Sally Potter doesn't get enough credit for her bold feminist films. "Orlando" is the most well-respected of her oeuvre, and the acclaim is well-deserved. Tilda Swinton stars as the film's gender-bending titular character based on the book by Virginia Woolf with the same name with the same protagonist. The androgynous Orlando lives for centuries, reappearing in various historical epochs, dictating his/her story directly to the camera in exquisite sets and scandalous circumstances. [Bryce J. Renninger]
Though we may decry LGBT films for relying on cliches like the coming out genre, "Pariah" proved last year that there are still coming out stories to be told. The young woman Alike (the future superstar Adepero Oduye) in Dee Rees' first feature is impeccably realized. She is a woman at conflict with the various worlds she must encounter everyday: the lesbian world, the street world, the home world, the school world. Kim Wayans ("In Loving Color") surprises with her first major dramatic role as Alike's disapproving close-minded mother. [Bryce J. Renninger]
"Paris is Burning"
After winning major awards at Sundance and Berlin, Jennie Livingston's now-classic documentary became a major indie hit when it grossed nearly $4 million at the box office (an almost unheard of number at the time). Beautifully chronicling the "ball culture" of late 1980s New York City (and the many queer communities involved in it), its success shone light on a collection of powerful, authentic voices that never been given such a spotlight. And over twenty years later, it remains an imperative documentation of a fabulous moment in history, and amazing organizing tool for queer and trans youth today. [Peter Knegt]
Greta Garbo's most fascinating movie, "Queen Christina," came out just before the Hays Code put Hollywood cinema into a chastity belt, and it is indeed erotic. It's also campy, ludicrous, garish, formless, and weird. Made under the bisexual Garbo's creative control, the biopic of the androgynous Swedish queen forgoes historical accuracy and replaces it with gender-neutral lust. She leaves her gorgeous lady-in-waiting in her castle, and, incognito as a man, she woos a flamboyant Spanish courier, played by silent Casanova John Gilbert. "Queen Christina" has oodles of same-sex innuendo, drag-upon-drag, and, of course, the face that launched a thousand queer theory theses. [Austin Dale]