Whether you’re decompressing after the holidays or getting refueled before going back to work, here are 10 LGBT films to help you kick off 2017 with rainbows and a bang!
“Appropriate Behavior” (2014)
Desiree Akhavan writes, directs, and stars as Iranian-American bisexual Shirin in this fantastic feature set in Brooklyn. Cutting back and forth between the current-day pain of her recent breakup and happier (and some sadder) times with ex-girlfriend Maxine, be prepared to become a Desiree Akhavan fan after watching this laugh-out-loud film.
Gina Gershon plays a butch lesbian con artist in this mid-1990s now-classic queer film! Directed by the Wachowski siblings, this visually stunning film is a clearly stylistic precursor to their later films in “The Matrix” trilogy. Interestingly, this film was released as directed by the Wachowski Brothers. The filmmaking siblings later both came out as transgender women.
“Celluloid Closet” (1995)
It’s both a history lesson—of cinema’s portrayals of gays and lesbians on screen—and a time capsule of how far things have come since the mid-1990s. Thankfully, the last chapter of this film feels a bit dated as there are now so many more films featuring LGBT characters. But we can’t forget or take for granted how long- and hard-fought the journey has been to see ourselves on screen.
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (2001)
John Cameron Mitchell directs and stars in this emotional and visually playful story of an East German genderqueer rock star. Hedwig started as a 1998 off-Broadway show and became a Broadway revival in 2014, but there is a special place in my heart for the film version. The soundtrack will make you want to rock out and weep all at the same time.
“How to Survive a Plague” (2012)
While it’s possible to watch this film and see faces of the mostly young gay men who were snatched away from us too soon, “Survive” is also an uplifting portrait of resistance. This immersive look at the fight for AIDS drugs during the worst years of the epidemic takes you into the action and leaves you on the edge of your seat.
“Larry Kramer in Love and Anger” (2015)
Jean Carlomusto’s portrait of ACT-UP’s (arguably) most controversial figure and biggest agitator is as moving as it is informative. From his early work as a Hollywood screenwriter to his now famous declaration shouting “PLAGUE” and beyond, this film pays tribute to a one-of-a-kind artist and activist.
“The New Black” (2013)
An in-depth exploration of the debate in the black community over the issue of same-sex marriage. Views range from extremely progressive to staunchly homophobic—n impressive look at the issue from multiple sides.
“Paris Is Burning” (1990)
A now classic documentary about the 1980s NYC black gay ball scene. This film was celebrated by reviewers, while at the same time director Jennie Livingston was criticized for exploiting folks in her film (she did go on to pay her subjects after the film’s release). The film remains an incredibly popular and impressive documentary about this stunning gay art form.
Best friends Sin-Dee and Alexandra set off on a Christmas Eve adventure to find Sin-Dee’s boyfriend, who has been cheating on her. The film’s stars are transgender women playing transgender women—still an unfortunate novelty in mainstream film. And for the film nerds among us, director Sean Baker chose to shoot “Tangerine” entirely on the iPhone!
Julie Andrews plays a man impersonating a woman in this madcap musical. Set in 1930s Paris, this film includes plenty of scenes of Andrews in drag, her friend Toddy being unapologetically gay (and out), and a surprisingly astute commentary on LGBT folks in sports.
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