Movie Reviews

The Best Gay Movies Not In My Top 10

Here is a large selection of other Gay Themed Movies I’ve loved over the years.

Hairspray 1988 (Comedy, Drama, Family)

The 1988, John Waters Classic (although the remake in 2007 with John Travolta and Queen Latifah is also worth a watch) . With Divine, Debbie Harry and Ricki Lake (also in Serial Mom). The poster does not do it justice.

John Waters long affinity and friendship with Divine is legendary. Here he turns the poor struggling housewife, Edna Turnblad (Divine),

into a glamorous dancing mother. The photo is with her onscreen husband Wilber, played by Jerry Stiller (remember The Ritz bad guy).

Although the story is actually about a chubby teen Tracy Turnblad, played by Ricki Lake,

struggling with race integration in early 60’s America.

Debbie Harry (Blondie) does a great job of playing Velma Von Tussle the bitter mother of a rivalling schoolgirl Amber von Tussle.

A fun camp movie about a rather serious subject. Sadly, the movie was Divine’s last in drag. He had started to get recognition as a serious actor but died later in the year.

It was quite a low budget movie at $2M. It only managed to get $6.6M in takings globally which was a bit of a surprise and it only managed to get 4 nominations at the awards.

You can buy or rent from Amazon here.

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar 1995 (Comedy, Drama)

This 1995 Hollywood hit back at the success of Priscilla wasn’t anywhere near as good (which is why it’s not in my top 10) but was a Gay Classic in it’s own right.

Starring 3 of Hollywoods butchest men, although John Leguizamo

was the least famous, whose transformation into drag queens was pulled off with panache. Aided by having one of the strangest titles ever. All three play very convincing drag queen’s. Usually when straight men try to do this it comes across as fake, very fake or even condescending but not here, or at least, for the most part.

It was pure glamour from beginning to end with the opening set in the annual New York drag queen contest. Hosted, of course, by Ru Paul. Which was won, to get the story off to an interesting start, with a draw between Miss Vida Boheme, Patrick Swayze, and Noxeema Jackson, Wesley Snipes. As part of the prize they are then entered in the Miss Drag Queen USA contest in Hollywood. Vida takes pity on the loosing Chi Chi Rodriguez, Leguizamo, and they decide to take her with them in a drive across the States in yet another beaten up Cadillac.

There was even a great cameo with Robin Williams, whose funniest line “look at you, I’m like a compass near North” which had me do a spit take. He’s the one who arranges for the “girl’s” to get the car.

The car, being old and battered, breaks down in the middle of nowhere and as the spare part will not arrive for a few days mean that the girl’s are stuck in a hell hole. They decide to brighten the place up and become the towns favourite guests ever.

Anyway, car fixed, they go to LA and the Miss Drag USA contest.

And, as the title suggests, the movie had to have an appearance of the beautifully ageing Julie Newmar and she turns up in the finale.

For all those who have no idea who she was. She was, amongst other things, probably the most beloved Cat Woman from the original Bat Man (and some, like me, would say the best) TV Show between 1966 and 1967.

I think the real success of this movie was the exceptional cast. They all seemed to really enjoy making the movie and it truly leaves you with a real warm fuzzy feeling all over.

It cost just over $9M to make and took nearly $50M globally which isn’t that bad a return.

Awards wise. Swayze won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and Leguizamo won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. There were 3 other nominations including Outstanding Movie at the GLADD awards.

You can buy or rent from Amazon here.

Victor, Victoria 1982 (Comedy, Music, Romance)

Set in Paris in the 30’s. It’s the story of how a down and out English soprano singer, Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews), meets a recently sacked Gay cabaret singer, Carole “Toddy” Todd (Robert Preston)

and they hatch a plan to turn Victoria into a Polish Count – Victor Grazinski.

They fool everyone except for King Marchand (James Garner who had recently finished playing Jim Rockford in the “Rockford Files (1974 – 1980)” and went on to make a series of TV movies for the same character after this movie – so butch and handsome).

Here he plays an American mobster, with a body guard “Squash” Bernstein, played by Alex Karras,

and an escort played by the eversofunny Leslie Ann Warren.

