As 2022 wraps up, the end of the year presents an opportunity to look back on how LGBTQ representation fared on the big screen. According to GLAAD’s 10th Annual Studio Responsibility Index, the percentage of LGBTQ-inclusive films (as well as racial diversity and screen time for queer characters) dipped in 2021.
While this year’s official report has yet to be released, it appears to have recovered some ground. From theaters to streamers, it’s been an impressive year for LGBTQ flicks, from joyful summer rom-coms “Bros” and “Fire Island” to sobering dramas like “My Policeman” and “The Inspection.” That includes some of the most talked-about titles of awards season – “The Whale,” “Tár”, and “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” to name a few.
If you’re looking for your next themed binge of the holiday break, read on for the 11 best LGBTQ movies of 2022.
In what some are already calling a career best, Cate Blanchett doesn’t just play, but is Lydia Tár. (Moviegoers have been known to leave the theater googling “Lydia Tár bio” only to learn that she is a fictional character.) Written and directed by Todd Field, “Tár” is a ghost story about gluttony, or what happens when a person becomes consumed by their appetite for power. Blanchett plays a world-renowned composer and conductor on the brink of completing another career milestone when events she has tried to bury rise to the surface. Tár finds not only her career, but her relationship with her wife Sharon (Nina Hoss) and their young daughter, Petra (Mila Bogojevic) at stake. Don’t be fooled by anyone branding this as a “#MeToo movie” – it’s not that simple. “Tár” is a scathing excavation of abuse, privilege and those responsible for their endurance. It may run on the longer side, but you’ll be on the edge of your seat the entire time. – Harper Lambert
From director Darren Aronofsky comes “The Whale,” an A24 film flooded with emotion, based on the play first written by Samuel D. Hunter. The film is set in 2017 and follows a 600-lb. self-isolating English teacher (Brendan Fraser) who still believes in optimism and the good for which his daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) is destined. The character study of Charlie, the instructor for online college classes, cuts straight to the core, piercing themes of humanity and revealing the tricky dynamics between Fraser’s character and his daughter. Charlie — who lost his partner Alan to a religious-shame-based decline in mental health — knows his own death is near, because not only is he overweight, but he also has congestive heart failure, which his nurse friend Liz (Hong Chau) monitors for him. Samantha Morton’s appearance as Charlie’s ex-wife and Ellie’s mother doubled down on the emotional layers to the story, but the entire film is anchored by Fraser’s stunning performance. – Dessi Gomez
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is the gift that keeps on giving – and Hulu’s “Fire Island” gave. “Pride and Prejudice” gets a queer, 21st century makeover in Joel Kim Booster’s take on the classic tale of social mores and enemies-turned-lovers. Booster and Bowen Yang star as best friends Noah and Howie, who along with their chosen family take an annual trip to queer haven Fire Island. There, a run-in with an uppercrust clique invites old insecurities and the possibility of new love, putting Noah and Howie’s friendship to the test. Margaret Cho, Conrad Ricamora, James Scully, Matt Rogers, Tomás Matos, and Torian Miller lead a lively ensemble with Andrew Ahn’s direction. Like the best Austen adaptations, “Fire Island” uses its source material as a roadmap with which to explore fresh themes — in this case, the intersectional dynamics of the Fire Island community from a gay Asian male perspective. It also has heart, humor and a banging soundtrack. You’ll want to add this to your rom-com rotation ASAP. – Harper Lambert
Based on the book by Bethan Roberts, “My Policeman” marks another cinematic project for former One Direction member Harry Styles, who plays policeman Tom in the Michael Grandage-directed film. Marion (Emma Corrin) and museum curator Patrick (David Dawson) complete the love triangle around which the story evolves. Viewers first meet the trio in 1950s Britain, but the story also jumps forward to the 1990s with older versions of Tom (Linus Roache), Marion (Gina McKee) and Patrick (Rupert Everett) that helps unpack this tragic love triangle. As with any love story, this one has its bright spots and hurtful moments. – Dessi Gomez
