There are countless LGBT movies available on Netflix, and they encompass all sorts of topics and thematic ground, from married lesbians to gay cowboys to bi-sexual femme fatales. We happen to Love them all; the writing is great and the feeling real. We’ve scoured the streaming selections on Netflix to bring you our picks for the 10 best LGBT films on Netflix. The movies here are full of iconic directors (Ang Lee, Peter Jackson, Todd Haynes, The Wachowskis, Mike Nichols) and, of course, stars that love to take risks (Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore). These aren't just films from the U.S. – some of the very best LGBT films hail from other countries, where the openness – or closetness – of the culture ends up making for a fascinating depiction of the LGBT community in their neck of the woods. Here are the 10 best LGBT Movies Streaming on Netflix.
Ang Lee's immaculate depiction of masculinity in the Western genre is a classic that broke barriers in Hollywood. Even though the film lost the Best Picture prize to Crash, it has become the better movie between the two and an all-time LGBT classic. The Story of Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist's forbidden romance in the outskirts of the Wyoming fields turned more than a few heads when it came out. It tackles the most manly, American genre in cinema and decides to ignite it with homosexuality – something that would almost be thought of as blasphemous just a decade ago — showing how far we've come. The sex scene involving the two cowboys is raw, intimate and riveting enough to have sparked major condemning fireworks in red flag states. Based on Annie Proulx's 1997 short story, the film features what might quite possibly be Heath Ledger's greatest performance as Ennis, a man of few words who can convey the deepest of emotions with just the raising of an eyebrow, but cannot bear to show his love for Jack in the outside world. He longs for him, but lives in a time and place where showing his true feelings might get him killed. Jack Twist is played by Jake Gyllenhaal in a career best performance that is as free-wheeling as it is tragic.
Blue is the Warmest Color
This one needs no introduction as it has taken countless prizes including the Palme d’Or. Its French title is La Vie D'Adèle (Adele's life), which couldn't be more apt because this is very much a movie about a girl growing up and finding her true identity. Adèle — played by the seductive Adèle Exarchopoulos — becomes attracted to blue-haired vixen Léa (Léa Seydoux). Adèle is on an experimentation phase and falls in love hard. It's her first real romance and the high is contagious. The two lovers embark on a sexual journey, which includes a close to 10 minute graphic sex scene, but also an experience that will change them both as they grow up and find their identities in life. It is a simple and very well-told story of love and its decay. Adèle sees the color blue everywhere, and director Abdellatif Kechiche makes sure we do as well by inserting it into the most beautiful of frames. I think it could have been a little shorter than the three hours it runs, but pinpointing what could have been cut is very difficult, as each scene, especially the mundane ones, allow one to feel as if present alongside the characters. Exarchopoulos’ sublimely engrossing acting is astounding. She certainly has an illustrious career ahead of her. Moreover, she was a great choice for Kechiche’s exploration of female sensuality (the shower scene among many is a visual masterpiece). While the sex scenes seemed a little over the top, one must remember they are unique in cinema’s depiction of sex (be it same-sex or not).
The Kids Are All Right
Julianne Moore and Annette Benning play a married couple that go through the same issues any other heterosexual married couple would go through. Benning with her devious yet honest smile is a tour de force as Nic, a woman who only wants the best for her children, even when she can sometimes come out looking harsh and too honest. Julianne Moore, playing Jules, is her wife. Jules feels isolated and resorts to an affair with their kids’ sperm donor Paul, magnificently played by Mark Ruffalo. The scenes between Moore and Ruffalo are tremendous, sexy, touching, and extremely honest. Much credit must be given to Writer/Director Lisa Cholodenko, who infuses realism and indie spirit to the film. Cholodenko — 36 at the time — hit a career peak with the film. While her first two features (High Art and Laurel Canyon) had potential, The Kids Are Alright shows the after effects. Born and raised in California’s San Fernando Valley, Cholodenko makes high art out of family manners. Her personal life — she also had a kid through sperm donation with her long-time partner Wendy Melvoin — made this a personal and rewarding independent effort.
