TV binge-watch special: All our top films that embrace queer characters and storylines
Over the course of the last four years, there has been at least one queer film in the Oscar race each year.
Think of the films Carol in 2016, Moonlight in 2017, Call Me by Your Name and A Fantastic Woman in 2018, The Favorite and Bohemian Rhapsody in 2019.
Still, Oscars or not, there is still so much to celebrate in queer cinema.
More and more filmmakers are not only embracing queer characters and storylines but learning from criticism about the difference between tokenising representation and authentic and textured storytelling.
While we have a look at some of the most wonderful plots of movies talking about homosexuality, do not forget to catch Boy Erased on Sony PIX.
An open, generous performance from Lucas Hedges carries this earnestly intended movie from writer-director Joel Edgerton, who has adapted the memoir by Garrard Conley about his painful experiences in a Christian anti-gay conversion camp for teenagers in Arkansas. Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe play the deeply upset Christian parents of 18-year-old Jared and Edgerton himself plays the unspeakable camp director, Victor Sykes. Watch Boy Erased on Sony PIX.
Call Me by Your Name
Luca Guadagnino’s film may be progressive in its appropriately admiring depiction of a loving and erotic relationship between two young men, but its storytelling is backward. It’s a story, set in 1983, about a summer fling between a graduate student named Oliver who’s in his mid-twenties, and Elio the seventeen-year-old son of the professor with whom Oliver is working and staying in his lavish estate in northern Italy. In order to have anything like a happy adolescence, and avoid the sexual repression and frustration that seem to be the common lot, it’s essential to pick the right parents and that’s the premise of the film. The movie is about being raised right.
The combination of artistry and emotional directness in this film is overwhelming. Barry Jenkins writes and directs, having adapted Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unproduced play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. Moonlight is about a young African American man and his coming of age, presented as three stages in his life, like the panels of a triptych. The film has power and generosity, giving full access to his thoughts and feelings that it’s as if you are getting them delivered intravenously. It is the kind of film that leaves you feeling somehow mentally smarter and physically lighter.
Todd Haynes’s narcotic and delicious film Carol is in love with this kind of detail: the story of a forbidden love affair that makes no apology for always offering up exquisitely observed minutiae from the early 1950s. It is almost as if the transgression, secrecy and wrongness must paradoxically emerge in the well-judged rightness of all its period. The movie finds something erotic everywhere – in the surfaces, the tailoring, the furnishing and of course the cigarettes.
Holding the Man
This ambitious Australian drama, arriving with far less fanfare, effortlessly trumps them all by refusing to deny its gay identity. Based on a memoir by activist Timothy Conigrave, it’s the tale of a '70s schoolboy romance that blossoms into a relationship and is torn apart by the advent of HIV in the '80s. There’s genuine chemistry between the two leads – as well as sharp turns from a starry cast including Guy Pearce, Antony LaPaglia and Kerry Fox – and an unabashedly mainstream sensibility, transforming an intimate story into a grand romance.