The 100 Best Lesbian, Queer & Bisexual Movies Of All Time

Welcome to the new, periodically updated Best 100 Lesbian Movies Of All Time. Most recent update: March 2018. 

Films aimed at lesbian, bisexual and queer women have never exactly been noted for their universal excellence. Hollywood is a notoriously sexist machine and it’s hard enough to get a solid film about women made, let alone a solid film about women who prefer the company of other women. While unprecedented progress is being made on television, film lags sadly behind, offering few, if any, portrayals of LGBTQ women.

Curating a ranked list of the best 100 lesbian movies (and otherwise queer movies) of all time was not easy. It involved some rounds of nominations and voting from our own team members, Riese watching so many lesbian movies in such a short period of time that she lost her overall ability to determine “good” from “bad,” a surveyance of other lists and reading a ton of movie reviews to come up with the most objective list possible.

True story: it took us over a year to put the initial post together. We watched hundreds of LGBT films for women, literally HUNDREDS, to come up with these final rankings. Maintaining and updating the list has involved more than that, but also reading comments on the initial post and the follow-up post (which we’ve since removed, preferring instead to keep one post updated than to write multiple new posts).

Some notes:

  • There are some movies often lumped in with the “lesbian” category that are actually films about trans boys or men that you won’t see here, such as the excellent Boys Don’t Cry, Tomboy and By Hook or By Crook. 
  • We also ranked the films not only on how good they are, but on diversity as well as the quality of the gay lady storyline and characters. For example, The Hours and Monster are objectively two of the best films on this list, but they’re not in the top ten: the former for the extremely minimal screen time devoted to queer females, the latter because it was so depressing that we have still barely recovered.
  • We also left out films that relied solely on lesbian subtext or eliminated or sidenlined a lesbian storyline that was present in the book it was based on (A League of Their Own, Fried Green Tomatoes, Ghostbusters, The Color Purple) or where the lesbian character was so small or her sexuality was so subtle that you could watch the film and not even remember that there was a queer involved (e.g., Sunshine Cleaning, Boys on The Side).

There are more than 100 movies on this list now as we have continued to add to it.

The term “lesbian movies” is used in the headline because that is the most popular search term for people looking for films about women who like other women, but these movies feature women of all sexual orientations besides “straight.”

Please remember that when you disagree with rankings, it is best to do so with extra punctuation, lots of all caps, and well-honed insults.


120. Lost & Delirious (2001)

our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

lost-and-delirious

Rotten Tomatoes score: 51%
Directed by: Léa Pool
Written by: Judith Thompson
Starring: Piper Perabo, Jessica Paré and Mischa Barton

Most of us agree that this film was terrible, but its not without its merits. Like that cast, and those uniforms?


119. Below Her Mouth (2016)

our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%
Directed By: April Mullen
Written By: Stephanie Fabrizi
Starring: Erika Linder, Natalie Krill

This film earned high marks for going all-in with lesbian sex, and gets a spot on this list for that alone, despite being, at times, utterly insufferable. However, if we’d seen this in high school when we were figuring out our sexualities and weren’t already bored by its stale tropes, excruciating dialogue and the utter cliche of the lead character, it’d probably change our lives and make us all the lesbians we are today; but much earlier!


118. Go Fish (1995)

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go-fish-lesbian-movie

Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Directed by: Lawrence L. Simeone, Rose Troche
Written by: Donnie Jarman, George LePorte, Rose Troche, Guinevere Turner
Starring: T. Wendy McMillan, Guinevere Turner

It’s a classic. It holds a special place in the hearts of so many lesbians who remember a time when this was all there was, and its legend leaves many modern viewers stuck scratching their heads about why it was ever a thing. Well: while coming out stories are wildly important, it’s always lovely to see a lesbian story that focuses on what happens next. Go Fish is a fun, spunky film about the frustrating experience of finding love, even when it’s right under your nose.


117. Girltrash: All Night Long! (2013)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

girltrash-lesbian-movie

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Alex Martinez Kondracke
Written by:  Angela Robinson
Starring: Michelle Lombardo, Gabrielle Christian, Mandy Musgrave, Rose Rollins, Kate French, Clementine Ford, Malaya Rivera Drew, Jessica Chaffin

There was a lot of drama around the release of this film, and we do stand with Angela Robinson, who did not approve the final cut of the movie. But it’s still pretty cute and worth a mention — it’s a rock musical chock-full of ladies you love to see play gay, like the lead actresses from South of Nowhere and Kate French, Malaya Rivera Drew, Clementine Ford and Rose Rollins from The L Word.


116. A Perfect Ending (2012)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

perfect-ending
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Nicole Conn
Written by: Nicole Conn
Starring: Barbara Niven, Jessica Clark

Nicole Conn is a prolific lesbian filmmaker and, to be honest, usually her name on a title is a pretty good indication that we’re not watching a good movie. But a lot of queer women swear by her movies and love the heck out of ’em so we felt obligated to include at least one! If Pretty Woman had a baby gay baby with Nicholas Sparks, the result would be A Perfect Ending, a drama about a call girl with a heart of gold and an artist’s temperament who falls in love with a “straight” WASPy housewife who is dying of cancer. The ending may be perfect, but it’s sad as heck.


115. Entre Nous / Coup de foudre (1983) (France)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score:
Directed by: Diane Kurys
Written by: Olivier Cohen, Diane Kurys & Alain Le Henry
Starring: Miou-Miou, Isabelle Huppert, Guy Marchand

This story of two young married women who realize how unfulfilled they are in their marriages when they fall in love with each other takes place in the 1950s, with flashbacks set in World War II, when one of the women was placed in an internment camp for Jews. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.


114. Puccini For Beginners (2007)

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puccini-for-beginners

Rotten Tomatoes score: 51%
Directed by: Maria Maggenti
Written by: Mari Maggenti
Starring: Gretchen Mol, Justin Kirk, Elizabeth Reaser

This “screwball comedy of sexual confusion with lesbian inclinations” was made by Maria Maggenti, who also made The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love. It’s not a masterpiece, but out actress Sarah Croce and her two friends enjoyed watching it while eating Italian food, so.


113. Gray Matters (2006)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

gray-matters-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 8%
Directed by: Sue Kramer
Written by: Sue Kramer
Starring: Heather Graham, Tom Cavanagh, Bridget Moynahan, Molly Shannon, Saffron Burrows

Heather Graham stars in this cheesy, adorable rom-com about a ballroom dancer who falls in love with her brother’s girlfriend.


112. My Friend From Faro / Mein Freund aus Faro (2008) (Germany)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

mein_freund_aus_faro1
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Nana Neul
Written by: Nana Neul
Starring: Anjorka Strechel, Lucie Hollmann

Just your classic German tale of a tomboy who assumes the identity of a Portuguese guy named Miguel after she plows down a pretty girl in the street.


