Representation is powerful. Film is by far the easiest way we can expose ourselves to experiences and lives that differ from our own. Film creates empathy and allows us to develop an understanding of both the characters we see on screen and ourselves. For the LGBTQ+ community representation, – and by representation I mean quality representation that represents a multifaceted queer experience – has seen a marked improvement over the last decade.
Films like Tangerine (2015), Moonlight (2016) and Love is Strange (2014) have all brought much-needed representation, as well as portraying a diverse range of queer stories. Whilst we may still have a long way to go when it comes to diversity in all aspects of cinema, we’re certainly light-years away from Rupert Everett’s two dimensional ‘gay pal’ of 1997’s My Best Friends Wedding.
Here are my picks for five of the best alternative LGBTQ+ films to adorn our screens over the past ten years. Adam Brannon will be bringing you his top picks for the top 5 mainstream LQBTQ+ movies very soon.
Love is Strange (2014)
If you’re in the mood for a heartfelt romance with a little less drama, Love is Strange might just be what you’re looking for. Starring Alfred Molina and Jon Lightgow as the newly wed lifelong companions whose lives are upended by a seemingly innocuous string of inconveniences, this film is filled with disarmingly familiar scenes of domestic disquiet and keenly observed moments. After a string of raw conversations and quiet moments, the emotional final chapter creeps up on you and really packs a punch.
Shot exclusively on an i-Phone 5 by visionary director Sean Baker, Tangerine is a big, bold, transcendent romp. The film broke barriers by casting transgender actors in transgender roles and champions inclusivity to the upmost. Set on LA’s seedier sidewalks, Tangerine examines the lives of both cis and transgender prostitutes, pimps and regular folk.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
The family drama is an honest but messy portrayal of what life is like for a long-term same sex couple. The film examines those long-term relationship niggles, as well as the deep wells of love you develop for each other after years together. Every character is so carefully and considerately drawn, nothing feels contrived and its narrative is universally relatable. Definitely one to watch but make sure you have a jumbo pack of tissues at the ready.
Todd Haynes adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Price of Salt” is a lusty tale of forbidden romance. Emotionally raw, Carol details the interior lives of two women navigating through an unforgiving society, all the while being suffocated by their environment. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are diametrically opposed – the former being outrageously rich and refined whilst the latter modest and uncertain – but work well in this film about forbidden passion.
God’s Own Country (2017)
The Pennines may not be the obvious choice for an English equivalent of Brokeback Mountain but surprisingly, it works. This debut feature for Yorkshire born actor and director Francis Lee is raw, sensual and oddly straightforward. It’s a film that lives and breathes its central performances, with both actors exhibiting an emotional availibility that it at times uncomfortable but beautifully refreshing.
There you have it, the best LGBT movies that fall into the alternative category of the last decade.