Top 20 LGBTQ+ Pride Films Ever

Top LGBTQ+ Pride Films

A countdown of my 20 favorite LGBTQ+ films.

It’s June, and we’re commemorating the PRIDE month with a list of our favorite LGBTQ+ movies. We considered the ones done by the community auteurs, movies with real or inspiring situations about identity and sexual preferences, or simply artistically well-done films that respect and love the community.

Based on this criteria, we didn’t consider Blue is the Warmest Color for this list, for the controversies surrounding it. Again, this is a celebration of LGBTQ+ artists and genuine allies. So let us know your favorite Pride movie, and we hope you find something new to watch during the festivities.

Writer’s Note: Yes, I know. June is almost ending by the time I finished and published this article. The life of a regular dude is tough. Please share, follow us on social media, and support me on ko-fi. The Small Reviews is from a sicko, for the sickos.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Parting Glances (1986), directed by Bill Sherwood.
  2. Bottoms (2023), directed by Emma Seligman.
  3. But I’m a Cheerleader, directed by Jamie Babbit.

20 Je, Tu, Il, Elle

Kicking off this list with Chantal Akerman’s 1974 film Je, Tu, Il, Elle. It’s a film starring herself as a woman suffering from depression after a breakup. What fascinates me so much about Akerman’s work is the sense of voyeurism when watching it. In this film, the main character’s isolation looks real. As well as her moments of intimacy. The long sex scene she films herself in is arguably the most realistic I’ve ever seen.

Realistic and beautiful, this is a must-watch for its naturalistic and arresting portrayal of gloominess and love.  

19 Stranger By The Lake

Property of Les Films du Losange.

Moving on with the second film on the list is one with a lot of male genitalia in it. Stranger by the Lake is a thriller drama about a curious man falling in love with the wrong gay man. It captures the sexuality of the cruising ground without going to grotesque places and still having the intensity of a thriller about a killer. That makes it one of the great LGBTQ+ films of the past few decades.

18 The Watermelon Woman

Property of First Fun Features

We’ve been hearing a lot about the independent movie scene over the past 20 years or so. Unfortunately, this was an overlooked movie. That’s until recently with the Criterion Collection release. I can spend an entire 300 – 500-word article ranting about what I think about Cheryl Dunye being so underrated. But this is a celebration of queer cinema.

So, let’s instead celebrate the fact that this is a gem that’s not so hidden anymore. In the first feature film directed by a black lesbian, Cheryl stars as a young director trying to make a movie about a black actress from the 30s delegated to “mammy” roles. It is a love letter to sexual identity and black representation in film. Indie cinema at its best.

17 A Fantastic Woman

Property of Sony Pictures Classic

Chilean director Sebastián Lelio has a gift for telling grounded stories about women. See, for a fact check, both versions of Gloria. Una mujer fantástica is no exception. Transgender actress Daniela Vega plays her character Marina with bravura. She’s a trans woman who mourns the loss of her partner. Consequently, losing her partner also means losing her sense of safety and privacy. This is a touching film about the struggles of a transgender person, a definitive watch in a world where trans people are being persecuted.

16 Mulholland Drive

Property of Universal Pictures

A truly gorgeous film. David Lynch’s masterpiece revolves around an inoffensive Hollywood newcomer and a perplexing brunette with amnesia. In a Lynchian masterpiece, Naomi Watts and Laura Harring are breathtakingly beautiful together. It’s dreamy, sexy, mysterious, and can’t be seen only once.

15 My Own Private Idaho

Property of Fine Line Pictures

Gus Van Sant’s loose adaptation of “Henry IV” is poignant, lovely, and exorcising. The campfire scene alone is reason enough to watch the film. You can feel the emotions of the characters. Especially River Phoenix, who tragically left us too soon. This is Van Sant’s most lacrymose work, telling stories about young characters hurting.

14 All About My Mother

Property of Sony Pictures Classic

World-renowned Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar has been synonymous with queer cinema as well as telling great stories about women for decades. There’s something about him telling these stories about women. It seems like a guy who loves his mother. Arguably, his best film, All About My Mother, is a love letter to motherhood and tackles other themes such as gender identity, homosexuality, and existentialism.

13 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

Property of New Yorker Films

Petra Von Kant is an arrogant and powerful fashion designer who falls in love with a young model in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film. In keeping with the director’s theater roots, this play explores power dynamics, emotional codependency, and love. A narcissistic artist, her “slave” assistant, and a young newcomer make up this love triangle based on the director’s own experience, switching gay men with lesbian women. So, life experiences can be turned into masterpieces like this.

12 Dog Day Afternoon

Property of Warner Bros

Based on a true story, this classic from acclaimed filmmaker Sidney Lumet features Al Pacino in one of the most memorable performances of his career. It is a known fact, and not necessarily a spoiler, that Al Pacino’s Sonny is a bisexual man, and his motives behind the bank robbery are paying for his lover’s sex transition. The film is a brutal depiction of LGBTQ+ issues of the time, many of which are still relevant today, such as the rampant transphobia in society.

