Metro Weekly

25 Gay Films Everyone Should See: Part 3D

Third installment in Metro Weekly's popular look at gay, lesbian, bi and transgender films that moved cinema to new heights

Center photo: Julian Vankim, Art Direction: Todd Franson, Model: Vladmire Goodwill

Okay. I know you’re thinking, ”Why 3D? What gay films are in 3D? Are there even 25 gay films that were made in 3D?”

Well, apart from the XXX-rated 3D film Reel Affirmations showed one year at midnight as a stunt, back when the festival was held at the Embassy Cinema on Florida Avenue (a moment of silence, please), I honestly can’t think of any. Still, most 3D televisions can now create a faux 3D experience. So, there’s that.

Anyway, the dearth of 3D LGBT films didn’t stop me from using it on the third installment in our popular ongoing series. I think I may have been watching Friday the 13th, Part 3D at the time….

But let’s look at 3D from a non-literal standpoint. This third list branches even further into the LGBT film canon than the first two installments, and in that sense, it achieves even greater depth. Yes, the first two times out, we had to hit the obvious notes — Brokeback Mountain, La Cage, Bound, Priscilla — but once you start to reach deeper into our cinematic heritage, new takes on timeworn themes start to emerge. Some of these films you’ve heard of, but possibly have never seen. Some you’ve never heard of, period. Some you might not even have been considered gay, yet they hold a unique place both in our history and in the motion picture terrain that defines them as such. (And bless the existence of Netflix, on which most of these films can either be ordered via disc or streamed.)

As with any list that limits itself to 25 — or 27, if you really want to get picky, as two of our items are “double features” — we’re likely missing a title and you’ll feel outraged over its exclusion. Please, feel free to express that outrage — courteously — on our website and suggest some ideas for our next outing.

Interestingly, when you take all three lists together, you have before you a remarkable assortment of LGBT films of all manner and stripe and genre. If you were to sit through each and every one, you would have not a just a sense of our history and culture, but our place in the cinematic landscape.

So without any further ado, here are some gay films. Enjoy.

ANOTHER COUNTRY (1984)

Another Country

Another Country

Director Marek Kanievska’s stylish 1984 adaptation of Julian Mitchell’s play Another Country was the movie that introduced the world to Rupert Everett – not to mention Cary Elwes and recent Oscar winner Colin Firth. The gay Everett has said he thinks his own coming out in 1989 diminished his career as an actor. Certainly, he got off on a great foot as a leading man in Another Country, playing the role of Guy Bennett. Bennett wants to become a leader at an elite school in 1930s England, but those dreams are dashed when his clandestine affair with another man (Elwes) comes to light. The gorgeously shot, superbly acted E.M. Forster-style drama, based on a true story, is fundamentally a critique of the British class system and an exploration of the conflict between tradition and modernity. But it’s the tender gay love story at its heart that many remember best. This was, after all, a rather rare, positive portrayal of gay people at a time when ”AIDS panic” was fueling widespread homophobia. Yet here was Everett and Elwes, two impossibly pretty, preppy – normal – boys in love. –Doug Rule

AS GOOD AS IT GETS (1997)

As Good As It Gets

As Good As It Gets

If you needed any proof that Greg Kinnear could act, look no further than this magnificent human dramedy from James L. Brooks, the man who brought Mary Tyler Moore and The Simpsons to our (once small) TV screens. Kinnear plays Simon, a gay artist whose brutal, near-death bashing brings him unwittingly into the path of Melvin (Jack Nicholson), an OCD misanthrope with extra bile for homosexuals, and Carol (Helen Hunt), a waitress who’s an imperative part of Melvin’s compulsive daily routine. The three go off on a road trip that draws them deeply and meaningfully into one another’s lives. As Good As It Gets tells the story of Melvin and Carol’s unlikely romance, but Simon is the catalyst. Kinnear’s performance is notable for its down-to-earth sturdiness — any flamboyance is saved for his agent, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in fey overdrive. Kinnear brings a vulnerability to Simon that is at once heartbreaking and sweetly affirming. It’s a lovely, everyday portrayal of a gay man. Hunt and Nicholson both won Oscars for their extraordinary performances. Kinnear was nominated, but took home no trophies. He should have. Boy, he should have. –Randy Shulman

THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB (2000)

The Broken Hearts Club

The Broken Hearts Club

Thirty years after the groundbreaking but bitter gay film The Boys in the Band, Greg Berlanti’s directorial debut The Broken Hearts Club was christened ”The Boys in the Bland” by the Village Voice. And yet, the gay romantic comedy’s very ordinariness is part of what made it stand out and become a hit among gay audiences, who at that time were tiring of shopworn AIDS-related tragedies and coming-out tales. The film is also notable for a cast that includes a handful of moderately well-known Hollywood actors, including Dean Cain and Zach Braff, helping douse once and for all the long-dominant canard that playing gay would tarnish or pigeonhole a film career. Thirteen years later – and three years after television writer and producer Berlanti’s only other film, the formulaic and roundly panned Katherine Heigl-vehicle Life As We Know It, The Broken Hearts Club is still charming, even heartwarming, in its portrayal of a circle of gay friends in West Hollywood. It’s a case of Hollywood getting something right for a change: Just as it is with many real-life gay people, these friends act as a family, supporting each other through love, loss and softball. –DR

BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER (1999)

But I'm a Cheerleader

But I’m a Cheerleader

It’s not easy to walk the comedic line between reinforcing stereotypes and subverting them, but that deft navigation is what makes But I’m a Cheerleader one of the funnier gay comedies of the past few decades. Director Jamie Babbit’s satirical take on the ”ex-gay” movement is light-years ahead of the sophomoric Eating Out and Not Another Gay Movie, carving out its own niche rather than aping the hetero formula of American Pie. Not that Cheerleader lacks for silliness and camp. RuPaul stars out of drag as a counselor at ”True Directions,” where cheerleader Megan (Natasha Lyonne) is sent to correct her budding lesbianism. Cathy Moriarty chews the scenery — colored in gender-reinforcing garish pinks and blues — as the camp director. Despite a couple of heavy-handed moments, Cheerleader‘s raucous romp proves that one of the best ways to tear apart a movement that aims to ”change” us is one of the easiest — simply laughing at them. —Sean Bugg

CABARET (1972)

Cabaret

Cabaret

As a young gay man, the English writer Christopher Isherwood spent much of the pre-war 1930s in Germany. His novel, Berlin Stories, a combination of two smaller pieces based on that experience was published in 1945. Jump a few years to 1969, and Judy Garland dies of an overdose in New York. Some say the untimely death of this gay favorite may have helped ignite the Stonewall Riots a week later. Then, in 1972, Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, stars in the Oscar-winning screen adaptation of the 1966 Broadway musical Cabaret, based on Isherwood’s stories. At the time, anything gay was groundbreaking and controversial, yet here was a mainstream blockbuster — featuring a gay character (Michael York’s Brian) — able to hold its ground for its Kander and Ebb score and Bob Fosse direction and choreography alone. But it went further, maintaining one of Isherwood’s central observations that, try as one might, gay is gay, and you can’t easily put a gay peg in straight hole. From its nonfiction roots to its decades-later mainstream reception, Cabaret, when paired with its backstory of pushpins along a timeline of gay history, is a masterpiece bridging the gay zeitgeist of different eras. –Will O’Bryan

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