It was a good year for queer film: From comedies and biopics to documentaries, our lives were presented on screen in ways we’d never seen before. Some of the films cited here will appear on other year’s best lists—and even snag nominations during awards seasons—while others might spark debate.
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14. The Skeleton Twins
In this quiet dramedy from director Craig Johnson, Bill Hader plays Milo, a gay man trying to reconcile with his estranged twin sister, Maggie (Kristin Wiig). As she struggles in her marriage, and Milo tracks down the English teacher with whom he shared a checkered past, the two realize that repairing their relationship might just be the ticket to fixing their lives.
13. Love Is Strange
Ira Sachs follows up the acclaimed Keep The Lights On with this tale of an older gay couple (John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) who find themselves without work or a home after finally tying the knot. This timely tale costars Marisa Tomei and Cheyenne Jackson.
12. Appropriate Behavior
Director Desiree Akhavan stars as Shirin a young Iranian-American woman in Brooklyn trying to keep her conservative Persian family and her girlfriend, Maxine, in separate worlds.
11. Drunktown’s Finest
Three Navajo teens, including young trans woman Felixxia, are at the heart of this drama directed by first-timer Sydney Freeland and produced by Robert Redford. Freeland says the film was her response to a news story that characterized her hometown of Gallup, New Mexico, as “Drunktown, USA.”
10. The Case Against 8
Documentarians Ben Cotner and Ryan White went behind the momentous Supreme Court decision that overturned California’s ban on marriage equality, offering new insights and interviews with the plaintiffs and other key figures in this historic legal battle.
9. Saint Laurent
Unlike the other major biopic on our list, The Imitation Game, this unrestrained drama examines Yves Saint Laurent’s love life head on—especially his relationship with boyfriend/business partner Pierre Bergé, who kept the genius designer from self-destructing.
8. To Be Takei
Actor, producer, activist, humorist—George Takei is truly a renaissance man. Jennifer Kroot’s charming documentary explores his life, from his childhood in a Japanese internment camp and fame on Star Trek, to his LGBT advocacy and his daily life with husband Brad Altman.
7. Stranger By The Lake
Both unnerving and erotic, this gripping French thriller got a lot of buzz at Cannes, where it won the Un Certain Regard Best Director Award for Alain Guiraudie. Pierre Deladonchamps and Christophe Paou co-star as two gay men who become suspects in a murder at a lakeside cruising spot.
6. The Circle
Director Stefan Haupt recounts the story of Röbi Rapp and Ernst Ostertag, the first same-sex married couple in Switzerland, who met in the 1930s as part of the pioneer group of gay men known as The Circle.
While Haupt is obviously mining the past, he brings the film such a sense of modernity it’s easy to forget The Circle is set nearly a century ago.
5. The Imitation Game
In Morton Tyldum’s highly anticipated biopic, Benedict Cumberbatch does justice to Alan Turing, the codebreaker who helped the Allies win WWII but later committed suicide after being arrested for “gross indecency.”
But what keeps The Imitation Game from appearing higher on its list is how little attention is given to the end of Turing’s life: We’re rushed through his arrest and suicide—which are conceivably as important as his contribution to the war effort.
4. My Prairie Home
Trans singer/songwriter Rae Spoon, who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they, reflects on gender identity and religion on their one-person tour of Canada.
After the sudden death of a gay Asian man in London, his Anglo boyfriend Richard (Ben Whishaw) tries to connect with his Chinese-Cambodian mother, Junn (Pei-Pei Cheng), despite a language barrier and her resistance to his presence.
2. The Way He Looks
Daniel Ribeiro’s heart-tugger of a drama followsa blind Brazilian teen, Leonardo, facing unfamiliar feelings when a new student, Gabriel, arrives in town. The unusual first-love tale nabbed top honors at Outfest and the Teddy Award for best LGBT-themed feature at the Berlin International Film Festival.
A sort of Stonewall meets The Full Monty, Pride tells the real-life story of a group of queer activists who decide to help striking miners in 1980s England—whether they want it or not.
Yes, it’s somewhat predictable—and likely stretches historical facts—but Pride’s humor and emotional resonance is strong enough to see it through to the Number One spot on this list.