It’s February 2021, and away from all the COVID-19 madness, it is also LGBT history month. To celebrate, I’ve picked out five films that I feel are some of the best mainstream gay movies ever released.
Emily White shared with us her picks for the best alternative LGBT films of the last decade, and I thought it was only right to pick out the five best mainstream LGBT movies ever made. In the interests of clarity, mainstream in this list is determined by box-office success, a wide theatrical release and by having well-known and recognised stars in a pivotal role within the movie.
Any of those three criteria can be met for a film to be featured in this list. So without further ado, shall we begin? Here are our picks for the five best mainstream gay-themed films ever made.
#5 I Love You Phillip Morris
If there was an award for funny LGBT movies, then I Love You Phillip Morris could take home the crown. The film received a relatively small theatrical release and only just managed to recoup its $13million budget, but I Love You Phillip Morris but two Hollywood names in leading roles in this gay comedy drama.
Jim Carrey may not have been at the pinnacle of his career in 2010, but he remains one of the world’s most recognised actors, so having him in a starring role was a true win for the LGBT community. Alongside him was Ewan McGregor, arguably now a bigger household name than his co-star. They each bring a warmness to the table and the film is genuinely funny. Based on the true-story of con-man Steven Jay Russell, I Love You Phillip Morris is graphic at times but ultimately heart-warming and with some great messages buried within.
Now probably more infamous for the monumental cock-up at the 2017 Oscars, Moonlight is a beautiful portrait of growing up in a non-accepting society. The film presents three stages in the life of the main character; his youth, adolescence, and early adult life. It explores the difficulties he faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up.
Beautifully filmed and with astounding performances from Trevante Rhodes and Mahershala Ali, Moonlight is one of the first LGBT films to win big at the Academy Awards. It took home three trophies from eight nominations – an incredible feat.
One of the first films to showcase homosexuality, as well as HIV/AIDS and homophobia in mainstream cinema, Jonathan Demme’s (The Silence of the Lambs) Philadelphia is a masterclass in movie-making.
With one of the best performances of his career, Tom Hanks’ Andrew Beckett is shunned by co-workers, family and friends as his comes to terms with both his sexuality and his life-changing illness. Although fictional, the events in the film are similar to the events in the lives of attorneys Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain. Bowers was an attorney who in 1987 sued his law firm in one of the first AIDS discrimination cases.
#2 Love, Simon
The newest film on our list, Love, Simon is a true representation of how far we’ve come. Starring Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson in the titular role, Love, Simon is the first Hollywood mainstream rom-com to feature a gay character as the lead. Full of stylish cinematography and a great soundtrack, it’s a cracking film for all the family to enjoy.
Nick Robinson performs beautifully throughout and both Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel provide some emotional warmth as his parents. Watching Simon discover his sexuality without being able to confide in friends and family is tearjerking and watching his character grow throughout the film is a lovely experience.
#1 Brokeback Mountain
An emotional rollercoaster and one of the most successful LGBT-related films of all time, Brokeback Mountain delivered emotional punches from start to finish. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, the film explores the relationship of the two lead characters in the American West between 1963 and 1983.
Filled with beautiful performances, Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain was a critical and commercial success, taking home over $150million at the global box office. It was also richly rewarded come awards season, taking home three Oscars from eight nominations. BAFTA gave it Best Film and Best Director too, making it the most successful LGBT film of all time.
There you have it, the best LGBT movies ever made, well the mainstream ones anyway. Do you think we’ve missed anything from our list? Let us know in the comments box below.