111. It’s In The Water (1997)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

its-in-the-water-lesbian-film
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Kelli Herd
Written by: Kelli Herd
Starring: Keri Jo Chapman, Teresa Garrett

In It’s In The Water, the whole town of Azalea Springs, Texas loses its damn mind when someone makes an offhand comment about having their water tested for The Gay. This film hits all the 90’s queer g-spots: beards, leather bars, AIDS, and anti-gay protesters foaming at the mouth. Plus some ladies making out in a supply closet, if you’re into that sort of thing.


110. Better Than Chocolate (1999) (Canada)

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better-than-chocolate
Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%
Directed by: Anne Wheeler
Written by: Peggy Thompson
Starring: Wendy Crewson, Karyn Dwyer

Better Than Chocolate is not without flaws. It’s cliched and over-the-top; there’s a trans woman character played by a cis man; and the poster looks like some kind of Lisa Frank fever-dream, all of which we can probably chalk up to it being a film from the ’90s. If you can get around that, you can enjoy this endearing and charming love story about a girl who drops out of college to work at a lesbian bookstore, much to the adorable confusion of her chocolate-addicted mother. Fun fact: the actor who played the trans woman character also played Bob Corbett on Bomb Girls and Henrik on Orphan Black.


109. Tru Love (2014)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

tru-love-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Kate Johnston, Shauna MacDonald
Written by: Kate Johnston, Shauna MacDonald
Starring: Kate Trotter, Peter MacNeill

The May/December romance at the heart of Tru Love is but one of the many complex relationships in this surprisingly layered film. Winner of nearly a dozen awards across the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and India, Tru Love might just make you want to believe in soul mates. Or fall asleep. Depends on your style.


108. The Sea Purple / Viola di Mare (2009) (Italy)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Donatella Maiorca
Written by: Donatella Maiorca
Starring: Valeria Solarino, Isabella Ragonese & Ennio Fantastichini

In this stunning 19th century period film, the powerful quarrymaster’s daughter falls in love with her childhood friend Sara when she returns to the remote Mediterranean island where they both grew up. Their affair scandalizes the island.


107. Bumblef*ck USA (2014)

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bumblefckusa-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Aaron Douglas Johnston
Written By: Cat Smits, Aaron Douglas Johnston
Starring: Cat Smits, Heidi M. Sallows, Jef Smith, John Watkins

Alexa moves from Amsterdam to a small U.S. town to film a documentary to help her make sense of her gay best friend’s suicide. While she’s there, she falls in love with a woman for the first time in her life. It only takes one summer for Alexa’s life to change forever.


106. When Night is Falling (1995) (Canada)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: 50%
Directed by: Patricia Rozema
Written by: Patricia Rozema
Starring: Pascale Bussieres, Rachael Crawford

“My favourite film simply because it unashamedly clings to an impossible optimism,” wrote commenter Marriane. “I mean, come on … the dog comes back to life to the strains of the Hallelujah chorus. It was this kind of optimism that saw marriage equality germinate, take root and flower.”


105. Portrait of a Serial Monogamist (2016)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%
Directed by: Christina Zeidler & John Mitchell
Written by: Christina Zeidler & John Mitchell
Starring: Diane Flacks, Robin Duke

Elsie is a forty-year-old Jewish lesbian in Toronto who— after getting her heart broken at the tender age of 12  has bounced from serious relationship to serious relationship all her life, refusing to be single and perfecting her exit strategy. The film opens with Elise breaking up with her current girlfriend of five years and, for the first time in her life, finding herself unable to walk out the door of one monogamous situation and into the arms of another one. Heather Hogan called it “one of the best-written lesbian movies I’ve ever seen… incisive and very, very funny.”


104. Love My Life (2003) (Japan)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

love-my-life
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Koji Kawano
Written By: Hiroko Kanasugi, Ebine Yamaji
Starring: Asami Imajuku, Rei Yoshii, Ira Ishida

Based off the josei manga by Ebine Yamaji, Love My Life was a favorite of many commenters on our original list. “The joy of the film, aside from the relationship between the main character and her girlfriend,” Rhea said, ”is the one between her and her father as she learns more about him and her mother’s past.


103. Almost Adults (2017)

our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

A cute film that delivers some light charm with minimal offensiveness, starring Elise Bauman of Carmilla as lesbian tomboy femme Mackenzie and Natasha Negovanlis as her best friend Cassie, the last girl in the world not to notice that Mack is gay as hell.


102. Antonia’s Line (1996)

lgbtq ensemble characters // lgbtq romance

antonias-line-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 64%
Directed by: Marleen Gorris
Written by: Marleen Gorris
Starring: Willeke van Ammelrooy, Els Dottermans, Jan Decleir

This multi-generational film that explores the lineage of a World War II widow named named Antonia, who returns to her hometown to take care of her ailing mother. Danielle refuses to take a husband, but does want to have a child. After getting pregnant and giving birth, Danielle ultimately falls in love with her genius daughter’s tutor.


101. Daphne (2007) (UK)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

daphne-movie-poster-2007-1020438152
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Clare Beavan
Written by: Amy Jenkins, Margaret Forster
Starring: Geraldine Somerville, Elizabeth McGovern

Daphne is exactly the film you need, if the thing you’re missing from your life is Downton Abby’s Elizabeth McGovern in a depressing-as-fuck period drama about the unrequited lady loves of novelist Daphne DuMauier.


100. My Mother Likes Women / A Mi Madre Le Gustan Las Mujeres (2002) (Spain)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

my-mother-likes-women-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 45%
Directed by:Daniela Féjerman, Inés París
Written by: Inés París, Daniela Féjerman
Starring: Silvia Abascal

Long-divorced Sophia gathers her three daughters to share the news that she’s fallen in love! Hurrah! That love is the sapphic sort. Not-so-Hurrah.


99. BFFs (2014)

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BFFs-movie-poster
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Andrew Putschoegl
Written By: Andrea Grano, Tara Karsian
Starring: Larisa Oleynik, Sean Maher, Pat Carroll

This fun buddy-movie-slash-romcom “takes female-driven to a whole new level,” according to out comedian Brittani Nichols, who wrote in her review of the film, “It’s a narrative that opens the doors for the discussion of sexual fluidity without making it corny or annoying and the best part of all is it’s funny.” It’s the story of two friends who fake being a couple to use a free trip to a Couples Retreat and discover while pretending to be girlfriends that there might be more to their friendship than they previously considered.


