8. C.R.A.Z.Y (2005)
Zac is a young gay man who grows up with four brothers, a conservative father, and a lot of homophobia in the 1960s and 70s in this French-Canadian film by Jean-Marc Vallee.
The interesting title comes from the first letter of each of the five sons names: Christian, Raymond, Antoine, Zachary and Yvan. It also refers to the father’s love of the song Crazy by Patsy Cline, which becomes a recurring motif as the music from the period acts as an important element in the film.
Much of the film’s budget was used to license the rights to song like “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones and “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane. These songs highlight recurring themes in Zac’s coming of age story and create an imposing soundtrack.
The film is a great exploration of growing up in a homophobic environment, which is an empathetic experience for many. The film is fun, yet heart-wrenching and brings the viewer into Zac’s world where growing up is hard enough, but trying to please one’s father while hiding one’s true self is even harder.
9. Were the World Mine (2008)
Take Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, add a private boys’ school, and make it a musical, and the result is the gay empowerment flick Were the World Mine.
The film tells the story of Timothy, an openly gay male at an all boys private school. He has a crush on Jonathan, the rugby team captain. Jonathan is the only one who really doesn’t torment Timothy for his sexuality. Timothy’s mother is still trying to cope with finding out that her son is gay and Timothy has no father figure.
When Timothy is cast as Puck in the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. he discovers how to create the flower, love-in-idleness. He uses the flower to let the homophobic “take a walk in his shoes”. This is intercut with musical numbers inspired by Shakespeare’s play.
The film shows a gender fluidity through dance numbers, make-up, wings, and wigs, which add gender fluidity to these scenes and to the film overall. The film is like an extreme acid trip consisting of song, sex, and coming of age.
10. Trick (1999)
Reason one to watch Trick: Miss Coco Peru. Reason two to watch Trick: John Paul Pitoc’s amazing body. Reason three to watch Trick: the film is a boy meets boy story with a courtship atmosphere much like Doris Day movies from the late fifties and sixties.
The film concerns Gabriel (Christian Campbell), a skinny, slightly non-confident guy who wants to be with Mark, (John Paul Pitoc), who is a gorgeous go-go dancer at a gay bar. The characters try on numerous occasions to have sex, but their attempts are foiled by a series of crazy and unlikely circumstances, keeping Gabriel’s quasi-virginity intact.
The film also contains one of the more annoying characters on this list, Tori Spelling’s Katherine, a theater queen to crush all theater queens. She’s that friend who thinks she is performing Shakespeare for the world but is really performing in a regional production. Tori Spelling aside, the film is very cute and shows that one doesn’t have to have sex to come to age. Also, Miss Coco Peru is legendary and many may learn from her.
11. Latter Days (2003)
Mormons, Los Angeles, and homosexuality make up the crazy cocktail that is Latter Days. Aaron and Christian are neighbors. Aaron is spreading the word of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and Christian is a bike riding, West Hollywood stereotype gay guy.
Aaron is very closeted but keeps encountering Christian and soon their relationship starts to grow. After being caught by one of Aaron’s Mormon brothers (played by Joseph Gordon Levitt), the two separate from one another and Aaron is again confused and scared about his sexual identity.
The rest of the film follows each of them trying to find love and a place in the world. Breaking both laws and stereotypes the pair discover how they are supposed to act and who they are supposed to love. Christian breaks the slutty, sex-obsessed, narcissistic stereotype and Aaron comes to terms with being a Mormon and his assigned role in that faith.
The film is well cast , headed by Steve Sandvoss and Wes Ramsey as Aaron and Christian respectively. Jacqueline Bisset is Wes’ boss and sarcastic friend who steals the show. The chemistry between the leads and Bisset elevate a rather pedestrian movie and help to turn it into something worth watching and loving.
12. North Sea Texas (2011)
A gay teenager’s coming out is explored by cult director Bavo Defurne in this Dutch film. Tender and wistful, the tale, set in the 1970s in a coastal Belgian town, tells the story of Pim, a lonely outsider who is neglected by his selfish mother. His neighbors, however are very welcoming.
Their home is where he meets the slightly older Gino. The film is slowly paced at the start but becomes quite a heartwarming story about a fragile young heart who only wants to find love.
Pim is infatuated with Gino, but Gino wants to keep the relationship a secret, especially from his younger sister who is in love with Pim. The characters and story are both highly plausible and nicely told, but its very artistic style can be distracting from the focal point, the relationship and maturing of the young men on screen. Despite the distracting style, it is the exploration of the beautiful but secret love affair between the boys which makes the film memorable.
13. G.B.F (2013)
One word describes this film: fabulous. Having a G.B.F (gay best friend) causes social warfare at a suburban high school where three queen bees try to compete for Tanner, a recently and publicly outed outsider, played by the amazing Michael J. Willett.
Tanner just wanted to get through high school unnoticed and unscathed, while his friend Brent, played by equally fabulous Paul Iacono, who wants a big coming out in order to garner all of the queen bee’s attention. Tanner is seen by the girls as an accessory, something trendy to have such as a handbag, or space leggings.
A cluster of drama, sassiness and a bevy cute outfits follow Tanner’s outing. Tanner becomes attached to the girls who run the school, using them as protection from bullies. They, in turn, use him as a trendy tool for popularity . However, Tanner and the other characters realize that gay men are not only fabulous accessories. Gay men are real people who have feelings and want friends. This film is funny, poignant, sassy and heartwarming.
14. My Summer of Love (2004)
Time for the ladies. This British drama comes from Pawel Pawlikowski, the man behind the Oscar winning Ida. The film explores the relationship between two women from different classes and backgrounds. There is Mona (Natalie Press), a working class girl whose brother went to prison and became a born-again Christian, and Tamsin (Emily Blunt), an upper class woman who gets no love from her family.
Although they come from different backgrounds, the women find solace in their friendship away from their dysfunctional families. Mona introduces Tamsin to Christian and Mona helps Tamsin spy on her adulterous father, sealing their friendship. As the secrets are shared and the young women are bound together, their relationship deepens more than they ever thought possible.
The film was given much acclaim and Roger Ebert described My Summer of Love as, “a movie that is more about being an age, than coming-of-age”.
15. Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Again for the ladies: This New Zealand entry from director Peter Jackson, and writing partner Fran Walsh, features the magnificent Kate Winslet, in her screen debut, portraying a precocious teenager who arrives in New Zealand from England and forms a bond with Pauline, played by Melanie Lynskey. They bond over their love of Mario Lanza and games of make believe. Their parents begin to feel that the relationship is getting too close.
The girls decide to run away to America and hatch a dark plan in order to deal with those who are trying to keep them apart. The film received strong critical acclaim with special praise going to the unknown Winslet and Lynskey, and Jackson’s direction.
The film focuses more on the prevalent suspicion of lesbianism, a taboo subject in the 1950s New Zealand, than about the lesbian relationship itself. The girls are giddy and inseparable friends. The portrayal of this relationship by Winslet and Lynskey has such subtlety, and yet such fire that it really draws in the viewer and makes Heavenly Creatures a fine viewing experience for Kate Winslet fans, fans of LGBT cinema or both.
Author Bio: Ryan Anderson is a sophomore at Miami University in Oxford Ohio, where he is studying Zoology and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. His love of classic cinema and film history keeps his love for film strong and ever-present in his life.