2015 was a really interesting (and important) year for LGBT movie-goers as more LGBT-themed films got accepted and publicised by the mainstream.
While that meant that we heard about some duds (such as Stonewall, which was rightfully ripped to shreds by critics), it also meant that some true cinematic diamonds got the spotlight they deserved.
So, to help you to sort the wheat from the chaff, here’s our list of the top 10 LGBT films released in 2015.
Carol, based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, is one of the most talked about films of the year. Not only does it star Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in a May-December relationship (that also has a class divide) but it’s also beautiful shot and the depiction of 1950s America is absolutely exquisite.
Just about everyone has high praise for Carol and with its leading ladies having both picked up Golden Globes nominations for their brilliant performances in the movie, but it’s being tipped for Oscar nominations as well.
Long story short: if you can only see one film on this list, see Carol.
Starring Ellen Page and Julianne Moore in a May-December relationship, based on a true story, Freeheld tells the tragic story about a police officer named Laurel Moore who is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
With the help of some friends, Moore and her domestic partner Stacie Andree fight to ensure that Laurel’s pension benefit get passed on to Stacie even after Laurel passes.
Prepare to shed some serious tears watching this one.
Grandma is an unusual twist on the buddy movie genre. It stars out actress Lily Tomlin as the titular grandma, who, after the death of her long-time partner and having split up with her girlfriend after four months, has to help out her 18-year old granddaughter.
Her granddaughter is pregnant and needs money for an abortion, but, being broke and having had her credit card confiscated by her mother, the two women have to find the cash for the procedure, opening old relationship wounds and rehashing old arguments along the way.
4. Liz In September
Despite autumn being the best season of the year, this one doesn’t offer much to smile about as the titular ‘Liz’ is a lesbian who has terminal cancer. Things aren’t going much better for her love interest either as she has lost her son to cancer.
It sounds pretty miserable on paper, true, but Liz In September has gotten a warm reception from critics at least, especially for the performance of Patricia Velasquez (who came out this year) so it’s worth a watch.
5. The Danish Girl
While The Danish Girl has been controversial for casting a cisgender actor as a trans woman, the film tells the real-life story of a trans woman name Lili Elbe who was one of the first people to get sex reassignment surgery.
The film sheds light on the changing relationship between Lili and her wife Gerda.
The film also shows the love triangle between the two women and Lili’s childhood friend; though divisively it veers form the real-life turn of events and sees Lili and Gerda stay together.
6. All About E
Romance! Criminal hijinks! A queer woman of colour triumphing over a racist buffoon! All About E has got it all, as it stars the titular ‘E’ and her gay best friend as they get into trouble after accidentally steal money from the club where E works.
A gay Mission Impossible this is not, but it is a great deal of fun and you’ll really enjoy seeing E and her ex-girlfriend rekindle their relationship.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour take a seat; Summertime (La Belle Saison) is the best gay, French film on the block. Featuring farm girl Delphine as she leaves her parents place in the countryside to come to the city, the movie follows her as she meets a feminist named Carole who she promptly falls in love with.
Plot twist, Carole has a boyfriend and though Carole soon ditches him, there’s more drama when Delphine’s dad falls ill and suddenly she’s being forced to choose between staying with her heteronormative family (who want her to marry a man) and ditch her girlfriend or leave her family behind for the love of her life.
8. Reel In the Closet
Stonewall, frankly, was a pile of rubbish and as mentioned, we don’t recommend that you watch it. At all. But, if you’re still looking for your LGBT history fix, Reel In The Closet is a brilliant alternative as not only does this documentary feature commentary from actual LGBT people who faced huge difficulties in the 20th century but it also features footage from the era too.
Admittedly, this one may make you well up as you learn exactly what struggles the older generation of LGBT folk had to face when they were younger, but it’s incredibly educational.
9. The Girl King
There are (and this is a rough approximation) 1 billion and one films about heterosexual historical figures getting married, cheating and dabbling in royal politics. So why can’t queer characters get the same movie tropes? Lucky for us, The Girl King solves that problem, focusing on the (very real) Queen Christina of Sweden as she assumes the throne at a young age following her father’s death.
A true rebel, despite her title, Christina is pretty fond of peace (despite everyone around her wanting war), wearing men’s clothing and sword-fighting too, but you’ll mostly likely be interested in her romance with Countess Ebba Sparre who becomes one of her ladies in waiting. It’s a bit over the top, and it’s not meant to be taken too seriously, but if you want to see a badass, queer queen, then give it a watch.
This list began with a critically acclaimed movie that’s been gathering up awards and so it will end with another; Tangerine, a comedy/drama about two trans women of colour who go about locating their pimp.
In addition to showing a great step forward in film-making (it was filmed entirely on an iPhone), Tangerine could also potentially result in Oscar nominations for its two leads, which would make them the first trans actresses nominated for an Academy Award. Watch this if you want to see ground-breaking movie making in action.