On watching the opening show of Victor Grazinski King Marchand is not convinced that he, Victor, is man. And so the plot and humour thickens.

Great fun and more early eighties nonsense. Written and directed the great Blake Edwards (who was married to Julie Andrews 1969 to 2010 – his death). The music by Henry Mancini. This award winning team had worked together on the Pink Panther films in the 1960’s.

Another bit of film trivia here. Alex Karras who played “Squash” Bernstein, King Marchand’s bodyguard in the movie, becomes Toddy’s lover as a surprising plot twist. He also played Mongo the muscle moron in Mel Brooks’ masterpiece Blazing Saddles in 1974.

Victor Victoria is a fun, but not outstanding movie, which was turned into a stage play that is still shown around the world from time to time. Using an onstage set rather film does actually allow for some really fun hotel scenes of the various cast members jumping from room to room.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the figures for the cost of the movie production and the global takings figure also looks off.

It won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score for Henry Mancini and Leslie Bricusse.  There were 6 other Oscar nominations. Julie Andrews won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. There were also another 12 nominations and 9 awards.

You can buy or rent from Amazon here.

The Naked Civil Servant 1975 (Biography, Comedy, Drama)

The autobiography of Quintin Crisp covers his life from his early age around the time of the first WW to his late 60’s. John Hurt gives a perfect portrayal so much so you actually think you are watching Mr Crisp and not John Hurt. He won the BAFTA for Best Actor in 1976 for the role.

Quintin survived his time in England by “Never looking at anyone unless they demand that I look. Never speaking unless spoken to”. He was for many years an actual male model for an art school. A role he appeared to be destined for.

The story of his life in London prior to homosexuality being legalized in 1968 is quite fascinating and unique. It’s not really the story about how gay society grew over the years but it does give quite a bit of insight to many aspects of life and how gay men were perceived and treated by society and not just straight society but also gay society.

It’s quite a fast film and relatively short at 77 minutes. It skips over years at a time and being so enjoyable to watch you end up wanting to see more and feeling that you’ve been short changed.

The film got 2 other minor festival wins and 1 other nomination.

It looks like its unavailable to buy but you can watch here from Amazon.

An Englishman in New York 2009 (Drama)

The 2009 follow up of Mr Crisp’s extraordinary life. John Hurt (who played him in 1975’s The Naked Civil Servant) is back playing the role exquisitely. He plays the role so well that Quintin remarked of John that ‘he is my representative here on Earth”.

The film is about Quintin’s later years and how he went to and fell in love with New York and for the most part New York fell in love with him.

Unfortunately his arrival coincided with the AIDS epidemic and Quintin made a real social gaff which temporarily halted his career.

It is a moving film and points out many of the inadequacies and inconsistencies of the gay community which Quintin never considered himself to be a part of.

John Hurt did well in Europe with this movie. The film attained 4 wins and 7 nominations. Hurt getting 2 of the wins personally.

Again it looks like the film is not available to buy but you can rent here from Amazon.

The Broken Hearts Club a romantic comedy. 2000 (Comedy, drama, romance)

TBHC follows the make believe life of a group of (mostly) younger gay men in LA who are obsessed with love. It was a low budget (around $1M) film and, as such, was really not that bad for the price. It did actually double that budget in worldwide cumulative sales so to that extent it was successful. Actually I’m really shocked that a film of this calibre and quality with the number of ‘named’ actors could be made, even in 2000, for a million bucks!

In my opinion not that great a movie (not really a fan of stories about love) but well worth the watch mostly for John Mahony

(the father of Frasier and Niles in the TV series Frasier) who plays the older, wiser team leader of their baseball team. Dean Cain

(Superman 93 to 97 in Lois & Clark:The New Adventures of Superman) is also a main character as is the young sexy Timothy Olyphant,

with his silky smooth voice, who went from strength to strength after this performance.

It’s a fairly tame movie with what is perceived, by the writer (and Director) Greg Berlanti, as a typical group of gay guys in the late 90’s in LA looking for love. It’s quite harmless and you could show it to you homophobic father and see if it changes his mind about gay guys – it probably won’t but hey why not just do it to piss him off.

