LGBT themed movies are slowly gaining popularity, more and more are being filmed and nowadays there are plenty out there to choose from – some good, some not so good, some really amazing. Especially recently, LGBT movies have upped their game, not only when it comes to numbers, but also in terms of quality and plot lines. And since the depths of LGBT cinema can be a bit intimidating initially when you first decide to take a dip – here is a little help for you. I’ve picked 10 must-see movies, released after 2010 for you to enjoy. You are welcome.
Based on the novel “The Price of Salt” (later renamed “Carol”) by Patricia Highsmith, Carol was voted as number one LGBT movie of all times at the BFI Flare festival. The story of young Therese Belivet, who meets a mysterious beautiful woman while working in a shopping center and falls in love with her, is loosely based on a past experience of Highsmith herself. Therese and Carol’s chance meeting turns into a forbidden love story, which we, as spectators, follow through till the end, holding our breaths and hoping for the best against all odds. Carol is a true masterpiece, not only because of the obvious reasons – the beautiful imagery and the powerful performance of Cate Blanchet and Rooney Mara. But most importantly - it shows us a picture of the attitude towards gay relationships in the 1950s in the US. The storyline itself also has considerable significance in LGBT literature, since “The Price of Salt”, published in 1952, was the first book about a lesbian relationship that did not get an unhappy ending.
Blue is the Warmest Color 2013
“Blue is the Warmest Color” is a movie, which leaves you feeling a wide range of emotions, but indifferent is definitely not one of them. With the typical rawness of European cinema it exposes feelings and images alike, leaving its viewers exhilarated and devastated in equal measure. We are following Adele – one of the main characters – every step of the way through her coming of age, which includes plenty of self-exploration and self-doubt. At the beginning of the movie, Adele is a student, pondering about her dissatisfaction with her life, when she meets Emma – an exciting fellow student and an artist with bright blue hair, who shows her that life can have many unexplored dimensions. “Blue is the warmest color” is not just a story about falling in or out of love, nor is it simply a story about growing up. It’s a story about slowly growing into yourself – looking into the little hidden corners of your soul and accepting yourself as who you are even when, or maybe especially, when society wants you to be someone else. And what if it’s not just society? What if it’s your loved ones, your family or your circle of friends? What if it’s you?
The Danish Girl 2015
Eddie Redmayne is a genius. I cannot imagine another actor better portraying Lili Elbe – the transgender Danish painter born as Einar Wegener and one of the first people in the world to undergo a sex-assignment surgery. “The Danish girl” takes your heart and rips it into pieces, because it is such an outstanding portrayal of the struggle of having to physically find yourself, of having to be painfully reborn as who you really are after being born in the wrong body and having to hide behind a façade from everyone including yourself. This is not an easy journey to watch, it is an excellent metaphor of childbirth – the pain, the sacrifice, the doubts, and finally the happiness which comes after – Lili’s simple words “I am entirely myself.” say everything. If there is one thing that stays with you after watching this movie, it’s that life is only truly worth living if you are living it as who you truly are.
Call me by your name 2017
“Call me by your name” is a sweet summer tale of love and a celebration of, by the words of its director, Luca Guadagnino, “the melancholy of lost things”. In 1983 Italy, while “waiting for the summer to end”, Elio, the 17-year old son of a famous archeology professor meets Oliver, a graduate student of his father, who comes to live with them for 6 weeks while working alongside the professor. The two of them are slowly drawn to each other amidst leisurely intellectual conversations and lake swims. “Call me by your name” intertwines romance and melancholy in such a beautiful way that even though we are left a little heartbroken, it shows us that self-discovery and maturation come hand in hand with an inescapable sense of loss. Moreover, it is a reminder of something that sugar-coated love stories often make us forget - that a great love doesn’t need to last forever to be real.
