Special Report

The 30 Best LGBTQ+ Movies of All Time

Pride parade flags with beautiful rainbow colors
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Art allows people to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas that could be seen as taboo, helping to push the cultural conversation forward. This has been the case with the LGBTQ community, as filmmakers were able to celebrate LGBTQ relationships, even in times when such relationships were illegal. 

Alongside the fight for LGBTQ rights over the years, many movies celebrated love in many different circumstances — and in spite of many obstacles. Some of these films are relatively recent but have become instant classics, while others have been beloved for decades.

To identify the best LGBTQ movies ever made, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a database of over 17,000 movies and created an index consisting of each movie’s rating on Internet Movie Database and its audience and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes.

Though each film on this list is categorized as an LGBTQ movie because at least some of the plot deals with a character identifying as LGBTQ+, that is where the similarities end. The films cover a wide array of topics and genres like heists, comedies, musicals, coming-of-age stories, biopics, and more. In some cases, the films have characters who are hiding their sexuality or coming to grips with it, while others are set in places and times where the characters are openly able to live as themselves.

The films on this list have been lauded by critics around the world and nominated for a litany of awards, including multiple Academy Awards in many cases. Yet in some cases, fans of these films may have felt that the films were  being overlooked by the Academy because of their content. These are 25 of the Oscars’ most egregious snubs.

Click here to see the 30 best LGBTQ+ movies of all time 

To identify the best LGBTQ movies ever made, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a database of over 17,000 movies and created an index consisting of each movie’s rating on Internet Movie Database and its audience score and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes. IMDb is an online movie database owned by Amazon. Rotten Tomatoes is an online movie and TV review aggregator.

Domestic box office figures came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services, last updated in April 2021. Box office figures are not inflation adjusted. Casting and other supplemental data comes from IMDb.

Source: Courtesy of Sundance Selects

30. Blue Is the Warmest Color
> Cast: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche
> Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
> IMDb rating: 7.7 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 89%
> RT audience score: 85%

“Blue Is the Warmest Colour” is a movie about youth, art, heartbreak, and the self-exploration journey to discover one’s own identity. The drama holds a Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes of 89%. The site’s critics consensus describes the film as “raw, honest,” and “deliciously intense.”

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Source: Courtesy of Cinevista

29. Law of Desire
> Cast: Eusebio Poncela, Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas
> Director: Pedro Almodóvar
> IMDb rating: 7.1 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 100%
> RT audience score: 82%

“Law of Desire” follows the story of three gay men. One is a director who breaks up with his boyfriend and becomes involved with an obsessive and jealous fan. The provocative film, which is one of the early feature films by now famous director Pedro Almodóvar, has a perfect critics score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

28. Green Book
> Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini
> Director: Peter Farrelly
> IMDb rating: 8.2 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 78%
> RT audience score: 91%

Based on a true story, “Green Book” is about a white driver, Frank Vallelonga, and his black employer, musician Don Shirley. The movie centers on Vallelonga’s journey from racist to respectful employee. The fact that Shirley is gay is addressed in only one scene — when Shirley is arrested in Memphis for having sex with a man. The film won three Oscars, including for best picture.

Source: Courtesy of National General Pictures

27. The Boys in the Band
> Cast: Kenneth Nelson, Peter White, Leonard Frey
> Director: William Friedkin
> IMDb rating: 7.6 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 89%
> RT audience score: 88%

“The Boys in the Band” tells the complex experience of being a gay man in the late ’60s and early ’70s, a period when being gay was demonized. The movie is set at a birthday party where all but one guest are gay. The movie was remade in 2020.

