As 2018 draws to a close, PinkNews looks at the best gay films released across the year in queer cinema.
2018 saw gay movies break into the mainstream with Love, Simon and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, while plenty of other releases championed queer representation. We list the best gay movies with descriptions about them.
This vivid, vibrant love story from Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu stars Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva as the daughters of two rival political candidates, falling in love and navigating homophobia attitudes.
The gay film made its debut at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival to overwhelming acclaim, but was banned in Kenya overs its gay themes.
But the ban hasn’t prevented global audiences falling in love with Rafiki, which has screened at major film festivals around the world.
Despite a quiet commercial release in January, this comedy-drama starring Alex Lawther of The End of the F***ing World fame has earned praise from LGBT+ audiences for its nuanced and warm-hearted portrayal of gender non-confirming teen Billy as a fish out-of-water in a small conservative town.
Add in a scene-stealing turn from Bette Midler as Billy’s ‘Muv’ and a cameo from trans actor Laverne Cox, and you have the makings of a queer classic.
Based on the novel by James St James, Trudie Styler‘s directorial debut sends out a clear message of inclusivity to anyone who has ever felt different.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
In one of two major gay movies in 2018 to tackle the subject of gay ‘cure’ therapy, grown-up Kick-Ass star Chloë Grace Moretz plays a teen caught having a sexual encounter with another girl.
Shipped off to an emotionally-sterile Christian gay ‘cure’ centre, the film takes an unflinching look at the harsh reality of conversion therapy.
“Growing up in a conservative southern baptist community, ‘praying the gay away,’ as they would say, was something we were very aware of in our community—didn’t believe in, but were aware of,” Moretz told PinkNews.
“Doing research for this film, I was unaware of the modernity of the issue of gay conversion in America. It’s a silent epidemic that, now more than ever, especially under our administration, is growing in traction.”
Far-and-away 2018’s most-hyped gay release was Greg Berlanti’s teen rom-com Love, Simon which stars Nick Robinson as a boy-next-door Simon Spier, who happens to be gay.
Unchallenging in its subject matter and light-and-breezy in its theme, Love, Simon is not winning Oscars any time soon, but it’s tailor-made to fit into a genre otherwise dominated by heteronormative releases.
Transgender model Hari Nef pulls off a star turn in Sam Levinson’s revenge thriller, which explores a world where online privacy no longer exists.
The hyper-stylish film set in modern-day Salem touches on themes that could not feel more brutally relevant in 2018, evoking everything from social justice and outrage mobs to transphobia and toxic masculinity.
Nef told the Los Angeles Times: “I know it’ll be polarizing. I know people are going to love it. I know people are going to hate it… but hate doesn’t scare me because I feel like any negative reaction that could be had to this film is a productive part of the conversation that this film intends to spark. After all, it’s about America, America right now.”
One of Netflix’s cinematic ventures in 2018, Alex Strangelove followed on from Love, Simon in the young adult gay rom-com sphere, starring 27 year old Daniel Doheny as the implausibly-teenaged Alex.
Netflix explained: “Alex Strangelove tells the story of Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny), a well-rounded high school senior with a wonderful girlfriend Claire (Madeline Weinstein) and a bright future ahead of him – and with plans to achieve his last teenage milestone by losing his virginity.
“But things get complicated when he meets Elliot (Antonio Marziale), a handsome and charming gay kid from the other side of town, who unwittingly sends Alex on a rollercoaster journey of sexual identity, kicking off a hilarious and moving exploration of love, sex and friendship in our liberated and confusing modern times.”
Boy Erased is the second of 2018’s gay ‘cure’ movies, starring Lucas Hedges as gay teen Jared Eamons, who is packed off to gay ‘cure’ camp by his evangelical dad (Russell Crowe).
The film a true story, based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name.
A more earnest affair than The Miseducation of Cameron Post, playing out as a more safe and predictable take on the issue.
Although it makes a few missteps, the film’s still emotional enough to pluck at anyone’s heartstrings.
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The Happy Prince
The Happy Prince also makes our list of best gay movies due to its homosexual themes.
Rupert Everett wrote, directed and starred in this passion project, based on the late of playwright Oscar Wilde following his conviction for homosexuality under UK sodomy laws.
The star’s years of work on the film do not go amiss, with his moving portrayal of the haunted Wilde particularly moving in light of the UK’s decision to grant pardons to men with historical gay sex convictions.
“All the films made about him all stop the moment when he goes into prison. So I thought, well, the virgin territory is his exile,” Everett told PinkNews.
This documentary gives a moving glimpse into the life of the late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who forged his own empire but took his own life in 2010.
The acclaimed film has a 100 percent rating on reviews website Rotten Tomatoes, with critics explaining: “McQueen offers an intimate, well-sourced, and overall moving look at a young life and brilliant career that were tragically cut short.”
Disobedience, based on the novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman, tells the story of a queer women grappling with homophobic attitudes in the Orthodox Jewish community.
The Sebastián Lelio film stars Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams as the two lovers.
McAdams told Entertainment Weekly: “I didn’t think of it as gay versus straight, only in that there was unfair oppression of their love and sexuality.”