98. Liz In September (2015) (Venezuelan)

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Fina Torres
Written By:
Starring: Patricia Velasquez, Mimi Lazo, Danay Garcia

An adaptation of the American play Last Summer in Bluefish Cove that stars model/actress Patricia Velásquez as Liz, who takes a liking to Eva, a traveler whose car broke down nearby, landing her at the hotel owned by Liz’s friend Margot. All of Margot’s friends are lesbians, and everybody’s coming to town for Liz’s 37th birthday. Variety wrote that “this handsome romantic drama will be a crowdpleaser primarily among lesbian audiences in various formats.”


97. Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf? (2013)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

whos-afraid-of-vagina-wolf

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Anna Margarita Albelo
Written By: Michael Urban, Anna Margarita Albelo
Starring: Agnes Olech, Carrie Preston, Guinevere Turner

A little bit quirky, and a little bit navel-gazey, this grown-up comedy looks at what it means to really have it all. Plus it has an all-female cast, one of whom literally romps around on stage wearing a vagina costume. If that’s not what you’re looking for in a film, you’re on the wrong list, my friend.


96. The Hunger (1983)

lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

the-hunger
Rotten Tomatoes score: 46%
Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: Tony Scott
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon

Lesbian vampires? Check. Susan Sarandon? Check. David Bowie? Check. Major shoutout in The Miseducation of Cameron Post? CHECK CHECK CHECK.


95. Rough Night (2017)

lgbtq ensemble characters // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 45%
Directed By: Lucia Aniello
Written By: Lucia Aniello & Paul W. Downs
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz

There’s a lot about this film, on the surface, that might turn you off — but if you give it a chance, you might be surprised by how those things actually play out! Yes, the writing is often clumsy and there are some annoying, ridiculous plot holes. But it’s also a cute, funny and surprisingly feminist movie entirely about women with a non-chalant lesbian front-and-center (played by Ilana Glazer) who gets one of the film’s only rewarding romantic storylines.


94. The Intervention (2016)

lgbtq lead ensemble // lgbtq romance  // our review //

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Directed by: Clea DuVall
Written by: Clea DuVall
Starring: Clea Duvall, Natasha Lyonne, Cobie Smulders, Melanie Lynskey

Clea Duvall directed this weekend-at-the-summer-house film about four couples of mostly old friends who plan a weekend away together to stage an “intervention” on one of the couples, who they’ve agreed needs to divorce. Obviously over the course of the weekend we realize that all these couples are dysfunctional and probably shouldn’t judge. It’s worth it to see Clea Duvall and Natasha Lyonne play a couple again and just to witness excellent performances from your favorite actresses, although the film’s central conceit never really earns its existence and the backstories of the characters often ring a little hollow.


93. The Summer of Sangalie (2015) (Lithuania)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%
Directed by: Alanté Kavaïté
Written by: Alanté Kavaïté
Starring: Julija Steponaityte, Aiste Dirziute

Summer love blooms between two teenagers in Lithuania who meet at an aerobatics show — a girl who dreams of being a pilot who’s spending the summer at her family’s lake house and the bohemian photographer and clothing designer she’s drawn to.


92. Drool (2009)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

drool-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Nancy Kissam
Written by: Nancy Kissam
Starring: Jill Marie Jones, Laura Harring, Ashley Duggan Smith

A dark comedy that touches on abuse, assault and murder, but manages to be fun about it all.


91. Lovesong (2017)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Directed By: So Yong Kim
Written By: So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray
Starring: Jena Malone, Riley Keough, Brooklyn Decker, Ryan Eggold, Rosanna Arquette

Sarah, a young mother left lonely by her marriage, is talked into a road trip with her college friend, Mindy, and their intense longtime friendship is shot through with “stolen kisses and college confessions [that] indicate there’s so much more between Sarah and Mindy than a best friendship.”


90. Red Doors (2007) (China)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

red-doors
Rotten Tomatoes score: 59%
Directed by: Georgia Lee
Written by: Georgia Lee
Starring: Jacqueline Kim, Tzi Ma, Elaine Kao, Freda Foh Shen

Red Doors tells the story of Ed Wong, a Chinese-American retiree who is coming to terms with his three daughters growing up. One of his daughters, Julie, falls in love with an actress. They struggle to reconcile their sexuality with their parents’ demands on their romantic lives.


89. Cloudburst (2013)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

cloudburst-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Directed by: Thom Fitzgerald
Written by: Thom Fitzgerald
Starring: Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, John Dunsworth

Ever wonder what would happen if Thelma and Louis were elderly lesbians? Cloudburst is the answer.


88. The Chinese Botanist’s Daughters /Les Filles Du Botaniste (2006) (China)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

chinese-botanist-daughter
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Sijie Dai
Written by: Sijie Dai, Nadine Perront
Starring: Mylène Jampanoï, Xiao Ran Li

Li Ming, an orphan of the Tangshan earthquake, finds a home with renowned and reclusive botanist. Li instantly connects with her new benefactor’s daughter, An. Soon their friendship turns into a secret and sensual love affair.


87. Itty Bitty Titty Committee (2007)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Itty-Bitty-Titty-Committee-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%
Directed By: Jamie Babbit
Written By: Tina Mabry, Abigail Shafran
Starring: Nicole Vicius, Clea DuVall, Melonie Diaz, Daniela Sea, Marissa Ramirez

After getting dumped by her girlfriend, Anna meets a young feminist named Sadie who invites her to join Clits In Action (CiA) and forget her romantic woes. As Anna embraces radical activism, she also finds herself falling for Sadie, who is in a longterm relationship with an older woman who belongs to a more mainstream feminist organization.


86. You and Me Forever (2012) (Denmark)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

kinopoisk.ru
Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Directed by: Kaspar Munk
Written by: Kaspar Munk
Starring: Julie Andersen, Frederikke Dahl Hansen, Emilie Kruse

Laura and Christie are best friends forever, until a rebel named Maria arrives on the scene and starts stealing Laura away.


85. Kissing Jessica Stein (2002)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%
Directed by: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Written by: Heather Juergensen, Jennifer Westfeldt
Starring: Heather Juergensen, Jennifer Westfeldt

Jessica Stein is frustrated by her dating experiences with men and decides to give women a shot when she connects with another woman who’s also never been in a lesbian relationship before. Funny, honest and down-to-earth, this romantic comedy was written by the two best friends who also star in the film.


84. Mädchen in Uniform (1931) (Germany)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

maedcheninuniform_poster

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Directed By: Leontine Sagan, Carl Froelich
Written By: Christa Winsloe, Friedrich Dammann
Starring: Emilia Unda, Dorothea Wieck, Hedwig Schlichter

Considered by many to be the first lesbian film, Mädchen in Uniform explores the relationship between a teenage boarding school student and one of her female teachers. Does that sound like the plot of Loving Annabelle to you? That’s because it is!


