The Best LGBTQ+ Movies Of 2018


Ahh, 2018! What a year it’s been for cinema. From Fifty Shades Freed to Avengers: Infinity War, from Peter Rabbit to Ocean’s 8, the past 12 months have been jam-packed with films that gave us stitches from laughing so hard, puffy eyes from sobbing uncontrollably and a wrecked nervous system from hanging off the edge of our seats. Whether it was action, romance, comedy or horror, no film genre came to play this year but, if there’s one specific area of cinema that truly excelled in 2018 more than it has before, it was the LGBTQ+ movies. 2017 gave us the likes of Call Me By Your Name and Moonlight but these seemed just a mere taster of what the queer cinematic universe was capable of. After becoming colloquially known as 20GayTeen, 2018 truly lived up to its name and was a year fit to burst at the seams with LGBTQ+ movies brimming with heart, happiness and humour.

Representation and diversity in cinema went from strength to strength throughout the year and some of the most beautiful LGBTQ+ stories, both fictional and non-fictional, were told on the big screen, with adoring audiences praising them to no end.

So, it seems only fair that we take stroll down memory lane and tip our hats to a handful of the best LGBTQ+ films from the past year. These are my personal top six films! Grab your popcorn and prepare to fall in love all over again with some of the gems you may have forgotten about. Honestly, if 2018 was this rainbow-filled, I can’t wait for what 2019 holds! 

Disobedience

A woman returns to her Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her for her attraction to a female childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.

This double Rachel combo so exquisitely depicts the idea of forbidden love, a harsh reality that many LGBTQ+ people must live with every day. Both stars give such raw, honest performances and the film certainly isn’t void of emotion, it’s almost as if you can physically feel both actors forcing their hearts into every breath in every scene. One thing this film does stunningly is tension. The anticipation builds and builds for a while before anything majorly shocking or provocative happens, but the art lies in the ways that tension builds. Subtle glances, slight touches, painful silences, all things that leave viewers wanting to scream out of desperation for the characters to come together and get what they so desperately desire. When they do finally cave, however, it’s far from anticlimactic and the fire that is ignited when both Weisz and Mcadams are alone together in any scene is so special. Both of them have mastered the art of saying so much without really saying anything, in both the tense scenes at the beginning and when they’re finally forced to confront their feelings. Their attraction towards one another and sheer need to be close is almost painful to watch, especially as you know they can never be together. This film deserves extra recognition for its portrayal of lesbian sex with the most erotic scene being directed by Rachel Weisz herself, after she read lots of lesbian literature and felt passionately about preventing any form of the male gaze having a place in the film. Disobedience is a simple yet stunning lesbian film that will surely have a place in the hearts of queer women for a long time. It isn’t exploitative, harmful or stereotypical and the plot doesn’t make you want to roll your eyes because it’s been done so often. It’s merely a story about two women and their love triumphing through unbeatable circumstances. 

Love, Simon 

Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends and all of his classmates: he's gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

Love, Simon can only be described as the film the world needs. It was a true breath of fresh air this year and, after the enormous hype it received prior to its release, didn’t disappoint but rather exceeded all expectations. This film is nothing but pure, warm and lovely. It depicted LGBTQ+ love in such a wholesome way that was free from stereotypes and prejudice whilst also perfectly describing the struggles faced by the community. It also portrays love and friendship as the fundamental things holding society together and shows they always come out on top. I love the way it shines a light on the importance of listening, supporting and accepting, the way it integrates the LGBTQ+ community into everyday life and represents them fairly. For so long, the gay character has been the best friend, the accessory, the one everyone laughs at, but that’s finally shifting. Love, Simon puts the gay character where he belongs, front and centre as the protagonist. It gives him space to tell his story and forces everyone to listen. This gay director and queer cast members produced something with POC, Jewish AND LGBTQ+ representation, aimed towards teenagers, which is positive and promotes acceptance. It shouldn’t have taken this long for this film to be made but I am thrilled it now exists. But WHY is this film so important? the answer lies in the world around us. The ‘coming out’ stories people were inspired to tell this year after seeing Simon tell his, the way people have found ways to support their LGBTQ+ friends properly, the way people have found friends to connect with who are just like them. Art should make people feel things and influence their actions and Love, Simon does those things perfectly. My heart breaks for the LGBTQ+ kids who never got to see this film but it bursts for the younger generations who will have this as theirs, the LGBTQ+ youths of today who will have a movie that reminds them it’s OKAY to be who they are. I have never been left feeling so touched, so moved or so fulfilled after a cinematic experience. EVERYBODY needs to see this film.  Love, Simon will transform and SAVE lives. Everybody deserves a great love story. 

Saturday Church 

A 14 year-old-boy, struggling with gender identity and religion, begins to use fantasy to escape his life in the inner city and find his passion in the process.