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Source: Courtesy of Cinecom Pictures

26. Maurice
> Cast: James Wilby, Rupert Graves, Hugh Grant
> Director: James Ivory
> IMDb rating: 7.7 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 89%
> RT audience score: 87%

“Maurice” tells the story of two Cambridge students who fall for each other at the university in the early 20th century. Eventually, one marries a woman and seeks political office, while the other struggles to come to terms with being gay in a conservative society. The film is “a powerful love story brought to life by the outstanding efforts of a talented cast,” according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

25. The Color Purple
> Cast: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> IMDb rating: 7.8 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 81%
> RT audience score: 94%

Whoopi Goldberg earned her first Oscar nomination for her role in “The Color Purple.” The film is the second movie of her career. Goldberg plays a black Southern woman who was abused by her father and husband and is struggling with her identity. The 1985 drama was nominated for a total of 11 Oscars, including best picture.

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Source: Courtesy of The Orchard

24. 120 Beats Per Minute
> Cast: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel
> Director: Robin Campillo
> IMDb rating: 7.4 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 98%
> RT audience score: 83%

“120 Beats Per Minute” is centered on the Paris faction of ACT UP, an international advocacy group formed at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the early ’90s. The group denounced the French government and big drug companies for not responding to the HIV/AIDS health crisis quickly enough. The film is “moving without resorting to melodrama,” according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.

Source: Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

23. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
> Cast: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
> Director: Stephen Chbosky
> IMDb rating: 8.0 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 85%
> RT audience score: 89%

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a coming-of-age film about a young introvert who finds confidence thanks to two stepsiblings who take him under their wing at school. One of those two siblings, however, is gay and is struggling with a self-dstructive lifestyle. Critics praised the movie for its strong acting performances and directing.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

22. Love, Simon
> Cast: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel
> Director: Greg Berlanti
> IMDb rating: 7.6 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 91%
> RT audience score: 88%

“Love, Simon” is the first teen romantic comedy produced by a major studio to feature a gay lead character. The movie tells the story of a closeted high school senior who finds the courage to be himself. Critics have called the movie smart, funny, and emotional.

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Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

21. Milk
> Cast: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch
> Director: Gus Van Sant
> IMDb rating: 7.5 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 93%
> RT audience score: 89%

“Milk” is a true story, based on the life of gay rights activist and first openly gay elected official Harvey Milk. The majority of the film covers Milk’s political rise and accomplishments. The film was nominated for eight Oscars, winning two — for best actor (Sean Penn) and for best original screenplay.

Source: Courtesy of Sundance Selects

20. Weekend
> Cast: Tom Cullen, Chris New, Jonathan Race
> Director: Andrew Haigh
> IMDb rating: 7.6 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 95%
> RT audience score: 86%

“Weekend” is about what it’s like to be gay in modern Great Britain thought the lives of two men whose casual hookup at a gay bar grows into something much more serious. Critics have described the film as superb, invigorating, and moving.

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Source: Courtesy of CBS Films Distribution

19. Pride
> Cast: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West
> Director: Matthew Warchus
> IMDb rating: 7.8 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 92%
> RT audience score: 89%

“Pride” tells the story of how a group of young gay activists raised money to help Welsh coal miners and their families during their long strike in the summer of 1984. To the gay campaigners, the British government’s treatment of the miners mirrored their own persecution. The movie holds a Freshness rating of 92%.

Source: Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures

18. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
> Cast: Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp
> Director: Stephan Elliott
> IMDb rating: 7.5 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 96%
> RT audience score: 88%

Stephan Elliott’s film about two drag queens and a trans woman was quite rebellious for its time. “The Adventures of Priscilla,” which was made 15 years before Ru Paul’s popular “Drag Race” show, reached cult status and even opened up the film industry to more positive and mainstream representations of the LGBTQ community. The film is still certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

17. Beautiful Thing
> Cast: Glen Berry, Linda Henry, Scott Neal
> Director: Hettie Macdonald
> IMDb rating: 7.5 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 91%
> RT audience score: 93%

“Beautiful Thing” is a story about the emerging friendship and later an intimate relationship between two working-class teenagers in south London. The film is “an engaging slice of life drama that happens to double as a gay coming-of-age story,” according to Rotten Tomatoe’s Critics Consensus.

