Sexual diversity is at the very heart of our vision and mission. Unsurprisingly, in our four years of existence we have come across and helped to promote LGBT+ of all types and from every continent on Earth. Most of these films started on a conventional distribution route, opening in cinemas, then DVD and finally on to the major VoD platforms. Netflix has since grown and taken up many of these dirty gems, which are now an integral part of their selection.
One the films on this list (Isabel Coixet’s Elisa and Marcela; also pictured above) is a full-on Netflix production, meaning that the movie giant was involved in the project from its very conception. This is perhaps a sign that many more LGBT+ films will follow a similar route in the near future. This isn’t good news for traditional distributors with a niche focus, such Peccadillo films.
The films below are listed in alphabetical order. Don’t forget to click on each individual film title in order to accede to our exclusive reviews. These films are available on Netflix UK and Ireland; there may be variations in other countries and regions.
It’s New York, it’s Summer and it’s sultry. The tarmac is sizzling, and the pavement scorching hot. And so are the libidos of young men. Frankie (Harris Dickinson) is no exception. The problem is that he is very confused about his sexuality. The extremely attractive young male is dating an equally stunning female called Simone (Madeline Weinstein, who’s not related to the now infamous Harvey), and he hangs out with young straight men of his age. She struggles to have sex with her, and instead fulfils his sexual needs through online gay chat rooms and stealthy sexual encounters with older men.
This sounds like an ordinary predicament, familiar to many gay men. There’s nothing unusual about a teenager grappling with his sexuality. What makes Beach Rats so special is the director’s sensitive gaze, and the very realistic and relatable settings. The young female filmmaker Eliza Hittman, who’s only on her second feature, managed to penetrate (no pun intended) a male and testosterone-fuelled territory to very convincing results.
Our writer Maysa Moncao argued that Luca Guadagnino twisted Death in Venice (Luchino Visconti, 1971), and that he had the right to do so. Times have changed. A queer movie can be treated as a universal love story. Call Me by Your Name was praised by public and the critics at 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
In the summer of 1983 in northern Italy, Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old boy, is about to receive a guest in his aristocratic house. He is lending his bed to Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old American scholar who has some work to do with Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg), a professor specialising in Greco-Roman culture. Elio and Oliver will share the same toilet as well as a desire for each other.
This is a film about two women in love, and directed by a female. And this is cinema at its most universal. It will move you regardless of whether you are a male or a female, Spanish or British, progressive or conservative, or anything else. This is the real-life tale of two humans being who fell in love and took draconian measures in order in order to remain together, against all odds.
Elisa (Natalia de Molina) first meets Marcela (Greta Fernandez) on the first day of school in 1898. They are immediately fascinated with each other. Their tender affection gradually develops into a full-on homosexual relation. Marcela’s parents intervene and send Marcela away to a boarding school in Madrid for three years. The two women, however, resume their romance as soon as Marcela returns. The residents of the parish of Couso too realise that their share more than a friendship. Elisa is branded a “marimacho”, and the couple become increasingly despised and isolated.
This is a remarkable movie for many reasons. First of all, Flemish Director Lucas Dhont was only 26 years old when he finished a film that he first conceived at the age of just 18. The fascination with transgender people is conspicuous nowadays in cinema. Filmmakers want to investigate the saga of transitioning, and how to reconcile it with with the mixed perspective of outsiders. The fluid sexual/gender identity and the intense transformations in both the mind and the body allow for the construction of very interesting characters. There has been no shortage of such films in then past couple of years. But there are still topic areas waiting to be addressed in more detail, and this is exactly what Girl does.
Ireland is a fast-changing nation. The profoundly Catholic country was the first one in the world to legalise gay marriage by the means of popular vote, despite fierce opposition from the Church. The society has suddenly come out of the closet, and cinema is keeping the closet doors open so that no one is left inside.
