Thursday, 8 November 2012

Top 20 Films in Gay Cinema: #20-11

With the release of Ira Sach's 'Keep The Lights On' and Xavier Dolan's transgender drama 'Lawrence Anyways', queer cinema is as popular as ever. While some ignorant people may just perceive these films as an excuse to show gay sex on screen, the truth is that cinema has made leaps and bounds in the past two decades, depicting homosexual relationships and transgender issues more realistically than ever. The films on this list have surprisingly little in common, except that they all explore the importance of gender and sexuality and how the relationship between the two helps to define us as people. I love every single film in this top 20 but there are more again that I just couldn't squeeze onto this list, so sorry 'Milk' and my apologies 'XXY' but here is my definitive Top 20 Films In Gay Cinema.

Starting from #20-11.  

20. Paris Je'Taime - Le Marais (2006)

'Paris Je'Taime' is a compilation of 18 short films that all revolve around the city of Paris. Each segment is shot by a different director and together, the film explores a range of issues. Although it is hit and miss in places, 'Paris Je'Taime' includes a number of great shorts, including Gus Van Sant's entry, 'Le Marais', which is my personal favourite. It's only about five minutes long but in that short time, this segment explores issues of sexuality and language in a simple yet beautiful way. And casting Gaspard Ulliel as the lead doesn't hurt either! Here is 'Le Marais' in its entirety. 

Favourite Moment: It has to be the dramatic reveal at the end which does it for me, although I just love the intensity of Ulliel's performance throughout.
19. Tomboy (2011)
Directed and written by Celine Sciamma, this French film about a young girl who wishes she was a boy really took me by surprise. It is a quiet yet touching story that is unique in its exploration of identity for someone so young. The acting is superb and I'm now eager to watch Sciamma's other feature length film, 'Water Lilies'.  

Favourite Moment: I loved every scene with Laure's younger sister, who was hilariously sweet but my favourite moment is actually at the end, when Laure reconnects with her friend. To say anymore would spoil the story but its a touching moment in this beautiful film.
18. Trevor (1994)
As the only other short film on the list, 'Trevor' has a limited running time to get its point across but in its 22 minutes, this short is more powerful than many full-length films of a similar nature. The story focusses on how 13 year old Trevor comes to terms with his sexuality and the effect that bullying can have on a teenage life. 'Trevor' is an extremely powerful film and in 1995, it won the Academy Award for Best Short. 

Favourite Moment: There's a Diana Ross dance scene in this film which is just amazing!
17. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
As one of the most mainstream films on this list, I'm sure many of you will have seen 'The Kids Are All Right' already but if you haven't, then I can't recommend it enough. The story revolves around two lesbian partners - played brilliantly by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore - who struggle to keep their family together once the biological father of their children hits the scene. It's sad, it's funny and it's just brilliant. Watch it now, even if you've seen it already!

Favourite Moment: It has to be that awkward yet strangely beautiful moment when Bening begins to sing a classic Joni Mitchell song around the dinner table.
16. Maurice (1987)
Not only is 'Maurice' the oldest film on this list, it is also one of the more unusual entries into queer cinema, exploring a gay relationship set in the early 1900's. The most unexpected surprise for me though was when I realised that star Hugh Grant can actually act! The production values are as impressive as you would expect from a Merchant Ivory film and the setting makes the story even more poignant, as the danger of the lovers being discovered is heightened due to the values of British society at that time.   

Favourite Moment: The best part of this film for me is when Scudder enters Maurice's bedroom and they kiss for the first time. It feels so exciting yet dangerous, due to the viewer's fear that they could get caught at any time.

15. Show Me Love (1998)
I first discovered this Swedish film at college, as part of a film course, and I loved it instantly. Lukas Moodyson's debut is now a classic of queer cinema, due to its realistic portrayal of two young girls who find love, despite both external pressures and their own teenage insecurities. This is a must-see. 

