What a year for queer cinema! While we can all agree that Hollywood would be nothing and nowhere without the contributions of queer people, only in the past few decades have we seen queer stories in the mainstream. And as we see more complex representation on the big and small screen — narratives that aren’t set in the mid-80s, if you know what I mean — it’s refreshing to celebrate an abundance of queer perspectives.
It’s been a long road to get here. And after Bros flopped in 2021, I feared that mainstream studios would pull funding from queer stories. But 2023 is the gayest year in cinema in a long time. While not all of them were hits (Dicks: The Musical will not be appearing on this list), and though the strike almost pushed back more titles than we could handle, it was still a formidable year for a diverse array of LGBTQIA film perspectives and an exciting variety in genres.
Maybe the glut of streaming services has something to do with it. After all, every streamer needs their token queer original content. But we’ve also seen some wickedly funny and quietly heart-wrenching titles grace the big screen this year. There’s something for everyone. In fact, there are so many titles it’s a little hard to keep up.For a refresher course on the year’s best queer television and film titles, and for recommendations of any you might have missed, here are the best LGBTQIA+ movies and TV that we watched this year:
My favorite movie of the year is undoubtedly this messy, mad tale of Oliver Quick and his time at Saltburn. It is the darkest, most disturbing film I've ever seen. I still don't quite know how to describe it. That queer yearning? That bathtub scene? Talk about a cruel summer.
Lesbian losers start a high school fight club. I can't say anything more except you will be laughing out loud and end up completely in love with Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri — if you weren't already.
Heartstopper, Season 2
Season 2 of this Netflix triumph was even better, albeit sadder, than the first. It's the sweetest thing you'll ever watch, earnest and hopeful and addictive. It's the show queer teens deserve, and I envy everyone in high school who gets to watch this in their adolescent years. Nevertheless, it's my comfort show — despite the fact that it makes me cry every time.
All of Us Strangers
Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell. Need I say more? Their chemistry is unmatched, and too rare in queer romance dramas. More of this please!
The film for the polyamorous, non-monogamous era. Trust the French to make this messy queer film about a gay couple whose relationship is disrupted by a passionate affair with a woman.
In this adaptation of Ottessa Moshfegh's novel, Anne Hathaway plays a sexy psychiatrist at a prison who captivates the unassuming young secretary. The two begin a charged friendship as the plot soon goes dark. If you liked Carol, you'll love this. This is Barbie for weird lesbians.
The true, overlooked, story of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin is finally coming to light. The architect of 1963's momentous March on Washington, Bayard Rustin was one of the greatest activists and organizers of his generation, working side by side with MLK and his contemporaries. But his queerness pushed him to the sidelines. Colman Domingo stuns in this biopic.
The Other Two, Season 3
I miss this show already. Say what you want about Cary and Brooke but they were so real. This satirical portrait of life in the industry sends chills down my spine. And Drew Tarver's journey this season as a gay man looking for romance is hilarious, but also hits close to home for what it's like dating in the city.
It's been Matt Bomer's year — we'll see him again on this list later, too. It's an epic love story through time, following Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey from the Lavender scare of the McCarthy Era of the 1950s through the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
Red, White, & Royal Blue
Based on the bestselling YA novel, this is the campy, queer rom-com we deserve. Enemies to lovers? Check. High-stakes romance? Check. Happy ending? Plenty of them. And the hotties at the forefront of this phenomenon are about to be household names. Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine, thank you for your service.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe
A completely different take on YA coming of age romance, this gorgeous take on Benjamin Alire Sáenz's novel is beautiful and poignant. With sharp cinematography and emotionally rich performances by actual teenagers, this feels like a Texas version of the European indie films I used to watch as a teen.
This new Netflix series takes on complex issues like Eating Disorders head on, but still somehow manages to create a charming and funny teen show. This is the next Sex Education, I'm calling it now
Other Notable Queer Titles from 2023
Sex Education, Season 4
Interview with the Vampire
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