The Handmaiden 2016
Park Chan - wook takes “The Fingersmith”- the famous novel by Sarah Waters set in Victorian England– and turns it into a compelling dark tale that takes place in Japanese – occupied South Korea. This many-layered mystery involves an experienced conman and two young women, who he plans to use in a complex plot to disinherit a rich heiress and steal her money for himself. The story will hold you at the very edge of your seat, it will take you to the sinister but alluring world of fetishes and no matter how convinced you are that you have figured it all out, the ending will still manage to shock you. Chan-wook has taken this intricate plotline and turned it into a perfect blend of beauty and darkness, showing us that love can sometimes take roots in the most unexpected of places… and circumstances.
The Weekend 2011
“The Weekend” is one of those movies which tell a long story in a very short time span. While searching for a hookup in a gay bar, Russel meets Glen and the two head to Russel’s apartment for what they both think will be a one-night stand, but gradually turns into a weekend spent together, exploring topics such as love, commitment, comfort with one’s own sexuality. This is a very gentle film, which slowly reveals to the viewers the personalities of both characters – while Russel is way more reserved, Glen is a provocateur – an art student who is very open about sex and sexuality. The contrast between the two not only makes it a pleasure to watch them slowly get closer to each other, but also by the end of the movie, helps us realize how much the short time spent together has changed both of their lives.
How to win at checkers (every time) 2015“How to win at checkers (every time)” explores love from more than one angle – love between lovers, love within a family, fraternal love and love for your life. Oat is an 11-year old orphan, raised by his older gay brother Ek, who is dating a man from a much higher social class than them. The lives of all three take an unexpected turn when the two young men reach the necessary age, 21, for participation in a Hunger games type of lottery, which determines who gets enlisted in the army. Here begins Oat’s journey through Thailand’s criminal world and his quest to find enough money to keep his brother out of the battlefield. “How to win at checkers (every time)” asks questions such as how much are willing to sacrifice for those we love? How much of ourselves are we willing to give away and how much are we losing in the process? Can love in whatever form resist the brutality of the real world?
Free Fall 2013
Who doesn’t love a good straight-turns-gay story? “Free fall” is the story of Marc, a police officer, who lives with his longtime girlfriend and soon-to-be mother of their child. While on a training camp he meets Kay; the two initially have a confrontation, but later become close friends. Friendship starts developing into something much deeper, however, leaving Marc questioning himself and hanging in between his perception of family with his girlfriend and his newly discovered love for Kay. In the face of its two main characters, “Free falls” offers a fine blend between strength and sensitivity, in the meantime breaking stereotypes of what is perceived as “masculinity”. It’s not simply a story of love, or a story of finding yourself. Most of all it is a story of balance – between loyalty and love, between shame and truth, and of course, between you and society’s expectations of you.
The way he looks 2014
“The way he looks” is a sweet tale of love reaching beyond the obvious. It’s a very light, heart-warming and gentle film with a teen love triangle at its center. Giovana is Leo’s best friend, and is also in love with him as can be seen by the way she looks at him. He, however, hasn’t the slightest idea and cannot see her glances. Leo is blind. Things for the two of them change when Leo is teamed up for a school project with Gabriel – a handsome classmate, who takes incredible interest in Leo and the way he “sees” the world. From then on you have the usual elements of a teen love story – unexpected feelings, jealousy and self-discovery. Leo’s blindness however is the one small thing, which the director, Daniel Ribeiro, has managed to use in order to turn a cute cliché of a story into a very touching movie and impressively, he has done it in such a casual matter-of-fact way that you don’t feel it’s a big deal, even though you know it is. “The way he looks” is a movie which, afterwards, makes you smile and close your eyes for a bit so that you can “see” what love actually feels like.
This movie is so uplifting and awesome that it makes you want to stand on your chair and cheer as loud as you can. The story revolves around a group of gay and lesbian activists who realize that they share a common enemy, in the face of the police and Margaret Thatcher’s politics, with the participants in the 1984 British miners’ strike. They decide to create “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” support group and help raise money for the families affected by the strike. When their donations are rejected due to public image concerns by the National Union of Mineworkers, the LGSM decides that they will go and give the money directly to a Welsh miners’ village, which they pick randomly. “Pride” is a movie which fills you with optimism. It inspires you and proves (if you ever doubted it) that unity is the greatest of strengths and can achieve the greatest of results. And the best part? It’s based on a true story.