*MAJOR UPDATE IN PROGRESS* I’m revising this entire website, including LGBTQ+ Literature and Film. Thank you for understanding.

50 Outstanding Films by LGBTQ+ Directors

Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast

Here are 50 extraordinary films, all made by LGBTQ directors (comprehensive list here) , along with notable LGBTQ-Themed films by non-LGBTQ directors. These pictures span a century and represent almost every genre, from comedy to documentary to science fiction. Some of these pictures do not contain overt LGBTQ+ material, since for decades censorship prevented that. But LGBTQ and ally filmmakers became adept at coding, or “hiding,” such content in ingenious ways. Specifically, here are LGBTQ-related films directed by women. Also see the other LGBTQ+ Cinema resources at this site, including 50 Outstanding LGBTQ-Themed Films. I also have a brief guide to film technology and aesthetics.

So that this list does not turn into a shrine to my favorites, I’ve limited each director to a maximum of three films. For more information, titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb); several also link to my reviews. For each film, I’ve indicated its genre(s), and whether it has substantial lesbian (L), gay (G), bisexual (B), transgender (T), and/or queer-plus (Q) content.

  1. All About My Mother (Almodóvar / 1999 – drama) – GLBT
  2. Arabian Nights (Pasolini / 1974 – fantasy) [my review] and [my Pasolini Website]
  3. * Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein / 1925 – historical drama) [my mini-review]
  4. * Beauty and the Beast (La belle et la bête) (Cocteau / 1946 – fantasy) [my review]
  5. Bound (the Wachowskis / 1996) – LB
  6. * The Bride of Frankenstein (Whale / 1935 – science fiction) – GB
  7. Children of Paradise (Carné / 1945 – romantic drama) [my mini-review]
  8. Edward II (Jarman / 1991 – experimental drama) – GB [my review and [my Jarman Website]
  9. Effi Briest (Fassbinder / 1974 – drama) [my review and Fassbinder Website]
  10. Female Trouble (Waters / 1975 – comedy) – BT
  11. The Gospel According to [Saint] Matthew (Pasolini / 1964 – historical drama) [my review and Pasolini Website]
  12. Grand Hotel (Goulding / 1932 – comedy/drama)
  13. Hamlet (Olivier / 1948 – Shakespeare adaptation)
  14. The Honeymoon Killers (Kastle / 1969 – suspense / biography)
  15. Howards End (Merchant/Ivory / 1992 – drama) [my mini-review]
  16. If… (Anderson / 1968 – drama)
  17. In a Year With 13 Moons (Fassbinder / 1978 – drama) [my review] and [Fassbinder Website]
  18. Ivan the Terrible, Part I & Part II (Eisenstein / 1943–1946 – historical drama)
  19. The Last Laugh (Murnau / 1924 – drama)
  20. Meet Me in St. Louis (Minnelli / 1944 – musical comedy) [my review]
  21. The Merchant of Four Seasons (Fassbinder / 1971 – drama) [my review and [Fassbinder Website]
  22. Midnight Cowboy (Schlesinger / 1969 – drama) – GBT
  23. My Fair Lady (Cukor / 1964 – musical comedy) [my note on Cukor]
  24. My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant / 1991 – drama) – GB [my review]
  25. The Night of the Hunter (Laughton / 1955 – suspense) [my mini-review]
  26. * Nosferatu (Murnau / 1922 – horror) [my review]
  27. The Opposite of Sex (Roos / 1998 – comedy) – GB [my mini-review]
  28. Orpheus (Cocteau / 1950 – fantasy) [my mini-review]
  29. Ossessione (Visconti / 1942 – adaptation of The Postman Always Rings Twice – suspense) [my mini-review]
  30. Paris is Burning (Livingston / 1990) – LGBTQ
  31. Paris Was A Woman (Schiller / 1995 – documentary) [my review]
  32. The Philadelphia Story (Cukor / 1940 – comedy) [my mini-review]
  33. Poison (Haynes / 1991 – experimental drama) – GB
  34. Pygmalion (Asquith / 1938 – comedy)
  35. Rebel Without a Cause (Ray / 1955 – drama) – GB
  36. Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli / 1968 – Shakespeare adaptation)
  37. Salò (Pasolini / 1975 – horrific drama) – GLBT [my review and Pasolini Website]
  38. Sebastiane (Jarman & Humfress / 1976 – historical drama) – GB [my review and Jarman Website]
  39. See the Sea (Ozon / 1997 – suspense) [my review]
  40. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Paradjanov / 1964 – experimental folk drama)
  41. Show Boat (Whale / 1936 – musical drama)
  42. Stories from the War on Homosexuality: Coming Out Under Fire (1994), Licensed to Kill (1997) & Family Fundamentals (2002) (Dong – documentary) – GLBT [my review]
  43. A Story of Floating Weeds (1934) & remake Floating Weeds (1959) (Ozu – dramas)
  44. Sunday Bloody Sunday (Schlesinger / 1971 – drama) – GB [my review]
  45. Tarnation (Caouette / 2004 – documentary) – G [my review]
  46. Tarzan and His Mate (Gibbons / 1934 – action/adventure)
  47. Tom Jones (Richardson / 1963 – comedy)
  48. * Tokyo Story (Ozu / 1953 – drama)
  49. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) [my review]
  50. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Almodóvar / 1989 – comedy) [my mini-review]