83. The Killing of Sister George (1968)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 75%
Directed By: Robert Aldrich
Written By: Lukas Heller
Starring: Beryl Reid, Susannah York, Coral Browne

Based on the 1964 play, The Killing of Sister George sees an aging television actress who has just lost her popular television role and is losing her relationship with a much younger woman. It was the first film to portray the interior of a lesbian nightclub. The film was given an X rating from the newly-formed MPAA due to its lesbian content, and thus failed at the box office. In The UK and Italy, some lesbian scenes were cut. The lesbian stereotypes prevalent in this film did none of us one single favor.


82. The Truth About Jane (2000)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads

the-truth-about-jane-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Lee Rose
Written by: Lee Rose
Starring: Stockard Channing, Ellen Muth

We loved Stockard Channing as Rizzo, and we loved her as First Lady Abigail Bartlett. Now we have to love her as a mother unable to believe that her daughter Jane is in fact not too pure to be pink. Stockard delivers yet another knockout performance in The Truth About Jane, earning a nomination from the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. This may have been the first queer movie you ever saw — it was for many of us!


81. I Can’t Think Straight (2008)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

i-cant-think-straight-lesbian-film
Rotten Tomatoes score: 16%
Directed by: Shamim Sarif
Written by: Shamim Shaif, Kelly Moss
Starring: Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth

This is another film that lesbians either love or hate, but this is the film that opened our hearts forever Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth, as they played Tala and Leyla, two women from very different backgrounds that fall in love on accident. Tala is a Jordanian Palestinian woman living in London and planning her wedding. Leyla is a British-Indian who is dating Tala’s BFF. They fall in love, fall apart, and fall back together again. It’s very sweet and pretty dang sexy.

80. Signature Move (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Directed By: Jennifer Reeder
Written By: Lisa Donato, Fawzia Mirza
Starring: Fawzia Mirza, Shabana Azmi, Sari Sanchez

A Pakistani-American lawyer’s widowed mother has just moved in, and spends her days watching television and badgering her daughter about finding a nice man to marry. But Zaynab has other things on her mind — like Alma, the Mexican-American woman she’s falling for. Alma’s mother, it turns out, is a former professional Luchadora, which is of great interest to Zaynab, who has just taken up wrestling herself.


78. The Journey / Sancharram (2005) (India)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

the-journey-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Ligy J. Pullappally
Written by: Ligy J. Pullappally
Starring: Suhasini V. Nair, Shruiti Menon, K.P.A.C. Lalitha

In an Indian village where arranged marriages are just a way of life, Kiran falls in love with her friend Delilah.


77. Reaching For The Moon (2013)

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reaching-for-the moon
Rotten Tomatoes score: 65%
Directed By: Bruno Barreto
Written By: Julie Sayres, Matthew Chapman
Starring: Miranda Otto, Gloria Pires, Tracy Middendorf

Reaching For The Moon is based on the relationship between American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, whose passionate, tumultuous love affair took place in Petrópolis between 1951 and 1967.


76. Loving Annabelle (2006)

our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

loving-annabelle-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Katherine Brooks
Written By: Olivia Bohnhoff, Katherine Brooks, Karen Klopfenstein
Starring: Diane Gaidry, Erin Kelly, Ilene Graff

A Catholic boarding school teacher falls in love with one of her students. It’s the plot of Mädchen in Uniform with more on-screen lesbian sex shenanigans and electric guitars.


75. The Duke of Burgundy (2015)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
Directed by: Peter Strickland
Written by: Peter Strickland
Starring: Chiara D’Anna, Sidse Babett Knudsen

The “lesbian BDSM movie you’ve been waiting for” details the daily sexual routines between the very kinky Evelyn and her lover Cynthia, who wants a more conventional relationship with Evelyn.


74. Yes or No (Yak Rak Ko Rak Loei) (2012)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

à??à? 3.jpg
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: : Sarasawadee Wongsompetch
Written by: : Sarasawadee Wongsompetch
Starring: Sucharat Manaying, Suppanad Jittaleela

This Thai film looks at a relationship between two students from different backgrounds: Kim, a masculine-of-center lesbian, and Pie, who hails from a traditional family that doesn’t approve of gay people. Despite Pie’s prejudices toward Kim, they grow closer and closer and ultimately fall in love.


73. Personal Best (1982)

mainstream movie // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

personal-best-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Directed by: Robert Towne
Written by: Robert Towne
Starring: Mariel Hemingway, Scott Glenn, Patrice Donnelly

Fun fact: This is the movie Ellen cited as making her gay when she came out on her sitcom in 1997. This classic film tells the story of track and field star Chris Cahill who meets an more experienced athlete at the ’76 Olympic trials. Their gal pal-ness quickly turns to romance. Like most older lesbian films, it doesn’t have a happy ending.


72. Lianna (1983) (Canada)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

lianna-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
Directed By: John Sayles
Written By: John Sayles
Starring: Linda Griffiths, Jane Hallaren, Jon De Vries

Lianna is dated, absolutely. It hails from the same year Mr. T joined The A Team, for crying out loud. But the story of self-discovery and general gal-palling stands the test of time, even if you do have to put up with some really (really) bad hair to get to it.


71. Blue Gate Crossing (2003) (Taiwan)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%
Directed by: Yee Chih-yen
Written by: Yee Chih-yen
Starring: Joanna Chou, Bo-Lin Chen, Shu-hui Liang, Lun-Mei Guey

According to commenter Jelena, this “tender, unusual” story of a love triangle between two teenage girl best friends and a boy swimming champ features a refreshing and unexpected teen lesbian awakening.


70. Spider Lilies / Ci Qing (2007) (Taiwan)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Spider-Lilies-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Zero Chou
Written by: Zero Chou
Starring: Rainie Yang, Isabella Leong

Spider Lilies won the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film at the Berlin Film Festival. It tells the story of Jade, a cybersex worker, and Takeko, a tattoo artist, who awaken each other’s repressed sexuality and fall in love. Take that, cursed tattoo!


69. The Secret Diaries of Ms Anne Lister (2010) (UK)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

secret-diaries-of-miss-ann-lister-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: James Kent
Written By: Jane English
Starring: Maxine Peake, Anna Madeley

Following the success of the miniseries Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet, BBC filmed another queer period piece, this time about real-life lesbian lady Anne Lister. Lister was a Yorskshire landowner in the 19th century and an early industrialist. She also loved the ladies. The screenplay is based on the 4,000,000 words Lister wrote in her diaries in her lifetime. (The lesbian exploits were written in cipher!)