I don't think it's an overstatement when I say that this the purest film I have ever seen in my life. From start to finish, watching the journey Ulysses' character goes on as he explores his own identity, battles with the shame of his family and finds acceptance in the city's LGBTQ+ people warmed my heart so much. It is THE story of chosen family and the perfect depiction of the fact that there are always people out there for you and you will find them, even if you must overcome the toughest obstacles first, you will find your community who love you for you and embrace every aspect of who you are. This movie is so beautiful in ALL the ways, even if it is heartbreaking to know that the reason why all the LGBTQ+ characters in this film are so loving and caring towards Ulysses is because they have all been ostracised from their own communities and homes. This film is all about taking risks on the quest towards your own happiness, prioritising YOU and coming to the realisation that you are not stuck where you are - there is a place for you to be free. The cinematography and emotion behind each scene is incredible in Saturday Church and it relays that Ulysses' story is the reality for so many LGBTQ+ young people worldwide. He is a character you are undoubtedly going to take into your hearts from the moment he appears on the screen, so much so that, as you witness his growth throughout the film and watch him evolve into his true self, you truly do feel like a proud parent at the end. Seeing this kind of representation in a movie was beyond wonderful and it was equally as wonderful to know that the trans characters were played by trans actors! Everyone needs to see this film, LGBTQ+ or not. It has so much heart and sweetness in it. Oh, and some gorgeous musical scenes too!

The Miseducation of Cameron Post 

In 1993, a teenage girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy centre by her conservative guardians.

I mean, this film stars Chloe Grace Moretz as the protagonist so obviously it's EVERYTHING. She delivers a sublime performance as Cameron as she tells such an important story which, despite being set in the 80s, is something still so frighteningly true to life today. This film so perfectly portrays the anger, frustration and boredom felt by LGBTQ+ people as they are surrounded by people who want to suppress their identity whilst also showing how painful it can be to have to grow up as someone you're not in a place which you don't belong. It was lovely to see how Cameron was played in this film as someone who wasn't exploring her sexuality or coming to terms with it because, actually, she was already certain of it. Even when the conservative family members and camp leaders around her tried to indoctrinate her with the idea that she was a 'sinner,' she remained true to herself and adamant that who she was was real and normal, something that is so important for young lesbians to see on the big screen as they grow up in a society that constantly attempts to invalidate their sexuality. Cameron even says in the film that she doesn't think of herself as being either 'straight,' or 'gay,' she's just a person. It's just who she is. Directed by a queer woman, The Miseducation Of Cameron Post is free from all those lesbian cliches everyone is so tired of seeing, particularly in the intimate scenes, which were filmed with taste and accuracy. This was a low budget film that wasn't promoted on billboards in Times Square but its story is one everyone deserves to be told.

Every Day

A shy teenager falls for someone who transforms into another person every day.
The whole concept of this film was so intriguing, I mean, a girl falls in love with someone who wakes up in a different body every day? I was hooked from the moment I saw the trailer. The character, who named themselves A, wakes up in a new place as a new person every 24 hours, never the same person twice and never leaving a trace behind for the true owner of the body to realise what happened that day. This film made me cry watching the two teens attempt to navigate the obstacles that their relationship was inevitably going to bring, however, it also made me feel so content and fuzzy on the inside. This is THE perfect portrayal of pansexual love and such a fine form of art which showcases the true power of love in all situations. It shows how love has no limits and knows no boundaries and that love really is just that - love! And it is always beautiful, regardless of what form it exists in. The actor who played Rhiannon gave such a powerful performance, as did all of the other actors as A. You, as a viewer, really do root for them and their relationship all the way through. This romantic movie is such a pure portrayal of love and its ability to triumph through even the toughest of circumstances. 

Bohemian Rhapsody

The story of the legendary rock music band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, leading up to their famous performance at Live Aid (1985).

Bohemian Rhapsody is, without doubt, one of the best films of this year. I love everything about it. I love how it tells the life story of Freddie and his time with Queen, I love the music, how true to life it is, the perfect performances by every cast member, (Rami Malek was absolutely faultless) how it's a film for all generations and one that has breathed a new life into such a legendary band and their iconic songs. A central part of this movie is the exploration of Freddie Mercury's sexuality and his relationships, from Mary to Jim. It was so moving to watch him have to battle with being himself whilst under the intense gaze of the media and general public. However, it was so inspiring and uplifting to watch one of the greatest performers of all time embracing his sexuality unashamedly and doing his best to overcome the anxiety it gave him behind closed doors. Freddie Mercury was, and I imagine always will be, such an influential figure for many LGBTQ+ people, encouraging them to accept themselves and live without fear, encouraging them to make decisions that make them happy in spite of other people's opinions and to form real connections with the people who truly understand you. This film was both uplifting and funny but also terribly sad and emotional but, nonetheless, it really is a masterpiece. It could've easily been 40 hours long and I still would've watched and loved every minute.

What were your favourite LGBTQ+ films of the year?
What LGBTQ+ films are you looking forward to in 2019?

Love, Emily

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