Back to IndieWire

BFI Poll Picks the 30 Best LGBT Movies of All Time

BFI Poll Picks the 30 Best LGBT Movies of All Time

To honor the 30th anniversary of the British Film Institute’s LGBT film festival, the BFI polled over 100 filmmakers, critics, and programmers on their favorite queer films, and although polls tend to yield conventional wisdom, these results are full of surprises. For proof, look no farther than the top entry, Todd Haynes’ “Carol.” It’s been in the world for less than a year, and couldn’t even manage a nomination for a Best Picture Oscar, but that didn’t stop BFI voters from naming it the best LGBT film of all time. The poll’s methodology did not require voters to rank their choices, so “Carol” won by being on the dint of the most total ballots, 28 in all. (The complete ballots, some with commentary, are here.)

Andrew Haigh’s “Weekend,” which was recently banned from from being exhibited in over a thousand Italian cinemas, finished in second, with Wong Kar-Wai’s “Happy Together,” Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain,” and Jennie Livingston’s “Paris Burning” rounding out the Top 5. “Paris” was one of only two documentaries to make the list, the other being Shirley Clarke’s still-controversial “Portrait of Jason,” part of a seven-way tie for 27th place.

Further observations: The majority of films were made by LGBT directors, and about a third focus on female protagonists, which is also the rough proportion of movies dating before 1985. Nine of the top 33, or about a quarter, feature people of color in leading roles, and 14 of them are in languages other than English.

Notable by their absence, although most finished further down the list: “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Born in Flames, “Heavenly Creatures,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” and “But I’m a Cheerleader,” as well anything by Marlon Riggs, Derek Jarman, Kenneth Anger, François Ozon, Xavier Dolan, Tsai Ming-Liang, Terence Davies, John Waters, Andy Warhol, Gregg Araki, Barbara Hammer or Sadie Benning.

The presence of recent films at the top of the list makes for a striking contrast with Sight & Sound’s poll of the greatest films of all time, which features only three movies from 1980 or later in its top 30. Much of that has to do, of course, with the demolition of social and commercial taboos against openly addressing LGBT subjects on film (as well as a dollop of good old recency bias). But it also indicates that the LGBT canon is still very much in flux. Let’s hope the BFI follows up in 10 years, so we can see how much it’s shifted.

The Top 33 LGBT FIlms of All Time

1. “Carol”
2. “Weekend”
3. “Happy Together”
4. “Brokeback Mountain”
5. “Paris Is Burning”
6. “Tropical Malady”
7. My Beautiful Laundrette”
8. “All About My Mother”
9. “Un chant d’amour”
10. “My Own Private Idaho”
11. “Tangerine”
      “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant”
      “Blue Is the Warmest Color”
14. “Mädchen in Uniform”
      “Show Me Love”
17. “Victim”
18. “Je, tu, il, elle”
19. “Looking for Langston”
20. “Beau Travail”
      “Beautiful Thing”
22. “Stranger by the Lake”
      “The Watermelon Woman”
      “Mulholland Drive”
27. “Portrait of Jason”
      “Dog Day Afternoon”
      “Death in Venice”
      “Pink Narcissus”
      “Sunday Bloody Sunday”
      “Funeral Parade of Roses”

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox