Posted: 01/17/2010


Best Queer Films 2000-2010

by Sawyer J. Lahr

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2000-10 was a decade of critical successes in getting the gay experience into the mainstream of America. Certainly not every gay person is out of the woodwork, but thanks to the message Harvey Milk memorialized by Gus Van Sant and Kirby Dick’s radical journalistic filmmaking, every gay person is being called out into the theaters and into the streets. In 2009 the public saw an awesome, young, diverse, grass-roots mobilization of gay rights supporters march on Washington D.C. on October 11th. Their demand: full marriage equality, employment non-discrimination, and an end to “Don’t ask don’t tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Before going into the list, a few words on the meaning of “queer.” A film qualifies as queer for many reasons that will never be entirely concrete. It is not a genre. Queer films are generally defined by scholars and critics as written, directed, or produced by gay or lesbian filmmakers. The story does not have to be about a LGBTI or questioning character, but often is. A director does not have to be gay for the film to be queer as long as the film has a gay sensibility. For the purposes of this list, queer just means gay-made or about the LGBTIQ experience.

Brokeback Mountain (2005) by Ang Lee
Despite it’s abject tragedy, it reached straight audiences like no other thanks to brave heterosexual actors and a straight director.

Milk (2008) by Gus Van Sant
A monumental film for mainstream America. An epic biopic of one of the most influential gay political figures in history. Let us not forget the 1984 documentary Times of Harvey Milk. Thank you Van Sant for the revitalization of the man and his legacy.

Outrage (2009) by Kirby Dick
Director of the expose on the MPAA Ratings Board, This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006), Kirby Dick noses around another taboo topic, outing closeted anti-gay politicians.

Single Man (2009) by first time director and fashion designer Tom Ford
The latest film mainstream the gay experience of the 60s to the credit of courageous actors, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore.

Trans-America (2005) by Duncan Tucker
A major mainstream break-through at the Oscars because of Felicity Huffman who makes a gorgeous Male to Female Transgendered woman.

Short Bus (2006) by John Cameron Mitchell
By far the most radical and revolutionary film to deal with sex, sexuality, masturbation, depression, suicide, and a woman’s orgasm. It’s got real sex, but it’s not pornography.

Jihad for Love (2007) by Parvez Sharma
The best and the only documentary of its kind to take the risk to so intimately expose the religious-based threat to the lives of Muslim gays and lesbians in Islamic states.

Of Time and the City (2009) by Terrance Davies
One of the most whimsical narrative essay-films. It evokes the likes of Jay Rosenblatt with nostalgic and ironic re-purposing of keenly chosen archival images. A deviation from Davies’ operatic narratives. It’s also on Michael Phillips’ 2009 top ten list in the Chicago Tribune.

Beautiful Boxer (2003) by Ekachai Uekrongtham
The best queer Thai action-drama to date demystifies the lady-boy stereotype by adapting a true story of a famous transgendered Thai boxer to screen.

Saving Face (2006) by Alice Wu
One of very few films to deal with a romantic relationship between lesbian Asian women without shame or exploitation.

Sawyer J. Lahr is Chief Editor of the forthcoming online publication, Go Over the Rainbow. He also writes a monthly film column for Mindful Metropolis, a conscious living magazine in Chicago, IL.

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