Mainstream LGBTQ-related films are a fairly new phenomena, with the history of cinema mostly focusing on narrow field of the human experience. In the twenty-first century, queer cinema has become incredibly popular, with LGBTQ+ movies scooping major awards at some of the most prestigious awards ceremonies. This list includes some of the most pivotal LGBTQ+ movies, which helped contribute to the welcoming of LGBTQ+ movies into mainstream cinema.
Appearing on many lists of the best films of the 21st century, Moonlight broke many records as the first movie with an all-black cast, as well as the first LGBTQ+ related movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. At the Oscars, La La Land was mistakenly announced as the Best Picture winner instead of Moonlight, making headlines when the mistake was realised and announced. This Barry Jenkins picture follows the protagonist through his youth, adolescence and early adulthood, highlighting themes of identity, masculinity, blackness and sexuality.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain is cited as a pivotal film in pushing LGBTQ-related films into mainstream cinema. It was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, as well as winning Best Director. Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. Set against the backdrop of the hostile American West, Brokeback Mountain succeeded of subverting the stereotype of typical masculine cowboys and showing what happens when they fall in love with each other. Brokeback Mountain had many controversies upon release, such as being pulled from movie theatres and criticism by conservative media outlets, showing how revolutionary it was as one of the first prominent LGBTQ-related movies.
Carol stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, who develop a forbidden love affair during the 1950s. It was revered from start to finish, receiving a ten-minute standing ovation at its premiere at Cannes Film Festival, and earning six nominations at the Academy Awards. This Todd Haynes film is elegant, gentle, yet completely moving in its depiction of a female-female love story. Based on the 1952 Patricia Highsmith novel ‘The Price of Salt’, Carol had been in development since 1997, but came a long way to its release in 2015.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
This coming-of-age LGBTQ+ romance takes place ‘somewhere in northern Italy’ during the summer of 1983. Our protagonist is seventeen-year-old Elio, who meets twenty-four-year-old Oliver, a graduate student living with Elio’s family over the summer whilst he researches his academic work. Over time, a relationship blossoms between the two, however they must accept that their relationship will never last because of their inherent differences. Call Me By Your Name had the biggest opening for a gay romance film since Brokeback Mountain, and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Song and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. It was based on the André Aciman novel from 2007, which had its sequel published in 2019, meaning a second film could be in the works.
The Favourite (2018)
This Yorgos Lanthimos black comedy takes a unique spin on period drama. The Favourite takes place during the reign of Queen Anne, and follows her majesty herself, played by Olivia Colman, as well as Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, played by Rachel Weisz, and Abigail Masham, played by Emma Stone. The two women are competing with each other for the role of court favourite, and each develops a romantic relationship with Queen Anne. Olivia Colman won Best Actress at the Academy Awards for her fantastic performance as the deteriorating queen.
Let us know in the comments what your favourite LGBTQ+ movie is!
Caitlin Hall is a freelance writer who is currently studying for an English Literature degree at the University of York. A film enthusiast whose favourite film is Zodiac (2007), primarily because she loves Jake Gyllenhaal. More of her reviews can be found at https://caitsfilms.wordpress.com and her twitter account is @caitonfilm.