The 200 Best Lesbian, Bisexual & Queer Movies Of All Time

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50. Chutney Popcorn

dir. Nisha Ganatra, 1999
Watch It

Before Nisha Ganatra was directing several of your television faves, she co-wrote, directed, and starred in this film about queerness and family. The film shows the intimacy and conflict within biological and chosen family structures, searching for new ideas around parenthood. It’s funny and sweet and always living in the reality of its well-drawn characters.

49. A Date for Mad Mary

dir. Darren Thornton, 2016
Watch It

Seána Kerslake makes a difficult character impossible not to love in this unique coming-of-age story. Mary’s discovery of her sexuality threads through every aspect of her self-discovery as she grapples with her recent prison sentence, her best friend’s upcoming wedding, her contempt for her mother, and her new crush. The film balances its subject matter and its tones due to sharp writing and Kerslake’s truly remarkable performance. This is really a gem of a film.

48. Valencia

dir. Clement Hil Goldberg & others, 2013
Watch It

Is there anything queerer than an adaptation of a Michelle Tea book written and directed by a collective of queer filmmakers? Not much! The sections vary drastically in style, casting, and content, but together they create a portrait of a person, a place, and a community — the community of early 90s Mission District San Francisico and the queer community at large. It’s an at times silly, at times serious burst of queer creativity.

47. Mosquita y Mari

dir. Aurora Guerrero, 2012
Watch It

Quiet and big-hearted, this beautiful coming-of-age story focuses on straight A student Yolanda and new rebel girl in school Mari. As the two girls navigate their families’ expectations, they grow closer, crushes turning to friendship turning to something more. The film never takes melodramatic turns instead trusting the grounded truth of its characters.

46. Circumstance

dir. Maryam Keshavarz, 2011
Watch It

This is a film of stark contrasts, of sensual close-ups and repulsive close-ups, of freedom and restriction, of great joy and tragic horror. Nikohl Boosheri and Sarah Kazemy are incredible as two young women pushing the boundaries of society in Iran. The moments of freedom between them are so joyful, on a beach, in a bed, in the living room singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” It makes the repression all the more painful. One moment this film is devastatingly sexy, the next it’s just devastating.

45. The Favourite

dir. Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018
Watch It

This movie about Queen Anne of England is not your average period piece — it’s not even your average gay period piece. Yes, it takes place in 1704 and is based on a true story and features all sorts of royal intrigue. But here that royal intrigue revolves around two women trying to finger their way to power. Olivia Colman plays Anne with a hilarious desperation — totally unstable and totally captivating. Rachel Weisz is Anne’s second in command — and lover — Lady Sarah, the real source of power in the court. Enter Emma Stone’s Abigail, a down-on-her-luck newcomer who quickly realizes the key to Anne’s favor. Watching Abigail and Sarah fight over Anne is delicious even as the film — or especially as the film — gets more and more twisted. Yorgos Lanthimos can be counted on for his dark sensibility and that’s certainly the case here even with the plot revolving around a queer women love triangle. The movie that sparked a thousand lesbian tweets asking Rachel Weisz to run them over with a truck, you’ll at least want her to fire a blank into your heart.

44. Foxfire

dir. Annette Haywood-Carter, 1996
Watch It

Based on Joyce Carol Oates’ novel, Annette Haywood-Carter’s coming-of-age tale about a feminist girl gang is great for a lot of reasons, but short-hair leather jacket wearing knife wielding Angelina Jolie is definitely at the top of the list. She’s so good and so gay and can do so much with a look. It’s no wonder the other girls follow her lead. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch them wreak havoc on all the awful men in their lives, even as things start to cross a line. There’s a real intimacy between the girls when it’s platonic and when it’s romantic.

43. Multiple Maniacs

dir. John Waters, 1970
Watch It

John Waters lives up to his title Pope of Trash with this raucous celebration of counter-culture deviancy. The movie opens with a group of cishet normals making their way through a free exhibit titled The Cavalcade of Perversions — and then Divine robs them at gunpoint. Waters starts his filmography with a statement and never lets up. This is the only movie on this list where a drag queen is fucked with a rosary in a church. It’s a remarkable sex scene with a level of queerness rarely seen on screen. It’s also the only movie where a drag queen is raped by a giant lobster. Because that’s just what you get with John Waters!

42. Memento Mori

dir. Min Kyu-Dong, Kim Tae-Yong, 1999
Buy on DVD

Technically the second film in the Whispering Corridors Korean horror series, this film focuses more on the emotions of its trio of queer teen girls than it does easy scares. But this is still a ghost story. Min-ah discovers the shared journal of her classmates Hyo-shin and Shi-eun filled with gay longing. She becomes obsessed with them — the obsession only increasing when Hyo-shin tragically dies. Haunted by Hyo-shin and drawn towards Shi-eun, Min-ah has to confront her own queerness and find a way forward. It’s a melancholy, yet ultimately hopeful film, about adolescence and the possibility of queer futures.

