Top 5 LGBT Movies

Photo Credit:http://nerdreactor.com/2016/12/20/moonlight-movie-review/

It’s Pride month, and we at The Filtered Lens are feeling very much in the spirit. As LGBT cinema grows and expands its audience, the films showing characters with a variety of sexual orientations have only gotten better. The classics of the genre are being made now, and the industry and its celebrators are feeling it too (just look to the winner of this year’s Best Picture Oscar). To celebrate queer cinema, here are our takes on the best the genre has to offer.

Matt’s Take: 

5. Bound (1996)

PHoto Credit:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKCOdqytsUA

Before they made The Matrix, the Wachowskis started their careers as directors with still to this day one of the only good LGBT-centered genre films. Bound is a queer noir thriller that, while hitting all the visual tropes of classic era noirs, hints at the auteurship the siblings were about to embark on. Playing with gender roles in a way ‘90s audiences weren’t quite used to, Gina Gershon’s Corky takes on the typically male role as the gruff, hands-on loner. She falls for Jennifer Tilly’s Violet, who thinly walks the line between damsel in distress and femme fatale. The result is a cheesy, badass hoot of a modern noir that strongly blended its groundbreaking characters with a moody visual flare.

 

4. Weekend (2011)

Photo Credit:https://www.advocate.com/world/2016/3/15/why-vatican-afraid-little-gay-movie

Borrowing much of its narrative structure from Richard Linklater’s masterpiece Before Sunrise, Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, a clear precursor to his HBO series, Looking, is all about the details that make gay relationships the same and different from straight ones. The two main characters are only shown to be at the same gay bar before we see them wake up together the next morning. From there, the film delves into a complex—and soberingly real—discussion on gay relationships and how gay men live their lives. Through the genuine connection shared by the two leads, the film forces introspection on its audience to find themselves in both of them. It succeeds in flying colors.

 

3. Tangerine (2015)

Photo Credit:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHlmzybONnE

Before the 2010s, LGBTQ+ films didn’t come in that many shapes and sizes. Luckily, that’s changed, with one of the best examples being how writer-director Sean Baker made the themes of Tangerine feel universal. The story of two transgender women in the illustrious, dangerous jungle of Downtown Los Angeles, the film boasts an empowering message of friendship and companionship within the LGBTQ+ community. What the film understands better than most is that support from people like yourself is paramount in conquering those who see you as less. The film is well-written, well-acted, and often quite hilarious, but its gorgeous final shot of compassion speaks monumental truths.

 

2. Moonlight (2016)

Photo Credit:http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/moonlight-2016

Moonlight is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful films of the 21st century. As a cautionary tale on the long-term effects of toxic masculinity, it’s gut-wrenching and a pivotal work of art to our species’ evolution. As a coming of age tale for two under-represented communities, the film is life-affirming in every sense of the phrase. Barry Jenkins doesn’t waste a second of screentime, having crafted a masterpiece for the ages where every line, every emotional beat, and every image feels crucial to the film’s overall thesis. Spreading messages of love and acceptance in a way that never feels over-powering, Moonlight is a masterpiece through and through, displaying a cruel world held together by cruel systems that keep certain people away from the top. And yet, there’s not a moment where the film loses its harrowing intimacy.

 

1. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

PHoto Credit:https://www.filmcomment.com/article/review-blue-is-the-warmest-color-abdellatif-kechiche/

At three hours, Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color is one of the most intimate, character-focused epics ever made. And make no mistake, it is indeed an epic despite its hyper-realistic tone and relatively standard setting. But the film uses time as its greatest advantage, sprawling through the life of Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) as she comes into her sexuality, experiments with it, enters her first serious relationship, and finally has to come to terms with her mistakes and make peace with herself. The massive chunk of life on display here is the one in which people change the most, growing from adolescents into who they’re going to be for the rest of their lives. It’s the ultimate story of real life, show two fully formed people who don’t fall into any of cinema’s clichés for queer characters. Adele and Emma (Lea Seydoux) are unquestionably human, and everything they go through, whether it be work, family, or each other, feels true. Blue is the Warmest Color is the ultimate LGBTQ+ film because, while being essential to the characters and their surroundings, this is a profound film about human nature at large, merely through a queer lens.

