17 of the Best LGBTQ Films of 2018 (Recent & Upcoming)
Set against the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, young Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) is a talented student and very much a tomboy. Her shopkeeper mother Mercy (Nini Wacera) is running for local office and finds herself incredibly pleased when her daughter begins to spend time with another girl, Zika (Sheila Munyiva), the daughter of her political competition and one of Kena's few female friends. Kena and Zika's young, tender romance is met with inevitable complications brought on by homophobia in her conservative home.
Kenyan writer-director Wanuri Kahiu and South African co-writer Jenna Bass adapted their Cannes Un Certain Regard contender from Ugandan author Monica Arac de Nyeko, and the project is actually banned in Kahiu's home country for attempting to "legitimize lesbianism." From the looks of the trailer, it doesn't just attempt this, and by the laws of homosexuality, its ban means you must post about it on social media until it's available to stream or comes to the U.S.
Premiere: Cannes 2018 Release: France, Sept. 26 | U.S., fall release planned in New York, Los Angeles, and five other cities
"We The Animals"
Translated for the screen from the eponymous book by Justin Torres, We The Animals centers at first around three young, free-spirited, tightly knit brothers navigating a dysfunctional family. Jonah, played by fresh face Evan Rosado, begins to separate from the pack as he grows older and into his sexuality, forging an identity at the risk of disrupting the pack.
Fans of the book can expect devotion to the source text, according to a Sundance interview with director Jeremiah Zagar, and some critics are already comparing the film to Oscar winner Moonlight. The movie also stars Isaiah Kristian and Josiah Gabriel as Jonah's brothers, while Sheila Vand (Argo, A Girl Walks Home At Night) and Raul Castillo (Looking, Seven Seconds) play the boys' parents.
Premiere: Sundance 2018 Release: U.S., August 17
Winer of the 2018 Palme d'Or at Cannes, Sorry Angel or Plaire, aimer et courir vite, is a touching story of love in early '90s France. Christophe Honore's latest follows Jacques Tondelli (Pierre Deladonchamps), a 35-year-old Parisian novelist living in relatively stable condition with AIDS, and Arthur Prigent (Vincent Lacoste), a young writer who meets Jacques in Rennes while the novelist is rehearsing a play of his. See the trailer for more.
Premiere: Cannes 2018 Release: France, May 10 | U.S., Fall 2018
"The Happy Prince"
Literary legend Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett) comes to life in the historical drama based around his affair with Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas (Colin Morgan). Flanked by Emily Watson as Constance Wilde, Oscar's wife, and Edwin Thomas as literary executor and lover-confidant Robbie Ross, out gay actor Everett writes, directs and stars in a portrayal of Wilde critics call the "showcase for a role Everett was born to play," but evidently not the one he was born to direct.
Bosie and Wilde's relationship ultimately resulted in the infamous indecency trial that ruined latter's career, put him in prison for two years, and exiled him from society. So while the film does focus on Wilde's relationship with Douglas, it also very much focuses on the broken, post-trial figure of Wilde. Expect Everett's feature to move past the image of Wilde-as-dandy and into the depths of despair that produced The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
Premiere: Sundance 2018 Release: U.K., June 15; U.S., Oct. 5
"A Kid Like Jake"
Greg (Jim Parsons) and Alex Wheeler (Clare Danes) are the parents of "gender-expansive" Jake (Leo James Davis), a child encouraged to explore non-binary inclinations by both supportive parents and preschool teacher Judy (Octavia Spencer). When it comes time for their child to cement an identity, Alex and Greg begin to doubt their own influence over their child and what letting Jake explore gender might mean for the future. Originally written for the stage and later adapted for the screen by Daniel Pearle, the film contemplates questions more and more families will begin to ask as time goes on and social norms change--and we're very here for the discussion.
Release: June 1, 2018
Queen is finally getting the story of its band told with Bohemian Rhapsody, but we're not sure if Freddie's is going to be that of the (likely) bisexual man who died of AIDS-related illness just yet. The trailer shows Mercury, portrayed by Rami Malek, lusting after "life-long lover" Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and doing all of the wild, crazy things you'd expect to see from him amid the blossoming of the legend's career. But it only features a brief, brief moment of what looks like seduction between he and Ian Jareth Williamson, credited as "NY Clubber / Former Lover to Freddie," and the official FOX synopsis of the film describes his AIDS simply as a "life-threatening illness." Recent interviews have suggested we might be getting a squeaky clean version of the story, focused on protecting the remaining band members' legacy, and few are happy about that prospect. In July, FOX released another trailer, shown below, in which Freddie seems a bit more femme and we see a few more moments of his sexuality. Watch it and decide for yourself:
Release: Nov. 2, 2018
In what's bound to be a tear-jerker, legendary Disney lyricist (and unofficial director) Howard Ashman is profiled in Don Hahn's documentary Howard. An indomitable force who wrote canonical Disney songs like "Be Our Guest," "Under the Sea," and "Poor Unfortunate Souls," Ashman worked alongside the voice actors and actresses who brought many of Disney's most precious characters to life, including Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach, pictured in the clip above.
Ashman tied many of the themes in his work to LGBTQ issues, as he saw them. Of Beauty and the Beast, Howard director Bill Condon told Attitude the character of the Beast was innately personal: "Specifically for him, it was a metaphor for AIDS," noting Ashman wrote the lyrics at home shortly before his death from AIDS-related illness. "He was cursed, and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him, and maybe there was a chance for a miracle--and a way for the curse to be lifted. It was a very concrete thing that he was doing."