41. Imagine Me & You

dir. Ol Parker, 2005
Watch It

Out of all the lesbian romcoms, this might be the one that most successfully takes your standard hetero romcom and queers it. Not the deepest, not the most interesting, but the truest to the genre with lots of jokes, lots of heart, and all the right story beats. Piper Perabo plays gay once again and once again steals our hearts, but it’s Lena Headey’s confident gay florist that really makes the movie. Be careful. It just might make you believe in love at first sight.

40. The Daughters of Fire

dir. Albertina Carri, 2018
Unavailable

Porn about making porn questioning how to make porn that’s properly queer and feminist, Albertina Carri’s film succeeds in answering its own question. Poetic and sexy this loosely plotted Argentinian road trip is bound to make you think and come. It’s casual in its inclusivity across body types, gender, and kinks, and ends with one spectacular orgy.

39. Blockers

dir. Kay Cannon, 2018

Watch It

The rare big budget Hollywood comedy that’s thoughtful, progressive, emotional, and beyond fucking hilarious. Kay Cannon’s first film feels effortless in its perfection — filled with great comic performances from its trio of adults and its trio of teens. Virginity pacts are a staple of teen comedies, but never has one been treated with such intelligence and sex positivity. Gideon Adlon plays Sam’s awkward queerness with a funny and sweet authenticity and the movie’s inclusion of her is refreshingly casual. She hasn’t come to terms with her queerness at the film’s beginning but she’s given the space to go on a journey of self-exploration — aided by her friends, family, and a massive crush. It may only be a third queer, but this movie really is a perfect comedy.

38. Bessie

dir. Dee Rees, 2015
Watch It // Also Available on HBO Max

Dee Rees is one of the very best filmmakers around and she elevates her biopic about Bessie Smith beyond the usual HBO movie. The costumes and all the period detail are stunning, but Rees’ film is ultimately a tribute to a queer Black woman artist who refused to compromise — refused to cater to white people or any men — made by a queer Black woman artist at the beginning of her career determined to do the same. Rees is aided by what is truly one of Queen Latifah’s best performances. It’s a perfect combination of material, filmmaker, and star.

37. All About My Mother

dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 1999
Watch It

Often considered Pedro Almodóvar’s crowning achievement, All About My Mother is a tribute to women — to actresses, to mothers, to trans women, to sex workers, to lesbians. With his trademark style of bright colors, raunchy humor, and gorgeous melodrama, Almodóvar’s film is a reminder of the communities we form. The boundaries between family and friendship and lovers are as fluid as the boundaries of sex and gender. Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Penélope Cruz, and Antonia San Juan lead a cast of women that feels all too real even as they play in Almodóvar’s heightened imagination. This is not usually considered a lesbian film, but probably only because several of its queer women relationships involve trans women. Since its release the film has held a place in the canon of world cinema — it’s time it takes its rightful place in the canon of lesbian cinema as well.

36. Suicide Kale

dir. Carly Usdin, 2016
Watch It

This dramedy farce is anchored by four stellar performances, a natural real-life queerness, and an if-mumblecore-was-well-shot aesthetic. Brittani Nichols’ script is astute in its portrayal of queer relationships and sharp in its humor. There’s a casual DIY quality to this movie that makes it seem effortless, but if you’ve watched a lot of low-budget indie films you’ll know that’s not the case. It takes a level of talent, vision, and specificity to make a movie this good and it should be sought out and celebrated as much as any big budget fare.

35. Mommy is Coming

dir. Cheryl Dunye, 2012
Watch It

Cheryl Dunye’s most recent feature is a sex-filled romp through Berlin. Papi Coxx plays Claudia/Claude, a hotel clerk trying to rediscover the spark with her girlfriend Dylan played by Lil Harlow. They end up on separate sexual odysseys with Claudia genderbending while Dylan has a threesome with her best friend. The silliness and sexiness escalates when Dylan’s mother comes to town and some unexpected twists arise. Dunye’s film doesn’t take itself seriously, but its refusal to bend to respectability politics gives it an air of importance. It’s a reminder from Dunye that queer cinema can still be queer and a reminder that she’s an icon for a reason.

34. Set Me Free

dir. Léa Pool, 1999
Unavailable

Don’t you just hate it when the cute girl you made out with starts dating your brother? Being 13 is hard! And it’s certainly hard for Hannah who’s struggling with a terrible home life, a painful crush on her teacher, and, yes, a potential romance fraternally robbed. Her only respite is the cinema where she admires Anna Karina in Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivra sa vie. This is a measured film — far more grounded than Pool’s more famous Lost and Delirious — but with that comes an emotional queer reality. This movie is ultimately a superhero origin story — except replace superhero with queer woman filmmaker.

