kaos top 30 gay films

elcome to the kaos Top 30 Gay Films of all time. These lists are always subjective, and everyone has their own favourites (usually the okay-ish Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, the soulless A Single Man, or the overrated Brokeback Mountain). I haven't included documentaries - hence the reason Paris Is Burning isn't on the list - or shorts.

What has been left out? Is your favourite rated too high, or too low? Be sure to let me know what you think!

Ethan Mao
(USA, 2004)
How many films have there been about gay Asian Americans? Name five. Okay, name two... Quentin Lee's thriller is rough and raw, but it has a big heart and it's edge-of-the-seat gripping.

(USA, 1948)
It's Alfred Hitchcock. It's James Stewart. It's 1948. Enough said, I think.

Boy Culture
(USA, 2006)
Q. Allan Brocka's Boy Culture is good, solid sexy fun. Darryl Stephens plays it butch.

浮気なぼくら (Naughty Boys)
(Japan, 2003)
"Two Japanese boys go on a real life Manga adventure," Amazon's description reads. That gives you a sense of what Imaizumi Koichi's Naughty Boys is like. It is, simply, bonkers.

I Love You Phillip Morris
(USA, 2009)
Largely unloved by the gays, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's bitter-sweet true story is much better than other big budget Hollywood stabs at portraying the gays (such as the lumbering, overrated Brokeback Mountain).

(USA, 1999)
This picture is insanely cute. If you could bottle the warmth and love this film exudes, you'd get Steve Hayes - who, by the way, isn't in Trick enough. Always leave them wanting more.

Sibak (Midnight Dancers)
(Philippines, 1994)
Gritty and truthful, Mel Chionglo's downbeat tale of "macho dancing" at Club Exotica manages to be sexy and even occasionally funny. There have been many films on the subject, but Sibak remains the definite article.

עיניים פקוחות (Eyes Wide Open)
(Israel, 2009)
Achingly romantic and beautifully shot, director Haim Tabakman's picture takes us into a closed society most of us would never even think about. Simply fascinating.

Drôle de Félix (The Adventures Of Felix)
(France, 2000)
The best thing you can do this weekend is to go with Félix on his road trip. Trust me on that. Joyful, funny, and just wonderful, this is one journey you won't want to miss.

Sud Pralad (Tropical Malady)
(Thailand, 2004)
Hypnotic, mesmerising, and visually stunning, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's weird and wonderful film is a masterpiece. 

In Extremis (To The Extreme)
(France, 2000)
Etienne Faure directed this haunting, surreal beauty of a film. Jérémy Sanguinetti as 13-year-old Gregoire is superb, and the last, heartbreaking scene - segueing to Mercury Rev's Holes - will stay with you forever.

Do Começo ao Fim (From Beginning To End)
(Brazil, 2009)
Aluizio Abranches' controversial film about brotherly love is beautifully underplayed, and beautifully shot. Despite the fuss, it's just a love story. 

He liu (The River)
(Taiwan, 1997)
Tsai Ming-Liang's films are in a league of their own. Silence, isolation and despair fill ever second of this disturbing - yet weirdly beautiful - picture. Watch out for the most disturbing gay sauna scene you're likely to see on screen.

Another Gay Movie
(USA, 2006)
Young, dumb, and full of... You get the picture. Loud and proud, Another Gay Movie delivers the kind of carefree teen comedy straight kids take for granted. A true guilty pleasure.

Brother To Brother
(USA, 2004)
Rodney Evans directed this thoughtful and intelligent study of the Harlem Renaissance. Anthony Mackie stars.

My Own Private Idaho
(USA, 1991)
River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves star in Gus Van Sant’s haunting tale of two street hustlers. It's endlessly fascinating, and effortlessly beautiful.

Mysterious Skin
(USA, 2004)
Gruelling isn't the word for Gregg Araki's deeply disturbing picture about child abuse. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is brilliant.

Chuecatown (Boystown)
(Spain, 2007)
One of the funniest films on our list, Boystown is a riotous laughfest. Juan Flahn directed.