68. Laurel Canyon (2002)

mainstream movie // lgbtq ensemble character

laurel-canyon-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 68%
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Written by: Lisa Cholodenko
Starring: Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale plays Alex, a young MD student who leaves her husband to get into a polyamorous relationship with her husband’s mom and his mom’s boyfriend. Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko says the film was inspired by the Joni Mitchel’s “Ladies of the Canyon.”


67. Heavenly Creatures (1994) (New Zealand)

mainstream movie // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Heavenly-Creatures-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Written By: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Frances Walsh
Starring: Kate Winslet, Melanie Lynskey, Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent

Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed film details the obsessive (and ultimately) fatal relationship between Juliet and Pauline, who meet when they are 13 years old and fall in immediate love with each other. They spend most of their time writing about their fictional world, Borovnia, and projecting themselves into it. In real life, Juliet grew up to become famous novelist Anne Perry.


66. Karmen Gei (2001) (Senegal)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

karmen-gei
Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%
Directed By: Joseph Gaï Ramaka
Written By: Joseph Gaï Ramaka
Starring: Jeinaba Diop Gai, Magaye Niang, Stéphanie Biddle

Pansexual “social outlaw” Karmen surprises her captors at a women’s prison when she seduces warden Angelique and flees for the Dakar underworld. Eventually, a love triangle emerges between Karmen, Angelique and police corporal Lamine and things get progressively more complicated from there.


65. Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009) (Sweden)

mainstream movie // lgbtq lead

girl-with-a-dragon-tattoo-queer-film
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
Directed By: Niels Arden Oplev
Written By: Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg, Nicolaj Arcel
Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace

Adapted from Stieg Larsson’s best selling trilogy of novels, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo focuses on bisexual hacker Lisbeth Salander, who suffers brutal sexual abuse at the hands of her foster care supervisor and ultimately becomes the investigative partner of Mikael Blomkvist, a famous newspaper reporter who is hired by an eccentric millionaire to solve the decades old case of his missing granddaughter. Their trail leads them to (surprise!) more sexual abuse. (Larsson’s novel was titled Men Who Hate Women in the native Swedish version.)


64. AWOL (2016)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Deb Shoval
Written by: Deb Shoval, Karolina Waclawiak
Starring: Lola Kirke, Breeda Wool, Dale Soules

“Talking about class can be ugly,” wrote Sarah Fonseca in her glowing review of AWOL, a love story set in a rarely-portrayed rural landscape and confronts new conversations issues of class, race and gender. “Yet as AWOL asserts, when you dare to comment, sometimes it frees up room for beauty to unfurl.”


63. Pretty Persuasion (2005)

mainstream movie // lgbtq leads

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 32%
Directed By: Marcos Siega
Written By: Skander Halim
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Ron Livingston, Jane Krakowski, Selma Blair

Evan Rachel Wood sparkles like a narcissistic little diamond in this mindfuck of a Mean Girls film. Pretty Persuasion hits all the triggers—sexual assault, racism, and suicide to name a few—and plenty more taboos besides. It’s got some important things to say about agency and sexuality, if you can make it through the racist rants to get there.


62. Four-Faced Liar (2010)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

four-faced-liar-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Jacob Chase, Samantha Housman
Written By: Marja-Lewis Ryan
Starring: Marja-Lewis Ryan, Daniel Carlisle, Todd Kubrak

Four-Faced Liar spends most of its time hanging out in an area that makes me every so slightly uncomfortable: straight girl in a committed relationship with a guy starts fooling around with the nearest lesbian. Too often, the lesbian is a screeching vulture flapping around the edges while the straight girl actually ends up with the boy, but Four-Faced Liar is actually nuanced enough to make it work.


61. Young and Wild / Joven y Alocada (2012) (Chile)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

young-and-wild-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Marialy Rivas
Written By: María José VieraGallo, Marialy Rivas, Pedro Peirano, Maria-Jose Viera Gallo, Sebastián Sepúlveda
Starring: Alicia Rodríguez, Aline Küppenheim, María Gracia Omegna

Despite being raised by strict Evangelicals, Daniela gets kicked out of her church for being a fornicator. Young and Wild may be a Chilean film, but its authenticity is universal. Nothing is tied up in a neat little bow, but then life rarely is. Daniela is sexy, gorgeous, and likes to kiss pretty girls. Count us in.


60. The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls In Love (1995)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

incredibly-true-advetures-of-two-girls-in-love-lesbian-movie

Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%
Directed By: Maria Maggenti
Written By: Maria Maggenti
Starring: Laurel Holloman, Nicole Ari Parker

Before she was The L Word‘s Tina Kennard, Laurel Holloman landed on our screens as Randy Dean, an underachieving high school student who falls in love with an affluent girl from her high school. It’s so sweet and the ending is so happy it’s hard to believe this movie even exists, let alone was filmed a decade before The L Word.

59. The First Girl I Loved (2016)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
Directed by: Kerem Sanga
Written by: Kerem Sanga
Starring: Dylan Gelula, Brianna Hildebrand, Mateo Arias

A Sundance award-winning coming-of-age film about a misfit who falls for the cute softball star at her high school — and her best friend Clifton feels threatened by their budding connection. “It captures the heart-pounding terror of becoming someone, the one-way nausea of committing to yourself,” writes Indiewire.


58. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) (France)

// kate’s review // mainstream movie // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

blue-is-the-warmest-color-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%
Directed By: Abdel Kechiche
Written By: Julie Maroh, Abdel Kechiche, Ghalya Lacroix, Ghalia Lacroix
Starring: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos

Perhaps the most controversial lesbian film of this century, Blue Is the Warmest Color was decried as pornography by some, an exploitative film dominated by the male gaze by others and heralded as the greatest queer film of all time by others. It is based on the graphic novel of the same name, and while it embraces the coming of age queer themes of the source material, it zigs in a completely different direction in the end.


57. Concussion (2013)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

concussion-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 74%
Directed By: Stacie Passon
Written By: Stacie Passon
Starring: Robin Weigert, Maggie Siff, Jonathan Tchaikovsky

When you were watching Mad Men, did you wish Maggie Siff would get off Don Draper’s D and get under a hot girl? If so, Concussion is the film for you!


56. Stud Life (2012) (UK)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

stud-life-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Campbell Ex
Written By: Campbell Ex
Starring: T’Nia Miller, Kyle Treslove, Robyn Kerr

Not even an obviously teensy budget can break this gorgeously acted film about a stud finding love, grappling with shifting friendships, and figuring out what it means when the rules you set for yourself are the very things that stop you from getting what you want most.


55. Fire (1996) (India)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

fire-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%
Directed By: Deepa Mehta
Written By: Deepa Mehta
Starring: Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, Kulbhushan Kharbanda

I’ve heard it said that the best way to write a good story is to put your favorite character in a tree and throw rocks at them. For Radha and Sita, two Indian women stuck in loveless and demeaning marriages, rocks are the least of their problems. One of the first Indian film to explicitly portray homosexuality, Fire has faced an avalanche of controversy. Banned books (and films!) do it better.