Premiere: Tribeca 2018 | Release: TBD
Playfully (but seriously) skeptical of relationships, Naima (Alia Shawkat) and French singer-heartthrob Sergio (Laia Costa) meet at the latter's concert. After heading back to Naima's place and ruminating on divorce rates, the fate of traditional relationships and the power of freedom bestowed upon the single, the two decide to skip the whole song-and-dance and head straight to the fun stuff: unbridled intimacy and hourly sex. The film is available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video.
Take a look into the life and work of one Lee Alexander McQueen, rebel prodigy of '90s fashion, through exclusive archival footage and interviews with close friends, colleagues, and family. McQueen catalogs the designer's journey from origin, to his appointment as chief designer for Givenchy from 1996-2001, to the actualization of his own label and eventual suicide before his mother's cremation.
Premiere: Tribeca 2018 Release: June 8
"The Gospel According to André"
From segregated, Jim Crow North Carolina to the halls of Conde Nast, The Gospel According to Andre profiles an unmistakably original figure in fashion. Documentarian Kate Novack's latest follows Andre Leon Talley through his upbringing, education, and early career with commentary from industry icons Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, Marc Jabobs, Fran Lebowitz, Valentino Garavani and more.
Expect both witticism and wisdom from this gem. Watch the trailer above.
Premiere: Toronto Film Festival 2017 Release: May 25, 2018 | Now streaming on Amazon.
Everyone loves a good bad Catholic. Documentary filmmaker Ondi Timoner centers the iconic artist Robert Mapplethorpe (Matt Smith) in her first scripted biographical drama, illuminating the life of one of gay art's most prized and controversial provocateurs. His graphic depictions of sadomasochism, bondage, and other non-normative sexual content along with celebrity portraits of figures like Andy Warhol and Philip Glass earned him fame, stigma that would lead to struggle for commercial viability, and a spotlight at the center of respectability discourse that ultimately had a hand in changing obscenity law.
Lucas Hedges stars along Oscar-winning duo Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe in Joel Edgerton's upcoming book-to-film adaptation of Garrard Conley's Boy Erased. Jared (Hedges), the son of a Southern, small-town baptist pastor, is outed to his parents (Crowe and Kidman) at just 19. He's immediately faced with a choice: conversion therapy or exile.
Featuring Troye Sivan and Xavier Dolan (Laurence Anyways, Heartbeats), the story is hailed as a heart-wrenching take on a very pressing topic of political and social relevance. As the film has been in production, more states have begun banning the practice one by one--and we hope to see at least a few added to the list by the time it premieres.
Jeff Kaufman first interviewed Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally for his and Marcia Ross's Netflix same-sex marriage documentary The State of Marriage. The two were so taken by McNally, who wrote hits like Master Class (1996) and Love! Valour! Compassion! (1995), they decided to give him his own feature.
"It's a story that really connects to the whole history of American theater, the struggle for LGBT rights, and what it means to be an artist who cares and is engaged in the world," Kaufman said of the project.
Every Act of Life features interviews with icons like Christine Baranski, John Glover, Roberta Kaplan, Larry Kramer, Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Joe Mantello, Audra McDonald, Chita Rivera, Stanley Tucci, and Meryl Streep. No trailer yet, but watch exclusive footage on the project's Kickstarter page.
Xavier Dolan's latest film, starring Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones) and Natalie Portman (Jackie, Black Swan), chronicles the denouement of a relationship between two young friends a decade after one's death. Likely embued with the same stylistic decadence of Xavier Dolan's previous work, his latest centers around "written correspondence" the young actor shared with Harrington's Donovan, "as well as the impact those letters had on both their lives," according to the director.
No trailer just yet for this one, and its original 2018 release no longer looks tenable--a Feb. Instagram update from Dolan announcing Jessica Chastain's departure from the film also noted that its length at the time was four hours long. (Woof.) In the meantime, watch Dolan and Harrington talk process on the lavish set with CNN Style above.
Premiere: TBD | Release: Originally slated Fall 2018, TBD
"The Miseducation of Cameron Post"
Another poignant story of the brutal practice of conversion therapy, The Miseducation of Cameron Post chronicles the trials of a young Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz), caught in the back seat of a car with the prom queen. Shipped off to a facility called God's Promise by her conservative guardians, Cameron encounters Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle).
Originally written as a novel by Emily M. Danforth, the cast and crew performed extensive personal research into the lives of conversion therapy survivors. Watch Moretz, director Desiree Akhavan, and more discuss the process for Variety above.
Premiere: Sundance Film Festival | Release Date: August 3
"Vita and Virginia"
Who's afraid of a biographical romance between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf? Not a soul. Co-writer Eileen Atkins and writer-director Chanya Button bring us the Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) and West (Gemma Arteron) LGBTQ audiences have been dying for more of since The Hours toyed with the topic of the former's sexuality in 2002.
Very little info is available on this one, but we know the film will center the two writers' relationship, touch on how it inspired Woolf's novel Orlando, and was filmed as recently as February in Dublin.
Adapted from Atikins' early '90s play by the same name, Button told ScreenDaily this of the film: "Her relationship with Vita is the story of her connecting with her body, and her sexuality, and it's a kind of alternative look at an artist-and-muse relationship. It's the story of the creation of Orlando, but it's also the story of Virginia using her profound genius to overcome an experience that we might presume, on the face of it, would overwhelm her. That's what interests me, the opportunity to look at this really iconic writer in a very different way."