previous arrow
next arrow
Slider

50 Outstanding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer-Plus (LGBTQ+) Films

Here are 50 Outstanding LGBTQ-Themed Films (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer-plus), released between 1919 and the present, including several international works. These pictures represent a wide range of genres, from drama to comedy to documentary, even a science fiction musical comedy. By “outstanding” I mean both that dramatic structure, visual/sound design and performance come together in exceptional ways (detailed in my brief guide to film), and that they offer insight into LGBTQ experience.

Most, but not all, of these pictures were made by LGBTQ directors. Several great filmmakers not represented here – including Murnau, Cocteau, Eisenstein, Cukor, Carné, Olivier, and Vincente Minnelli – were bisexual or gay, but because of censorship they could not directly explore LGBTQ experience in their work. On another page, I list notable LGBTQ-themed films made by prominent directors who are not LGBTQ-identified; some of those films are included below. Specifically, here are LGBTQ-related films directed by women.

For more information, titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb); several also go to my reviews. For each film, I’ve indicated its director, release year, country of origin, genre(s), and whether it has substantial gay (G), lesbian (L), bisexual (B), and/or transgender (T) content. An asterisk* indicates my “Top 10” picks; my #1 choice is the ever-controversial, beautiful and shocking Fellini Satyricon. Also see the other LGBTQ+ Film resources at this site.

This 50 Outstanding LGBTQ+ Films list, of course, continues to evolve.

It’s agonizing to replace any films here, but between 2011 and 2013, I added Lisa Cholodenko’s wise comedy/drama The Kids Are All Right, the riveting science-fiction thriller Torchwood: Children of Earth (directed by Euros Lyn; Torchwood series by Russell T Davies, who also created Queer As Folk), and the so-far two connected films (get out your handkerchiefs, but not always for sadness) from Israeli director Eytan Fox, Yossi & Jagger and its continuation Yossi. Besides the pictures below, also take a look at Fassbinder‘s poignant Fox and His Friends (1975 — three other Fassbinder pictures remain on this list), Hettie MacDonald’s Beautiful Thing (1996), Urbania (2000 — directed by Jon Matthews as “Jon Shear”), lesbian novelist and filmmaker Shamim Sarif’s romantic drama I Can’t Think Straight (2008), and the tender coming out story of two rural Germans in Benjamin Cantu’s Harvest (original title Stadt Land Fluss / 2011). THANKS to Joe O., I realize that I need to bump one of the following 50 (always difficult, even with the new ‘Additional’ section below), so that I can add the powerful tale of rural gay life, God’s Own Country (Francis Lee / 2017 / UK – drama) – GB

UPDATED LIST COMING SOON — FILMS TO BE ADDED will include: Beach Rats, Call Me By Your Name, Captain America: The Winter Soldier [courting controversy], Carol, Green Book, I Am Not Your Negro [James Baldwin], Tangerine, Weekend (Haigh) — I still need to see: Blue is the Warmest Color (directed by Abdellatif Kechiche), Pariah (Dee Rees), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma), The World to Come (Mona Fastvold) and some additional highly-recommended LGBTQ+ pictures. To compensate for pictures removed from the 50 list, below I now have Additional Outstanding LGBTQ+ Films.