33. Born in Flames

dir. Lizzie Borden, 1983
Available on Fandor

Radical, revolutionary, and still all too relevant, Lizzie Borden’s speculative masterpiece deserves its underground reputation and newfound celebration. Taking place ten years after a socialist revolution in America, Borden’s film examines the ways in which even leftist political structures leave women, people of color, and queer people behind. This is a complicated film that engages in complicated discussions — never afraid to confront the true nature of the issues we face as we attempt to build a better society. Ultimately, the film shows the power of mutual aid and a suggestion that to create real change communities will have to take care of ourselves. This world contains a multitude of revolutions, but Black queer women are at the center of the ultimate revolution. In Borden’s world — our world — change is possible, but the work continues.

32. Princess Cyd

dir. Stephen Cone, 2017
Watch It // Also Available on Hulu

As sensual as its protagonist and as thoughtful as her aunt, Stephen Cone’s understated masterpiece finds the balance between pleasures of the flesh and mind. Cyd Loughlin is a teenager freely exploring her pansexual desires who spends a summer with her novelist aunt Miranda who is more preoccupied with intellectual discussion, friendship, and food. As Cyd and Miranda challenge each other’s beliefs — and Cyd falls for a hot barista — the film becomes a celebration of the many ways to find enjoyment and connection in life. There’s little plot and minimal drama — just sink into this pleasant world and you’ll find whatever you needed most.

31. Rafiki

dir. Wanuri Kahiu, 2018
Watch It

Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu has committed to a style she describes as Afrobubblegum, presenting a “fun, fierce, and fantastical representation” of Africa. This film — initially banned in its home country of Kenya before Kahiu sued — fulfills this promise. It’s a beautiful, colorful celebration of Black queer love. It’s honest about harsh realities, but overwhelms them with its moments of joy.

30. Second Star on the Right

dir. Ruth Caudeli, 2019
Watch It

Ruth Caudeli’s second film is somehow even better than her first. Compared to Frances Ha due to its gorgeous black and white cinematography and messy female protagonist, this is really its own work of specifically queer creativity. Caudeli reunites with Silvia Varón — her muse and IRL girlfriend — and hopefully the two of them will work together for a very long time because Varón is just incredible. She plays Emilia, a bisexual struggling actress in a friend group of straight people. Caudeli takes a trope often used in mainstream media to keep queerness to a minimum and instead explores the reality of someone coming to terms with their identity while lacking community. Emilia is easy to root for even as she drinks too much, hurts the people she loves, and remains stuck in a delayed adolescence. Caudeli captures her with a formal inventiveness rarely granted to this sort of queer story — its heightened style illuminating the emotional weight of these day to day moments.

29. Les Rendez-vous d’Anna

dir. Chantal Akerman, 1978
Available on Criterion

Chantal Akerman’s long takes and static camera are formal invention born from character. Here she tells the semi-autobiographical story of a queer woman filmmaker traveling around Europe promoting her latest film. She encounters strangers, former lovers, her mother, all the while filled with a deep ennui. Nothing Anna does can quite cure her depression, but she just keeps going. She continues on her trip, continues with these interactions, her face always revealing her exhaustion with life. It’s a sad film, but it isn’t tragic. It’s a film about how hard it is to live made by one of the greatest filmmakers to ever try.

28. Water Lilies

dir. Céline Sciamma, 2007
Available on Criterion

Céline Sciamma is one of the best filmmakers working today — lesbian or otherwise — and her talents were already clear in this first film. With a color palette of blues and greys and a moving camera that knows just where to land, Sciamma and cinematographer Crystel Fournier create a visual language that’s poetic and pointed. This is a film about teenage friendship as much as it is about teenage love — a lesbian film at its core. Synchronized swimming has never looked so beautiful and brutal. Being a teenager has never looked so beautiful and brutal. Sciamma is a brilliant lesbian artist and every film from her is a gift.

27. Certain Women

dir. Kelly Reichardt, 2016
Watch It

Renowned lesbian auteur Kelly Reichardt brings her famous touch of melancholy from her usual setting of Oregon to the plains of Montana. This triptych of stories about lonely women includes Reichardt’s most explicit work about queer women. Lily Gladstone is remarkable as a rancher who falls hard for a law professor played by Kristen Stewart. The infatuation is fairly one-sided, but it’s powerful to watch Gladstone’s shy character follow her heart and yearn for more. Like most of Reichardt’s films, this is a quiet and meditative piece, but its nuance will haunt you long after it ends.

26. Good Manners

dir. Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra, 2017
Our Review // Watch It

The best werewolf fairy tale horror lesbian movie musical ever made. Yes, this movie is all of those things and it’s a commentary on race and class differences in Brazil and a story about the nuances of queer motherhood. There’s a lot going on but somehow it all just works. It’s a gorgeous, at times terrifying, at times sexy, movie that is unforgettable to say the least. This isn’t the first movie to find horror in pregnancy and motherhood, but there’s something explicitly queer about this portrayal — and with that a fresh perspective. It deserves as prominent a spot in the canon of horror cinema as it does the canon of lesbian cinema.