For better or worse (at least where the box office is concerned), “Bros” wore its title as the first major studio rom-com featuring an entirely LGBTQ+ principal cast proudly on its sleeve. Writer-star Billy Eichner channels his “Billy On The Street” persona as Bobby Lieber, a podcast host and romance cynic. A chance encounter with Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) blooms into something resembling a relationship, throwing Bobby’s comfortably unattached lifestyle for a loop. An anti-“When Harry Met Sally”, “Bros” asks whether or not two people who are attracted to each other can overcome their avoidant natures for a chance at love. If you’re already an Eichner fan, this is Billy at his most Billy-ish, but Macfarlane and the chemistry between them steal the show. Pair it with “Fire Island” for a Bowen Yang double feature, or one of director Nicholas Stoller’s other films (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” perhaps) if you’re on a rom-com kick. – Harper Lambert
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”
While “Everything Everywhere All At Once” might not seem like an obvious pick, the film hinges on a central conflict between Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), as Evelyn struggles to fully accept her daughter and her sexuality,, as seen when Evelyn insists on referring to Joy’s girlfriend as her “friend” to Joy’s grandfather. As the many versions of the multiverse unveil themselves to Evelyn, she learns that Alphaverse-Evelyn’s demanding nature overloaded Joy’s mind and facilitated her rise into the evil Jobu Tapaki, who experiences everything, everywhere, all at once. As Jobu struggles with feeling a hopelessness for life, the film is a touching vignette of familial love as Evelyn intercedes Jobu’s misery through an acceptance that enables her to live her life fully and authentically. – Loree Seitz
“The Inspection,” a drama about a gay Black man who enlists in the Marines post 9-11, tells a version of writer-director Elegance Bratton’s own life story. His mother, who never came to terms with his sexuality and to whom the film is dedicated, died just three days after he secured financing. Anchoring this deeply personal story of personal redemption and chosen family is Jeremy Pope as Ellis French and Gabrielle Union as his mother, Inez. Despite the rampant homophobia of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era and a head drill instructor (Bokeem Woodbine) determined to make his life hell, Ellis strives to be a good person. The A24 film also stars Raúl Castillo, McCaul Lombardi, Nicholas Logan, Aaron Dominguez, Eman Esfandi and Aubrey Joseph. – Harper Lambert
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”
Director Kasi Lemmons’ latest biopic that brings the story of Whitney Houston to the big screen does not shy away from Whitney Houston’s bisexuality. Before Germain Jackson and her husband Bobby Brown, there was Robyn Crawford, whom Whitney befriended and lived with before she rose to fame. Both Lemmons and Nafessa Williams, who portrays Crawford, don’t want to label Houston’s sexuality, as said in recent interviews with TheWrap, but Williams emphasized the true friendship that Houston and Crawford had beyond their romantic relationship in the early days of Houston’s singing career. – Dessi Gomez
A slasher flick with an LGBTQ twist, Blumhouse’s “Them/Them” takes place at a gay conversion therapy camp whose sinister intentions escalate to deadly consequences with a killer on the loose. As the camp’s leaders employ psychological techniques that plague the teenage guests, the rural area looks even more grim when a masked killer threatens to end any life for the teens beyond the camp. Kevin Bacon stars as the head of the camp while Theo Germaine and Quei Tann make up a few of the seven campers who each represent “different parts of the queer experience,” according to writer-director John Logan. Featuring LGBTQ+ leads, Logan leaned heavily on the actors’ experiences as well as organizations like GLAAD with the aim of “flipping harmful Hollywood tropes at every level.” – Loree Seitz
Queer girl power abounds in this adorable YA rom-com starring Rowan Blanchard, Auli’i Cravalho and Isabella Ferreira. Paige Evans (Blanchard) has already come out, and she has had a crush on Gabby (Ferreira) for as long as she can remember. Paige is also a blossoming artist, and in a combined spur-of-the-moment decision to save herself from suspension (their high school has a graffiti artist known as King Pun) and also to impress Gabby, Paige decides to try out for the track team and participate in sports for P.E. credit. Here, she doesn’t train under Gabby but Gabby’s twin bisexual sister AJ (Cravalho), and the two strike up what could be more than friendship. – Dessi Gomez
After making a splash at its premiere at Outfest Los Angeles this summer, “Unidentified Objects” takes a whimsical approach to telling the story of an unlikely friendship. The film follows Peter, “a flamboyant, misanthropic dwarf hiding from the world,” and his alien-obsessed neighbor, Winona, who forces Peter out of his comfort zone on an impromptu road trip to rural Canada, where she believes she will encounter an alien visitation. By incorporating themes of space and alternative dimensions into the film that are most poignant through dream sequences, filmmaker Juan Felipe Zuleta meditates on where people marginalized by mainstream society belong — if they do at all. – Loree Seitz