As we’re about to hit the big doubleheader blockbuster of Barbenheimer, it’s time to look back at the year (so far) in film.
This year, we’ve already got several Oscar contenders among 2023's best queer movies, including an animated tale about a shapeshifter, a story about a trans woman reconnecting with her mother, and some terrific documentaries.
Here are our 10 favorite queer movies of the year (so far) in alphabetical order.
In British writer/director Georgia Oakly’s debut film, a high school gym teacher named Jean (Rosy McEwen) is living in 1980s England when the Conservative party, led by Margaret Thatcher, announced Section 28, which prohibited the “promotion” of homosexuality as a “pretended family relationship.” This new law means that if Jean is discovered, she’ll be fired from her teaching position. McEwan is getting rave reviews for her powerful performance as a woman in an impossible situation.
Julie Cohen’s new documentary shines a light on part of the LGBTQ+ community that’s often one of the most overlooked: intersex people. By following three intersex activists — Sean Saifa Wall, Alicia Roth Weigel, and River Gallo — the film allows us to see what life is like for different people in the same community. It’s a poignant and personal film.
Knock at the Cabin
M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller starred Ben Aldridge and Jonathan Groff as two gay dads who travel to a cabin with their daughter for a little rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, when they get there, they’re confronted by a group of attackers led by Dave Bautista (in a terrifically chilling performance) who say that one member of their family must die in order to save the world. It’s one of Shyamalan’s best in years and features great acting from the whole cast.
A new horror icon was born early this year when M3GAN, a doll with a killer AI danced her way into our hearts. This movie was scary, campy, and all about the chosen family between a woman (Allison Williams), her niece, and the super intelligent and super deadly doll who co-parents her.
Trace Lysette shines in the kind of role we’ve been wanting to see from her for years in this understated family drama. In it, Lysette plays Monica, a trans woman who returns home to help take care of her ailing mother (Patricia Clarkson) who had kicked her out for transitioning years ago. Lysette gives an undeniably powerful and understated performance that is one of the best of the year and deserves real Oscar attention.
After it was originally supposed to be a Disney movie, Netflix scooped up this instant classic about a gay supervillain and his shapeshifting sidekick based on the award-winning graphic novel from ND Stevenson. Somehow the movie is even gayer (and dare we say, better) than the amazing book, and arrives with some of the most beautiful animation and one of the most powerful messages about seeing yourself and others for who they are you’ll see.
The two latest Scream movies have revitalized the franchise with a new “Core Four” that includes the franchise's first out queer character Mindy Meeks-Martin, played by out actor Jasmin Savoy Brown. With others like Melissa Bererra, Jenna Ortega, Josh Segarra, Mason Gooding, and Hayden Panettiere, this twisty and tense slasher elevated the franchise once more.
Theater Camp is the delightful surprise of the summer. An indie movie coming out in the middle of blockbuster season is easy to lose track of, but Theater Camp is a true joy to watch. The mockumentary-style comedy follows Amos (Ben Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) as they write a musical at a summer theater camp that’s in danger of shutting down.
Co-written by Gordon, Platt, Nick Lieberman (who co-directed with Gordon), and Noah Galvin (who plays the camp’s adorable tech guy Glenn), the movie takes place at Adirond Acts, a camp that’s about to close as the owner goes into a coma and her crypto-bro son Troy must take over.
The movie has plenty of laughs, especially for any theater nerds in the audience, but you don’t need to have been in drama to enjoy the movie. These characters are slightly over the top but grounded enough to remind you of the funniest people you know in real life. Galvin especially shines as Glenn and has some truly wonderful moments, especially in the third act.
Theater Camp is one of the most delightful and heartwarming indie movies in a while, and it will make you laugh, cry, and stand up cheering. Check it out in theaters now.
Of an Age
Of an Age is a tender gay drama set in Australia in the summer of 1999. It follows a Serbian teen boy who moved to Australia and has become an amateur ballroom dancer who has an unexpected and intense affair with his friend’s older brother. It’s already destined to become a gay drama classic.
Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker’s documentary about trans sex workers in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District is all about sisterhood. These two filmmakers – both of whom are trans women, with Lovell being a Black former sex worker herself – bring a new look to a segment of trans history we’ve seen glimpses of in Paris Is Burning and Pose, but this time, it’s coming from an inside perspective. It’s one of our favorite trans documentaries.