From ‘Freak Show’ to ‘Moonlight’: The best queer films of the 2010s
A lot of great queer cinema came out during the 2010s. From the popcorny, pleasing romcom of Love, Simon to the electric German-language Free Fall, there has been an influx of excellent stories centred around the LGBT+ community brought to film. We can only hope that the trend will continue into the 2020s and beyond.
As we go forward into a new decade, it’s time to look at some of the best queer cinema in the 10s. Some of these films are well-known to audiences, while others are hidden gems that simply must be seen. All have their own unique viewpoint of the LGBT+ identity.
Freak Show (2017)
Adapted from the 2008 novel by James St. James, Freak Show follows gender-nonconforming, or “gender obliviator” in his terms, teenager Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) who moves to the South and goes to a new ultra-conservative high school. When Billy feels that peer pressure and bullying are forcing him into becoming something he isn’t, he makes the decision to run for homecoming queen.
If you liked Love, Simon but felt that it wasn’t too true life, then Freak Show is the teen dramedy that merits a watch. It also stars Abigail Breslin and Bette Midler, who hams it up and is loving it.
God’s Own Country (2017)
Set against the stunning backdrop of the Yorkshire farmlands, God’s Own Country follows sheep farmer Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor). After his father’s (Ian Hart) stroke, Johnny essentially runs the farm solo, causing him to numb himself with excessive drinking and anonymous sex.
When Johnny hires Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu) to help him during lambing season, this begins an intense relationship that sets both men on a new path. God’s Own Country is the perfect film that captures the endless feeling of loneliness, the raw beauty and work of the countryside, and the intensity of true intimacy.
Tangerine follows recently released trans sex worker Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) as she tears through L.A. on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp that broke her heart. Shot on three iPhone 5S and full of realness, Tangerine is equal parts hilarious & dramatic with a strong lead in the Rodriguez. It also offers up a thoughtful and visceral portrait into the sex-trade subcultures of L.A.
Tangerine is also the first film to campaign for Academy Awards for openly trans actresses supported by a film producer. Neither Rodriguez or her co-star Mya Taylor were nominated, that is a sincere crime. The duo definitely brings it in Tangerine.
Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)
Based on the 2010 graphic novel of the same name, Blue is the Warmest Colour is a French-language film that follows the relationship between Emma (Léa Seydoux) and Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos). When introverted high-school Adèle meets artist Emma, it sparks a relationship that has Adèle wrestling with all aspects of herself.
Blue is the Warmest Colour offers an intensely raw and honest character portrait with Adèle along with a deep exploration into her relationship with Emma. The chemistry between Seydoux and Exarchopoulos explodes off the screen. The relationship between Emma and Adèle feels so utterly real as it unfolds.
Many will probably remember Moonlight as part of one of the biggest Academy Award slip-ups of the decade when La La Land was mistakenly awarded Best Picture. Moonlight, however, remains not only one of the best LGBT+ films of the decade, but perhaps of all time. This coming of age drama explores the lifelong on and off romance of Chiron Harris (Trevante Rhodes) and Kevin Jones (André Holland).
Director Barry Jenkins brings to life a story of intimacy, loneliness, and the desire for connection within the world. Moonlight offers an all too rare and personal look into the lives of LGBT+ black as it unflinchingly studies the intersection of blackness, vulnerability, and masculinity. Moonlight will leave you feeling achingly raw and moved in equal measure.
A Fantastic Woman (2017)
A Fantastic Woman netted Chile the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2018. It was truly well-deserved. After the death of her older boyfriend Orlando (Francisco Reyes), young trans woman Marina (Daniela Vidal) finds her world turned upside down. Facing hatred from Orlando’s transphobic family, suspicion from the police, and dealing with her own grief, Marina tries to handle her new reality.
Vidal gives one of the best performances in recent years as Marina, making audiences feel for her grief and anger at her treatment by those around her. A Fantastic Woman also sparked social change in Chile with activists using the goodwill from the film to accelerate passage of a gender identity bill. Thanks to these activists and A Fantastic Woman, Chile passed a law to allow for transgender citizens to change their official details.