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Drew is an LA-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. Her writing can be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Thrillist, I Heart Female Directors, and, of course, Autostraddle. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about trans lesbians. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @draw_gregory.

Drew has written 177 articles for us.

97 Comments

    • Liz

      Even if I’d have loved to have seen Alexandra Swarens’s (the millennial Kristy McNichol) City of Trees (2019) on it, I loved seeing Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, Saving Face and Portrait of a Lady on Fire so high up on it! Thanks for compiling this list❤️🏳️‍🌈

  1. oh my god Drew, thank you for this extensive list!
    the sacrifice! of having to watch 200+ lesbian/bi/queer movies!

    I may not agree with the list 100%, but also there’s so many films I haven’t seen, so I’m gonna get on that right now!

  2. Al

    I was not expecting Laural Canyon on this list & I don’t remember it being bi. I remember seeing it because of the cast & coincidently drove through Laural Canyon earlier in day.

    • Laura

      I can’t believe “A Marine Story” isn’t on here!!

      Great list otherwise.

  3. Kat

    I’ve enjoyed reading this list as breaks throughout my workday. Thank you, Drew. Some of my absolute favorites are on it (Mulholland Drive, Professor Marston, Imagine Me and You) and I have plenty more to watch, just based on this list!

  4. EAH

    This is an amazing list!

    I would like to throw in a small recommendation for a lesbian movie that I’ve never seen on any Autostraddle list, “What’s Cooking”. It’s a very sweet, Thanksgiving movie from 2000 that focuses on four family and one of the families is a lesbian couple played by Kyra Sedgwig and Julianna Margulies. It’s also directed by Gurinder Chadha who never gets her due as a female director who has made consistently great movies for the last 25 years. It’s not her absolute best movie (Bend It Like Beckham and Bride & Prejudice 4ever) but its a very pleasant way to spend a few hours and its in my own top 200 lesbian movies for sure!

    • Jenni Olson

      A classic — it was actually the opening night film at Sundance the year it came out.

  5. Ava

    I’ve only (already?) seen 42 of these! I have some movies to watch. Thank you for all the work that went into this, I love a good list and for someone to tell me what to watch because I am nothing if not indecisive. (Too! Many! Choices!)

    • Jay

      Nice list but the problem is where and how to download them

  6. is 101 a personal attack bc i said you could not put lost and delirious in the top 100 IS IT

  7. This is an excellent list! Letterboxt says I’ve watched 25% of the list and that sounds about right. I was pretty excited to see Desert Hearts so high on the list; it’s one of my favorites. There something about it that is delightful and soars above all of the rest. The ending, in my mind, is full of possibilities. Nothing better than that.

    • Clare

      I have to say I’m so disappointed that you have unequivocally decided Tomboy is a movie about a trans guy. This movie is the only one I’ve ever felt that represents my childhood as a masculine girl who liked to be taken for a boy. I actually think this is likely the experience of a lot of people who grew up to be butch women, and it feels pretty painful for that to be erased right here.

      I get that this kid could have grown up to be a trans guy. They could also grow up to be a butch woman or a non-binary lesbian. Idk why you are trying to put something that speaks to people like me in a box where there’s only one interpretation of it.

      Its your site, so do whatever. But this butch lesbian is pretty broken hearted.

      • Alex

        Couldn’t agree more! The film is ambiguous and there is so much overlap in the butch & trans male experiences. Disappointing to see this kind of erasure on AS

      • Yeah, I am always a bit uneasy with that exclusion as well. A strict categorization for that movie isn’t fair at all. The trans experience is wide and gender and even just gender expression is an entire rainbow in itself and it’s sad to be excluding that movie.

        I am very curious as to how Autostraddle’s staff ultimately made this choice.

  8. THANK YOUUUUU This is such a valuable resource – thank you Drew & AS!!! The movie Yeu (2015) with Gil Le and Chi Pu is at leaaaast as good as some of the movies on this list :) The trailer makes it look not good but its sweet and the story line with one of the characters’ moms made me cry real bad in a good way. This clip compilation gives a better idea – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK7gGPgIs0Y.

  9. I’ve only read p. 1 so far but want to thank you IMMENSELY for this amazing reference list. I’ve seen a few of the lesser known ones here, including The Firefly – dead brother brings two women together – as well as some of the bigger, English-language releases that weren’t quite as good as we’d hope (Birds of Prey, Lizzie, Vita and Virginia). And I remember Entre Nous from way back when!! Had a copy on VHS recorded off TV that I watched many times – very angsty, but deep emotions and great acting. I know I saw Salmonberries at a film festival but have no memory of any of its plot, though I recall kd lang being in it :).

  10. Jo

    Thank you so much for this list, there’s some movies I need to watch!

