Avant-garde filmmaker Jack Smith's 1963 masterpiece may have been too hot for New York City censors when it was first screened, but Smith went on to inspire a whole slew of filmmakers and writers. Former Village Voice writer J. Hoberman was just one huge fan, devoting many pages to him across the Manhattan weekly and books. The film, which shows drag queens and transvestites in close-up applying clothing and make-up, lying about naked and seducing each other and others, marks the debut of New American Cinema star/let Mario Montez (not to be confused with the Universal Pictures star Maria Montez, for whose acting Smith had the utmost admiration). [Bryce J. Renninger]
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
A rock musical about a bitter East German transgender singer with a one inch dick is bound to garner a cult following. Said film, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," has since coming out in 2001. Thankfully, the film's also great too. Before going all Oscar-friendly by directing Nicole Kidman to an Academy Award nomination in "Rabbit Hole," John Cameron Mitchell penned the book to the Off-Broadway sensation, that he later adapted into the trailblazing feature film of the same name. Mitchell proved himself to be a quadruple threat to be reckoned with his directorial debut by showing off some serious singing chops; acting his heart out as the titular heroine; directing with flair to spare; and writing a moving story of love and loss that's gone on to win over those who would normally balk at a film fronted by "slip of a girly boy." [Nigel M. Smith]
"I Want What I Want"
"I Want What I Want" is a very sincere early film about transsexuality. Unfortunately, "early" here means 1972, but I can't think of a film from this era - save perhaps "A Year With 13 Moons" - which is more brave in its depiction of the subject matter, even though I remain unconvinced that the filmmakers knew much about life as a transsexual. Anyway, "I Want What I Want" stars Anne Heywood as Roy, a real estate agent who decides to change his sex. It occasionally devolves into sexploitation, but its depiction of sexual transition remains one of the most complicated I've seen. [Austin Dale]
“The Kids Are All Right”
Lisa Cholodenko’s dramatic comedy captures a family in distress after the two teenage children of a lesbian couple seek out the sperm donor responsible for half of their chromosomes. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play Nic and Jules, two moms who act like any other concerned parents with flaws (Nic drinks a little too much, Jules is a little too laidback) and Mark Ruffalo is Paul, their hunky, single sperm donor. Nic and Jules attempt to welcome the new masculine presence into their household, but Paul’s arrival wakes up a number of pent up issues beneath the surface of their marriage. The film is refreshingly frank in its depiction of same-sex parenting, acknowledging that same-sex couples face their own unique set of issues while raising a family. [Devin Lee Fuller]