Battle Of The Sexes
Battle Of The Sexes tells the true story of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) to once and for all prove that women can be just as good – or better – at tennis than men. Billie Jean King, however, does not only have the weight of this epic battle of sexes on her shoulders, she also has a secret: she is having an affair with a woman.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Blue Is The Warmest Colour is a 2013 film based on a 2010 comic book, and to any of you who may know about the comic book, let me tell you right off the bat that the film has a lighter ending.
While the film is an interesting study of different social backgrounds and tells an interesting coming-of-age story, it’s also known for it’s very long and rather graphic sex scenes. I like a steamy romance as much as the next gal, but here it felt a bit over the top, so you’ve been warned. There was also a controversy about the director’s bad behavior on set.
The Half Of It
You might have already seen this on our list of best lesbian movies on Netflix, and here it is again: The Half Of It is a lovely coming-of-age dramedy by Alice Wu, who also directed Saving Face (another great lesbian film). It tells the story of Ellie Chu (wunderfully played by Leah Lewis), who helps a classmate out by writing love letters to the girl he likes in his name. Little does he know that she’s pining for the same girl.
A sweet and slow-paced movie you should definitely watch.
Carol is a period drama based on the book The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith and tells the story of aspiring photographer Therese, who meets the glamorous housewife Carol, and lesbianism occurs. The characters are played wonderfully by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and the screenplay got an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. And most importantly, the film was hilariously spoofed by Kate McKinnon on SNL. Worth a watch!
This little gem tells another story inspired by a true story: A woman finds out about her grandmother’s secret past as she is going through changes in her own life. This one is somewhat steamy but also very sweet and was one of the highlights for me at the BFI Flare LGBTQ+ film festival in London a few years ago.
Bound is the first film by the Wachowski Sisters and a thriller that twists and turns beautifully on a minimal set where most of the action takes place in two rooms. Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly hook up in this beautifully shot film with a steamy sex scene – and then decide to steal money from the mob together. A must watch if you’re not put off by a bit of violence.
The Handmaiden from 2018 is a film based on the Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith, and as such the second film based on the book after Fingersmith from 2005. Where the latter plays in Victorian England, The Handmaiden is set in 1930s Korea. Where Fingersmith is a two-part mini-series, The Handmaiden is a two and a half hour movie and did exceptionally well at the box-office. It’s worth a watch, although I recall some scenes being rather gruesome and the sex scenes veering into pornographic clichées.
But I’m A Cheerleader
When a teenager’s parents are suspecting her of being a lesbian, they send her to a conversion camp where she meets like-minded girls. This fun satire from 1999 is definitely worth a watch for Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall, and certainly felt very progressive when it first came out. There’s also a Queery podcast with Clea DuVall where she talks about how the movie came to be and what it meant to her at the time, which you can find on Earwolf.
Gia from 1998 is a movie about the model Gia Carangi, one of the first supermodels and sadly, one of the first women to die of AIDS. So the movie is sad, but superbly acted by Angelina Jolie, who received a Golden Globe for her performance, which alone makes it worth watching.
DEBS is a campy movie about a group of girls who work for a secret government agency to apprehend villains. It stars a young Jordana Brewester as super-villain Lucy Diamond and Sara Foster as the secret agent trying to apprehend her. Well, sparks fly and things get complicated. While the movie has a shockingly low Rotten Tomatoes rating, I have nothing but love for it. Sure, it’s a romantic lesbian comedy rather than an action movie, but that’s by design. If you go in expecting a campy light-hearted movie, I believe you will not be disappointed!
We’ve already reviewed the lesbian Christmas movie Happiest Season before so I will make it brief: It’s a fun movie with good acting, but it’s not perfect. The characters could have been more fleshed out and the girlfriend could have been a bit more likeable. But it’s a lesbian Christmas movie, and those are few and far between. So watch it around Christmas time!
Mulholland Drive is a David Lynch movie and as such a very surreal experience. It features Naomi Watts and Laura Harring and will likely cause you to scratch your head when you’re trying to decipher what the heck is going on. So much so in fact that the DVD I own came with 10 questions to help you figure out the plot. Did I mention, though, that it stars Naomi Watts in a somewhat sapphic role? If you like weird movies or David Lynch movies (which is one and the same as far as I’m concerned), give this one a try.
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
In Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019), a painter meets her unwilling subject on the behest of her mother and tries to surrepetitiously paint her wedding portrait against her wishes. The two women get close and there is lots of chemistry, lots of looking deep into each other’s eyes – oh, and lots of subtitles, as the movie is French. It’s beautiful and moving, and I suggest you give it a shot.
If you want to know what Peter Jackson did before he directed The Lord Of The Rings, look no further. He made this film with a young Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey as two teenagers who develop an extremely close bond, much to the chagrin of their parents. When they get separated, they take revenge.
L’Auberge Espagnole is not mainly about a lesbian relationship, but it features a lesbian character in the background of a story about the Erasmus experience: A French university student goes on an exchange to Barcelona to learn the language and live in an apartment house with a group of international students. If you’ve ever been an Erasmus student or even if you’d just like to know about the experience, this movie is a great watch.
Loving Annabelle is yet another movie that is not perfect but I’d still recommend it. It’s about a precocious female student pursuing her female teacher at an all-girls catholic school. It’s well-acted, well-paced and delivers a good payoff, but all of this in the framework of a relationship between a teenager and her middle-aged teacher. If you can look past the premise, the film is well worth it.
