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Những bộ phim điện ảnh mang yếu tố LGBTQ+ không chỉ là những tác phẩm nghệ thuật đa dạng và phản ánh đời sống thực đầy chân thật, mà còn có sức mạnh thay đổi cuộc sống và nhận thức của những người xem khắp thế giới. Từ những câu chuyện tình đậm đà cảm xúc đến việc chống lại sự kì thị và bạo lực, những bộ phim này đã tạo ra một sự ảnh hưởng sâu sắc và tôn vinh sự đa dạng trong cộng đồng LGBTQ+.
Dưới đây là danh sách 25 bộ phim LGBTQ+ hay nhất mọi thời đại, xếp hạng dựa trên sự gợi mở và tiếng cười, truyền cảm hứng và sự sâu sắc. Mỗi tác phẩm đều mang trong mình một thông điệp riêng, từ việc tìm kiếm bản thân đến sự hiện diện của tình yêu và hy vọng. Cùng nhau, các bộ phim này đã góp phần tạo nên một thế giới công bằng hơn, nơi tình yêu không bị giới hạn bởi định kiến xã hội hay hình ảnh.
Hãy chuẩn bị sẵn tinh thần để bước vào hành trình khám phá các tác phẩm điện ảnh tuyệt vời, để cảm nhận lòng chân thành và tình yêu thương của cộng đồng LGBTQ+. Bên cạnh các bộ phim kinh điển, bạn cũng sẽ có cơ hội khám phá những tác phẩm mới nhất, những câu chuyện ngọt ngào và cả những cú twist đầy bất ngờ. Đón chào cuộc hành trình này và tận hưởng những giây phút đáng nhớ trong thế giới điện ảnh đầy sắc màu của cộng đồng LGBTQ+.
Pride month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate diversity on film. It might’ve taken long – too long, in fact – but cinema is becoming more inclusive, celebrating stories about every identity in the wide and colorful sexual spectrum. Going back to the New Hollywood Age, stories about LGBTQ+ people have been around, often standing as groundbreaking and pioneering efforts, especially at a time when such films remained controversial and scarce.
Nowadays, representation is much healthier and standardized, with writers, directors, and producers making real and tangible efforts to increase LGBTQ+ presence in mainstream cinema. Fortunately, their efforts have paid off. From certified classics about the seemingly never-ending struggles facing the community to lighthearted comedies about the nuances of gay life, these efforts represent landmark achievements in representation and stand as the best LGBTQ+ films of all time.
25 ‘My Own Private Idaho’ (1991)
Gus Van Sant came to the Hollywood scene in the late 80s as part of the new wave of indie filmmakers about to take over the business.1991’s My Own Private Idaho, a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry saga, stars the late River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves as two friends on an extensive journey of self-discovery, nostalgia, and coming-of-age.
My Own Private Idaho was a breakthrough at a time when queer cinema was beginning to claim a spot in mainstream cinema. Powered by Phoenix’s quiet, subtle, melancholic performance, My Own Private Idaho is a delicate, introspective, and sad reflection on identity and self-discovery that stands as a pioneering achievement of queer cinema.
24 ‘But I’m A Cheerleader’ (1999)
The 1990s were great for campy movies, but few have become as influential for the millennial generation as Jamie Babbit‘s 1999 satirical teen comedy, But I’m a Cheerleader. Natasha Lyonne stars as Megan, a popular girl sent to a conversion camp after her parents suspect her of being a lesbian. Dealing with her sexual identity, Megan becomes close to Graham, a fellow girl at the camp played by Clea DuVall.
Deliciously funny and tongue-in-cheek, But I’m a Cheerleader is a clever and self-aware comedy about the intricacies and struggles of coming out. Opting for a campy approach to a deeply serious subject, the film finds humor in one of the most challenging moments in a queer person’s life, thus finding new power in the experience.
23 ‘The Living End’ (1992)
Greg Araki’s 1992 drama The Living End is another example of the New Queer Cinema of the 1990s. The plot centers on two men, Luke, a dissatisfied grifter, and Jon, a meek film critic, who embark on a journey of liberation and recklessness after Luke kills a homophobic cop.
