Pride Month is a time devoted to acknowledging the 1969 Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June, and promoting queer visibility. One way of recognizing the LGBTQ+ experience is by watching films that depict people within that community. Pictures that capture various facets of the queer experience from the uneasy feeling of being closeted to the simple need to find a loving companion. Without further ado, here’s a list of ten LGBTQ+ films to watch on streaming.
10. The Half of It (2020)
dir. Alice Wu
Anyone who’ thinks love is easy to navigate doesn’t know half of it. The aptly titled “The Half of It” shows how tricky it can be. Especially when you’re a teenager like Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis). As Ellie ponders over her crush for Aster (Alexxis Lemire), complications arise when her classmate Paul (Daniel Diemer) asks her to try and pair him with Aster. Ellie’s journey about the importance of communication and openness is done with verity thanks to the central performances and stylistic panache due to expert writing and directing from Alice Wu. Currently streaming on Netflix.
9. Beach Rats (2017)
dir. Eliza Hittman
As Eliza Hittman’s latest feature “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” hits streaming, be sure to watch her sophomore effort. The gritty indie “Beach Rats” follows a Brooklyn native named Frankie (Harris Dickinson) as he balances daily time with his reckless friends and older men who he meets on Internet dating sites. As Frankie meets these older men in person at nighttime, the bleak, claustrophobic cinematography by Helene Louvart makes it feel like he’s trapped in a closet. The figurative closet that queer youths often hide in, fearful of what’ll happen if they’re true selves are revealed. This makes “Beach Rats” an immersive yet visceral experience. Currently streaming on Hulu.
8. Booksmart (2019)
dir. Olivia Wilde
“Booksmart” is a refreshing subversion of the queer coming-of-age tale. As it follows Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and her quest to find love before her high school graduation, it abandons the traditional “coming out” narrative. When the film begins, Amy is already out of the closet with her sexuality never being a plot point or a comedic punchline. While “Booksmart” is a two-hander with Beanie Feldstein having her own arc as Amy’s best friend Molly, it still sets a precedent for comedies depicting queer characters going forward. Currently available on Hulu.
7. The Favourite (2018)
dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
“The Favourite” is a fine example of a director executing his singular vision even if he didn’t pen the script. Greek helmer Yorgos Lanthimos is known for his peculiar deadpan which easily shines through in this seriocomic story about gender politics, sexuality, and hierarchy. Additionally, Oscar winner Olivia Colman is delightfully bonkers as the ailing Queen Anne while Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz offer scathing wit as Abigail Masham and Sarah Churchill, two cousins vying for Anne’s affections and the position as Court favourite. Currently streaming on Hulu.
6. Rocketman (2019)
dir. Dexter Fletcher
“Rocketman” is a music biopic that puts great emphasis on the music part. As it depicts the life story of artist Elton John (Taron Egerton), it possesses the structure of a movie musical, using John’s classic tunes as sing-and-dance numbers. Additionally, Egerton, who won the Golden Globe for Actor-Musical/Comedy for his performance, is a whirlwind of charisma and fervor as the flamboyant musician. An antidote to the rinse-and-repeat biopic formula, “Rocketman” truly soars high. Currently streaming on Hulu.
5. BPM (Beats Per Minute) (2017)
dir. Robin Campillo
“BPM (Beats Per Minute)” is arguably one of the best films about the AIDS crisis. It’s packed with visceral political urgency as it depicts members of the activist group called ACT UP storming their way in pharmaceutical companies, demanding that they take action. However, it also possesses small moments of levity, like the main characters going clubbing, to break from the pulsating dramatic tension. Despite missing the Oscar shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film, it still remains crucial viewing due to its quality and most importantly, its handling of the subject matter. Currently streaming on Hulu.
4. The Handmaiden (2016)
dir. Park Chan-Wook
“The Handmaiden” is a fine example of a movie being exactly as it’s advertised. A high octane erotic thriller directed with immense vivacity by Park Chan-Wook. Inspired by the novel “Fingersmith,” “The Handmaiden” follows the story of Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri), a woman plotting to defraud Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee), a wealthy heiress. Complications then arise once both women develop feelings for one another. As their romance blossoms, they find themselves attempting to overcome toxic patriarchy, making “The Handmaiden” a love story as poignant as it is frenetic. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
dir. Céline Sciamma
Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” expertly shows how love can indeed burn like an eternal flame. Once Marianne (Noemie Merlant) arrives on an island to paint bride-to-be Heloise (Adele Haenel), only to develop feelings for her, they embark on a romance that shapes both of their lives. A story that may sound familiar is made unique by Sciamma who, along with DP Claire Mathon, makes the titular fire a strong motif. Whether it’s the use of candlelight or the instantly iconic moment of Heloise’s dress burning, flames remain omnipresent and even shine through in the chemistry between lead actresses Merlant and Haenel. They’re the strong center of a love story that’ll arguably be one for the ages. Currently streaming on Hulu.
2. Moonlight (2016)
dir. Barry Jenkins
What better way to celebrate Pride Month than to watch the first LGBTQ+ to win Best Picture? Currently streaming on Netflix, “Moonlight” is a masterpiece that serves as a groundbreaking Oscar winner, the grand announcement of director Barry Jenkins, and a poetic coming-of-age tale about masculinity, race, and queerness. Told in three different chapters about the youth and adulthood of Chiron, a gay black male in Miami, the movie possesses a quiet power that may resonate even after the credits roll. Currently streaming on Netflix.
1. Call Me by Your Name (2017)
dir. Luca Guadagnino
“Call Me by Your Name” easily serves as vital Pride Month viewing thanks to its harmonious portrait of queer love. However, it might also serve as an escapist summer watching. In this current rough time where it’s hard to be spontaneous, summer season will especially be difficult. But the picturesque setting in “Call Me by Your Name” is enough to make one yearn for being outside. In addition, the chemistry between actors Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer that’s as burning as the Italy sun is another strong selling point. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Which LGBTQ+ movie do you recommend on Pride Month? Be sure to share your thoughts!