Turkey, it’s now widely considered Russell’s most stirring work. – MM

Velvet Goldmine (1998)

Toni Collette and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in Velvet Goldmine.© Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection

When it comes to naming the most stylish queer films ever made, few could beat Todd Haynes’s kaleidoscopic ode to the spirit of glam rock, Velvet Goldmine. Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the wild-living British musician Brian Slade, loosely based on David Bowie, and Ewan McGregor as his American counterpart Curt Wild, loosely based on Iggy Pop, the story trails Arthur (Christian Bale), a gay journalist attempting to track down the now-reclusive Slade for a magazine story, with the heady days of his life at the height of global fame revisited through flashbacks. When Bowie himself was asked about this apparent tribute to his life and legacy, he said, “When I saw the film I thought the best thing about it was the gay scenes. They were the only successful part of the film, frankly.” What are you waiting for? – LH

This article was originally published on British Vogue.

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