Drawing inspiration from Ridley Scott‘s groundbreaking ode to feminism, Thelma and Louise, The Living End was an empowering and disruptive film, especially during the early 90s. The film deals with queer themes crucial at the time, including HIV and homophobia. Sexy, chaotic, and ultimately rewarding, The Living End is an achievement of queer cinema that paved the way for many future films.
22 ‘To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar’ (1995)
The late Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo star in the 1995 comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. The plot follows three New York drag queens – Vida, Noxeema, and Chi-Chi – stranded in a small town while traveling to Hollywood.
Along with other films from around the same time, To Wong Foo was a major turning point for queer cinema. Swayze and Snipes were major movie stars known for their conventionally manly roles; seeing them starring in an LGBTQ+ film and spending the entirety of the film in drag was not insignificant. To Wong Foo is far from perfect, a tame and superficial look into drag culture; however, it remains a fun and impressive achievement that successfully brought drag into the mainstream.
21 ‘Pink Flamingos’ (1972)
John Waters is the arbiter of poor taste. The director is infamous for his inflammatory films that offer a campy, excessive, and often disruptive look at queer culture, mocking traditional values and finding the sweet spot between art, campy, and outright sleaze. Nowhere is this remarkable approach more obvious than in his 1972 classic Pink Flamingos.
The film follows notorious drag queen Divine, the self-described “filthiest person alive,” whose title gets challenged by the Marbles, a pair of cheap criminals. Pink Flamingos is not an easy watch – in fact, many might consider it among the all-time sickest movies. However, there’s plenty to admire in its ballsy approach and desire to willfully challenge conventions and notions about appropriate behavior. Pink Flamingos was a major hit in the underground circuit, helping the queer community build a much-needed sense of community during a particularly challenging time.
20 ‘The Boys In The Band’ (1970)
William Friedkin‘s 1970 drama The Boys in the Band was a stepping stone in queer cinema’s ongoing journey. Based on Mart Crowley’s eponymous play, the film follows a group of gay men gathering for a party at an Upper East Side apartment. Tensions rise after an unexpected arrival, leading the party into chaos.
Pessimistic, gloomy, and harrowing, The Boys in the Band is not exactly pleasant. However, the film is a major entry in queer cinema, standing as one of the earliest mainstream films to revolve around gay characters. The Boys in the Band offers a decidedly cynical portrayal of the gay community, but its insights into the characters’ self-loathing, doubts, and repression undoubtedly rang true to many in the original 1970s audience – unfortunately, it still rings true today.
19 ‘The Favourite’ (2018)
A trio of mighty performers star in Yorgos Lanthimos‘ deliciously wicked comedy The Favourite. Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz star in the film about two cunning and manipulative women vying for the attention of the vulnerable, unstable, and fragile Queen Anne of England.
Sharp, unapologetic, biting, and darkly funny, The Favourite is a stellar achievement of modern queer cinema. Strengthened by a trio of titanic performances from its three leads, the film finds the ideal balance between dark comedy, period drama, and timely subtext, resulting in one of the most complex, layered, and outright hilarious queer films in recent memory.
18 ‘BPM (Beats Per Minute)’ (2017)
The 2017 French drama BPM (Beats Per Minute) remains surprisingly and unfairly underrated. Set in 1990s Paris, the film follows Nathan, a young man who joins an HIV and AIDS activist group, discovering that many of his fellow members wish to adopt a more radical approach.
It’s impossible to talk about the LGBTQ+ community without addressing the HIV epidemic of the 80s and 90s. Many films have addressed the matter, but few have done it as intelligently and empathetically as BPM. Emotional and rewarding without succumbing to tired tropes about similar dramas, BPM offers a nuanced and insightful look at the LGBTQ+ community during a period of uncertainty and change.
17 ‘Tangerine’ (2015)
Sean Baker‘s 2015 drama Tangerine is an experimental triumph of transgender representation within queer cinema. The plot follows Sin-Dee, a transgender sex worker recently released from prison, who discovers her boyfriend/pimp has been cheating. Determined to teach him a lesson, she joins her friend Alexandra in her quest for vengeance.
