Last year was a windfall year for LGBTQ cinema, thanks to a historic Best Picture win for “Moonlight” and Park Chan-wook’s exquisite “The Handmaiden” both receiving critical and commercial acclaim. While these highly deserving queer stories rose to the top, many smaller LGBT films were either forgotten or simply nowhere to be found.
Hollywood studios have begun to shoehorn blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gay stories into an endless stream of remakes and TV adaptations, and there is a wide range of indies exploring the breadth of queer stories with ever-expanding joy and nuance. While it’s still difficult to get a gay film made (or any film, for that matter), it’s wonderful that, only halfway through 2017, there are already so many queer films on the horizon. Which is why we think it’s important to celebrate them now, before the scuttle of awards season leaves only a few remaining.
From promising up-and-comers to pioneers of the New Queer Cinema, these are the best gay, lesbian, and queer films coming out (and proudly) in 2017. Notably, many of them have yet to find U.S. distribution, but all are equally worthy.
1. “Call Me By Your Name”
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Distribution: Sony Pictures Classics
Release date: November 24th, 2017
Following up his sexy and visionary “A Bigger Splash,” Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino sets his sights on André Aciman’s beloved 2007 novel about an affair between a teenage boy and his father’s research assistant (played by Armie Hammer). Reviewing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich wrote that the film “rates alongside recent LGBT phenomenons ‘Carol’ and ‘Moonlight,’ matching the artistry and empathy with which those new masterworks untangled the repressive desire of same-sex attraction.” The critical response has been similarly glowing so far, making it one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year — gay or otherwise. (This author can’t wait to see it.)
2. “The Misandrists”
Image courtesy of Berlinale
Director: Bruce La Bruce
Seeking U.S. distribution
The father of queercore blessed his disciples with a sultry sex comedy ripe with satire and replete with enough nuns’ habits and schoolgirl uniforms to satisfy all sides of the queer divide. An injured boy dissident hides in the basement of a lesbian separatist commune whose only goal is to smash the patriarchy by having tons of lesbian sex. High camp meets high femme in La Bruce’s homage to female domination, exquisitely rendered with bold colors and brash women. With a slip of the wimple, he also happens to critique binary views of gender while simultaneously glorifying the divine feminine.
3. “Princess Cyd”
Courtesy of BAM
Director: Stephen Cone
Distribution: Wolfe Releasing
Release date to be announced
Stephen Cone’s stirringly personal drama about a teenaged girl who spends the summer with her aunt in Chicago is one of the most sensitive portrayals of female sexuality in recent memory. Cyd (Jessie Pinnick) is sexually curious in the most casual way, diverting herself equally with the genderqueer barista and the muscled gardener boy. Miranda (Rebecca Spence) spends her days writing and reading, perfectly content to live a sexless intellectual life. The film’s triumph is in never pinning its characters down, and allowing for grey areas while still holding them accountable for their actions. Beautifully shot by Zoe White, “Princess Cyd” is a lush film about the joys and limitations of intimacy.
4. “God’s Own Country”
Director: Francis Lee
Distribution: Orion Pictures
Release date: October 27th
Set in Yorkshire farm country against a gorgeously austere landscape, “God’s Own Country” is a delicately rendered gay romance that unfolds with verité intimacy. The tense relationship between Johnny (Josh O’Connor) and Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) softens as the young men birth lambs on a hillside together. Lee bolsters the unfolding drama with documentary-like farm footage, leaving little to the imagination except the boys’ true feelings. It will undoubtedly draw comparisons to “Brokeback Mountain,” but with one key difference: A happy ending.
5. “Women Who Kill”
Director: Ingrid Jungermann
Distributor: FilmRise, Film Collaborative
Release date: July 26th
While we can’t wait for Ingrid Jungermann’s whip-smart feature-length debut to finally hit theaters this summer, the fact that it took so long to do so after its warm critical reception is downright criminal. Criminal, the subjects of this witty whodunnit that puts two true crime podcasters at the center of the murders they have been chronicling. An impressive jump from the creator of the cult-hit web series “The Slope” and “F to 7th,” “Women Who Kill” is a lesbian murder mystery out for blood.
Director: Anahita Ghazvinizadeh
27-year-old Iranian filmmaker Anahita Ghazvinizadeh headed into her Cannes feature debut with the blessing of none other than Jane Campion, having caught Campion’s eye when her short film won the Cinéfondation Award in 2013. An evocative coming-of-age about a genderqueer child under the care of their sister and her Iranian boyfriend for a week, “They” pays homage to the great Abbas Kiarostami while rooted firmly in the future.
On the next page: Queer history with gay and transgender activists, nightlife legends, and an evocative drama from a Sundance favorite.