Best LGBT+ movies to watch this Pride Month (2024)

Best LGBT+ movies to watch this Pride Month (1)

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The last few years have ushered in a new era for LGBT+ movies. From bawdy comedies like Bottoms to complex, sensitive dramas like the Oscar-winning Moonlight, the queer narrative is – finally – becoming more diverse.

So whether you’re in desperate need of escaping the humdrum confines of your virtuous existence with a dark and twisted thriller (The Handmaiden) or simply looking for a good, emotionally charged drama to remind yourself you’re alive (Passages), we’ve got you covered.

Here we take a look back through the last two-and-a-bit decades to provide you with 21 of the best LGBT+ movies to watch this Pride.

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

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An outrageous comedy, But I’m a Cheerleader deconstructs gender norms and brilliantly satirizes the absurdity of conversion therapy. This cult classic, from queer filmmaker Jamie Babbit, is about a cheerleader named Megan (played by a young Natasha Lyonne), who appears to be the typical American teen. But when her parents decide she’s gay, they send her off to a boot camp meant to alter her sexuality. There, she meets a defiant and unabashed teen lesbian, Graham (portrayed by queer icon Clea DuVall), with whom she ironically falls in love. RuPaul, Michelle Williams and Melanie Lynskey round out this star-studded cast. Inga Parkel

Saving Face (2004)

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Alice Wu’s directorial debut, Saving Face, is a heartwarming romcom about Chinese-American surgeon Wil (Michelle Krusiec), who keeps her relationship with her boss’s openly gay daughter (Lynn Chen) a secret to avoid the disapproval she’ll face from within their community. However, she eventually has to decide between living a lie or losing out on true happiness. Despite having all the cheesy humor of a proper Noughties comedy, Saving Face also offers a refreshingly authentic portrait of the Asian immigrant experience in America. IP

My Summer of Love (2004)

Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski’s My Summer of Love is a story of teenage romance that slowly delves into dark and murky waters. A young Emily Blunt acts opposite Natalie Press as a pair of school-aged girls from very different backgrounds living in the English countryside. When upper-class Tamsin (Blunt) happens upon working-class Mona (Press), the two form an instant bond that, as it deepens, turns into dangerous co-dependency. Complete with quaint and warm imagery that gradually shifts toward the eerie and sinister, My Summer of Love is a slow burn that’s likely to catch you out with its twist ending. IP

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

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Ang Lee once said that he never intended to make a statement with Brokeback Mountain. “I simply wanted to tell a purely Western love story between two cowboys,” he stated. “To my great surprise, the film ended up striking a deep chord with audiences.” And for good reason. Led by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger as two ranch hands who fall in love, the movie traces the decades of their longtime love affair as their relationships with their wives and children begin to unravel. And though this one doesn’t end on the high note you’d hope for, it still manages to impart the importance of living one’s truth. IP

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013, French)

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This sapphic romance is perhaps best known for its lengthy and explicit sex scenes, which have since been decried by leads Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, the French film details the deep romantic and sexual connection that develops between a young teen (Exarchopoulos) and an older art student (Seydoux) who meet at a lesbian bar. The rawness of Exarchopoulos and Seydoux’s performances is beautifully captured on camera and makes for some of the best acting of the 2010s. IP

Carol (2015)

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Based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt, Todd Haynes’ Carol is a delicate drama about forbidden love. Easily among Cate Blanchett’s top performances is her elegant portrayal of the titular Carol, a closeted lesbian who embarks on a risky love affair with a young department store employee, Therese (played by the equally captivating Rooney Mara). With its gorgeous production design and textured cinematography, Haynes has crafted a masterpiece. IP

Certain Women (2016)

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Before Lily Gladstone became an Oscar-nominated actor for her performance in Killers of the Flower Moon, she was stealing scenes opposite Kristen Stewart in Certain Women. Michelle Williams, Laura Dern and Stewart co-lead this movie as three headstrong women trying to blaze their own paths in the wide-open American Northwest. However, it’s the romance plot between Gladstone’s ranch hand (Jamie) and Stewart’s young law student (Beth) that stands out. In fact, Jamie chivalrously riding a horse to pick up Beth for a late-night bite to eat will be etched into your heart and mind for days after. IP

The Handmaiden (2016, Korean)

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A loose adaptation of Sarah Waters’ 2002 Victorian crime novel Fingersmith, South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden is a daring erotic thriller that will leave you wrong-footed more than once. A tale of deception, it follows an orphaned pickpocket (Kim Tae-ri) who partners with a Korean con man (Ha Jung-woo) to swindle a Japanese woman (Kim Min-hee) out of her large inheritance. Yes, the movie features a graphic woman-on-woman sex scene, much like Blue is the Warmest Colour. But unlike the former, it’s been embraced by Waters for its faithful interpretation of her novel’s nuanced depiction of sexuality. “Though ironically the film is a story told by a man, it’s still very faithful to the idea that the women are appropriating a very male p*rnographic tradition to find their own way of exploring their desires,” the author has said. IP

Moonlight (2016)

In his Oscar-winning drama Moonlight, Barry Jenkins gives depth and complexity to characters who are so often neglected. The movie focuses on three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young Black man living in a poor Miami suburb. Viewers are taken on a journey through Chiron’s childhood (where he is played by Alex R Hibbert), his teen years (played by Ashton Sanders) and his adult years (played by Trevante Rhodes) as he comes to terms with his sexuality. IP

