We all know the big titles like Call Me by Your Name, Brokeback Mountain, Blue is The Warmest Color, Moonlight and Boys Don’t Cry. But there’s a wealth of terrific LGBTQ movies out there and we’ve hunted down which ones you should put on your radar.
Being 17 (Now available on Amazon Prime)
André Téchiné explored adolescent turbulence and sexual discovery collaborating on his screenplay with one of the most distinctive voices from the younger generation of queer French cinema, Céline Sciamma. Set in the Pyrenees, this beautifully acted, achingly moving drama navigates the agonizing distances and the sometimes raw, sometimes delicate connections among a teenage loner, his mother and the biracial adopted son of a farmer as they grapple with loneliness, fear, desire and grief. — D.R.
The D Train (Amazon Prime)
The D Train teases us with the trappings of a mainstream bro-com only to shapeshift into a funny study of one massive man-crush. Centering on a schlubby 40-year-old try-hard (Jack Black) who reconnects with the class stud from high-school (James Marsden), The D Train excavates the homoeroticism of masculine hero worship, becoming the rare American film to portray male sexuality as fluid.
End of The Century (Apple TV)
Argentinian filmmaker Lucio Castro’s haunting debut feature chronicles a casual hook-up in Barcelona the story then takes a series of quietly mind-bending turns starting around the 30-minute mark. It’s a film that feels tiny at first, but expands exhilaratingly in scope and implication, building to a melancholic wallop of a conclusion.
Kiki ( Hulu, Amazon Prime)
A quarter-century after Paris is Burning celebrated the drag scene and voguing balls of 1980s New York, Sara Jordeno’s uplifting documentary revisited that underground harbor for at-risk LGBTQ youth-of-color at a time when Black Lives Matter had only recently become a national movement and trans rights were making belated inroads into the political conversation. Aside from isolated indie hits like Tangerine, trans representation on film lags behind television, where Transparent, Orange Is the New Black and Pose have broken ground drawing nuanced characters. But the subjects of this immersive portrait demand visibility and respect as they turn flamboyant self-expression into activism. — D.R.
Spa Night (Amazon Prime)
The defining restraint of Andrew Ahn’s debut leaves you unprepared for the cumulative emotional impact of this narratively spare study of a closeted young man in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, caught in an awkward limbo between accepting his sexual identity and bowing to stifling family expectations. The 18-year-old David is observed in his job at a men-only bathhouse, where the furtive cruising of late-night customers stirs both his fascination and his fear. The film quietly probes the conflict of the dutiful Asian son while bringing equal sensitivity to the struggles of the immigrant parents who have mapped out a conventional path for him. —D.R.
So Yong Kim’s film about the complicated, ambiguous love between two former college besties (a superbly matched Riley Keough and Jena Malone, registering each flickering shift in their characters’ dynamic) digs beneath the clichés and formulas of familiar subgenres . It is a female friendship movie, a road movie, and a lesbian romance. The film emerges with something specific, nuanced and insightful. It’s a quiet drama, modest in scale, subdued in tone, but as raw and painful as a fresh wound. — J.F.