This June marks the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the iconic New York City uprising that played a considerable role in the pioneering years of the gay and lesbian rights movement. Mass LGBT pride celebrations will be happening all over as a result, but you can also go no further than your living room to partake in your own little way.
In honor of Pride Month, Indiewire is offering 43 suggestions -- one for each year since Stonewall -- for quality LGBT-themed home viewing. It's by no means a definitive, all-encompassing list. We simply asked five of Indiewire's writers to come up with a bunch of their all-time favorites, with no particular criteria beyond than they stood out to them personally as a worthy inclusion in such a list (in a few cases whether the filmmakers intended it as LGBT-themed or not). So as a result there's scores of fantastic examples out there that didn't make our cut.
But 43 films are already a pretty ambitious start for someone's June home-viewing experiences. So here they are, in alphabetical order:
“Angels in America”
Mike Nichols’ six-hour mini-series might just be the defining portrait of the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York. Featuring a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Patrick Wilson, Mary-Louise Parker, Emma Thompson and Jeffrey Wright, the adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize winning play is a provocative and insightful examination of gay men in the Reagan era. “Angels in America” has a massive scope, tackling religion, politics, life, death, sexuality and racism; but somehow the mini-series brings it all together as a cohesive whole. The mini-series broke the record for the most Emmy awards won by a single program in 2004 including wins for Pacino as infamous attorney Roy Cohn and Meryl Streep’s multiple roles as a Mormon mother, convicted conspirator Ethel Rosenberg and a rabbi(!). [Devin Lee Fuller]
Thanks to Pedro Almodovar's scorching gay melodrama "Bad Education," the world now knows that Mexican hunk Gael Garcia Bernal makes for one fine looking woman. In the NC-17 rated affair, Bernal gives one his most varied turns as an actor with a mysterious past who shows up at a director's office to pitch an idea for a script, only to claim to be the filmmaker's long lost first love. Being an Almodovar joint, the plot is an unwieldy wonder, full of twists and turns, so the less we say about the story the better. Just know that "Bad Education" is one of the director's most autobiographical works (much of the film is set at an all boys Catholic school, similar to the one Almodovar attended as a child), on top of being devilish fun from start to finish. [Nigel M. Smith]
"The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye"
Marie Loisier's profile of rocker Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle) documents the love Genesis shared with their partner Lady Jaye in a visually captivating exploration of their unusual relationship. Genesis and Lady Jaye saw themselves as one, going great lengths to get cosmetic surgery to look alike and insisting on plural pronouns when referring to them. Genesis and Lady Jaye considered themselves one, and the dissolution of their relationship is filmed tenderly and with great care. A love story that absolutely cannot be missed. [Bryce J. Renninger]
One of many fantastic mid-to-late 1990s coming out romantic dramas (other worthy examples include "Get Real" and "Edge of Seventeen"), Hettie MacDonald's "Beautiful Thing" adapted Jonathan Harvey's 1993 play into a tender, affecting ode to young love and the very beautiful thing that can be the accepting mother-gay son bond. It holds a particularly special place for me (a VHS copy of the film hidden under my bed was discovered by my own mother, leading to the disclosure of my own homosexuality), but even with that aside, it's a very difficult movie for pretty much any reasonable person not to fall a little in love with. Even though it tells the conventional coming out tale we've certainly seen many times before, its handled with such warmth and intelligence that it feels entirely fresh. [Peter Knegt]