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

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Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name will transport you to a romantic dreamscape: 1983 Italy. The film, based on the best-selling 2007 novel by Italian-American author André Aciman, thrust a young Timotheé Chalamet into the spotlight (where he has remained ever since). He portrays Elio, who falls in love with his father’s intern, a handsome doctoral student, Oliver (Armie Hammer), through the months of a languid summer. What puts this summer romance above the rest is the way in which Guadagnino expertly handles the familiarity of first loves. IP

God’s Own Country (2017)

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Even with minimal dialogue, God’s Own Country remains a soulful movie. Josh O’Connor stars as Johnny, a despondent young farmer from Yorkshire who numbs his sad reality with meaningless sex and booze. It’s not until he meets Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) that the monotony of day-to-day life working and caring for his ailing father becomes full of meaning. IP

Disobedience (2017)

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Disobedience is another emotionally charged story about forbidden love, this time set in the north London world of Orthodox Judaism. Rachel Weisz is Ronit, a photographer living a carefree New York existence. When she receives word that her father, a well-respected rabbi, has died, she must return to the community that exiled her years ago. There, she’s reunited with familiar faces, including her childhood friend Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), who she’s surprised to discover has married Esti (Rachel McAdams), her former lover. Both Weisz and McAdams give tremendous performances, so filled with vigor, that you’ll easily feel enveloped in the lives they’re so desperate to flee. IP

Rafiki (2018, Kenyan)

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Rafiki depicts the devastating reality many queer people face in countries where violent hom*ophobia is the norm. Yet, it remains a joyous and colorful coming-of-age story, which can only be attributed to its leads, Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva, whose chemistry lights up the screen. From Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu, the film follows the love that develops between Kena (Mugatsia) and Ziki (Kahiu), the daughters of two adversaries running for a seat in the County Assembly. IP

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, French)

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Céline Sciamma’s masterful portrayal of female desire in Portrait of a Lady on Fire is unforgettable. With limited dialogue, the majority of the acting here is done through the emotive, yearning glances shared between Marianne (Noémie Merlant), a painter, and her subject Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), whose wedding portrait she’s been hired to paint in secret. Through Sciamma’s lens, viewers are given the ability to study each woman, too. That this triumph didn’t receive any recognition at the 2020 Oscars is a real disappointment. IP

The Half of It (2020)

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More than 15 years after her indelible Saving Face, director Alice Wu returned with her equally as charming second feature film, The Half of It. It stars Leah Lewis as nerdy, Chinese-American student Ellie, who provides her essay writing services to classmates for money. After she’s hired by the school jock (Daniel Diemer) to write love letters to his crush (Alexxis Lemire) on his behalf, Ellie comes to discover that she, too, fancies the same girl. The Half of It is a lighthearted comedy that doesn’t require much thought, just enjoyment. IP

Girl Picture (2022, Finnish)

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Aamu Milonoff, Linnea Leino and Eleonoora Kauhanen co-lead Girl Picture, a film about three young Finnish teens on the brink of womanhood. From high school parties to embarrassing first kisses, prepare to be transported back to that awkward era when hormones were raging and romantic discovery took up prime mental real estate. While at times the film can feel like it lacks substance, you’ll soon realize it’s a perfect metaphor for how fleeting that period in life is. IP

Tár (2022)

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You don’t have to be knowledgeable or even interested in the world of classical music to enjoy this tour de force. From Oscar-nominated director Todd Field comes Tár, starring Cate Blanchett as the titular symphony conductor, who is on the brink of career glory. Though her queerness is just one layer of this psychodrama, her sexuality manages to play an important role in her missteps. Blanchett breathes such life into her spiny character; it’s no wonder viewers confused the fictional Lydia Tár with a real person. IP

Blue Jean (2022)

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Georgia Oakley makes a spectacular entrance with her feature debut, Blue Jean. Set in 1988 in Newcastle just after laws banning “the promotion of hom*osexuality” were introduced, the movie follows closeted school PE teacher Jean (Rosy McEwen), who’s forced to lead a double life. It’s a straightforward narrative that seems to raise the bar of heroism – can Jean set aside her own internalized hom*ophobia to stand up for a student also struggling with her sexuality? IP

Bottoms (2023)

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Bottoms is a campy, chaotic queer tale about a pair of unpopular high school teens (played by Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott) who start a fight club to meet girls and lose their virginities. Think Mean Girls for Gen Z. Its one-liners and physical comedy will leave you rolling on the floor laughing. IP

Passages (2023, French)

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One of the sexiest movies of recent years, Passages was so provocative that it earned a rare NC-17 rating in the US. It follows Paris-based filmmaker Tomas (played by German actor Franz Rogowski) as he lays waste to the lives of both his husband Martin (Ben Whishaw) and Agathe (Blue Is the Warmest Colour’s Adèle Exarchopoulos), a young school teacher with whom he initiates a tangled affair. Along the way, director Ira Sachs showcases graphic, intimate scenes and characters ripe with complexity. “The beautiful thing about intimacy is that you can’t force it,” Rogowski told The Independent last year. “The intimacy that we were looking for also needed a certain amount of risk.” Tom Murray

All of Us Strangers (2023)

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Prepare your tissues because there’s nothing cheery about this one. Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers is a sorrowful and haunting drama about a screenwriter (Andrew Scott), whose isolated life is shaken by the arrival of a lonely alcoholic (Paul Mescal). The movie gorgeously tackles themes of grief and leaves you with the understanding that even though life keeps moving, your love and memory for those lost will always remain relevant. IP

Best LGBT+ movies to watch this Pride Month (2024)
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