^ top

Fellini Satyricon

50 Outstanding LGBTQ+ Films

  1. All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar / 1999 / Spain – drama) – LGBT
  2. Being John Malkovic (Spike Jonze / 1999 / US – comedy / fantasy) – LBT
  3. Beware of a Holy Whore [tongue-in-cheek title refers to cinema] (Rainer Werner Fassbinder / 1971 / Germany – comedy / drama) – GLBT [my review and Fassbinder Website]
  4. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder / 1972 / Germany – drama) – LB [my review and Fassbinder Website]
  5. Bound (The Wachowskis / 1996 / US – suspense) – LB
  6. * Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee / 2005 / US – drama) – GB [my review]
  7. Cabaret (Bob Fosse / 1972 / US – musical drama) – GBT
  8. The Celluloid Closet (Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman / 1995 / US – documentary) – GLBT
  9. The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci / 1970 / Italy – drama) – GB
  10. The Consequence (Wolfgang Petersen / 1977 / Germany – drama) – GB [my review]
  11. The Crying Game (Neil Jordan / 1992 / Ireland – romantic drama) – GBT
  12. Desert Hearts (Donna Deitch / 1985 / US – romantic drama) – LB [my review]
  13. Different From the Others (Anders als die Andern: Paragraph 175) (Richard Oswald / 1919 / Germany – drama) – G [my review]
  14. Doña Herlinda and Her Son (Jaime Humberto Hermosillo / 1985 / Mexico – comedy) – GB [my review]
  15. * Edward II (Derek Jarman / 1991 / UK – historical drama / experimental) – GB [my review and Jarman Website]
  16. ** Fellini Satyricon (Federico Fellini / 1969 / Italy – historical fantasy-drama) – GLBT [my mini-review]
  17. Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai / 1997 / Hong Kong – romantic drama / experimental) – GB
  18. The Haunting (Robert Wise / 1963 / US – horror) – LB [my mini-review]
  19. * Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson / 1994 / New Zealand – historical romantic drama) – L [my review]
  20. * In a Year With 13 Moon (Rainer Werner Fassbinder / 1978 / Germany – comedy / drama / experimental) – TGB [my review and Fassbinder Website]
  21. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (Patricia Rozema / 1987 / Canada – comedy / drama) – LB
  22. The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko / 2010 / US – comedy / drama) – LB
  23. Kiss of the Spider Woman (Hector Babenço / 1985 – drama) – GB
  24. * Maurice (James Ivory – Merchant/Ivory / 1987 / UK – romantic drama) – GB [my review]
  25. * Mikaël (Carl Th. Dreyer / 1924 / Denmark – drama) – GB [my review]
  26. * Moonlight (Barry Jenkins / 2016 / US – drama) – GB
  27. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch / 2001 / US – suspense / experimental) – LB
  28. The Music Lovers (Ken Russell / 1971 / UK – historical drama) – GB
  29. My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears / 1986 / UK – drama) – GB
  30. * My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant / 1991 / US – drama) – GB [my review]
  31. The Opposite of Sex (Don Roos / 1998 / US – comedy) – GB [my mini-review]
  32. Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston / 1991 / US – documentary) – TLGB
  33. * Paris Was a Woman (Greta Schiller / 1995 / US – documentary) – LGBT [my review]
  34. Parting Glances (Bill Sherwood / 1986 / US – comedy / drama) – G
  35. Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir / 1975 / Australia – suspense) – LB
  36. Poison (Todd Haynes / 1991 / US – experimental drama) – GB
  37. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman / 1975 / UK – science fiction / musical comedy) – GLBT
  38. Salò (Pier Paolo Pasolini / 1975 / Italy – horrific drama) – GLBT [my review and Pasolini Website]
  39. Sebastiane (Derek Jarman & Paul Humfress / 1976 / UK – historical drama) – GB [my review and Jarman Website]
  40. Shelter (Jonah Markowitz / 2007 / US – drama) – GB
  41. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder / 1959 / US – comedy) – TGB
  42. Stories from the War on Homosexuality: Coming Out Under Fire (1994), Licensed to Kill (1997) & Family Fundamentals (2002) (Arthur Dong / US – documentary) – GLBT [my reviews]
  43. Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock / 1951 / US – suspense) – GB [my mini-review and in-depth analysis of a scene]
  44. Sunday Bloody Sunday (John Schlesinger / 1971 / UK – drama) – GB [my review]
  45. Swoon (Tom Kalin / 1992 / US – suspense / biographical / experimental) – GB
  46. Torchwood: Children of Earth (Euros Lyn; Torchwood series created by Russell T Davies / 2009 / UK – science fiction) – GBL
  47. Un Chant d’Amour (Jean Genet / 1950 / France – drama / experimental) – GB [my review]
  48. Victim (Basil Dearden / 1961 / UK – suspense) – GB [my review]
  49. The Wedding Banquet (Ang Lee / 1993 / Hong Kong & US – comedy / drama) – G
  50. Yossi & Jagger and Yossi (Eytan Fox / 2002 and 2012 / Israel – drama) – GB

^ top

Additional Outstanding LGBTQ+ Films

  • Beautiful Thing (Hettie MacDonald / 1996 / UK – comedy / drama) – GB
  • Fox and His Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder / 1975 / Germany – drama) – GB
  • Harvest (Stadt Land Fluss) (Benjamin Cantu / 2011 / Germany – drama) – GB
  • I Can’t Think Straight (Shamim Sarif / 2008 / UK – drama) – LB
  • Urbania (Jon Matthews as “Jon Shear” / 2000 / US – drama) – GB
  • The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye / 1996 – drama) – LGB
  • further updates coming soon — all of the films pruned from earlier versions of the above 50 list, plus a few newly added pictures.

Begun 1997 / Revised April 16, 2021

^ top