Shot on three iPhone 5s, Tangerine was a breath of fresh air when it debuted in early 2015. The film offers a funny, clever, and often delightful story about friendship and empowerment, breaking away from taboos commonly associated with sex workers and transgender women. Tangerine offers a refreshingly dynamic, visually dazzling, and narratively satisfying effort that ranks as one of the best LGBTQ+ films of the decade.
16 ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ (2018)
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant deliver the best performances of their careers in Marielle Heller‘s 2018 biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me? The film tells the real-life story of Lee Israel, a struggling writer who begins forging letters from famous writers and selling them to bookstores.
Thanks to Heller’s assured direction and McCarthy’s stellar and challenging portrayal, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a brilliant portrayal of frustration, loss, and ambition. Unapologetic and confident, the film offers its thorny characters as their unchecked selves, daring the audience to like them while making them far too complex and intriguing for them not to. Seldom are LGBTQ+ movies allowed to explore other sides of the queer experience, but Can You Ever Forgive Me? excels by focusing on the darker corners of its characters’ psyches.
15 ‘Happy Together’ (1997)
1997’s Happy Together stars the late Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung. The film chronicles the tumultuous relationship between Lai and Ho, two men who leave Hong Kong to visit Argentina. However, their contentious dynamic results in an unstable romance that leads them to break up, only to find each other again.
Slice-of-life films can be tough to appreciate. Yet, Happy Together avoids the slog that plagues many such films thanks to the electric dynamic between Cheung and Leung, two remarkably gifted actors operating at the top of their game. Cheung, an LGBTQ+ icon, injects flawed vulnerability into his portrayal of the promiscuous ho, while the ever-reliable Leung opts for a more nuanced and thoughtful approach to the long-suffering Lai. Arresting yet heartbreaking, Happy Together is a nostalgic look at the pressures of masculinity and the chaos and beauty of romance.
14 ‘Hedwig And The Angry Inch’ (2001)
Based on John Cameron Mitchell‘s eponymous 1998 stage musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch stars Mitchell in the title role. The plot follows Hedwig, an East German performer who tours the US with her band while shadowing her ex-lover, who betrayed and stole her songs.
Subversive in the best possible way, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an ode to uniqueness and individuality. The musical challenged notions about gender identity long before such questions came into the mainstream conversation. Powerful and kinetic, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a unique musical, a deliriously heartbreaking fantasia with a message that has only heightened in the years since its premiere.
13 ‘The Birdcage’ (1996)
The late Robin Williams and Nathan Lane paired for the delightfully funny 1996 comedy The Birdcage. The plot centers on a gay couple who must pretend to be straight when meeting their son’s fiancée’s ultra-conservative family. Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest also star.
Delirious, campy, over-the-top, and non-stop hilarious, The Birdcage is a witty comedy and a favorite of queer cinema. Bolstered by Lane’s star-making performance and further aided by Williams and Hackman’s reliably great work, The Birdcage is a colorful and heartfelt celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, subverting stereotypes to tell a classic story about love, belonging, and family.
12 ‘The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert’ (1994)
Terrence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, and Guy Pearce star in the Australian comedy The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The plot centers on two drag performers and a trans woman who journey on a large tour bus, christened Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, from Sydney to a small town in central Australia to perform their act at a casino.
Despite being commercially successful at the time, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert has become somewhat of a hidden gem of queer cinema. The film is a positive and heartwarming portrayal of friendship, packing layers of meaning underneath its colorful and stunning sequins gowns. Priscilla is also a more honest depiction of drag culture, making it among the earliest examples to deal with the subject with nuance and loving respect.
11 ‘A Fantastic Woman’ (2017)
Sebastián Leilo‘s 2017 drama A Fantastic Woman is among the best queer films of the 2010s. The film stars Daniela Vega as Marina, a trans woman dealing with the recent and sudden death of her lover, Orlando. Harassed by Orlando’s family, Marina must deal with her feelings and figure out how to start anew.
A Fantastic Woman is a subtle but highly impactful film that deftly handles its weighty subject with astounding delicacy and remarkable empathy. Further elevated by Vega’s stunning portrayal of grief and struggle, A Fantastic Woman is a triumph of queer cinema and a must-watch, especially in today’s climate, when trans individuals are targetted by senseless bigotry and hatred.