Notable LGBTQ-Themed Films by Non-LGBTQ Directors

Below are some exceptional LGBTQ-Themed films made by prominent directors who are not LGBTQ-identified. Some of these films, together with selected titles from above, appear among 50 Outstanding LGBTQ Films. I do not mean to “de-gay” anyone, but no reliable source has identified these filmmakers as LGBTQ. These are all outstanding films, with some ahead of their time for representing LGBTQ experience.

  • Advise and Consent (Otto Preminger / 1962)
  • Alexander (Oliver Stone / 2004)
  • American Beauty (Sam Mendes / 1999)
  • Angels in America (Mike Nichols / 2003)
  • Another Country (Marek Kanievska / 1984)
  • Beautiful Thing (Hettie McDonald / 1996)
  • Before Night Falls (Julian Schnabel / 2000)
  • Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze / 1999)
  • The Birdcage (Mike Nichols / 1996)
  • Blood and Roses (Roger Vadim / 1961)
  • The Boys in the Band (William Friedkin / 1970)
  • Breakfast on Pluto (Neil Jordan / 2005)
  • Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee / 2005) [my review]
  • A Bullet for the General (aka Quien sabe?) (Damiano Damiani / 1967) [my mini-review]
  • Bully (Larry Clark / 2001) [my mini-review]
  • Cabaret (Bob Fosse / 1972)
  • The Cable Guy (Ben Stiller / 1996)
  • Capote (Bennett Miller / 2005)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Joe & Anthony Russo / 2014)
  • Cat People (Jacques Tourneur / 1942)
  • Chasing Amy (Kevin Smith / 1997)
  • The Children’s Hour (William Wyler / 1962)
  • Chuck & Buck (Miguel Arteta / 2000)
  • Citizen Ruth (Alexander Payne / 1996)
  • City Lights (Charles Chaplin / 1931 – the “eccentric millionaire” character)
  • The Comfort of Strangers (Paul Schrader / 1991)
  • The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci / 1970)
  • The Crying Game (Neil Jordan / 1992)
  • Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel / 1971)
  • The Decline of the American Empire (Denys Arcand / 1986)
  • Deep Red (Dario Argento / 1975)
  • Diabolique (Henri-Georges Clouzot / 1955)
  • Different From the Others (Anders als die Andern) (Richard Oswald / 1919) [my review]
  • Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet / 1975)
  • Ed Wood (Tim Burton / 1994)
  • Enduring Love (Roger Michell / 2004)
  • Entre Nous (Diane Kurys / 1983)
  • Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige / 1993)
  • Fellini Satyricon (Federico Fellini / 1969) [my mini-review]
  • Flesh and the Devil (Clarence Brown / 1926)
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral (Mike Newell / 1994)
  • The 4th Man (Paul Verhoeven / 1984)
  • Frida (Julie Taymor / 2002)
  • Friends Forever (Stefan Henszelman / 1987)
  • The Ghost Ship (Mark Robson / 1943)
  • Gilda (Charles Vidor / 1946)
  • The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (Charles Guggenheim & John Stix / 1959)
  • Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai / 1997)
  • The Haunting (Robert Wise / 1963) [my mini-review]
  • Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson / 1994) [my review]
  • Henry & June (Philip Kaufman / 1990)
  • The Hunger (Tony Scott / 1983)
  • I Shot Jesse James (Samuel Fuller / 1949)
  • In & Out (Frank Oz / 1997)
  • In Cold Blood (Richard Brooks / 1967)
  • The Killing of Sister George (Robert Aldrich / 1968)
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman (Hector Babenço / 1985)
  • The Krays (Peter Medak / 1990)
  • La Cage aux Folles (Edouard Molinaro / 1978)
