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Editor's Pick: Our Essential Queer Cinema Movie Marathon

Editor's Pick: Our Essential Queer Cinema Movie Marathon

by: Sub Cat

Every hoe knows that winter is Nextflix & Chill season. What better way to celebrate than with a movie marathon that celebrates all things queer? Snuggle up with our selection of the best LGBTQIA+ films that highlight the queer experience.

Tangerine (2015) Directed By: Sean Baker Written By: Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch

Shot entirely with iPhone 5s, Tangerine chronicles the story of trans sex worker Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez). On Christmas Eve Sin-Dee returns to her usual haunt in Hollywood after a short stint in prison. She learns that her boyfriend and pimp Chester (played by James Ransone) cheated on her while she was locked up. Together with her best friend Alexandra (played by Mya Taylor), Sin-Dee goes on a mission to find out the truth. Tangerine is raw, brash, and unapologetic. It is also a truly touching story about friendship, loyalty and real love. Right now, watch Tangerine for free on Hulu.

We Were Here (2011) Directed By: David Weissman & Bill Weber

The powerful documentary We Were Here premiered at Sundance in 2011. It documents the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in San Francisco through the stories of five SF residents whose lives were forever changed by the epidemic. San Francisco was hit the hardest at the beginning of the outbreak and the documentary examines how the effects of the epidemic rippled across the country. This film stands as a sombre reminder and also as a reverent tribute to the brave people who survived and who helped others when there was no hope in sight. Understanding the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a crucial part of queer herstory. A word to the wise - get the tissues ready for this one. Right now, watch We Were Here for free on Amazon Prime Video.

Moonlight (2016) Directed By: Barry Jenkins

Based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight premiered in 2016. The film tells the story of Chiron, and follows him through the three stages of his life – childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. It examines the struggles he faces as a young black queer man coming to terms with his identity and sexuality. Moonlight made history as the first LGBTQ film and the first film featuring an all-black cast to win an Oscar for the Best Picture. Mahershala Ali won an Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor, while McCraney and Jenkins won an Oscar for the Best Adapted Screenplay. Right now, watch Moonlight for free on Amazon Prime Video.

Paris Is Burning (1991) Directed By: Jennie Livingstone

Another essential documentary on queer herstory, Paris Is Burning offers a never-before-seen look at the ballroom culture of New York City during the 1980s. Livingstone actually made her iconic film while she was still a student. By interviewing key figures in the ballroom competitions, she allowed the stories of trans and gay, black and Latinx folx - some of whom were houseless or engaged in survival sex work - to be told in their own words. This landmark documentary is required watching, especially now when vogueing and ballroom have come into the cultural zeitgeist through shows like FX's Pose and Ru Paul's Drag Race. Right now, watch Paris Is Burning for free on Netflix.

But I'm A Cheerleader (1999) Directed By: Jamie Babbit Written By: Brian Wayne Peterson

Premiering in 1999, But I'm A Cheerleader instantly became a cult classic. A quirky romantic, satirical comedy the film follows the story of Megan (Natasha Lyonne), a closeted cheerleader with a passion for Melissa Etheridge and veganism. Megan's family suspects she is a lesbian and decides to send her to a conversion therapy camp. The movie explores the topics of sexuality, heteronormativity and the social construction of gender roles. Featuring a surprising cast of characters (including Mother Ru!) this film is a funny, feel-good queer romp. Who said all lesbian movies had to end in heartbreak and tragedy?

Transamerica (2005) Written & Directed By: Duncan Tracker

Transamerica is a story of Bree Osbourne (Felicity Huffman), a pre-op trans woman. A week before her surgery, Bree learns that she has a teenage son named Toby (Kevin Zegers). On the urging of her psychologist, Bree travels to New York City to bail her son out of jail and the two go on a road trip across the US. Along the way, Bree learns that Toby is a runaway, a hustler and that he was abused by his step-father. Transamerica a story of reflection and self-discovery with a nuanced performance by Felicity Huffman. Huffman was even nominated for an Oscar for her role in the film.

Weekend (2011) Written & Directed By: Andrew Haigh

Weekend premiered in 2011 at SXSW. The film tells the story of Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New). The two meet in a club and have a one-night stand the weekend before Glen is supposed to leave the country. A casual hook up turns into something much deeper that changes both men forever.

My Own Private Idaho (1991) Written & Directed By: Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant's iconic film My Own Private Idaho chronicles the story of Mike (River Phoenix), a street hustler who suffers from narcolepsy. Mike befriends another street hustler named Scott (Keanu Reeves). The two go on a journey that takes them across the US and ends in Italy where they go to search for Mike’s mother. It is a story of love and heartbreak, and it's a classic of the New Queer Cinema of the early 1990s.

Brokeback Mountain (2005) Directed By: Ang Lee Written By: Larry McMurty & Diana Osanna

Can you even have a list of LGBTQ films and not include Brokeback Mountain? Based on the short story by Annie Proulx, the film tells the story of Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal). The two cowboys meet in Wyoming where they are hired to herd sheep for the summer. The two begin a passionate and complicated relationship that spans over two decades. Brokeback Mountain received eight Academy Award nominations and won three (for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score).

Carol (2015) Directed By: Todd Hayes Written By: Phyllis Nagy

Carol is based on the semi-biographical novel The Price of Salt written by Patricia Highsmith. It follows the story of an aspiring photographer Therese (Rooney Mara) and Carol (Cate Blanchett), an older woman going through a difficult divorce. After a chance meeting at a department store, the two seek each other out and begin a passionate, illicit affair. Carol premiered in 2015 and received numerous award nominations, including five Golden Globe and six Academy Award nominations. Right now, watch Carol for free on Netflix.

Pariah (2011) Written & Directed By: Dee Rees

Pariah premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. It follows the story of Alike (Adepero Oduye), an African-American teenager growing up in Brooklyn coming to terms with her queer identity. While Alike is ready to embrace her lesbianism, it causes strife within her family.

The Handmaiden (2016) Directed By: Chan-Wook Park Written By: Sarah Waters & Seo-kyeong Jeong

Inspired by the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, The Handmaiden is a breathtakingly gorgeous erotic psychological thriller set in Japanese-occupied Korea. The film opens with the story of an orphaned pickpocket (Kim Tae-ri) and a Korean con man (Ha Jung-woo) who plan to seduce and bilk a wealthy Japanese woman (Kim Min-hee) out of her inheritance. I won't spoil the ending for you, but you don't wanna sleep on this ravishing crime drama. Right now, watch The Handmaiden for free on Amazon Prime Video.

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