(USA, 2008)
Gus Van Sant directed this accomplished picture about a gay icon, and Sean Penn is brilliant in the title role.

(UK, 2009)
Raw, uncompromising and yet occasionally romantic, Simon Pearce's Shank is a cold, hard look at urban Britain. A sequel is in the works.

El cielo dividido (Broken Sky)
(Mexico, 2006)
Director Julián Hernández's depiction of a near wordless love triangle between three young men is breathtaking in its beauty, and truly jaw-dropping in its intensity. A key scene in a club, shown twice but from two different points of view, will leave your head spinning. Amazing.

Leave It On The Floor
(USA, 2011)
Black gay cinema can be as devoid of ideas as the rest of the gay film canon (how many more films about a group friends and their tag-along hag in the big city can we stand?), but Sheldon Larry's big, colourful, sexy film about the ballroom scene redresses the balance.

Longtime Companion
(USA, 1990)
Frightening and heartbreaking, this isn't an easy film to watch, but nevertheless it's one of the most important on our list, and one you won't ever forget. Essential.

My Beautiful Laundrette
(UK, 1985)
Stephen Frears' iconic gay cinema classic also features on of the sexiest scenes in any movie. Champgane for everybody!

The Killing Of Sister George
(UK, 1968)
Beryl Reid steals the show in this funny, moving dyke masterpiece. You'll hate Coral Browne's Mercy Croft as much as we do.

Keiner liebt mich (Nobody Loves Me)
(Germany, 1994)
Nobody Loves Me is a very black comedy by director Doris Dörrie, in which 29-year-old Fanny (Maria Schrader) - who's obsessed with death - and her black, gay psychic neighbour, Orfeo (Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss) - who's dying of AIDS - take centre stage. Édith Piaf's Non, je ne regrette rien is the film's theme, and the whole cast and crew gather to sing it in the closing credits. A joyful, funny and deeply moving picture, we love it to bits.

(USA, 1993)
It's 1993. It's ground zero. This is testimony from the frontline, and it's like a knife in guts. Worth it for the opening sequence alone.

The Boys In The Band
(US, 1970)
What can we say about Mart Crowley's timeless, infinitely quotable classic that hasn't been said before? It's legendary, and rightfully so. Crayton Robey's excellent documentary Making The Boys is an essential companion piece.

The Birdcage
(USA, 1996)
Robin Williams is perfect. Nathan Lane is perfect. Mike Nichols' comedy is perfect. You won't stop laughing, and you'll come back again, again and again.

Beautiful Thing
(UK, 1996)
The poster says it all: this urban fairytale really is a beautiful thing - and it's the winner! Based on a play by Jonathan Harvey, blessed with a brilliant cast (Tameka Empson and Linda Henry steal the show from the boys) and featuring a killer soundtrack (Make Your Own Kind of Music by Mama Cass score's Jamie's first flush of teen love). It's the best coming out/coming of age story you'll ever see, and it's our number gay film of all time.


For editorial reasons, this article was updated to remove two entries on 25 March 2015.


Mike said...

Only one I was surprised not to see in the top 30 is "Wild Reed".

I'd assume "Hours" and "Maurice" might be in your top 50? perhaps, perhaps not?

How about "TransAmerica" and "Ma Vie En Rose?" Too transgender, not gay?

What about "Crying Game" and "Yu Tu Mama Tambien"? Not really gay? or not gay affirming?

What about "Desert Heart", "Boys Don’t Cry" and
"Bound"? Lesbian not gay films?

Excellent list, btw!! I liked (like everything else on your blog) it's multicultural purview.

I watch a lot of films, yet there are a few on your list that I haven't seen. Thanks for bring them to my attention. I'm gonna check them out!

KAOS said...

Thank you Mike!

Even I haven't seen every gay movie around - in fact, I haven't even heard of Wild Reeds (I've now looked it up on Amazon - looks good!)

With regards to your other suggestions, it's intended to be a mostly gay male list. I'm less interested in lesbian films, and not terribly interested in trans films.

I'm not a fan of Maurice, I'm afraid, and I've yet to see The Hours...

Thanks for the feedback!

