The past two years set a new benchmark for LGBTQ cinema with the double whammy of Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name. While nothing has shined quite so bright thus far in 2018, the last six months have still proved to be rather fruitful, offering up a peachy range of delectable treats for even the most discerning cinema-goer.
From lesbian superheroes and Oscar winners to Oreo-loving closet cases and love of the strangest kind, queer film enthusiasts have found plenty to enjoy in the first six months of #20GayTeen. Here at INTO, we’ve rounded up seven of the best LGBTQ movies that were widely released in cinemas this year, avoiding festival favorites which will undoubtedly appear on lists of this nature again as 2018 draws to a close.
Much has been made of the fact that Love, Simon is the first studio movie to normalize queer love for teens, and plenty of discussions have also been had regarding its limited focus on a white, non-femme, American boy. Yes, Love, Simon is groundbreaking for providing young gay men with a mainstream role model and sure, far more diverse representation on screen is vital moving forward, but what most of these debates ignore is that Love, Simon is also just damn entertaining.
Based on Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the plot of Love, Simon will be familiar enough to fans of teen movies, but by the end, this film will make you both laugh and cry with the best of them. In terms of sheer impact, Love, Simon is the most important queer movie of 2018 and it’s also one of the most fun to watch.
While it’s unfortunate that neither lead is played by an LGBTQ actor, Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams still give career-best performances in this tale of a woman reconnecting with an old childhood friend in North London. Director Sebastián Lelio grounds the story with conviction, exploring the fraught relationship between religion and sensuality with the kind of sensitivity that should guarantee Disobedience attention during awards season.
The Merc with a Mouth may have chosen to remain silent regarding his own pansexuality and Shatterstar wasn’t given the chance to explore his bisexual, polyamorous leanings either, but Deadpool 2 still managed to do what no other superhero movie has done so far: provide us with a legitimate queer romance.
Openly gay in real life, star Brianna Hildebrand plays Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the franchise and this time around, she has a girlfriend, too. Although the former X-Men trainee doesn’t appear in Deadpool 2 as much as we would like, it’s still refreshing to see Hollywood begin to catch up with the more inclusive portrayal of LGBTQ heroes in the comics.
Hollywood sex comedies aren’t known for their sensitivity or tolerance, but Blockers takes a surprisingly nuanced approach to the sexuality of its young stars. Although the main thrust of the film is the parents and their goal to stop their daughters from having sex, Blockers also depicts a young girl’s realization that boys might not be what she’s into after all. What’s particularly impressive about this storyline is how Sam’s father intuitively knows that his daughter is a lesbian and yet doesn’t judge her once, not even for a second. Long gone are the days when homosexuality was dismissed as the butt of every joke in Hollywood.
A Fantastic Woman
Chilean director Sebastián Lelio appears on our list for a second time with the trans drama A Fantastic Woman, which also happened to cast a trans actor in the lead role. Daniela Vega’s beautiful performance helped the film receive recognition at the Berlinale last year along with a nomination for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. Both mournful and celebratory, A Fantastic Woman is a modern classic that deserves to be discussed in the same breath as other award-winning films like Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name.
As queer movies go, Becks doesn’t exactly break new ground, but movies don’t always have to tear down walls and fire up the internet with socio-political debate. Sometimes, it’s great to just sit back and chill with a fun indie drama that lets loose with sexual hijinks and a killer soundtrack. Courtesy of Broadway star Lena Hall, each song adds further nuance to her central performance that carries the whole film. Long after the credits have finished rolling, you’ll still be humming the country-inflected tracks that Hall’s character sings while trying to figure out her shit.
Hot on the heels of Love, Simon comes another gay teen movie that focuses on the plight of a white American male, but without Hollywood limitations, the Netflix original Alex Strangelove dives deeper into the queer experience, confronting the fact that discovering one’s sexuality is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. Along the way, Craig Johnson’s latest movie also manages to squeeze in some laughs and real-life coming out videos that remind audiences exactly why films like Alex Strangelove need to be made in the first place.