54. Valencia (2013)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

valencia Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Peter Anthony, Sharon Barnes
Written By: Peter Anthony, Sharon Barnes
Starring: Shawna Elizabeth, Annie Danger, Tanya Wischerath

A once in a life time collaboration, Valencia The Movie/s is what happens when twenty-one (!) queer filmmakers each create a short film depicting one chapter of Michelle Tea’s 2000 Lambda Literary Award winning novel of the same name. It’s almost too cool to be believed, and Gabby declared it “the most masterful dyke-centric artsy-weirdo film I’ve ever seen.”


53. Water Lilies (2008) (France)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

water-lillies
Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Directed by: Céline Sciamma
Written by: Céline Sciamma
Starring: Pauline Acquart, Adèle Haenel, Louise Blachère

Perhaps more than any other film on this list, Water Lilies perfectly captures the heart-wrenching truth of sexual awakening, jealousy, and lust. And if that’s not enough to make you sit down with this gorgeous French film, how about the fact that Adele Haenel, who won a César Award for her portrayal of Floriane, fell in love with her female director Celine Sciamma on the set of Water Lilies and they’re still together to this very day?


52. Monster (2004)

mainstream movie // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

monster-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Written by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern

Based on the real-life story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Monster is an Academy Award-winning crime drama about a sex worker who killed six men during the late ’80s and early ’90s. Charlize Theron plays Wuornos, and Christina Ricci plays Tyria Moore, Wuornos’ girlfriend. It’s an excellent film, but it’s not ranked higher because its portrayal of lesbiansim isn’t exactly the most flattering!


51. Farewell, My Queen (2012) (France)

mainstream movie // lgbtq leads

farewell-my-queen
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Directed By: Benoît Jacquot
Written By: Chantal Thomas, Benoît Jacquot, Gilles Taurand, Gilles Taurant
Starring: Diane Kruger, Léa Seydoux, Virginie Ledoyen, Xavier Beauvois

If you’re looking for a fictional account of the last days of Marie Antoinette, in which she seduces the young woman who reads to her, well, this movie is for you!  It features Diane Kruger and a pre-Blue Is the Warmest Color Léa Seydoux as Sidonie Laborde, Marie Antoinette’s reader.


50. Summertime / La Belle Saison (2016) (France)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Directed by: Catherine Corsini
Written by: Catherine Corsini & Laurette Polmanss
Starring: Cécile de France, Izïa Higelin, Noémie Lvovsky

This gorgeous film set in 1971 tells the story of a young woman from the French countryside who moves to Paris to get away from her parents, where she falls in with a group of politically engaged feminists and eventually falls in love with Carole, their leader.


49. Rent (2005)

mainstream movie // lgbtq female ensemble characters // lgbtq romance

rent-movie-
Rotten Tomatoes score: 46%
Directed By: Chris Columbus
Written By: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Jesse L. Martin

Based on the long-running Broadway musical of the same name, Rent explores the lives of several East Village artists — many of them queer — living during the AIDS crisis in New York City in the late ’80s. The show-stopping “Take Me (Or Leave Me)” is a rousing number between Maureen, a bisexual performance artist who loves to flirt and get wild, and her girlfriend, Joanne, a lawyer who loves lists and stability.


48. Mullholland Drive (2001)

lgbtq leads

mullholland-drive-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 81%
Directed By: David Lynch
Written By: Joyce Eliason, David Lynch
Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller

It’s tough to describe this neo-noir mystery beyond alerting you that it’s a David Lynch film with a non-linear narrative and lots of twists and turns: complicated, weird, smart, compelling. Naomi Watts plays Betty Elms, an aspiring actress new to Los Angeles who becomes friends with Rita, an amnesic played by Laura Harring, who’s been hiding from the world in Elms’ aunt’s apartment. Everything that happens next is too intense and bizarre to sum up, but rest assured: women have sex in this movie.


47. Set it Off (1996)

mainstream movie // lgbtq ensemble characters

set-it-off
Rotten Tomatoes score: 63%
Directed By: F. Gary Gray
Written By: Takashi Bufford, Kate Lanier
Starring: Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox

Four women fed up with the options available to them as black women band together to damn the man and perform their own bank heists. Queen Latifah plays lesbian character Cleo, and the film also shows the relationship between her and her girlfriend, Urusula. AfterEllen called it “one of the greatest girl-power/female-solidarity flicks around and a true trend-starter from 1996.”


46. Foxfire (1996)

mainstream movie // lgbtq female ensemble characters

foxfire
Rotten Tomatoes score: 30%
Directed By: Annette Haywood-Carter
Written By: Elizabeth White
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Hedy Burress, Jenny Lewis, Jenny Shimizu

If My So-Called Life took Dawson’s Creek out behind the gym and put a baby in it, and that baby was a slightly unhinged Angelia Jolie, it would be called Foxfire. Jenny Shimizu plays a lesbian and Angelina Jolie’s character is pretty queer, too — the set of this film is where those two actresses fell in love and Jolie realized she was bisexual. The story of the close bonds groups of female friends from, especially in the face of adversity, is something we all understand on a bone-deep level.


45. Boy Meets Girl (2014)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

BoyMeetsGirlPoster_640
Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%
Directed by: Eric Schaeffer
Written by: Eric Schaeffer
Starring: Michael Welch, Alexandra Turshen, Michelle Hendley

Mari found Boy Meets Girl imperfect, but also groundbreaking and heartwarming: “Ricky is sweet and smart and quirky and cute, and I dare you all not to have a crush on her by the end of the film. She’s also a whole person, with feelings and dreams and heartbreaks and desires all her own that don’t necessarily have anything to do with being trans. While she is feminine, she’s far the hyper-femme stereotypes, with a definite tomboy spirit. She’s perhaps one of the most nuanced, least stereotypical trans characters that has ever been portrayed in film.”


44. High Art (1998)

our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

high-art-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 72%
Directed By: Lisa Cholodenko
Written By: Lisa Cholodenko
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Ally Sheedy, Patricia Clarkson

Syd’s boyfriend James isn’t nearly as intriguing as the tragically talented lesbian drug addict photographer Lucy who lives in her building — with her girlfriend, German actress Greta. A relationship between Syd and Lucy begins brewing, changing both of their lives forever.