    I have a few recommendations too, The Girl King (2015) a biography about Christina, Queen of Sweden. And Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (2019) lesbian Bollywood, with dancing and all

    • yay for Lesbian Bollywood! Thanks for sharing these cross cultural movies Jo!

  11. What’s your favorite* movie not on this list? (*Favorite being… very malleable lol). Below her mouth has issues but I liked it’s sex scenes.

    • I think my favorite movie that didn’t make the cut quality-wise (as opposed to not being eligible) is this microbudget Australian movie called Zoe.Misplaced.

      The last twenty minutes make no sense, but most of it has this very DIY mumblecore charm to it that I really enjoyed.

      And I will not judge you for Below Her Mouth. lol

  12. 40/200 and „Lost & delirious“ is not one of them 😁 We have a queer film festival in town, so once a year I watch a lot of movies but mostly documentaries. I will miss it so damn much this year!

    „Portrait of a lady on fire“ was a revelation last year there, and the year before I fell deeply in love with „My days of mercy“ or rather Kate Mara 😉

    • I was really surprised by My Days of Mercy! Given its high profile cast, I assumed it was going to be bad since I hadn’t heard much about it. And instead I liked it a lot!

  13. Thanks for this list Drew, it must have taken so much work to put together. There are so many films I haven’t heard of. Also I appreciate the inclusion of Nina’s Heavenly Delights – not the best film but there’s not many Scottish lesbian films out there, so I love it for what it is.

    • There are some movies in the back half of this list that I love way more than I should (and some movies in the front half that I don’t understand the appeal…) and Nina’s Heavenly Delights is absolutely one that I adore. It knows what it wants to be! And it does that well!

  14. Emily E

    I love this list !!!! Thank you so much for taking the time and dedication to make such an incredible resource; your writing about film and tv continues to be my favorite on the internet… I can’t wait to watch.
    Just one note – the link to watch The Secrets actually led to a verrrrry different movie called The Secret

  15. Joanie

    Thank you so much for this, Drew!! So mannnny movies I haven’t seen and be of this list, I just watched A date for Mad Mary and it was delightful. Thank you!!

  16. Megan

    I am a nerd for algorithms, etc – any chance you’d care to share more about how the process/procedure etc y’all used to combine that data into ranking. Did you all have votes that got combined in some way / an algorithm you used to guide criteria / was it sort of a gut choice based on the data you mentioned? etc. Just super curious! I love lists like this, but I love *making* (or knowing the behind-the-scenes of someone else’s list making system) almost as much as whatever list itself I am fancying ;)

    • It was a combination. We did a vote with the TV Team on all eligible titles that involved both a numerical rating and a list of favorites. These two forms of rating created two lists that were combined evenly into a single list. We then adjusted that list based on the decade vote that we did last year with the whole Autostraddle team as well as other internal judgements like reviews and lists.

      There was no way to be totally true to an algorithm, since everyone on the team has not seen every film (and, in fact, I’m the only one who has seen some), but we tried to stay true to that voting whenever possible. Then those other factors listed were taken into account.

      It’s fun, because even though I had the most influence on the eventual ranking there are still some films in the bottom 50 that I prefer to those in the top 50. Because taste varies! Hopefully the list reflects the queer community at large, but especially the Autostraddle community. Even though again I’m sure we all disagree with some things. haha

  17. Luisa

    I recomend a mexican film called Todo el mundo tiene a alguien menos yo :)

  18. Marie

    Great list, however, I cannot believe Sarah Water’s Fingersmith wasn’t listed here. Although pretty low budget, the plot of the movie and Elaine Cassidy and Sally Hawkins acting was more than amazing. For me it can’t get any more real. The way they look at each other, you can feel their desire and suffering. I’m curious as to why was the movie not included in the list. Anyway, thanks.

    • Fingersmith is a miniseries! I know it’s only three hours, but since that’s how it’s labeled we left it off.

  19. Thank you for this list once again. I am just a bit disappointed you removed the movie’s country as it made the search a particular movie a lot easier.

  20. Tabbs

    LOVE this list. Also wanted to show some love for “Jennifer’s Body”. Lesbian/bi horror film with two women leads directed and written by women. Explores the intimate relationship between two teenage best friends in a camp slasher film after one turns into a men-killing demon. Underneath the quirky humor is lots of painfully accurate subtext and VERY textual representation. Totally underrated queer cult classic.

  21. JCF

    Kinda missed seeing “Blow Dry” on this list (I definitely liked it more than some of the movies which are on it). Yeah, it’s more about a blended family than a lesbian movie per se (and there is an implication of tragedy hanging over it: a terminal cancer diagnosis).