This understated gem by Peter Jackson brought the director's career to its highest peak. Best friends Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet (Kate Winslet) create an intense fantasy life together — so intense that their parents start to worry about them and suspect that it's more than just fantasy. The girls vow to never let anyone crash the world they've created and go to extremes to protect it. Jackson's disturbing story is first and foremost a love story of the highest order, encompassing a whirlwind of emotions in a fantasy story that feels all too raw and real. It doesn't depict the love between these two girls in an outright obvious way, but the small touches and gestures make the viewer realize that this is more than just an intense friendship. It’s as much a horror movie as it is a fantasy or love story: a murder occurs, but the blindness of being in love in a world that cannot acknowledge that makes the girls shun the outside world. The film wouldn't be the masterpiece it is without Winslet and Lynskey's chemistry, which at times can veer towards the intensely scary. It is a perfectly cast film that has aged like fine wine over time.
Christopher Plummer won a much deserved first Oscar at the tender age of 82 for his role as Hal Fields, an elderly man who finds out he has terminal cancer and decides to tell his son Oliver (Ewan McGregor) that he's actually always been gay and has a lover. Oliver, a graphic artist, tells us the story through his viewpoint, from his childhood and the problematic relationship of his parents all the way to the outing of his dad and his subsequent death. Plummer is charming but devastating as a man who finally opens up to the world and feels a freedom that he quite clearly never had throughout his adult life. Director Mike Mills' film is a personal project as he went through the same story that the film depicts. This is very much a love letter to his dad who learned to live and enjoy life just when it was too late. It's a touching and poignant story that deals with real-life topics and can't help but hit us on the most personal of levels. The fact that stories like this do happen in everyday life only enhances the melancholic sadness of the surroundings.
Todd Haynes' film, Velvet Goldmine, is a masterful tribute/love letter to the glam/glitter rock movement of the 1970s. All the audience really knows of Velvet Goldmine's idols is what any fan would know. We experience the story through interviews and musical performances, and that astoundingly provides us with enough information. It's the aesthetic of "man's life is his image"– that superficial beauty expressed through art reveals so much more than at first glance. Glam rock superstar, Brian Slade (based on David Bowie), is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers to perfection with his thin, effeminate looks and swaggering. Haynes has great fun with the notion that there was a time in popular culture history that androgyny and bisexuality were seen as a cool fad. Velvet Goldmine's main story is Brian Slade's rise to and fall from fame. Slade's cold and calculating ways accumulate in the hoax of his own assassination — the ultimate symbol for the death of glam rock. His most sympathetic side is revealed during his affair and subsequent break-up with punk rocker Curt Wild. Ewan McGregor plays Curt Wild by feverishly emulating Iggy Pop — although the history of Wild having electroshock therapy to cure his homosexual leanings is straight from the life of rock icon Lou Reed. Both Rhys Meyers and McGregor do their own singing for their characters. Upon seeing Wild's performance, Slade is obviously envious of him and attracted to him. Inspired, Slade takes his music to the next level. Velvet Goldmine depicts the theme of the permanence of art. Todd Haynes shows that this music — and this movie — is much more than disposable pop culture, but rather akin to the works of Oscar Wilde and the movie Citizen Kane, both which he references throughout, and that art is kept alive through the appreciation of it by the audience.
While this film is best known for being "that lesbian gangster movie", it is far better than that tag might suggest; it is exciting, stylish, and occasionally horrifying. Caesar is a money launderer for the Chicago mob and Violet is his girlfriend who has been with him for the last five years. Caesar has no idea that the arrival of female painter/plumber (and ex con) Corky to work in the neighbouring apartment will have such a dramatic effect on his life. Violet, however, notices Corky immediately and soon sets about seducing her by asking for help retrieving an earring that she has "accidentally" dropped down the sink. Even when Caesar returns home and sees her looking somewhat dishevelled he regains his calm when he sees that the other person present is a woman and thus not a threat to him. Violet and Corky hatch a plan to steal Caesar’s money, trying to figure out how they can take the money and make Caesar think it was stolen by Jonnie. Of course the scheme doesn't go according to plan, when instead of running, Caesar decides to confront Jonnie about the theft. Unlike a lot of thrillers this contains no exciting stunts or exotic locations. In fact, it is set almost entirely in Caesar's apartment and the one next door. Rather than limit the film, though, it provides a sense of claustrophobia so that we can see why Violet wants out. The acting is excellent throughout and the direction is stylish without being overly so. Sexy, violent, and brutal, Bound is directed by The Wachowski Brothers, just a few years before they'd set the world on fire with The Matrix.