On the awards front the film did win “outstanding film” at the GLAAD media awards in 2001.

You can buy or rent from here on Amazon.

Mommie Dearest 1981 (Biography, Drama)

Another one of those gay classics to brighten up a boring party. Faye Dunaway is magnificent as Joan Crawford.

She delivers 110% being completely over the top but also believable in this role that seemed to be made for her. The one liners just keep coming thick and fast.

To the board of Pepsi Cola after her husband died who are trying to kick her out she screams “Don’t fuck with me fellas!!!”

To daughter Christina who she catches with the wrong type of hanger for a new expensive dress “No wire coat hangers!!” as she is beating her with the offending hanger.

The film is the autobiographical story written by her adopted daughter, Christina Crawford, and gives a very one sided view of Joan Crawford. She was, along with many others, perceived as a megalomanic and this film certainly portrays her as such.

Billed as a biography and drama they forgot to mention hilarious in a very dark way. If you don’t fall about laughing there is something seriously wrong with you. Its delicious to watch. From the chopping down of the rose garden, to the manic floor cleaning and cruel removal of presents from Christina (the daughter and writer).

It’s actually a really tragic film as you slowly watch the demise of Joan through the film and a cruel portrayal of such an enigmatic film icon. But if you forget about that and just enjoy the insanity it’s great fun!

The movie won 9 awards, mostly for being the ‘worst’ of everything and a further 11 nominations.

Rent or buy here from Amazon.

Milk 2008 (Biography, Drama)

Written by the very ‘out’ Dustin Lance Black. It’s the story of San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official Harvey Milk.

The film combines archive footage of the period (the late 1970’s) with well placed scenes shot 30 years later. It depicts how Harvey Milk fought for gay rights in California through the 1970’s. It’s a gripping and compelling movie and you actually feel that you are in the late 70’s.

Sean Penn is magnificent at Harvey.

And James Franco plays his boyfriend.

The film depicts how the liberal Milk went up against the conservative Dan White (played by Josh Brolin)

It was White who shot and killed Milk on 27th November 1978 as well as the Mayor of San Francisco the same morning. Using what became known as the ‘twinkie defence’ he was found guilty of manslaughter not murder and served 5 years of a 7 year sentence.

The film won 2 well deserved Oscars. Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – Sean Penn and Best Writing, Original Screenplay – Dustin Lance Black. It also won 64 other awards and had 144 nominations.

Considering the topic and time, 2008, it didn’t do that bad at the box office either. Turning the cost of around $20M into nearly $55M in global returns.

You can buy or rent from Amazon here.

Tootsie 1982 (Comedy, Drama, Romance)

Out of work actor Micheal Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman)

decides to go for an audition for a part as a female middle aged hospital worker on a soap after a friend gets ignored for the part. He not only gets the role but makes it his own and becomes an almost overnight success on the network. However, he falls in love with the female lead and of course, being a woman himself, can’t progress down that road so he has to orchestrate his own demise.

It’s a silly early 80’s piece of nonsense but did put a bit of light on how society treats women so badly. Jessica Lange

was the leading lady and won the Oscar for Best Actress In A Supporting Role. Hoffman, although excellent in the role (I doubt there were any other actors at the time who could have pulled it off quite so well) was nominated but didn’t get the award of Best Actor In A Leading Role at the Oscars, Ben Kingsley won that year for Ghandi. Hoffman did however get the Golden Globe for Best Actor. Considering it was 1982 the film won a total of 25 awards and had 30 nominations not bad for such a taboo subject.

Lange’s boyfriend, in the movie, was the studio Director and played by Dabney Coleman,

who was a Hollywood fav at the time for roles of being the priggish bad guy/boss and had been in 9 to 5 in 1980 and in On Golden Pond in 1981 (both along side Jane Fonda) he was Fonda’s dentist boyfriend and played both roles with his usual stage presence and not much else.

For my money the best actor in the movie was the young(ish) Bill Murray as Hoffmans’s flatmate. His natural ability to take on any role and make it perfect is just awesome.

