The Year of LGBTQ Films

2017 was such an exceptional year for LGBT film – with the likes of the Oscar-winning “Call Me By Your Name,” the stirring “God’s Own Country,” the AIDS-themed “Beats Per Minute,” “Battle of the Sexes” and many more – that many wondered if the following season could compete.  To many people’s surprise, it did.

Bohemian Rapsody

2018 has been a solid year for LGBT offerings, with one colossal box-office hit – “Bohemian Rhapsody,” about Freddie Mercury and Queen. The film was no stranger to controversy. Its director, Bryan Singer, has had multiple allegations against him, and last year he was “fired’ from the film and replaced by Dexter Fletcher. It also faced charges that it whitewashed the gay element. Nonetheless, audiences responded – and everyone agreed that Rami Malek was a standout as Mercury and could be a Best Actor Oscar nominee.

Another hit was the irresistible “Love, Simon,” shot in Atlanta and directed by Greg Berlanti. It follows a high schooler who is afraid to come out.  It was big-hearted and sweet – and the kind of romantic comedy many wish had been made 20 years ago.

Critics swooned for Yorgos Lanthimos’ lesbian-themed “The Favourite,” starring Olivia Colman as Queen Anne and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz as two women vying for her affections. Visually arresting and full of quotable dialogue, it’s one of the year’s best films. Weisz also played a lesbian in the spring’s “Disobedience.”

Another well-received offering was Marielle Heller’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”. It stars Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel, who made a name for herself profiling celebrities such as Tallulah Bankhead and Katharine Hepburn. When she isn’t able to get her agent to give her the go on a new book, she begins forging letters by famous people. She is aided by Jack Hock, a terrific Richard E. Grant, and the bond between the lesbian and gay man form is unforgettable. McCarthy and Grant are safe bets for Oscar bids as well.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Another studio film – “Boy Erased” – wasn’t as lucky. Filmed in Atlanta, it follows the story of the son of a Baptist preacher (Lucas Hedges) who is made to enter a gay conversion therapy after his parents (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) find out he is gay. It was politely received by critics for its trio of strong performances but knocked for his emotionless-less direction by Joel Edgerton. It underwhelmed at the box office and sadly wasn’t even the year’s best conversion therapy movie. That honor goes to “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” starring Atlanta’s Chloe Grace Moretz, who plays a teenage girl sent to conversion therapy. It was directed by bisexual Desiree Akhavan and having a queer voice behind the camera paid off – the film felt alive with detail and vivid supporting characters.

Directed by Wash Westmoreland and a pet project of his late husband Richard Glatzer, “Colette” was also mostly admired.  It stars a frisky Keira Knightley, who was born for these kinds of roles. She played Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who after marrying begins to ghostwrite for her husband and later begins affairs with women.

We, the Animals

A lot of the year’s best LGBT films, as always, were independent.  Few films had the emotional charge of Yen Tan’s masterful “1985,” in which a young man (Corey Michael Smith) comes home for the holidays during the beginning of the AIDS crisis.  Rupert Everett got some of the best reviews of his career for his “The Happy Prince,” his directorial debut in which he starred as Oscar Wilde. Damon Cardasis’ “Saturday Church” was a vivid drama/musical about a young black man who falls in with a group of trans women at a local shelter.  Other films of note include “Hearts Beat Loud,” “The Cakemaker,” “We, the Animals” and Jenna Laurenzo’s “Lez Bomb.”