Thursday, December 1, 2011

Listology # 3: 10 Best LGBT Films

LGBT. For those who don't know, it stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered. They have been depicted one way or another since, well, the beginning of film, believe it or not. (Carl Theodore Dreyer's silent film Michael) either explicitly or implicitly. I've seen a good number of them over the years. Here's a list. I define an LGBT film where the CENTRAL lead character is an LGBT person or has an LGBT relationship or something that involves the LGBT community is in the front and center of it. (And by coincidence I'm posting this on World AIDS Day which makes this post kind of relevant).

 10. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1976, Jim Sharman)

When a virginal heterosexual couple stumbles upon the castle of crossdressing pansexual Dr. Frankenfurter, all sorts of chaos ensue. This is a legendary cult film where people would attend midnight screenings, dress in costumes and throw things at the screen. It's simply a celebration of the freakish and the different. Tim Curry is simply iconic as Frankenfurter. This is one of the few things that would get a heterosexual male to crossdress.

 09. Lianna (1983, John Sayles)

This is one of writer-director John Sayles' more obscure films but it's also one of the earliest films that explicitly dealt with lesbianism head on in an honest, straightforward manner. It's about a housewife who realizes she's a lesbian and falls in love with her college professor.  It features excellent acting and neither sensationalizes nor judges the affair.

08. Angels in America (2003, Mike Nichols)

Some people may see this as cheating as this is an HBO miniseries but I don't care, it's my list. LOL. This is HBO's award-winning adaptation of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer and Tony-winning epic play on the AIDS crisis. Robert Altman tried to adapt it as a film years before but felt a 3-hour film wasn't sufficient to capture the essence and spirit of the very long play. I would've loved to have seen what Altman would've done with the material but what we got is pretty great, mostly due to the strong source material.

07. Dog Day Afternoon (1975, Sidney Lumet)

Many people don't think of Dog Day Afternoon as an LGBT film. But the plot is that of a bisexual man who robs a bank in order to fund the sex change operation of his male lover. So I'm thinking it totally qualifies. Surprisingly enough, it's based on a true story. Al Pacino gives one of his many great performances during the 1970's in this one.

06. Suddenly Last Summer (1959, Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

This is a superb screen adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play about a troubled young woman being evaluated by a psychiatrist after witnessing the death of her cousin Sebastian. I was hesitant to put this film on the list because the plot point which qualifies it is actually the big secret. But no matter, this is still a great film (even though the LGBT character isn't exactly a role model) and features Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn giving some of their very best performances of their careers. It's very gutsy of Hollywood to have done this film in the late '50s. 

05. Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)

Just like Dog Day Afternoon, most people don't really think of Mulholland Drive as an LGBT film per se despite the fact that one of its pivotal elements is a lesbian relationship. This is classic David Lynch. It's one of his most puzzling, beautiful and mad works in his filmography. Though it doesn't advance gay rights, it's still one hell of a film.

04. Brokeback Mountain (2005, Ang Lee)

Many people may be surprised this isnt' number 1. Well, I don't think it's the best but it's close. Ang Lee's film about a love affair between two cowboys spawned tons of controversy, jokes and parodies but I do believe one of its achievements is that it's really most people's first mainstream gay film and in its own way made the world a little less homophobic. On top of that, it features a memorable score and fantastic performances by the cast especially the late Heath Ledger.

03. Milk (2008, Gus Van Sant)

This is actually my favorite Gus Van Sant film and it's pretty much a straightforward biopic about the life of America's first openly gay elected public official, Harvey Milk. Despite it being fairly conventional (especially for a Gus Van Sant flick), the film is fascinating and absorbing. Sean Penn is great as Harvey Milk. I'm still torn between him and Mickey Rourke on the Best Actor Oscar that year.

 02. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001, John Cameron Mitchell)

This film is based on the famous off-Broadway rock musical about the life of a glam rock singer who's an East German refugee and botched transsexual. Apart from the fantastic songs, you'd be surprised by how much you could relate to him/her despite his/her bizarre background. You're guaranteed to wanna purchase the soundtrack of this.

01. Bad Education (2004, Pedro Almodovar)

A movie director meets up with his childhood sweetheart/friend who has a bone to pick with the priest who molested him during his time in Catholic boarding school. Explaining further would be very convoluted and would give away the film's many twists and turns. Suffice to say that the best way to describe this film is it's a gay film noir. This is Almodovar at his very best.

RUNNERS-UP:  Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington (2011, Jade Castro); Happy Together (1997, Wong Kar-Wai); My Own Private Idaho (1991, Gus Van Sant); Tropical Malady (2004, Apichatpong Weerasethkatul); Wild Reeds (1994, Andre Techine); The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (2005, Aureus Solito); Mysterious Skin (2004, Gregg Araki); For a Lost Soldier (1992, Roeland Kerboesch); Heavenly Creatures (1994, Peter Jackson); The Birdcage (1996, Mike Nichols).


The Angry Lurker said...

Quite a few I hadn't heard of....

Bart said...

movie #7 was pretty good

Bersercules said...

I only saw Rocky Horror Picture Show and Dog Day Afternoon! The others sound interesting though so I might check them out! I never saw the film that took the number one spot but it does look like the most interesting or the bunch!

Anonymous said...

I love Dog Day Afternoon.

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Great list, you might want to submit this to the LGBT section of reddit.

Mark said...

Rocky Horror and Brokeback were the only ones I recognised :/ Feelsbad.

Anonymous said...

Good list!

msmariah said...

I was surprised to learn that my dad was a big Rocky Horror Picture Show fan in the 70s. He'd go to the midnight showings. The things you learn about your parents...

MRanthrope said...

first time I saw Dog Day Afternoon my jaw was just hanging on the floor. Such a rad film.

The battle between Milk & The Wrestler...I feel ya.

YeamieWaffles said...

The Rocky Horror Picture Show will always be my favourite of this genre although I hadn't heard of a lot of the films. The Picture Show is just an utter classic, I love it.

DWei said...

I actually recognized a few of these. Bit proud of myself. :P