Carmen Y Lola
Carmen Y Lola is a Spanish movie about two women of the Roma community who defy the life that is laid out for them – a marriage to a man within the community in order to bear as many children as possible. A very well made movie with lots of empathy for its characters. Highly recommended.
High Art is a 1998 movie with Ally Sheedy and Radha Mitchell covers arts and drugs and tells the story of a young woman at a magazine who is presented with an unusual opportunity to shine when she finds the woman living above her is a famous photographer Lucy Berliner who has all but disappeared from public life. While she’s trying to get her to shoot for the magazine, their lives collide and they find themselves drawn to each other. It’s a beautiful and well-acted drama and I recommend it.
Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story
In Serving In Silence, Glenn Close plays Margarethe Cammermeyer, a principled officer in the army who gets dismissed when she comes out as a lesbian. A true story and as such a fascinating history lessen. Recommended.
In Saving Face, a Chinese-American lesbian is trying to navigate her identity with the cultural expectations placed on her. This is the first film by Alice Wu, who went on to later direct The Half Of It. Just like her later film, this one is a sweet romance and definitely worth a watch.
The Kids Are All Right
The Kids Are All Right by Lisa Cholodenko, the same director who brought us High Art, is a film about an older, married, lesbian couple whose life gets complicated when their children decide they want to meet the sperm donor via which they were conceived. It features Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo who are all very convincing in their roles. While the film received a lot of flak due to the plot in which a guy complicates the women’s relationship, I feel we’ve reached a point where not every story needs to contain perfect lesbian couples. Watch it with an open mind.
Boys On The Side
Boys On The Side is admittedly rather tame in its lesbian content, maybe due to its coming out in 1995, but it features a lovely story of the friendship between three very different women who are brought together by fate and by circumstances beyond their control. It features Whoopie Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker, and Drew Barrymoore and will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.
Nina’s Heavenly Delights
Nina’s Heavenly Delights is a romantic movie about a woman of Indian descent who comes back to Glasgow to runs her father’s curry house after his death. Things get complicated when she develops feelings for another woman…
When Night Is Falling
In When Night Is Falling, a conservative woman at a Christian university, meets an unconventional, free-spirited circus performer who is quite forward in her attraction to her. This movie is beautifully shot and acted and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Fremde Haut (Unveiled)
Unveiled is a German movie about a refugee who flees from persecution in Iran due to her sexuality and takes on a man’s identity to avoid deportation from Germany. There she becomes friends with a German woman who finds herself drawn to the her new co-worker.
Fried Green Tomatoes
While Fried Green Tomatoes is not explicitly gay (you should read the book for that!), it tells the tale of two women in the American South who build a strong bond among the racism and misogyny of their time, and if you need a great gay icon, look no further than Mary Stuart Masterson as Idgie Threadgood – she no doubt has charmed generations of baby dykes and/or given them a character to identify with, present company not excluded! The other actress in her timeline is Mary-Louise Parker, while the rest of the story is told to Kathy Bates by Jessica Tandy. It might be disappointing to watch this if you’ve read the book first, but it is a beautiful film that I highly recommend.
Puccini For Beginners
Puccini For Beginners is a quirky film from 2006 by the writer and director of The Incredibly True Adventure Of 2 Girls In Love, Maria Maggenti. It tells the story of a bisexual writer who is dumped by her girlfriend and finds herself dating a guy and a woman at the same time – while unaware that before long, the two of them used to be a couple. The film is a romantic comedy and Elizabeth Reaser carries it wonderfully. Definitely recommended.
The Incredibly True Adventure of 2 Girls In Love
The Incredibly True Adventure Of 2 Girls in Love is a small indie film about the romance between two very different teenage girls, played by Nicole Ari Parker and Laurel Holloman (the latter of which would later go on to play Tina in The L Word).
Show Me Love
Show Me Love, or Fucking Åmål as the original Swedish title goes, is described as a “romantic comedy-drama” on Wikipedia. It’s about two girls in a small Swedish town called Åmål, and while one of them is outgoing and popular, the other is a brooding, friendless lesbian who is secretly in love with her. It’s a bit depressing in parts, but with a good ending.
Monster is not an easy watch, but this feature-length debut of Patty Jenkins (who would go on to direct Wonder Woman many years later), is a real masterpiece. It’s a film about the prostitute and serial killer Aileen Wuornos, hauntingly played by Charlize Theron. The film is very empathetic to its subject, a woman who – on the verge of committing suicide – meets another woman (Christina Ricci) and falls in love, but fails to support herself through honest work. After an act of violence her life spirals out of control as violence begets more violence. It’s hard to say if the portrayal of events in the movie is accurate, but either way, if you can stomach violence in films, this film will likely grip you.
If These Walls Could Talk 2
If These Walls Could Talk 2 features three separate stories that are meant to take place in the same house over the course of several decades. While the first episode will make you cry as the hospitalization of an elderly woman’s long-time companion makes clear how little their relationship matters in the eyes of the law in the 1960s, the other two stories are a lot more light-hearted. In the 1970s, Michelle Williams plays a lesbian feminist who has to reevaluate her ideas of gender and feminism as she meets – and falls for – a very butch lesbian played by Chloe Sevigny, and in the 2000s, Ellen DeGeneres and Sharon Stone play a lesbian couple trying to conceive and navigating involved donors as well as anonymous sperm donations. Definitely recommended.
If you can think of other great lesbian movies worth a watch, don’t hesitate to let us know!