11 Tangerine

Property of Magnolia Pictures

Shot by 3 iPhone 5s in its entirety, Tangerine follows a sex transgender sex worker and her friend in pursuit of her pimp and boyfriend upon hearing he’s been unfaithful during her prison time. Sean Baker doesn’t shy away from portraying sex work in a truthful matter, and Tangerine is one of the most candid of all his films on the subject matter. A tour of different Tinseltown subcultures, not glamorous, but worth every minute.

10 Brokeback Mountain

Property of Focus Features

Though I tried every single film to be made by openly gay people, nobody can deny the impact of Ang Lee’s acclaimed film. Released in 2005 and snubbed out of the Best Picture Oscar by a movie that aged like milk, it made Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal stars. The film about two modern cowboys keeping their love secret was part of the conversation for years to come. At the time, it got mocked and parodied due to the heteronormality in Hollywood and a homophobic society. But here we are, still talking about it. It aged like fine wine and opened the doors to queer cinema in the mainstream.

9 Beau Travail

Property of Pyramide Distribution

While the previous film was about two guys keeping a secret, this one is about dudes repressing their emotions and feelings. Claire Denis does a splendid job reconstructing the image of masculinity. It’s atmospheric, homoerotic, and focused on the male body. This is a fantastic movie with one of the greatest endings ever.

8 Carol

ROONEY MARA and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL. Property of the Weinstein Company.

Another would they, won’t they story. In the mid-20th century, long-time LGBTQ+ filmmaker Todd Haynes explores the dynamics of an affair between two women of different social classes and ages. Taking place during a time that’s often romanticized, the film touches on themes such as divorce and (of course) morality in terms of sexuality. Both Cate Blanchett and Roney Mara are superb in their performances.

7 Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Property Camera Film

Moving on with another film with similar topics. Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire takes the prohibited love to the eightteenth century. The class differences here are seen between a painter and a lady who will get married (opposite to Carol divorcing), slowly gazing into each other until it explodes into one of the most intense sex scenes ever in film. This movie is pure fire 🔥🔥🔥. It’s not just about the physical and sexual, but also about the tangible emotions depicted.

6 Paris is Burning

Property of Miramax

Considered one of the best documentaries ever…by me, and should be by everyone. Paris is Burning is pure, vibrant cinéma vérité documenting New York City’s Black and Latinx drag-ball scene in the 80s. For seven years, Jennie Livingston chronicles the beginnings of voguing (the thing Madonna appropriated), drag competition between fashion houses, and some serious issues like transphobia and the AIDS epidemic. This landmark documentary film features those legends who opened the doors to drag queens for decades to follow.

5 Happy Together

Property of Netflix

Directed by the magnificent auteur, Wong Kar-Wai. This is one of the most beautiful films on this list, which is no surprise. Everything about this film is pure Kar-Wai art. The visuals, as well as the heartbreak. But let’s not forget about the needle drops. This time, we are delighted by Danny Chung’s cover of the song that inspired the movie title. Come along with the main couple as they travel to Argentina. It might be a turbulent journey, but still worth it.

4 Call Me By Your Name

Property of Sony Pictures Classic

Luca Guadagnino has taken over the world this year with the long-awaited and highly regarded love triangle erotic thriller Challengers. However, his masterpiece is still the love story that put him on the map, Call Me By Your Name. A whole different vibe than this year’s Guadagnino film. This is a coming-of-age story about a young man discovering himself and falling in love for the first time. Arnie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet are vibrant together as a couple that we won’t forget anytime soon.

3 Weekend

Property of Peccadillo Pictures

Something I’ve talked about with other cinephilic friends is that some movies are simply about love. The previous film on this list is one of those movies, and Weekend is another one of those romantic movies. This is what if Before Sunrise were about two gay dudes. The difference would be a candid, explicit, and fearless take on the gay experience.

2 All of Us Strangers

All of Us Strangers
Property of Searchlight Pictures

In putting this list together, I wondered what Andrew Haigh’s film would be in the top 3. Will it be Weekend, or would it be last year’s All of Us Strangers? Why not both? He is one of the great filmmakers of this generation with his honest portrayal of the gay experience. I put All of Us Strangers ahead for the deeper themes of isolation, parent acceptance, and coming out. It’s a gorgeous film that would make anyone relate to the characters.

1 Moonlight

Property of A24

Our top LGBTQ+ film is Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award winner, Moonlight. If Brokeback Mountain brought gay movies to the mainstream, this powerful film solidified them 11 years later. The story told in three chapters of a young man’s life touches on the gay experience and the black experience. It’s about how it feels to be different and the effects caused by those who are part of the crossroads in our lives. It’s unrivaled visual poetry at its most impactful and one of the best movies of recent history.  

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