There is nothing particularly gay or even gay related in this movie (it rates 7.4 on IMDb which I thinks is a bit high) but as it involves a straight man dressing up in women’s clothing to perform (some drag acts are straight men!!) is the reason I added it here. Plus Hoffmans’s acting abilities to do natural female routines, such as shaving legs, applying make-up and choosing of outfits does remind me of many shopping trips and drag queen friends of mine.

You can buy or watch here from Amazon.

In 2015 Jurassic World gave us another huge amount of eye candy (and some acting talent) with Mr Hunk himself – Chris Pratt.

It also gave most of the world their first glimpse of the rather stunning Nick Robinson. It was quite a major role in the film and led him to become Simon in 2018’s Love, Simon.

Simon is in high school and is keeping that fact that he is gay a secret from his family and friends. He stumbles into another gay student online but they both keep their identity a secret from each other. The story is how Simon, once outed by another student, loses his friends and roams around the high school trying to find the boy who calls himself Blue online and finally meets him.

The whole school is in admiration of their final meeting and kissing on the Ferris wheel and the crowd clapped and cheered.

 

It’s a good coming out movie and won 10 awards, including Best Kiss Award – MTV Movie + TV Awards for Nick Robinson and Keiynan Lonsdale, with a further 27 nominations. With over 100,000 people rating it on IMDb at 7.1 – I gave it a 7. It also did very well at the box office, costing around $17M to make and returning $66M globally, proving yet again that gay themed movies can be great earners.

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You can buy or rent from Amazon.

Call Me By Your Name 2017 (Drama, Romance)

If you want to talk about gay love story movies then Call Me By Your Name has to be ranked as one of the best. Personally not to my taste but it is a great love story. Armie Hammer

is billed as the lead but really the star of the movie was Timothée Chalamet

who played Elio Perlman.

Elio is 17 year old sexually confused boy who falls in love with the summer visitor Oliver, Hammer, who is supposed to be around 30. The electricity between these two actors in the movie is awesome.

The film is set in Italy in the early 80’s and is a cinematic joy to watch as well as being a very compelling story. The outfits and cars used throw you straight back in time. The film is full of scenes of the two cycling around the local towns, villages and fields with an ample supply of affection between the two.

 

The immensely versatile actor, Michael Stuhlbarg

plays Elio’s father and his monologue delivered nearing the end of the film is a complete masterpiece. I don’t want to give the plot completely away but suffice to say he’s a very open minded and compassionate father.

No doubt that monologue with be taught and quoted for many years to come. A raw and beautiful scene leaving one with a lump in the throat.

It gets an IMDb rating of 7.9 from 223K votes.

The film won Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars as well as 94 other awards. It also got a massive 258 nominations. It cost under $5M to make and returned a global revenue of nearly $42M making it possibly one of the most successful gay movies of all time.

You can buy or rent from Amazon.

Supernova, 2020, (Drama, Romance)

Harry Macqueen‘s second movie (written and directed) is a very sensitive story about a gay couple Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci)

who have been together for 20 years. Unfortunately Tusker has a dementia diagnosis and is slowly fading away. The story is set in Englands lake district and it’s about a last road trip of a very loving couple showing the torment that this hideous disease brings to relationships. The story delves into the heart wrenching predicament that the two men are in. Tusker wanting to take his own life to spare the angst he is causing Sam. We are spared the final moments and it is dealt with by Sam playing his final piano recital.

Macqueen’s style of writing is not as highly dramatic as many other writers and the story is very slow. There are many long camera shots of stunning scenery from the area and although very beautiful don’t really add to the story. If you don’t like slow films then you won’t like it.

Both actors play the roles of a long time couple with ease and comfort that make it pleasant to watch. Originally, both Tucci and Firth were cast in the opposite roles but after doing the reading it was decided that they take the final roles for filming.

Not a high budget movie and only gets a 6.7 rating on IMDb from a mere 3,500 votes. It has won two minor awards (AARP – Best Grownup Love Story and Heartland Film – Truly Moving Picture Award) with a further 4 nominations it’s not going to be a cult classic.

Watch or buy from Amazon.