In our new “Get INTO” series, we rummage through Netflix each week to find the very best movies that LGBTQ cinema has to offer. However you identify, these tales of love, sex and the everyday experience of queer life all deserve a special place in your Netflix queue. Also, some of these films are super hot, so whether you’re alone or with a special “friend,” rev up everyone’s favorite streaming service and get ready to chill with some of the best queer movies on Netflix.
What is Carol? If you’re not already acquainted with the story of Carol and her forbidden love for Therese, do yourself a favor this holiday season and journey back to the 1950s with Cate Blanchett’s most alluring character yet.
In this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s classic novel The Price of Salt, Carol Aird meets an aspiring photographer called Therese Belivet while shopping for her daughter during the Christmas season of 1952. Upon discovering that Carol ‘accidentally’ left her gloves behind in the department store, Therese returns them to her and also hands over her heart in the process — all at a time when the love they shared dared not speak its name.
Who’s in it? Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara both give career-best performances in the two lead roles, but rather than pit them against each other, it was decided that Mara would be put forth for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars while Blanchett competed for lead. In what would soon become a real-life American Horror Story, this gambit didn’t pay off and both stars walked away with nothing, but on the plus side, AHS alumni Sarah Paulson brought even more queerness to the table alongside Gotham’s Cory Michael Smith.
What does Rotten Tomatoes say? “Shaped by Todd Haynes’ deft direction and powered by a strong cast led by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol lives up to its groundbreaking source material.”
What do we say? Director Todd Haynes has built a career out of exploring female repression, providing a voice to women throughout history who have been denied agency by an unforgiving patriarchy. Safe, Far from Heaven, Mildred Pierce… each represents a powerful artistic statement in its own right, but even work as strong as this can’t compare to what could very well turn out to be the greatest film of his career.
So why didn’t Carol win any Oscars? Not only did six Academy Award nominations for Carol lead to zero Academy wins, but the film didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture or Best Director, despite universal praise from critics worldwide. Naysayers tried to defend this decision by claiming that Carol’s behavior was too predatory or that Blanchett was too theatrical, but the truth is that female-centered films that sideline men to this degree still trouble male voters, particularly if the relationships involved are queer. While things are slowly improving, LGBTQ movies that don’t punish characters in the final act are still shut out of the Oscar race, more often than not.
I’ve already seen Carol. Why should I see it again? Evoking the very best of classic Hollywood, Carol is a genuine work of art, drawing audiences in with a combination of exquisite visuals and two stars working at the top of their game. It’s also a queer movie directed by a queer filmmaker, something which is still even rarer than an out lesbian ever was in 1950s America. There are so many details to absorb here that one viewing simply isn’t enough, and the universal themes of love and desire explored in Carol remain as timely now as they were back when Highsmith had to use a pseudonym to write the novel that this film is based on.
Carol is available to stream on Netflix now.