Pride Month: 30 Films for 30 Days




June is Pride month, a thirty-day long celebration of all things queer.  In honor of this year’s festivities here are thirty excellent (and controversial) examples of queer cinema in no particular order. 


 Beach Rats



Gorgeous cinematography and a heart-breaking lead performance combine to deliver one of 2017’s most overlooked films that focuses on a young man coming to terms with who he is….at a tragic cost.


Weekend



One of the most charming and endearing love stories ever filmed.  It’s heartfelt, intimate, and real. 


But I’m a Cheerleader



Arguably one of the greatest lesbian films ever made, Cheerleader is both a scathing satire and a remarkably prescient refutation of cultural norms that continue to divide in the present. 


Paris is Burning



One of the most important films on this list, Paris is a potent documentary about the Ball culture of New York city.  More importantly, it is a snapshot of a grim reality that still survives today. 


Bound

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The Wachowski sisters’ erotic neo-noir is sleek, sexy, and unforgettable.  


The Birdcage



While the original, La Cage Aux Folles is an admirable choice, nothing beats Robin Williams and Nathan Lane’s chemistry.  Coupled with a pitch perfect ending, this film a constant delight. 


Carol



Douglas Sirk by way of Todd Haynes, Carol is a masterwork, both in technical presentation and flawless acting by its two leads, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. 


My Beautiful Laundrette



Stephen Frears’ landmark film focuses not only on a relationship, but on the political and familial landmines of Margaret Thatcher’s London. 


Boys on the Side



A wonderful comedy that also explores the impact of HIV through the lens of a female centric road trip.   


Moonlight



One of the greatest films ever made, Barry Jenkins’ opus explores a young man’s sexual awakening and character defining moments through three different periods of his life. 


The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert



A visual stunner that is complimented by lavish costume design and a heartwarming story about forgiveness and acceptance.  This is a landmark achievement in the genre. 


Tank Girl



Lori Petty’s bravura performance is one of the many delights of this cult classic.  In an age where we’re still waiting for a queer MCU character, remembering this groundbreaking superheroine extravaganza is a comfort. 


The Handmaiden



An exquisitely presented sexual thriller, this is one of the more controversial choices on this list.  While some of the sexual content has divided audiences, it is almost universally agreed that Park Chan-Wook’s masterful retelling of Fingersmith is an unforgettable experience. 


A Single Man



Tom Ford’s breathtaking debut is a somber journey into the heart of grieving man.  Featuring outstanding performances by Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, this is one of the most gorgeous films ever made.


Desert Hearts



There are so many films that depict queer relationships as abnormally morose or unconventional.  Donna Deitch’s sun-soaked retelling of a 1964 novel is organic, honest, and absolutely beautiful.


The Life and Times of Harvey Milk



One of the most important American documentaries ever made.  Doubly so right now.  

D.E.B.S.



Easily the most carefree film on this list, this is a charming love story wrapped in a spy parody. A joy from start to finish.


Mysterious Skin

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Greg Arraki’s dark journey into the aftermath of profound sexual abuse is an endurance test, but absolutely worth it. 


Closet Monster



Winner of TIFF’s Best Canadian Feature, Monster is a coming of age story set within the imagination of a gifted young man.  Sex, violence, confusion, and redemption are all at play under director Stephen Dunn’s delicate hand. 


Tangerine



Shot entirely on an iphone, Sean Baker’s guerilla-style expose of transgendered sex workers in Hollywood is filled with laugh out loud sequences and soul crushing reminders of the horrors that transgendered people face every day.


The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant



Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s audacious deconstruction of the traditional love story blends chamber drama presentation with a merciless recounting of love and loss. 


Cruising



One of my queer friends said that including this film on the list is a historian’s choice.  For better or worse, Friedkin’s controversial Stallone vehicle brought queer culture into mainstream conversation. 


Heavenly Creatures



Before Middle Earth, Peter Jackson stepped beyond his splatter-horror comfort zone with this unforgettable true crime story.   Jackson and Fran Walsh’s screenplay was nominated for an academy award.  One of the more unsettling aspects of the narrative is how homosexuality was(is) used a medical and psychological scapegoat.   


Happy Together



A Wong Kar-wai’s emotional sojourn, Together explores the cycle of abuse that is prevalent within unhealthy relationships and how the healing process is equally as difficult.   


Call Me by Your Name



Maestro Luca Guadagnino’s critical darling features his renowned visuals and endearing performances.  Armie Hammer and Timothy Chalamet’s romance is one for the ages. 


Pariah



Dee Rees (Mudbound) Pariah is a towering achievement in queer cinema, focusing on a young African American woman coming to terms with her sexuality and identity. 


Midnight Cowboy



The first LGBT Best Picture winner as well as the only X Rated winner, John Schlesinger’s masterful telling of the relationship between two men is a cornerstone of modern American cinema. 


Sunday, Bloody Sunday



The second Schlesinger film on this list, Sunday is diametrically opposed to Cowboy in how its presents its queer characters.   An excellent double billing with Cowboy. 


Chasing Amy



Kevin Smith’s ‘90s romantic classic uses his trademark humorous techniques to breakdown the various complexities of this thing called love. 


Tropical Malady



Apichatpong Weerasethakul is one of the most prolific film makers in the world.  His greatest offering, Tropical Malady weaves shamanism, romance, and poetry together in an unconventional format.  The result is a beguiling pinnacle of queer cinema. 


--Kyle Jonathan