150 Best LGBT Movies of All Time

It’s been a big few years for lesbian and gay movies and queer-themed films. In 2013, Blue is the Warmest Color won the Palm D’or at Cannes; in 2016, Carol earned six Oscar nominations; just a year later, for the first time in history, an LGBT film took home Best Picture. That movie was Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, and in 2018 Call Me By Your Name almost made it two in a row for gay-themed movies at the Academy Awards, earning a Best Picture nomination. This March, Twentieth Century Fox put out Love, Simon, the first mainstream, wide-release teenage rom-com to focus on a gay character. And the critics did indeed love it.

All of these films stand on the shoulders of other LGBT films that have come before. Our list of the 150 Best LGBT Movies of All Time stretches back almost 90 years to the pioneering German film, Mädchen in Uniform, which was subsequently banned by the Nazis, and crosses multiple continents, cultures, and genres. There are broad American comedies (The Birdcage), artful Korean crime dramas (The Handmaiden), groundbreaking indies (Tangerine), and landmark documentaries (Paris Is Burning). To be considered for the list, a movie had to prominently feature gay, lesbian, trans, or queer characters; concern itself centrally with LGBT themes; present its LGBT characters in a fair and realistic light; and/or be seen as a touchpoint in the evolution of queer cinema. The final list was culled from a longlist of hundreds, after the films were ranked according to the Adjusted Tomatometer, which acts as a kind of inflation adjustment, taking into consideration the Tomatometer score, as well as the number of reviews a film received relative to the average number of reviews for films in the same year it was released.

We did not include miniseries, which left out seminal works like Angels in America. And we recognize that some of the films in the list will re-ignite healthy debates that have been fixtures of discussion around LGBT films — straight actors playing gay characters, cis actors playing trans characters (an issue that flared up again around the upcoming film, Girl, at this year’s Cannes Film Festival), and the historical dominance of white male perspectives. We’d encourage those debates to continue, respectfully, in the comments section below. (And speaking of comments: yes, we know that But I’m a Cheerleader is missing — we love it too! — but it’s Rotten, at 35%, so… blame the critics.) For now, join us as we celebrate the work of hundreds of filmmakers whose talents and risks have opened up the possibilities of cinema.

We had the cast of Netflix’s Queer Eye into Rotten Tomatoes HQ to talk about their favorite LGBT movies: check out the Fab Five’s five favorite LGBT movies. 

Best LGBT Movies
150-136 | 135-101 | 100-6665-31 | 30-1

#150
#150
Adjusted Score: 59.938%
Critics Consensus: Touching and profound, Looking: The Movie puts a bittersweet conclusion to the too-soon-gone HBO series with humor and hopeful tenderness, even if its structure is slightly wobbly.
Synopsis: Looking: The Movie wraps up the story of three close friends living in San Francisco who explore the options available... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Haigh

#149

The Queen (1968)
100%

#149
Adjusted Score: 62.242%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This documentary follows transvestites as they engage in competition for a beauty contest. The affair seems to be the culmination... [More]
Directed By:

#148

Love Songs (2008)
60%

#148
Adjusted Score: 61.237%
Critics Consensus: Love Songs is hampered by a lack of focus, but held together by Honore's deft direction and an engaging cast.
Synopsis: Though Love Songs (aka Les Chansons d'Amour) is not a film operetta per se, director Christophe Honoré and composer/lyricist/vocalist Alex... [More]
Directed By: Christophe Honoré

#147
Adjusted Score: 62.116%
Critics Consensus: Vital documentation of an unsung 70's art patron and his famous photographer lover. A vivid and tragic story.
Synopsis: After serving in the Navy during World War II, Sam Wagstaff came home to New York City and pursued a... [More]
Directed By: James Crump

#146
#146
Adjusted Score: 67.092%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The year is 1984. The music is Boy George and the Bronski Beat. Eric and his best friend, Maggie, are... [More]
Directed By: David Moreton

#145

Gun Hill Road (2011)
63%

#145
Adjusted Score: 63%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts absorbing and educational, Gun Hill Road wears its heart on its sleeve through tender performances that make up for its narrative familiarity.
Synopsis: After three years in prison, Enrique (Esai Morales) returns home to the Bronx to find the world he knew has... [More]
Directed By: Rashaad Ernesto Green

#144

Signature Move (2017)
100%

#144
Adjusted Score: 70.656%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A new romance with Alma forces Zaynab to confront her relationship with her recently widowed mother who escapes to TV... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Reeder

#143

Head On (1999)
63%

#143
Adjusted Score: 63.246%
Critics Consensus: Head On's narrative rambles at times, but its raw, sensual approach creates a powerful, resonant rumination on identity.
Synopsis: This bold feature homes in on the confused world of its 19-year-old hero, Ari. Over a 24-hour period he confronts... [More]
Directed By: Ana Kokkinos

#142

Set It Off (1996)
63%

#142
Adjusted Score: 63.659%
Critics Consensus: It may not boast an original plot, but Set It Off is a satisfying, socially conscious heist film thanks largely to fine performances from its leads.
Synopsis: The sophomore film effort from music video director F. Gary Gray, Set It Off is a crime thriller about four... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#141
#141
Adjusted Score: 64.164%
Critics Consensus: The Broken Hearts Club often feels like an amalgam of 70s sitcoms -- though a hunky lead and a sweet central romance provide soapy delights.
Synopsis: In the palm-shaded oasis of West Hollywood, we meet Dennis, a promising photographer. As he prepares to celebrate his twenty-eighth... [More]
Directed By: Greg Berlanti

#140

Life Partners (2014)
64%

#140
Adjusted Score: 64.433%
Critics Consensus: With two appealing leads adrift in a sitcom-worthy plot, Life Partners doesn't do quite enough to earn viewers' commitment.
Synopsis: At 29, the most long-term relationship Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) have ever been in is with each... [More]
Directed By: Susanna Fogel

#139

Howl (2010)
62%

#139
Adjusted Score: 64.459%
Critics Consensus: James Franco gives it his all as beat poet Allen Ginsberg, but Howl never develops enough of a focus to do his performance justice.
Synopsis: Starring James Franco in a career-defining performance as Allen Ginsberg, HOWL is the story of how the young poet's seminal... [More]

#138
#138
Adjusted Score: 65.826%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: French filmmaker Diane Kurys directs the period drama Coup de Foudre (distributed in the U.S. as Entre Nous), adapted from... [More]
Directed By: Diane Kurys

#137

Big Eden (2001)
65%

#137
Adjusted Score: 65.993%
Critics Consensus: Though unrealistic, Big Eden has all the charm and sweetness of a fairy tale.
Synopsis: Big Eden is a tiny town tucked away in the timberland of northwestern Montana, where cowboys lounge on the porch... [More]

#136
#136
Adjusted Score: 66.078%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Cheryl is a twenty-something black lesbian working as a clerk in a video store while struggling to make a documentary... [More]
Directed By: Cheryl Dunye

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