MYSTERIOUS SKIN (2004)
An unfortunate reality of film is that one film’s success sometimes comes at the expense of another’s. All the (well-deserved) passion for Brokeback Mountain had the unfortunate side-effect of muting attention for Mysterious Skin — a film that couldn’t have been more different in its approach, but was every bit its equal in terms of emotional power and quality. Gregg Araki, long known for his subversive queer sensibility in The Living End and The Doom Generation, turned in a work that cements his reputation as a director with both attitude and talent to spare. At the center of Mysterious Skin‘s story of the psychological aftermath of sexual abuse on vulnerable gay youth is a fascinating and fearless performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt — not fearless for playing gay, but fearless for playing so emotionally naked. By turns funny, sexy and deeply disturbing, Mysterious Skin deserves to live on as an example of how powerful gay cinema can be.