5. Matt Tyrnauer, “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood”
Formerly a journalist for Vanity Fair, Tyrnauer has an eye for a strong-willed subject, having previously directed “Valentino: The Last Emperor,” and last year’s “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City.” His third feature documentary is a scandalous portrait of unsung Hollywood legend Scotty Bowers, whose bestselling memoir chronicled decades spent catering to the sexual appetites of celebrities — straight, gay, and everything in between. As documented in a salacious tell-all memoir, “Full Service,” Bowers ran a gas station in the shadow of the studio lots where he’d fix up his clientele with quickies, threesomes, and orgies. The book spills details on the sexual proclivities of Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, and more. Now 90, Bowers is a happy-go-lucky interview subject, and Tyrnauer follows him around town as he pals around with old acquaintances who corroborate his wild yarns.
6. Vincent Gagliostro, “After Louie”
What happened to survivors of the initial wave of the AIDS epidemic, those members of the lost generation we never lost? Does the younger generation afford these survivors the respect they deserve, and could it ever be enough? These are the questions at the heart of “After Louie,” a moving new film from original ACT UP member Vincent Gagliostro. Alan Cumming plays Sam, an activist and artist living in New York City. He spends his days editing footage of his friend William, who died of AIDS. His friends (Sarita Choudhury and Patrick Breen) have moved on to lead relatively happy lives, but Sam remains stuck in the past. His only relationships are with younger men whom he pays, which is how he meets the alluring Braeden (Zachary Booth). Though the two men share a passionate connection, the gay generation gap grows ever wider as Sam becomes more embroiled in his project. Cumming and Booth anchor a cast full of celebrated queer artists, including Wilson Cruz, Justin Vivian Bond and Joey Arias. Their presence ensures “After Louie” pays homage to the queer icons of the past while also celebrating their future.
7. Travis Mathews, “Discreet”
Tension builds rhythmically to a chilling conclusion in the third narrative feature from Travis Mathews, whose previous work includes co-directing “Interior. Leather Bar.” with James Franco. A dissonant thriller about the effects of child abuse on a grown-up victim, Mathews weaves enigmatic threads of plot into a beguiling narrative. Narrowly avoiding the trap of abstraction for abstraction’s sake, the reasons for these disparate moving pieces reveal themselves by the film’s end. As a follow-up to “Interior. Leather Bar.,” the director takes a decisive leap forward with “Discreet,” building satisfying tension with a rare blend of meandering developments and a focused thematic trajectory.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this list contained a filmmaker who for reasons of privacy wished not to be included.