The 50 Best Gay Movies (2009)

Why aren’t there more good gay movies? We hear this complaint at
AfterElton.com a lot, and we’ve even made it a few times ourselves (although we
think the results of this poll prove that there are more good movies than many
of us think!).

There are surely many reasons why more “mainstream” movies don’t include gay
or bisexual themes, but no doubt one of them is heterosexual discomfort – not
just discomfort on the part of audiences and network executives, but also
discomfort on the part of critics and others to champion these films.

This is where our poll of AfterElton.com readers on the 50 Greatest
Gay Movies comes in. We can think of no better way to encourage the creation of
more good gay movies than to praise and support the existence of past good gay
movies!

How does this list compare to our previous poll? Not surprisingly, many of
the same movies made the list. After all, a great movie is a great movie. But
there were some interesting shifts and additions.

Two films that came out last year didn’t just make this year’s list, they
actually made the top ten. It’s probably no surprise that the Oscar-winning Milk debuted at #4, but it’s downright
spectacular that the independent arthouse film Were the World Mine, made on a shoestring budget, landed at #8.

Sadly, some movies fell so far that they dropped out of the top 50 entirely.
Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet (1993), Love! Valour! Compassion!
(1997) and Priest (1994), which last year were ranked
29, 35 and 40, respectively, are nowhere to be found in this year’s top 50.

But the biggest plunge by far was Sordid
Lives
(2000), which placed at
an impressive 20 last year, but dropped off the list entirely this time (and,
weirdly, couldn’t even be found in the higher ranking runner-ups), despite being the basis for
a Logo TV show earlier this season.

By contrast, the reputation of some films seems to be growing. HBO’s
miniseries adaptation of Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America (2003) rose from 39 last year all the way up to
16 this year. Edge of Seventeen (1998) moved up from 34 to 25. Burnt Money (2000) rose from 42 to 23.

Other recent films that were added to the list include the touching Lifetime
TV movie Prayers for Bobby (2009) at
#40 and the Charlie David movie Mulligans
(2008) at #49.

Here are a few more interesting statistics. In last year’s poll, 1/3 of the
movies heralded from countries other than the U.S. This year fewer than 20% did.
One explanation is that America
is now producing more gay-themed movies of its own. Another, less charitable
explanation is that American moviegoers, which make up the bulk of our voters,
are becoming even more insular.

Last year, the movies in our poll included little racial diversity – mostly
because most gay-themed movies in general contain little racial diversity.
That’s still true this year, but in addition to last year’s My Beautiful Laundrette (#26 this year),
Yossi and Jagger (2002) (#33 this
year), and Big Eden (2000) (#11 this
year), this year’s list also included The
Bubble
(2006) (#35) and Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom (2008) (debuting
at an impressive #14).

Disappointingly, bisexual visibility remains almost non-existent. A few of
the movies, such as Torch Song Trilogy
(1988) (at # 13) and Sommersturm
(2004) (at #19), include a bisexual character, but bisexuality is rarely a
major theme. Even in gay cinema, bisexuality is mostly just a stop on the way
to being gay.

But that’s enough of an intro. Let’s get to the list itself!

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