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Source: Courtesy of The Samuel Goldwyn Company

16. The Wedding Banquet
> Cast: Winston Chao, May Chin, Ah-Lei Gua
> Director: Ang Lee
> IMDb rating: 7.6 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 96%
> RT audience score: 87%

Only the second feature film directed by Ang Lee, “The Wedding Banquet” tells the story of a gay Taiwanese immigrant in the United States who marries a Chinese woman at his parents’ behest. The movie, which was described as entertaining, sweet, and satisfying by critics, was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category.

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

15. Call Me by Your Name
> Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg
> Director: Luca Guadagnino
> IMDb rating: 7.9 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 94%
> RT audience score: 86%

“Call Me by Your Name” tells the story of two young men — a handsome doctoral student and the son of the family he is staying with — who fall in love over the course of a summer in 1980s Italy. It is based on the André Aciman novel of the same name. The movie was very well reviewed, with 94% of critics and 86% of moviegoers giving it positive reviews. The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one for best adapted screenplay.

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Source: Courtesy of Weinstein

14. The Imitation Game
> Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
> Director: Morten Tyldum
> IMDb rating: 8.0 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 89%
> RT audience score: 91%

Benedict Cumberbatch plays legendary computing pioneer Alan Turing in, who was tasked with cracking allegedly unbreakable codes the Nazis used during World War II. “The Imitation Game” also tells how Turing is forced to conceal his homosexuality, which was illegal at the time in the U.K. When authorities discover he is gay, they convict Turing and force him to take hormones to “cure” him. He becomes ill and eventually commits suicide. “The Imitation Game” was nominated for eight Oscars, winning one for best adapted screenplay. About 90% of critics and audience members reviewed the film positively.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

13. Farewell My Concubine
> Cast: Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang, Gong Li
> Director: Kaige Chen
> IMDb rating: 8.1 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 86%
> RT audience score: 93%

“Farewell My Concubine” is the story of two men who meet as apprentices at an opera training school where they are abused. The two remain friends for decades. Nominated for an Oscar for best foreign movie, critics have called “Farewell My Concubine” entertaining and remarkable.

Source: Courtesy of Strand Releasing

12. The Way He Looks
> Cast: Ghilherme Lobo, Fabio Audi, Tess Amorim
> Director: Daniel Ribeiro
> IMDb rating: 7.9 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 93%
> RT audience score: 89%

“The Way He Looks” tells the story of a blind teenager whose life completely changes when he meets a new student at school. The Brazilian coming-of-age film is “compassionate, emotionally detailed, and populated with resonant characters,” according to Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.

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Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

11. Pain and Glory
> Cast: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia
> Director: Pedro Almodóvar
> IMDb rating: 7.5 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 96%
> RT audience score: 91%

“Pain and Glory” is a Spanish film from Oscar-winning filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. The film tells the story of a director in a creative drought who draws on past experiences of romance, family, addiction, success, heartbreak, and more to make his next film. “Pain and Glory” was nominated for Best International Feature Film, and Antonio Banderas was nominated for best actor for his work in the film.

Source: Courtesy of Fine Line Features

10. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
> Cast: John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask
> Director: John Cameron Mitchell
> IMDb rating: 7.7 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 92%
> RT audience score: 93%

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is a rock musical-turned cult classic film, with high marks from critics and audiences alike. The film centers on an aspiring singer who had a botched gender reassignment surgery as she tries to flee from East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. She tells her life story while tailing an ex-boyfriend who stole her songs.

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Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

9. God’s Own Country
> Cast: Josh O’Connor, Alec Secareanu, Gemma Jones
> Director: Francis Lee
> IMDb rating: 7.7 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 98%
> RT audience score: 87%

In “God’s Own Country,” Josh O’Connor plays young farmer Johnny Saxby. Saxby has been forced into taking over his family farm after his father’s stroke. Sullen and bitter at his lot in life, Saxby uses drinking and casual relationships with men to fend off his boredom. But everything changes when he hires Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a Romanian immigrant and farmworker. Gheorghe shows Josh how to be more mature both professionally and romantically. Nearly all reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes gave the film positive reviews.