    But the ending finds at least brief happiness, the lesbian couple is together, and hey, some AMAZING hair-styling! Incredible cast w/ Bill Nighy, Rachel Griffiths, then (2001) up&coming It Kids Josh Hartnett and Rachel Leigh Cook, and [RIP to both] Miranda Richardson and Alan Rickman. [Richardson and Griffiths being the f/f couple]

    A particular delight for Anglophiles (I recommended it to my late mother on that count alone!] If you’ve never seen it, give it a…dry. ;-/

    [Really love finally being able to comment here, Auto. But why now, 5 (4) years into my “Supergirl” obsession, and w/ no new eps for at least a year?! }:-0]

    • T

      I absolutely agree. I could write a whole article as to why I believe this but I will not.

  22. Louise Leong

    Great list! I watched a ton of these movies middle school through high school borrowed as DVDs from my public library, believe it or not! The public library was a wonderful resource to me as a young queer person and I checked out tons of young adult fiction about anything gay for years before diving into queer movies. Fucking Amal was one of these movies that I borrowed from the library and I see it listed as unavailable here. I want to encourage people to look IRL for some of these films!

    Most public library systems also have intralibrary loans so even if your local library doesn’t have what you’re looking for, they likely have a relationship with other libraries in their network to borrow within the county.

    This is also to encourage everyone to find alternatives to Amazon to watch these films. I know this is easier said than done in our era of streaming and instant shopping and with Amazon being so ubiquitous. They are such a terrible company from their mistreatment of workers and ties to government surveillance programs by providing information to Homeland Security and ICE, etc. etc.

    Thanks San Carlos Public Library and libraries everywhere for their work

    • YES! I love the library. That was also how I first watched a lot of films growing up.

      Unfortunately the average person simply doesn’t watch movies on DVD anymore, so it feels worth noting which films on this list are not available to stream. But I have a piece coming out soon that’s specifically about queer women media on home video. That’s absolutely something I think about and want to encourage others to embrace.

      And I’m with you on Amazon personally. When there’s literally any other option — even with streaming — I take it.

      • Louise

        I’ll look out for that piece! Watching queer movies via bootleg Youtube playlists is kind of part of the experience, no? Thanks for the reply.

  23. Jelena Ajdarevic

    Ooook. I have to be honest….

    So first I el give you and everyone else who took part in this long term project to dedicate it their time, their lives! It is not a small fit to undertake and therefore I am forever grateful to all of you! I cannot name any other lgbt online and offline gathering place which decided to take upon itself such an enormous endeavour you all did undertake!

    But I am hurt by the fact that you catapulted some of the best lesbian movies in the 100 – 200 positions while they were made by lesbian filmmakers, were very dedicated projects, were beloved by lgbt people around the world, were very sensibly made and were very genuine in overall portrayal, original, acting was amazing etcetcetc, in overall were magnificent projects and some of those movies are in overal among my fav ones, not because thwy r lgbt themed. So… I am really disappointed by placements of the best movies into the bad category…. While some of the very very awful and not at all enjoyable projects were rated and placed higher from all of you. This is very strange how lbt women rate art…. Very strange indeed…

  24. Shelley Ward

    This is an amazing start to the list, but so many movies were left out. Some I can’t help but feel were slighted on purpose. The entire Nicole Conn and Sarah Waters collection of movies for starters. How can all 8 movies be absent?? Then there were great movies such as Tru Love, Poison Ivy, Raven’s Touch, Out at the Wedding, Finn’s Girl, Guest House, Running on Empty Dreams, Chole, Tell it to the Bees, Snapshots, Girls Like Magic, Alto,etc

    I would love to see a list created with every lesbian/queer movie ever made, without limiting it based people’s personal preferences of what they think a lesbian movie should or should not be. How about just list the movies and allow us to decide for ourselves, because each person is different, unique, and beautiful…just like each movie made. Let’s be more inclusive, not only in our cinema, but in our culture as a hole.

    Thank you for the amazing beginning though.

    • Hannah

      I actually went to a cinema screening of Tell It To The Bees last year (before, well… *gestures broadly*), and I’ve never seen so many queer women in one room before! It was a really cool evening.

      The author of the book was there to give a Q&A afterwards and she didn’t seem super keen on the way the film makers interpreted the book in some places, so I’d be interested to give it a read some day to see what it’s like.

    • Toni

      Um mods? This person is experiencing a bout of transphobia! Please escort them to the gender literacy doc!

  25. Smezme

    Thanks for this – v comprehensive!
    I would also recommend Almost Adults and Carmilla (and the prequel in the form of the web series). They have the same leads – both out queer women, so they do the stories justice.

  26. TrL

    Wow what an amazingly crafted list. The time and effort is greatly appreciated. I’ve been working through it chronologically, some I’ve seen but there’s a sense of nostalgia watching them again. I had a few movies that weren’t on the list that I personally enjoyed if anyone is interested.

    An unexpected Love-It’s life time and a little cheesy but there are some tender moments plus there is a happy ending.

    A Luv Tale-a movie with a queer Black woman it’s old school but it’s a really food watch plus MC lytes in it.

    Nina- An intense movie with some great scenes and the chemistry between the characters is deafening.