MOCBlogger said...

"Another Gay Movie" but no "The Wedding Banquet?" (Otherwise, kudos!)

KAOS said...

I haven't seen The Wedding Banquet! x

Tyr Tapir said...

Great list, really pleased to see Tropical Malady in there which is one of my faves. My list would also have the psychoactive Japanese film "Yaji and Kita the Midnight Pilgrims", Thai film "Bangkok Love Story" and if I'm feeling masochistic, the Korean film "No Regret"

KAOS said...

Thanks Tyr!

"Bangkok Love Story" is great, but the ending is a real let down for me, unfortunately. "No Regret" is a great picture too... I'd sooner have had "Eternal Summer" from Taiwan's Leste Chen than either of those, or perhaps Schoolboy Crush, although suffers from the same superdownbeat ending.

"Yaji and Kita the Midnight Pilgrims" looks nuts!

John R Gordon said...

What about the utterly fabulous Madame Sata, about the black gay Brazilian kick-boxing drag queen from the slums, featuring a brilliant, brave & totally committed performance from Lazaro Ramos? One of my favourite films of any sort.

Also Dakan, the only (I think) gay sub-Saharan African feature-film, & a touching & affirming story of love against the grain between two young men.

I love Parallel Sons too (I think you preferred the follow-up, The Reception, which I thought was weaker written).

Plus I must give a shout-out for the Noah's Arc movie, Jumping the Broom - if we're allowed spin-offs!

KAOS said...

Alas, I have yet to see "Madame Sata" - it sounds amazing!

"Dakan" is sweet, and should really have been on the list. There was bound to be something that slipped through the net. I'd take out "Boy Culture" and put "Dakan" in, if I was doing the list today.

Of course, everyone has suggestions once the list is set in stone, rather than submitting them beforehand...

"The Reception" has its moments, although all I can recall now is the hysterical drunk French (?) woman... "Parallel Sons" might make a Top 40 list.

"Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom" is, really, a feature length episode of a TV show.

Anonymous said...

Children of God, a film produced by Bahamian film maker Kareem Mortimer is must see. It has been winning awards at film festivals all over the world for the past four years.

In my opinion, it should be in the top five. If you haven't seen it, buy a copy from Amazon and be ready for a very touching yet very real story of dealing with the struggles of being gay in a rampant Bible-thumping homophobic island society.

KAOS said...

@Anon - I actually watched this for the first time last night. It's an excellent picture, but I had a few problems with it. Like many others, I the ending really spoiled things for me. I don't feel it was warranted by by what preceded it - and I'm speaking as someone who doesn't mind downbeat endings. I also found Johnny Ferro's character very, very frustrating, and the actor's performance irritating in the extreme. It's a real shame.

The short film, Floating, on which it is based, is also on the DVD, and of course has a completely different ending...

Anonymous said...

Zee jai........I totally agree with you about the ending. I first saw it at the Bahamas International Film Festival where it premiered in 2008 and was shocked by the ending. I'm so gald you got a chance to see it.

KAOS said...

@Anon. Oh wow - you actually got to see it in the Bahamas too! That's amazing.

There's so much to like about it. I look forward to director Kareem Mortimer's next project.

Anonymous said...

Well not to boast, but I live in The Bahamas and also know Kareem Mortimer quite well. He is a great person and you would be pleased to know that he has already been doing some shooting for his next film, but I am not sure of the theme nor content. Anyway, it should be worth seeing.

KAOS said...

Hey boast away, why not? :)

I listened to some of his director's commentary last night, mainly towards the end of the film, to try and understand his reasons for choosing the ending he did. I totally understood his reasons for it, even if I didn't like it, and I guess its speaks to how much I invested in the film for it to have such an impact. Really, I was devastated.

Anyway, he really did sound like a good guy, and I look forward to hearing the rest of his commentary on the film.

Keep us posted if you hear anything more on his next project - it'll be widely anticipated!

Eric said...

Nice list. I have seen about half. Once I was surprised not to see, but I understand why, is Dorian Blues, which is a nice movie, but I guess not great. Will be ordering Chuecatown tonight.

