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10 LGBT Movies from 2017 You Really Should See

As I looked back on the movies I'd seen in 2017, thinking about my favourites, I noticed the atypically high number of queer movies on that list, so many that I felt they kind of justified their own list. There were heavy hitters like Call Me by Your Name and God's Own Country, but also quiet, blink and you miss them treats like Center of My World. In short, it's been a terrific year for LGBT movies, to the point that Norway, France, Finland, South Africa, and Chile all chose LGBT films as their submissions for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Both the South African and Chilean films (The Wound and A Fantastic Woman, respectively) are still in the running for that prize, though having seen neither, I can't really include them here. Nor have I seen the much talked about Tom of Finland, which got a weirdly shortlived release in Canada and hasn't yet hit streaming. Still, here are 10 new LGBT movies I did see in the past year that you really should try and see.

120 Beats Per Minute
Robin Campillo (France)
If the terrific 2013 rent-boy lite-thriller Eastern Boys put Robin Campillo on my radar, BPM confirms him alongside Andrew Haigh as one of my favourite directors currently putting gay stories on screen. BPM delves into the height of the AIDS crisis, a topic explored time and again in gay film, yet this time from an all too rare European perspective and an even rarer honesty, not to mention energy. The fact that Campillo, first and foremost a screenwriter, brings personal experience into his screenplay ensures the movie’s freshness as much as its European sensibility. Also, give it points for probably the most moving cinematic hand-job you'll ever see.


Call Me by Your Name
Luca Guadagino (Italy)
Yes, it’s maybe the most obvious choice. But Call Me By Your Name is my favourite movie of the year, and if there’s another movie out there from recent years that is this sensual, and unabashedly celebrates desire with such honesty and with this kind of aesthetic sensibility, I haven’t seen it. Guadagino’s attention to detail and the movie’s unabashed love of the male form elevate it above other LGBT critical hits of recent years into something that follows its protagonist’s emotional journey with unflinching honesty, devoid of any cringe-worthy virtue signalling.


Center of My World
Jakob M. Erwa (Germany)
How this movie’s escaped notice anywhere outside of Germany and the festivals beats me. Even audiences at the Moscow Film Festival loved it. It sits nicely alongside Bright Night as another German contribution to the woefully empty shelf of smart, fresh, bisexual narratives out there. As with that film, you can argue if the queer narrative is even the point in Center of My World. More than just a coming of age movie, this thing pulls a sordid family drama through the middle of its love triangle, and the result is pure sleeper magic.


God’s Own Country
Francis Lee (UK)
God’s Own Country got a lot of press as ‘the British Brokeback Mountain’ with all the implications that tag carried - good and bad. With great respect to Brokeback, 12 years have passed, and queer stories have progressed quite a bit since. To that end, our protagonist, Johnny, is kind of an ass, and watching his evolution from horny, hate-everything scowl factory to a young man trying to work out what it means to be in love, makes God’s Own Country a much more interesting film. The fact that we never really get a proper look inside the head of Gheorghe, the handsome Romanian who arrives to work on the family farm, only makes the story tighter and more compelling.


Handsome Devil
John Butler (UK)
The loner at a British boarding school falls for the resident jock, all under the watch of an understanding teacher with baggage of his own. If Handsome Devil isn’t exactly the freshest story, it’s about as good a rendering of the trope as you’ll see. Andrew Scott is still a joy in anything he does, and for those just wanting a feel-good coming of age story with a sharp script and game cast, this one’s hard to go by.  


I Am Not Your Negro
Raoul Peck (USA)
I’m including this, one of two documentaries on this list, because while the film deals specifically with James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House, about his personal accounts of the lives and deaths of his close friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr, you really can’t separate his civil rights activism from his presence as an openly queer figure in America at that time. And why would you? For a piercing insight into one of America's most compelling queer figures, in the arena where he was most passionate, I Am Not Your Negro is essential viewing.


I Dream in Another Language
Ernesto Conteras (Mexico)
It’s almost a spoiler to include this beautiful movie about the last speakers of an almost dead language in the jungles of Mexico. But then, every LGBT film festival to feature it has ‘spoiled’ it in the exact same way, and I’m really hoping this movie finds a much wider audience. Attempting to study the language at the centre of the story, a young researcher turns to its last three living speakers, until one of them dies, leaving only two men who have refused to speak to one another at all for decades.


The Limehouse Golem
Juan Carlos Medina (UK)
So, right up until Call Me by Your Name opened at the tail end of the year, this was my favourite movie of 2017. I’m not sure if it just resonated with me in a week I was particularly craving Victorian horror, but this serial killer tale set in the eerie mists of Victorian London delivers like few other films of its kind I’ve seen, in ways that have nothing to do with its queer content. That content, by the way, is no more than some good old-fashioned vaudeville drag, and the sexuality of its protagonist (Bill Nighy, in a role originally accepted by the late Alan Rickman), which is remarked on, but nothing more. So, you can argue over whether it belongs on this list at all, but as a genre flick unafraid to go gay with its leading man, I say yes. And it’s my list.


Thelma
Joachim Trier (Norway)
Kind of a smarter, more sophisticated Carrie with a queer bent, Thelma was another surprise find and a complete delight. A young college student in Oslo finds herself beset by violent seizures, while being drawn to a girl in her class who shows her kindness. Of course, the movie’s unforgettable opening scene foreshadows something much darker in our hero’s past, and possibly her future. Tense, intelligent, and moving, with some gorgeous photography, put it on the all too slim list of gay genre flicks that really do it right.


The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
Jennifer M Kroot (USA)
Eh, what’s not to like? The creator of Tales of the City and gay rights pioneer finally gets the documentary he deserves, and it’s just as warm, funny, charming, and engaging as you’d expect.


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