    City of Trees-it made me smile, believable chemistry, I did nod off a few times but I chuck that up to the slow pace of the movie or at least it felt like it to me but once it moved I was wide awake.

    A lot of these movies are in Tubi and Amazon Prime.

  27. Jenni Olson

    Drew — Thanks for this terrific list. Could have sworn I had posted a comment when this piece first ran but it doesn’t seem to be here anymore. Thanks so much for your incredible knowledge of queer film history (someday I hope you’ll see my films and consider them for this canon!)

  28. Julia

    I feel like Freeheld should be on this list

  29. Fernando Bronchal

    Long ago, I watched a film,(maybe from the 60s or ealy 70s) on tv about an aged lesbian that was an actress in a tvshow for children. Her trade mark is that she would ride in a scooter o little motorcycle.
    Does any body know something about this, film? Title?

    • Toto

      Fernando, the movie you’re looking for might be “The Killing of Sister George”. It’s about an aged lesbian actress who plays a nurse “Sister George” on a soap opera and her character rides a scooter on the show.

  30. Marie

    I will never get over the fact that “Aimée & Jaguar” is not queer-universally considered a MUCH (like VERY. MUCH.) more inspiring story than some other ones which rank higher on the list (and not only on this list, so I’m not blaming anyone). Sure, the movie has its flaws, and sure, teenage coming of age stories (for example) are indeed important in some way for self-construction, but fierce lesbian love against Nazis? I wish I had seen THAT when I was a teenager. Maybe it’s because people cannot relate enough to that time period, or maybe it’s a more European story (I mean maybe more specific than some other European movies), I don’t know.

    • Dagmar Brink

      I totally agree. It’s a superb film. Very classy, very well acted, very important and sadly, very often under appreciated. I love lesbian films set in historical period, so I totally connect to this film like you do. You would also probably like Alexandra von Grote’s ‘Novembermond’ or ‘November Moon’ from 1984. Which is thematically the harrowing forerunner to Aimee & Jaguar, about a lesbian relationship between a Jewish woman and a French woman under the terror of the Nazis in occupied France.

  31. Mr. Beast

    Omg! These movies are love! Thanks, mate for sharing them.

  32. Jia

    You got to be kidding me… desert hearts as #4? The script made very little sense. Has anyone actually watched this movie?

  33. michi

    Duck Butter! this beautiful, sexy funny and heartbreaking and real af lesbian/queer movie should be mentioned. it’s so well written and directed beautifully.

  34. muftsabazaar

    Wow These are some best sexy movies thanks for this.

  35. Razz

    Very dark but highly recommend The Handmaiden!

  36. Dagmar Brink

    It’s all very well including Maedchen in Uniform (1931) as the first important lesbian movie. But there is another classic film that is equally as important as Maedchen. And is, if anything — even more groundbreaking for it’s truly unflinching exploration of a lesbian identity. Unfortunately, the film in question just flies under the radar — of all but THE MOST dedicated of lesbian film historians.
    I am of course referring to the incredible Swedish film: ‘Girl With Hyacinths’ from 1949. The reason for it’s undeserved obscurity is threefold: 1. It’s a film that wasn’t distributed much outside of Scandinavian countries 2. It’s fairly hard to find anyway in general (but there is a Swedish Dvd). 3. There are generally no English subtitles on most copies — so you have to go looking for them yourself to download.
    But the rewards are astounding if you can manage to track it down. What is most surprising is that the gay theme is so ‘out there’ and ‘in your face’ for a film of this era. It’s a classic of Swedish cinema, & beautifully photographed in black and white.
    Eva Henning’s tortured portrayal of a gay woman who cannot find acceptance in 1940’s Sweden — is a very important character in queer culture and one which deserves to be far more widely known for it’s place in the queer film history.
    There is simply NO film in 1940’s Hollywood — that has explicit lesbian themes, but in 1940’s Swedish cinema — there is, and ‘Girl With Hyacinths’ 1949, is that film.
    It definitely needs a place on the Autostraddle list, and I imagine the only reason it’s not on there — is because the list-makers have never heard of it…
    Trust me if you like Bergman’s ‘Persona’ — then this one is it’s spiritual sister.

    • Jess

      In the list makers’ defense I would like to point out that they addressed the fact that “Girl With Hyacinths” was not included in the final not BEFORE the list started in the article.

      It was left off NOT because they had not heard of it or it was thought to be unimportant, but because no one on the team was able to access it. As you stated in your comment, it’s hard to get ahold of!

      See the final note from the article below:

      One last note: There are lesbian movies on this list not currently available to stream. Some of the greatest works of queer cinema are not being watched, because people not within our community get to decide which films deserve attention. Many titles on this list were included because I contacted production companies and producers, attended rare screenings, and hunted for DVDs at actual video stores. And still some films — most notably Girl with Hyacinths (1950) and Me siento extraña (1977) — were not included because no one on our team was able to access them.