A gay couple (Robin Williams, Nathan Lane) have to play it straight when their son (Dan Futterman) wants to marry a girl (Calista Flockheart) who has ultra-right-wing parents (Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest). The Birdcage is a virtual word by word remake of a very funny 1978 French movie called La Cage Aux Folles. The French film was hilarious and (in its time) daring. Some of its views are dated, but not offensive. The Birdcage follows the original script VERY closely and adds its fair share of funny lines. Of course as a studio film from the 1990s it does throw many gay stereotypes at its audience: there's the lisping, queeny maid (Hank Azaria), the EXTREMELY effeminate man (Nathan Lane), and his mincing, swishy partner (Robin Williams). The film encourages you to laugh at their mannerisms again and again. It can sometimes be a little too much, but given that it's a product of the 1990s, it is understandably a little behind today's times. That doesn't stop it from being an LGBT classic that many from the community have adored for a few decades. Williams is a bit too swishy but, basically, underplays nicely. Lane is the reason to watch this playing a WAY over-the-top and very loud prima donna. However, Hackman and Wiest are a scream as the couple, and Christine Baranski shows up and brightens up the movie. The film is very colorful and there's plenty of buff guys and gals wearing next to nothing to get your attention. It's kitsch, but kitsch done right with quite a few laugh-out-loud moments that do stand the test of time.
Stranger by the Lake
The Certain Regard directing award in Cannes went to this movie, which is usually a sign of something innovative. I failed to do my research before going to the theatre for this one, so let me warn you. There is a lot of very graphic man-on-man sex, but as long as it is not a total surprise for you, the sex scenes actually add to a certain raw suspense. Just do not watch it with any squeamish homophobes. The plot is very simple: Franck, a young man looking for love, finds lust on a summer beach in Michel, a man who — Franck witnesses — has just drowned his lover. It would not be completely true to say that fear was the turn-on, and yet, Franck (played by Pierre Deladonchamps, who won the Cesar for most promising actor) continues to see Michel. At 97 minutes, it is a short movie that nevertheless feels like it takes its time to unfold, and I, for one, went from being slightly bored to being on the edge of my seat scared as hell. The last several minutes I must have been holding my breath too, because I distinctly remember breathing out as the credits started rolling. If you are looking for an uncomplicated thriller, and are not afraid of gay pornography, see it.
Longtime Companion was perhaps one of the very first movies to put a face, heart, and soul to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS at a time when movie makers, as well as society as a whole, ran away as fast as they could from not only the disease itself, but also those that had it. For that alone it should be congratulated and celebrated. Essentially, Longtime Companion is the story of how life takes a sudden change for a group of gay friends from the very onset of the whole HIV/AIDS crisis in 1981. Back then The New York Times carried an article that mentioned an outbreak of a "rare cancer" in the gay community, often termed "gay cancer", which was tragedy in itself, as it shielded the actual method of transmission of the illness that was spreading with alarming speed.
The movie divides itself in chapters, focusing on the appearance of the infection and how it crept its way into social consciousness as a fearsome, four letter word we now acknowledge as AIDS. We're introduced to a variety of characters, all realistic in nature, and confront their issues that are commonplace. Friendships are formed, love is exchanged, and all the while bonds are tested as this "thing", this invisible character, becomes almost omnipresent in every sense of the word. A very grim, yet real scene early in the film is one that can't be denied: at a hospital visit, one character (played by Campbell Scott) immediately washes his hands in restrained disgust after greeting a sick friend (Dermot Mulroney) because of the fear of contagion. Counterpointed is a much later, extremely emotional scene involving Bruce Davidson as he says goodbye to his lover and allows him to "let go". It's two sides of the coin, but Norman René creates a haunting experience that remains indelible to anyone who has been in those situations. It's one of the finest films about gay men ever done, and it's a must for anyone getting into queer cinema.