  • Last Summer in the Hamptons (Henry Jaglom / 1995)
  • Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean / 1962)
  • Les Biches (Claude Chabrol / 1968)
  • Lianna (John Sayles / 1983)
  • Little Caesar (Mervyn LeRoy / 1930)
  • Mädchen in Uniform (Leontine Sagan / 1931)
  • Making Love (Arthur Hiller / 1982)
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth (Roeg / 1976)
  • Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese / 1973)
  • Michael (Mikaël) (Carl Th. Dreyer / 1924) [my review]
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Clint Eastwood / 1997)
  • Mishima (Paul Schrader / 1985)
  • Monster (Patty Jenkins / 2003) [my review]
  • Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch / 2001)
  • The Music Lovers (Ken Russell / 1971)
  • My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears / 1986)
  • My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski / 2004)
  • Nadja (Michael Almereyda / 1994)
  • Notes On a Scandal (Richard Eyre / 2006)
  • Orlando (Sally Potter / 1992)
  • The Outlaw (Howard Hughes & uncredited Howard Hawks / 1943) [my mini-review]
  • Pandora’s Box (G.W. Pabst / 1928)
  • Papillon (Franklin J. Schaffner / 1973)
  • Performance (Nicholas Roeg & Donald Cammell / 1970)
  • Persona (Ingmar Bergman / 1966)
  • Personal Best (Robert Towne / 1982)
  • Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme / 1993)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir / 1975)
  • Priest (Antonia Bird / 1994)
  • The Producers (Susan Stroman / 2005)
  • Red River (Howard Hawks / 1948) [my mini-review]
  • Reflections in a Golden Eye (John Huston / 1967)
  • Rent (Chris Columbus / 2005)
  • The Ritz (Richard Lester / 1976)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman / 1975)
  • Rope (Alfred Hitchcock / 1948)
  • The Servant (Joseph Losey / 1963)
  • Sex in Chains (Geschlecht in Fesseln) (Wilhelm [William] Dieterle / 1928) [my review]
  • The Silence (Ingmar Bergman / 1963)
  • Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder / 1959)
  • Something for Everyone (Hal Prince / 1970)
  • Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano / 1993)
  • A Special Day (Ettore Scola / 1977)
  • Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock / 1951) [my mini-review and my in-depth analysis of a sequence]
  • Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz / 1959)
  • Taboo (Gohatto) (Nagisa Oshima / 1999)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Minghella / 1999)
  • Tales of the City (Alastair Reid / 1993) [my review]
  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (Adam McKay / 2006)
  • This Special Friendship (Jean Delannoy / 1964)
  • THX 1138 (George Lucas / 1971)
  • Total Eclipse (Agnieska Holland / 1995)
  • Touch of Evil (Orson Welles / 1958)
  • Victim (Basil Dearden / 1961) [my review]
  • The Wages of Fear (Henri-Georges Clouzot / 1952)
  • The Wedding Banquet (Ang Lee / 1993)
  • Wild Reeds (André Téchiné / 1994)
  • Wilde (Brian Gilbert / 1997)
  • Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón / 2002)
  • You Are Not Alone (Ernst Johansen & Lasse Nielsen / 1978)
  • Young Törless (Volker Schlöndorff / 1966)
  • Zachariah (George Englund / 1971) [my review]

NOTE: If you use my Amazon Affiliate link for any purchase, I may receive a commission that helps support this site, at no additional cost to you. Regardless, I stand by my opinions.

Begun 1997 / Revised October 31, 2020

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