10 ‘Milk’ (2008)
Gus Van Sant directed Sean Penn to his second Oscar with 2008’s biopic Milk. The film chronicles the life of Harvey Milk, the first gay man elected to public office in California, his political career, and his eventual death at the hands of Dan White.
Milk avoids the path many other biopics take by opting for a gentle and almost loving portrayal of its titular figure. More an intriguing and insightful character study than a traditional biopic, Milk succeeds in portraying Milk’s influence in American politics without excessive sentimentality, despite its obvious admiration for its subject and Milk’s unfairly tragic ending.
9 ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (2017)
Timothée Chalamet‘s breakthrough performance came with Luca Gudagnino‘s 2017 queer romantic drama Call Me By Your Name. The plot follows 17-year-old Elio Pearlman, who enters into a passionate romance with Oliver, the 24-year-old graduate student staying at his Italian villa during the summer of 1983.
Few films depict the uncertain yet all-consuming passion of first love as accurately or earnestly as Call Me By Your Name. Anchored by Chalamet’s raw, vulnerable performance, Call Me By Your Name is a melancholic yet cathartic triumph, a subtle, intense, sensual, and deeply affecting portrayal of love and passion that ranks as one of the best romantic movies and coming-of-age dramas of the new millennium.
8 ‘Paris Is Burning’ (1990)
The 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning was a game-changing entry into queer cinema. The film chronicles New York City’s ball culture in the late 1980s, shining a light on the Black, Latino, and trans communities who had often been missing from mainstream queer representation.
Paris Is Burning is a crucial piece of LGBTQ+ cinema, a landmark achievement in representation that presented a more cohesive and comprehensive depiction of the colorful community. The film is among the best documentaries in American cinema, avoiding classic notions of the genre by injecting every scene with kinetic enthusiasm, capturing the energy and empowered freedom from the sub-culture it so lovingly explores. Paris Is Burning deals with topical issues – race, class, intolerance, gender, and identity, to name a few – with a thoughtfulness that remains unparalleled in LGBTQ+ art.
7 ‘God’s Own Country’ (2017)
Francis Lee‘s searing romantic drama God’s Own Country stars Josh O’Connor and Alec Secăreanu. The plot centers on Johnny, an emotionally stunted young farmer whose life is disrupted by the arrival of Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker with whom he forms an intense connection.
God’s Own Country is a raw and ardent portrayal of intimacy, loneliness, and love. Lee brings out the best in its well-matched leads, crafting a tough yet tender romance that never settles for the easy way out. A masterclass in unspoken feelings, longing, and regret, God’s Own Country is a powerful film with a touch so warm and far-reaching that it will pierce straight through the audience’s chest and into their hearts.
6 ‘All About My Mother’ (1999)
Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar is an institution of cinema, and his 1999 Oscar-winning masterpiece All About My Mother is a landmark of queer art. The plot follows a woman grieving the sudden death of her teenage son while finding a new family in a colorful group of individuals dealing with their own fears and struggles.
Like most Almodóvar films, All About My Mother is a triumph of emotional storytelling, humor, and thoughtfulness. The film is a love letter to women, dealing with issues like homosexuality, AIDS, grief, and love with a healthy dose of gentle absurdism. Colorful, erratic, operatic, yet distinctively human and grounded, All About My Mother is Almodóvar’s magnum opus and a glorious triumph of 20th-century queer cinema.
In conclusion, the LGBTQ+ film industry has made tremendous strides in recent years, producing an array of exceptional movies that have not only entertained but also educated audiences about the diverse experiences faced by individuals within the community. This list of the 25 best LGBTQ+ movies of all time showcases the power and impact of these films, even beyond the confines of the LGBTQ+ community. From heartwarming love stories to raw and powerful explorations of identity, each movie on this list has contributed to the ongoing conversations surrounding inclusion and acceptance. As society continues to evolve and embrace diversity, it is essential to celebrate these films as testaments to the progress made and as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. By watching and appreciating these movies, we can further foster understanding, empathy, and support for LGBTQ+ individuals and their stories.
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