KAOS said...

I've yet to see Dorian Blues. Maybe it'll be on next year's list!

Enjoy Chuecatown, it's a blast!

Frank Collins said...

Interesting list and some great choices.

No Jarman or Almodovar, which is a surprise.

Jarman's 'Caravaggio', 'The Angelic Conversation' or 'The Garden' would be contenders on my list - whatever that list is. Subjective as you say. 'Law of Desire' would certainly be the Almodovar that better fits the criterion but he has made many superb films featuring LGBT characters and themes.

I'd also have Bruce LaBruce in my 'list' - 'The Raspberry Reich' is one of the strangest films I've ever seen. 'No Skin off My Ass' has a wonderful Warholian feel to it.

As for classics, then 'Victim' needs to be mentioned. And as an alternative to Friedkin's 'The Boys in the Band' I'd have 'Staircase', which more or less explores the same theme but does it with Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. It's cliched, crass, stupid and camp but I have a soft spot for it.

Would certainly have 'Looking for Langston' and 'Young Soul Rebels', 'Love is the Devil' on the 'list' and I'd prefer the original 'La Cage Aux Folles' to the Mike Nichols remake. Yes, I'm a snob.

Oh, and let's not forget Jean Genet's groundbreaking 'Un Chant D'Amour'. And Heiner Carow's 'Coming Out' and Bill Sherwood's 'Parting Glances'.

I could be here all night... so much to list! I will certainly look at the more recent films on your list.


KAOS said...

@Frank: Great contribution - I'll be sure to check out a lot of the titles you listed. That's one of the things I wanted this "list" to achieve - the unearthing of forgotten or obscure gems!

Jarman leaves me a bit cold, I'm afraid, although I love Jubilee. The same with Almodovar, although it was years ago when I saw his "gay" film (I'm not sure if it was Law of Desire or Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!) and I ought to revisit him.

I like Young Soul Rebels, but it doesn't register as a great picture, although I should revisit it, too.

I toyed with listing Looking For Langston, which is just amazing, but decided it was more documentary than movie.

And can you believe I haven't seen Victim yet? I've always suspected it would be a bit dry, but I'm probably wrong.

Thrilling suggestions though, thank you! With these and everyone else's suggestions, who knows what next year's list will look like?

KAOS said...

Well, I've just watched the brilliant Australian film Head On (1997) for the first time, and expect to see that high on next year's list!

Keep the suggestions coming, boys!

Prince Todd said...

Excellent List!
Another Gay Movie, Brother To Brother, I Love you Phillip Morris, and Longtime Companion are some of my favorites!
However, I would add Get Real and To Wong Foo: thank you for everything...Julie Newmar! (lol)
Honorable Mention: Trick.

KAOS said...

I always said you were a man of taste, Toddy! I should revisit To Wong Foo - it's not well liked, in general, and I don't remember being very impressed, but maybe it's time for a reappraisal.

You know, I've never even heard of Get Real? I'll have to check it out...

jeffreychrist said...

This list almost loses any credibility just by adding such execrable junk as "Another Gay Movie," "Boy Culture," and "The Bird Cage" (not the hilariois "La Cage Aux Folles". But the criminally unfunny "The Bird Cage"?!?!?!). But, for the most part, there are some pretty great films on this list and some I've never seen - Netflix streaming, here I come! (Hopefully, some of these are available!)

Plus major kudos for not adding any one of the abominable "Eating Out" series, or "Trick" or any debased Gregg Araki piece of cinematic wshit (his only good film is the one you added, so kudos!)

KAOS said...

Hello Jeffrey!

Another Gay Movie is of course "junk", but good junk. It gets on the list because gay boys - especially gay youth - deserve the kind of dumb teen movie straight kids take for granted. It can't all be highbrow, deadly serious, arthouse cinema.

I also wanted the list to be diverse.

On the subject of The Bird Cage - that really is subjective. It always makes me laugh!

Do feel free to make suggestions, this is an annual list, and everyone's suggestions count!

KAOS said...

It's a list of gay movies - Boys Don't Cry is a trans film.

◄Design by Pocket