 

 

Mike’s Take:

5. Appropriate Behavior (2014)

Photo Credit: https://diegobenevides.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/uma-boa-menina.jpg?w=710

The world of New York City auteurist films is fairly packed at the moment, but you should still make room in your viewing schedule for Desiree Akhavan’s stunning feature-length debut. Like Lena Dunham and Woody Allen before her, Akhavan takes on the the role of multihyphenate with aplomb. The writer, director, and star of this achingly honest and gut-bustingly funny coming of age film is absolutely magnetic, especially when she frames her story around more specific experiences. Akhavan’s onscreen persona Shirin is an Iranian-born bisexual woman, who’s just trying to survive her 20s while navigating her complicated relationship with her religious parents. Shirin is a rather unlikely protagonist, but that hardly matters. Her diversity is her strength, and her struggles should appeal to anyone who’s ever fallen in love in the city that never sleeps.

 

4. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Photo Credit: http://www.biggaypictureshow.com/bgps/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/kids-are-all-right-600px.jpg

For all the talk of “family values” that gets tossed around by conservative politicians, I wonder how many of them have seen The Kids Are All Right. Lisa Cholodenko’s Oscar-nominated dramedy is as warm and inviting as you can get, even if some still might view the central family as being “unconventional.” It’s a testament to both Cholodenko’s breezy writing and direction, and the talent of leads Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo that Jules and Nic being lesbian mothers is one of the least interesting parts of the story. Ultimately, this is a film about growing up, growing apart, and defining what it means to be a family. The Kids Are All Right is funny, moving, and deeply human—proof that no matter who our parents are, they’ll likely fight with us, laugh with us, and love us all the same.

 

3. A Single Man (2009)

Photo Credit: https://static01.nyt.com/images/2009/12/06/arts/06firth-span/articleLarge.jpg

In between designing some of the world’s slickest menswear, Tom Ford found time to adapt and direct Christopher Isherwood’s haunting portrait of love and loss for the big screen. His fashion sensibilities can be seen throughout the film’s exquisite art direction and costuming, but what’s even more impressive is the way he merges style with a vivid portrayal of grief and longing. The story of a professor struggling to cope with the loss of his longtime boyfriend is a simple one, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Here is a slice of the gay experience that’s rarely seen on film. It isn’t particularly fun or sexy, but, thanks to Ford and a sublime performance from Colin Firth, it’s unforgettably real.

 

2. Moonlight (2016)

Photo Credit: https://www.filminquiry.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Moonlight-1.jpg

Moonlight‘s surprise win at this year’s Academy Awards was an important step forward in queer, black visibility, but it also deserved to win because it’s a damn good film. Everything about this movie—from the neon-hued cinematography to the carefully structured plot to the knockout performances from the cast—is pure art. It’s art that works as a potent statement on sexual repression and the dangers of traditional gender roles, but it’s equally as effective as a beautiful and heartbreaking story about growing up. Director Barry Jenkins moves through the life of Chiron with an affinity that lets us put ourselves in his shoes as he deals with school bullies, an abusive mother, and his confusing sexuality. Even if your life doesn’t resemble Chiron’s in the slightest, his pangs of loneliness and determination to move forward will ring true. Moonlight was likely the most important film of 2016, but it was also one of the best.

 

1. Weekend (2011)

Photo Credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-WxsTgNqDvtU/TxoLeUHmimI/AAAAAAAAE84/E3MFgfB_ego/s1600/WEEKEND-Tom-Cullen-and-Chris-New-600x300.jpg

Weekend has a voyeuristic quality to it that can, at times, be quite jarring. But if you’re willing to embrace the intimacy, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most incredible queer films of the 21st century. This movie is a very small chamber piece, but it looms large with revelatory introspection on modern sexuality, identity, and romance. Like most of the films on my list, Weekend succeeds because of its specificity. Using the same emotional delicacy that he brought to the criminally underrated HBO series Looking, Writer-Director Andrew Haigh presents an exercise in realism through the story of two men who meet at a club and inadvertently spend the next 48 hours together. Actors Chris New and Tom Cullen display brazen authenticity as two strangers who end up baring their souls to each other. Haigh’s script shrewdly weaves in dissections of heteronormativity and gay relationships, but the film never feels like its getting on its soap box. Instead, it feels a lot like love, which is why it’s so powerful.

 

What’re your favorite LGBT films? Let us know in the comments below. Happy Pride!

 

By Matt Dougherty and Mike Papirmeister

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