43. D.E.B.S. (2004)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

DEBS
Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%
Directed by: Angela Robinson
Written by: Angela Robinson
Starring: Jordana Brewster, Sara Foster, Meagan Good

Carly said of this queer take on a crime caper, “D.E.B.S. is like the Little Engine That Could of lezzy films. D.E.B.S.’s small budget and subsequent green screen overdose gives it a campy and silly look which I totally love. The script and the acting are decent and the soundtrack is fantastic. Unfortunately it’s pretty tame as far as the girl-on-girl action goes, but what we do see is adorable and feels realistic. Did I mention Jordana Brewster? Yow. If you like girls with guns, you’ll love this coming-of-age girl-meets-girl love story, set amongst spy missions and national security.”


42. Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (2012)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

codependent-lesbian-space-alien-seeks-same-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%
Directed By: Madeleine Olnek
Written By: Madeleine Olnek
Starring: Susan Ziegler, Susan Ziegler, Jackie Monahan, Cynthia Kaplan

It’s super weird and super super smart. Even after it’s over, you’re not sure what you watched, but you’re glad you watched it.

Note: We did not include the film Foxy Merkins, by the same creators, as several of our writers found it to contain horrifying racist violence.


41. The Fish Child / El Niño Pez  (2009) (Argentina)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

the-fish-child-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Lucía Puenzo
Written By: Lucía Puenzo
Starring: Inés Efron, Mariela Vitale

La Guayi is working as a live-in maid for Lala’s wealthy Argentinean family when Lala falls in love with her — and grows increasingly jealous of and angry at La Guayi’s other paramours. When Lala’s father is killed and Lala flees her home in search of La Guayi, she begins learning the truth about the girl she’s so obsessed with. Based on Lucía Puenzo’s novel of the same name, the film is a dark and engrossing drama.


40. Stranger Inside (2001)

TV movie // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

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Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Cheryl Dunye
Written By: Catherine Crouch, Cheryl Dunye
Starring: Yolonda Ross, Davenia McFadden, Rain Phoenix, Mary Mara

Stranger Inside is a hard, gritty, look at life inside a women’s correctional facility, and it’s not all Norma toast and Laverne Cox doing your hair. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it almost made me miss Piper.


39. The Watermelon Woman (1997)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

the-watermelon-woman-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Directed By: Cheryl Dunye
Written By: Cheryl Dunye
Starring: Cheryl Dunye, Guinevere Turner, Valarie Walker

The Watermelon Woman is the first feature film to be directed by an out black lesbian, which is reason enough to give it a shot. But beyond that, it’s a warm and sexy film that explores several lesbian relationships while peeling back some of the layers of how we think about race, how we have historically thought about race, and the intersectionality of both of those with queer culture. Not too bad for a film made with a $300,000 budget.


38. Pride (2014)

// our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq story (mostly gay men) // lgbtq female ensemble characters

pride-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Directed By: Matthew Warchus
Written By: Stephen Beresford
Starring: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West

A British historical dramedy based on the true story of LGBT activists who came together to support British miners during their 1984 strike. The B-story of the film focuses on the real-life activist group, Lesbians Against Pit Closures.


37. Drifting Flowers (2008) (Taiwan)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

drifting-flowers-movie-lesbian
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Zero Chou
Written by: Zero Chou
Starring: Pai Chih-Ying, Serena Fang, Chao Yi-lan, Yi-Ching Lu

Drifting Flowers seamlessly weaves together three stories—stories of love, of jealousy, of loss, to create a lush and visually stunning film. It can edge towards cliché at times, but it’s filled with so many tender and funny moments that a little cliché is easy to forgive.


36. Grandma (2015)

mainstream movie // lgbtq lead


Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Directed by: Paul Weitz
Written by: Paul Weitz
Starring: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner

Lily Tomlin plays Elle, a writer and academic who spends a day with her granddaughter triyng to find $600 for an emergency abortion directly after breaking up with her much younger girlfriend. Lily Tomlin shines, because Lily Tomlin always shines, because she is perfect.


35. The Runaways (2010)

// our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq leads //

runaways
Rotten Tomatoes score: 68%
Directed By: Floria Sigismondi
Written By: Floria Sigismondi
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon

Based on Cherrie Curie’s memoir Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway, the film explores the relationship between Currie and Joan Jett during the time they spent together on the road in their all-girl 1970s rockband. It passes The Bechdel Test many times over.


34. Margarita With a Straw (2014)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Directed by: Nilesh Maniyar, Shonali Bose
Written by: Nilesh Maniyar, Shonali Bose
Starring: Kalki Koechlin, Revathy

“Yes, this is a ‘disabled person discovers their sexuality’ movie, but Laila is never healed (literally or figuratively) by that discovery,” wrote Carrie Wade in her review of Margarita With a Straw, a love story between two disabled women of color, “presented without sensationalism or pandering.”


33. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

// our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

the-kids-are-all-right
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
Directed By: Lisa Cholodenko
Written By: Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson

Nic and Jules are a successful lesbian couple living in Los Angeles with the two kids they each had from the same sperm donor. The kids track down the sperm donor and he weasels his way into their lives and into Jules’ pants. The movie has a (gay) happy ending, and critics loved it. It was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Queer women, however, engaged in heated debates about the film all over the internet. It is loved and loathed by our community in equal measure.


32. All Over Me (1997)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

all-over-me-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
Directed By: Alex Sichel
Written By: Sylvia Sichel
Starring: Alison Folland, Tara Subkoff, Wilson Cruz

Ah, the ’90s. When riot grrrl was in full swing and hating your best friend (who makes out with you) for having a boyfriend was all the rage. Come for the amazing soundtrack, stay for Leisha Hailey with pink hair.


31. Life Partners (2014)

// our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq lead

life_partners
Rotten Tomatoes score: 62%
Directed By: Susanna Fogel
Written By: Joni Lefkowitz, Susanna Fogel
Starring: Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Kate McKinnon, Gabourey Sidibe

Leighton Meester is absolutely adorable in this comedy about two co-dependent best friends — one straight, one gay — who have to learn a new way to navigate their relationship after one falls in love.

30. Desert Hearts (1985)

// our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

desert-hearts
Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%
Directed By: Robert Louis Stevenson, Donna Deitch
Written By: Jane Rule, Natalie Cooper
Starring: Helen Shaver, Patricia Charbonneau, Audra Lindley, Andra Akers

This was one of the first mainstream movies to have a lesbian storyline, which means it was pretty controversial and is a bonafide CLASSIC. Based on the classic novel by Jane Rule, this understated drama is the story of straightlaced Columbia professor and divorcee Vivian, who escapes her life and ends up falling for cowgirl Cay.

Rachel wrote of the film, “One of the best and most moving things in the entire movie is the way that, through the voices of all the women in the film, heterosexual relationships are subtly critiqued – not for the sake of some big gay agenda, but because this is set in 1958 and truthfully there was a whole lot the institution of marriage just didn’t do for women back then. Being gay isn’t presented as the answer to relationship or matrimonial issues, but there is a way in which Vivian and Cay’s relationship feels honest and genuine because it’s outside of the structures of patriarchy that can sometimes make it hard to really respect or support a partner of the opposite sex.”