  37. Ty

    Apologies if this is explained somewhere else, but what’s the reasoning behind classifying ‘Tomboy’ as a film about a trans man? It resonated with me as a butch women very much and I’ve heard similarly from other butch lesbians. Seeing as the protagonist is a child in the movie is it beyond belief that they could grow up to be a masc woman or enby? It just feels a bit erasey tbh.

    • You’re not the first person to express this! And in our next update that’ll be adjusted. :)

  38. Leo Lane

    Suggestions:

    Pandora’s Box (Germany, 1929)

    Afternoon Breezes (Japan, 1920)

    The Ice Palace (Norway, 1987)

    Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (England, 1989)

    The Evening Dress (France, 2009)

    And seconding the recommendation of Girl with Hyacinths above.

  39. Leo Lane

    Oh and how about:

    Rara (Chile, 2016)

    L’Auberge espagnole (pan-Western-European, 2002)

    La Leyenda negra (USA/El Salvador, 2020)

    Carmen & Lola (Spain, 2018)

    A Bread Factory (USA, 2018)

    Oslo 31. August (Norway, 2011) has a lesbian subplot.

    And I really like these short films:

    Came Out, It Rained, Went Back In Again (England, 1991)

    Hi Maya (Switzerland, 2004)

    Viernes Girl (USA/El Salvador, 2005)

  40. Is there a list of movies not on this list? For those of us who are completionists and can’t help but collect all 10848 crystals in video games… Also I hope people remember this ranking doesn’t need to be their ranking lol.

    • I obviously haven’t seen everything (either because I can’t find it or because I watched the trailer and decided even I have limits of what I’ll sit through) but here’s a list that I keep with everything I have seen.

      https://letterboxd.com/drewgregory/list/lesbian-cinema/

      It also includes some shorts and docs and I’m a bit more generous with subtext but most of it are films that would be applicable for this list.

    • wj planet

      Check out my indie lesbian features, not on the list, made without million dollar budget$ including, Good Kisser (on Netflix & Amazon), Jamie and Jessie are Not Together (first lesbian musical romcom), and Easy Abby! Cheers 🥂

  41. Dani

    wow, amazing list!! I’m finally giving “Desert hearts” a chance lol, hopefully I’ll be obsessed with it :)) I would also like to strongly recommend “The New Girlfriend” (2014). Just a heads up, there’s a trans woman character played by a cis actor, so yeah that’s not great, but other than that I loved it!

  42. Chutney Popcorn will always have a place in my heart, because it was one of the first queer movies I watched, and it has a happy ending.

    Also Nina’s Heavenly Delights inspired me to try making curry from scratch, instead of using curry sauce from a packet, and I make a fantastic vegetable curry now.

  43. Ian

    Elisa and Marcela (2019) Directed by Isabel Coixet

  44. STR

    I’m very surprised not to see Happiest Season on the updated list! Was it forgotten somehow?

    • It got an aggregate score of 5.5 and our cut off ended up being 6. But if we ever expanded to 250 it would make it!

  45. alexandra

    Summer of Mesa (2020) is SUCH a beautiful wlw film starring a queer poc!!!

  46. Achilleas

    Anne Trister (Léa Pool, 1986) would definitely be really high on my list.

  47. Jacques Daigle

    In all lesbian movies reviews, I have never seen one of Wildside with Joan chen and Anne Hecke. Why?

    • Emilie J

      I’ve been following this list since it was first published and I just want to say–I love everyone that made this list, everyone making comments to the list w/ suggestions, everyone creating supplemental lists and so so many FILMS on this list. What a walk down memory lane! My girlfriend and I decided we’re going to challenge ourselves to watch as many of these as we can/ want to (no thanks to The Prom :p ) including some re-watches. Big ups to A Date for Mad Mary ! What a charming film if anyone reading hasn’t seen already. xox Emilie

  48. Southern Queeries

    Snapshots on amazon prime is also a beautiful film that I am sad is not on hereby but great list!!

  49. Manon

    Amazing list!

    Not sure tho about the top pick tho.

    I do miss some movies, I really loved Elena undone and even loving Annabelle.

    And the amazing Sarah waters adaptions, affinity, tipping the velvet and my favourite fingersmith Def deserve a spot!!

  50. Kir

    This was a really amazing list!
    I wanted to ask if you could do a review of ‘Sancharram’ (also known as ‘The Journey’-2004)? It’s on this list, but it’s really hard to find a good review

  51. Robert Swords

    No Way Desert Hearts is number 4!.That’s nuts!.It’s a beautiful love story without even addressing being gay.Rather it addresses the importance of growth these two women undergo once they meet.Vivian goes from rigid,uptight,and not trusting to warm,caring,and loving.Cay goes from wild,carefree,and one night stands to wanting to be with one person,grounded,and focused on that one person.It’s a wonderful movie.

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