Favourite Moment: The conversation at the end about chocolate milk is just brilliant. Watch this film!

14. Keep The Lights On (2012)
'Keep The Lights On' follows the complicated relationship between two men in New York City, portraying the ups and downs that they face due to infidelity and drug use. Ira Sachs recently won the 2012 Teddy Award for this feature and for good reason. The film is beautifully shot and Danish lead Thure Lindhardt is extremely charismatic in the lead role. While 'Keep The Lights On' doesn't offer anything new to queer cinema, it is one of the best gay-themed films that I have seen in a long while. 

Favourite Moment: Towards the end of 'Keep The Lights On', it becomes clear that the relationship just isn't working, despite Lindhardt's desperate attempts to hold on. So it's refreshing to see him being treated kindly by the art student who he bumps into on the street, who Lindhardt had almost slept with a few years before. It's a sweet scene and you end up rooting for them to be together rather than the main pair.
13. Time To Leave (2005)
A key theme of Francois Ozon's work is sexuality and while I love '5x2' and 8 Women', 'Time To Leave' has to be favourite film of his. The story of a gay photographer coming to terms with cancer is certainly not Ozon's most accessible movie and nor is it an easy watch but something about this story stayed with me long after the credits rolled. A haunting watch.  
Favourite Moment: The ending to this film is haunting to watch and stays with you long after the credits roll. Depressing but brilliantly done.

12. Beautiful Thing (1996) 
Jonathan Harvey wrote the screenplay for this little British gem, which is based upon his own play of the same name. 'Beautiful Thing' was originally made for TV but was ultimately shown in cinemas because it was so well-received by critics. I hadn't heard much about this film before I watched it but I instantly fell in love with its sweet earnest characters and fantastic soundtrack. Throughout 'Beautiful Thing', I was constantly rooting for the two leads to make it due to the natural acting and relatable script. Such a great film.

Favourite Moment: The ending of this film is so powerful and acted as wish fulfillment for me when I was younger and trying to understand my own sexuality. Such a sweet, tender moment but to say anymore would spoil the story.  

11. Heartbeats (2010)
'Heartbeats' is the second film directed by Xavier Dolan, who has emerged in the last few years as a prominent new voice in queer world cinema. The young French Canadian also writes and stars in his films, which are some of my favourite arthouse movies of recent years. The story of 'Heartbeats' is centred around two best friends, male and female, who have both fallen in love with the same man. While Dolan's direction can be slightly melodramatic at times, I am always entranced by his work, with its arresting visuals and great indie soundtrack. Watch the trailer here.

Favourite Moment: The best scene in 'Heartbeats' has to be when best friends Francis and Marie compete over buying Nicolas the perfect birthday present. Their developing rivalry is riveting yet also sad as it means their friendship is beginning to fall apart.
So that was the first half of my countdown. Click here for #10-1 to see if one of your favourites has made it to the top spot! And if you've enjoyed my choices so far, remember to like, share and comment below. Thanks!



  1. Nice i enjoyed reading this alot!!
    but what about i killed my mother or weekend or shortbus?????????????????????????????????

    1. There's still a top 10 to go! Some classics will definitely make an appearance in few days time. Havent seen Eyes Wide Open but heard amazing things about it!

  2. Also i really want to see eyes wide open. have you seen it?

  3. I loved Maurice, The kids are all Right and Hearbeats, I want Xavier Dolan's hair! looking forward to the top 10!

  4. I ment Heartbeats, silly billy

  5. Along with "Beautiful Thing", "Shelter" and "House of Boys" complete what is recognized in gay circles as the "Golden Trilogy" of all time BEST gay films. On any list of top gay films, "Latter Days, "The Trip", "Big Eden", and "Undertow" also clearly deserve a prominent spot along with Going Down in La-La Land", "Mambo Italiano", and "Unconditional Love".

    1. Mostly good choices but had to keep the list down to 20. To be honest though, I'm not a big fan of Beautiful Thing. Controversial I know!