Source: Courtesy of Astor Pictures Corporation

8. Victim
> Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Syms, Dennis Price
> Director: Basil Dearden
> IMDb rating: 7.7 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 100%
> RT audience score: 87%

Released in 1961, “Victim” proved to be well ahead of its time. Rotten Tomatoes describes the film as “an eloquent and emotionally affecting argument against prejudice,” as it takes place in a time when homosexuality was considered a crime in the U.K. through anti-sodomy statutes. The film follows Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde), a married but closeted lawyer. He is roped into a blackmail scheme in which gay men are blackmailed and threatened with being outed unless they pay a ransom for incriminating photos. Farr fights back against the blackmailers while coming to terms with his own sexuality.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

7. Dallas Buyers Club
> Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
> Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
> IMDb rating: 8.0 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 93%
> RT audience score: 91%

Matthew McConaughey stars as homophobic Dallas hustler Ron Woodroof, who learns that he is HIV positive and that a then-experimental drug to treat the condition is unavailable in the U.S. He finds a way to obtain the life-saving medication and begins to supply it to others who have AIDS. The film received six Oscar nominations. McConaughey took home the Oscar for best actor, and his co-star, Jared Leto, won best supporting actor.

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Source: Courtesy of Music Box Films

6. And Then We Danced
> Cast: Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakishvili
> Director: Levan Akin
> IMDb rating: 7.7 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 93%
> RT audience score: 95%

While detailing the romance between two men in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, “And Then We Danced” explores what is it like to be a member of the LGBTQ community in the conservative country where the push for gay rights has been met predominantly with resentment. Critics have described the movie as wonderful, full of life, and moving.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

5. Dog Day Afternoon
> Cast: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Penelope Allen
> Director: Sidney Lumet
> IMDb rating: 8.0 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 96%
> RT audience score: 90%

1975’s “Dog Day Afternoon” was based on the true story of a failed Brooklyn bank robbery from just a few years earlier. The film appears to be a straightforward story of a heist gone awry. But once police get involved and hostages are taken, the real motive for the robbery is revealed — the leader of the crew (Al Pacino) needs money to pay for his wife’s gender reassignment surgery. The film was nominated for six Oscars, winning for Best Writing, Original Screenplay.

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Source: Courtesy of Amazon Studios

4. The Handmaiden
> Cast: Kim Min-hee, Jung-woo Ha, Cho Jin-woong
> Director: Chan-wook Park
> IMDb rating: 8.1 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 95%
> RT audience score: 91%

Park Chan-wook transposes Sarah Waters’ crime novel “Fingersmith” from Victorian London to Korea in the 1930s. The film follows a woman who is hired as a handmaiden but is secretly working to defraud her employer. The handmaiden and her employer fall in love. The movie has a Freshness rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

3. All About My Mother
> Cast: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Candela Peña
> Director: Pedro Almodóvar
> IMDb rating: 7.8 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 98%
> RT audience score: 93%

Pedro Almodóvar‘s Oscar-winning melodrama tells the story of a woman on a journey to find the father of her son who has recently died. The father now goes by the name of Lola and is expecting a baby with a young nun. The movie is certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with an almost perfect score of 98%.

Source: Courtesy of Neon

2. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
> Cast: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami
> Director: Céline Sciamma
> IMDb rating: 8.1 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 98%
> RT audience score: 92%

This 18th century French period piece explores the relationship between young painter Marianne, hired to do the wedding portrait of a bride, Héloïse, who is getting cold feet. The romantic drama about two women in love at a time when love between gay people was forbidden is critically acclaimed with an almost perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes among both critics and viewers.

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Source: Courtesy of Bir Film

1. C.R.A.Z.Y.
> Cast: Michel Côté, Marc-André Grondin, Danielle Proulx
> Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
> IMDb rating: 7.9 out of 10
> Tomatometer score: 100%
> RT audience score: 93%

“C.R.A.Z.Y.” follows a young French-Canadian teenager who, after growing up in a conservative Catholic family, struggles with his emerging homosexuality. The movie, which has a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, has been described by critics as powerful, intelligent, and wildly entertaining.

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