But gay marriage isn’t the only issue that matters to LGBT people. Handsome Devil touches is a very touching and moving gay drama, urgent in its simplicity, delving with two woes that remain pandemic: gay bullying in schools and LGBT representation in sports – the latter is often described as the last and most resilient stronghold of homophobia. The movie succeeds to expose both problems and the destructive consequences for the afflicted with a very gentle and effective approach.
Executive produced by Gus Van Sant, this is a brave movie for anyone in the US to write, direct or star in given the seemingly irreconcilable positions of openly and happily gay people on the one hand and the bigoted anti-gay sentiments of right-wing fundamentalism on the other. Its starting point is Benoit Denizet-Lewis’ fascinating New York Times magazine article entitled My ex-Gay Friend.
In the article the writer goes to visit his former colleague at San Francisco’s young gay men’s XY magazine Michael Glatze who is now studying at Bible school in Wyoming to become a pastor. The XY period is covered towards the start of the movie while the Bible school episode appears in its last third. In between Michael and partner Bennett (Zachary Quinto) try and build a life together which later becomes a ménage à trois with the addition of Tyler (Charlie Carver).
The tale of accidental “parenthood” (or, more broadly speaking, of the awkward and unexpected bonding of a child and an adult) is no big novelty. They includes classics such as Central Station (Walter Salles, 1997), Son of Saul (Laszlo Nemes, 2015) and also the more mainstream About a Boy (Chris and Paul Weitz). Ideal Home is a welcome addition to the list, providing a very gay and Camp touch to the subgenre.
Erasmus (Steve Coogan) and his partner Paul (a heavily bearded and mega cuddly version of Paul Rudd) lead a mostly pedestrian life, and bickering seems to be their biggest source of entertainment. Erasmus is an accomplished and respected TV boss, while Paul is some sort of younger househusband. One day, the 10-year-old grandson that Erasmus never knew he had shows up for dinner, and he has nowhere to go. That’s because his father, Erasmus’s estranged son, has been arrested on domestic violence charges. The two men are forced to look after the child (Jack Gore), who refuses to reveal his own name.
The first gay kiss in Bollywood happened just ten years ago in the movie Dunno Y (Sanjay Sharma), a year after the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India. Sadly, the country has now moved backwards and two years ago it recriminalised gay sex. This makes the graphic content of LOEV, which includes a gay kiss and violence, very subversive for current Indian laws and standards.
This is a very unusual Bollywood movie, not just for its audacious content, but also for its narrative and format. The film shuns easy entertainment devices in favour of much more complex personal and social reflections. Also, the film has very little music, which is also memorable for a movie made in Mumbai.
Hitting somewhere between the picaresque brilliance of Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2018) and the corny idealism of Love, Simon (Greg Berlanti, 2018), Desiree Akhavan won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance for her second feature, which takes the personally revealing, post-mumble aspects of her first feature film Appropriate Behaviour (2015) and places them within a YA adaptation that retains her touch but is more accessible, simplistic, and perfect for its teenage target audience.
Chloe Grace Moretz plays Cameron Post, who in 1993 is caught with another girl on prom night and shipped off to a gay conversion camp in Montana. There, she finds herself stuck in a ritual of self-blame, repression and increasing hostility as she and the other teenage inmates attempt to quietly subvert the system and survive their miseducation.
Mercy (Kate Mara) is a woman unwilling to offer her own mercy to the criminal who killed her father’s police partner. Across from her, Lucy (Ellen Page) fights for the innocence of her incarcerated father, convinced that he did not end her mother’s life. They meet in a line of picketing protests, where flirtations quickly make way for more romantic endeavours.
This is a profoundly romantic movie also dealing with the impact of grief on our daily lives. Fittingly for a subject on death, it concerns itself on the living and how people live in the face of their mortality. The interchanging lines on the death penalty is strangely hushed at points, Tim Robbins’s Dead Man Walking (1995) dealt with the subject more abjectly and thoroughly.