29. If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000)

// our review // mainstream TV movie // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

If_These_Walls_Could_Talk-2-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Jane Anderson, Martha Coolidge, Anne Heche
Written By: Alex Sichel, Sylvia Sichel, Anne Heche, Jane Anderson
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Nia Long, Vanessa Redgrave, Sharon Stone, Chloë Sevigny

Like the original film, this HBO-produced sequel follows the lives of three different couples who live in the same house in different time periods. Only, this time, they’re lesbians! You know that clip of Michelle Williams and Chloë Sevigny making out that you always see all over Tumblr and YouTube? Yeah, that’s from this.


28. Appropriate Behavior (2014)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

appropriate_behavior_v
Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%
Directed By: Desiree Akhavan
Written By: Desiree Akhavan
Starring: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Halley Feiffer, Anh Duong

This film is so witty and smart and cool I can hardly believe it’s real! Written by and starring bisexual actress Desiree Akhavan, Appropriate Behavior starts when its protagonist’s relationship ends, sending her into a spiral as she tries to figure out what she’s doing with her life and how that fits in with what her family wants for her.


27. Unveiled / Fremde Haut (2005) (Germany)

our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Directed by: Angelina MacCarone
Written by: Angelina Maccarone, Judith Kaufmann
Starring: Jasmin Tabatabai, Anneke Kim Sarnau

An Iranian woman, Fariba, is caught having an affair with a married woman and flees to Germany to avoid using persecution, but once her forged papers are uncovered, the only way she can stay in Germany is by taking on the identity of a male refugee. And then she meets a girl. Intense and authentic love scenes ensue.


26. Annihilation (2018)

our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq female ensemble character

Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%
Directed By: Alex Garland
Written By: Alex Garland
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac

In Annihilation, a biologist, psychologist, physicist, anthropologist, and paramedic enter the shimmer — a mysterious and expanding sector marked by increasingly unnerving mutations — and at some point, Gina Rodriguez steals the show as a confident nd muscly soft butch lesbian with an undercut who opens a beer bottle in that way where you slam it against a table edge with your hand. (Kayla)


25. The Secrets/Ha-Sodot (Israeli) (2007)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

the-secrets-ha-sodot-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Avi Nesher
Written By: Avi Nesher, Hadar Galron
Starring: Adir Miller, Ania Bukstein, Fanny Ardant, Guri Alfi, Michal Shtamler

In Israel, two orthodox students fuck the patriarchy and learn a lot about themselves in the process. It’s tender and feminist and complicated and heart-wrenching and unlike any lesbian movie you’ve seen before.


24. Mosquita y Mari (2012)

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mosquita-y-mari
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Directed By: Aurora Guerrero
Written By: Aurora Guerrero
Starring: Fenessa Pineda, Venecia Troncoso, Laura Patalano

Fans of Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe will love this tender, earnest story of friendship, attraction, and family. As Gabby wrote, the film “find[s] the bits that makes us who we are and blast[s] them onto a screen.”


23. My Summer of Love (2004)

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my-summer-of-love-movie-poster
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Directed By: Pavel Pavlikovskiy, Pawel Pawlikowski
Written By: Pavel Pavlikovskiy, Michael Wynne, Pawel Pawlikowski
Starring: Natalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine, Dean Andrews

My Summer of Love won not only a BAFTA, but also a place in all of our hearts for casting Emily Blunt as a lesbian with some pretty intense love scenes. A twisted lesbian with a warped sense of a good time, but some people are into that. Each to their own, ladies.


22. Atomic Blonde (2017)

our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq lead // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Directed By: David Leitch
Written By: Kurt Johnstad
Starring: Charlize Theron, David Percival, Sofia Boutella, John Goodman

A stylish “high-stakes, global action-thriller” about spies that sees Charlize Theron kicking a lot of men, rocking incredible hair, and having a genuine relationship with another hot tough girl. It’s definitely a certain type of movie — high-stakes, global action-thriller about spies — but even if that’s not your jam, it’s sexy as hell, and pretty incredible for a film like this to have a bisexual protagonist like Lorraine.


21. Imagine Me & You (2006)

our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

imagine-me-and-you-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 32%
Directed By: Ol Parker
Written By: Ol Parker
Starring: Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, Matthew Goode, Anthony Head, Celia Imrie

In a sea of depressing, soul-crushing lesbian films, Imagine Me & You stands alone as the mainstream rom-com where the girl gets the girl. Even the straight dudes are good guys in this movie!


20. V For Vendetta (2005)

mainstream movie // lgbtq female ensemble characters

The lesbian love story between Valerie and Ruth, persecuted for their sexual orientation, is what inspires a closeted gay television host to start a revolution that is eventually finished by Natalie Portman’s Evey. In a dramatic departure from the usual state of affairs, the film amped up, rather than toned down, the source material’s queerness.


19. Princess Cyd (2017)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
Directed by: Stephen Cone
Written by: Stephen Cone
Starring: Jessie Pinnick, Rebecca Spence, Malic White

A character study of two women who clumsily and gently brush up against each other and find new happiness because of it — and in the process, one of them simply realizes she likes girls.


18. Dope (2015)

mainstream movie // lgbtq female ensemble character

Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%
Directed by: Rick Famuyiwa
Written by: Rick Famuyiwa
Starring: Kiersey Clemons, Shameik Moore

Kiersy Clemons co-stars as Diggy, the masculine-presenting lesbian best friend of protagonist Malcom and their other bestie, Jib. Together, the trio of ’90s-loving geeks used to getting bullied on the daily are invited to a cool party hosted by drug dealers, setting off a chain of events that get the kids in real deep with criminal activity and unsavory characters with no awareness of their own ridiculousness. It’s a charming, entirely original, politically conscious coming-of-age tale cast in dreamy California light and draped in eye-popping fashion with a killer soundtrack to boot. If the lesbian storyline/character was more central, it’d definitely be in the Top 10.


17. The Hours (2002)

mainstream movie // lgbtq ensemble characters

hours
Rotten Tomatoes score: 81%
Directed By: Stephen Daldry
Written By: David Hare
Starring: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman

Based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning book by Michael Cunningham, The Hours uses “Mrs. Dalloway” as a point of connection for three interconnected stories happening in three different time periods, including Virginia Woolf’s own. There are so many brilliant lines and quotable monologues that the story is just the icing on this highly literary cake. (And we’re making the cake so Daddy knows that we love him, remember.)


16. Gia (1997)

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gia lesbian movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Directed By: Michael Cristofer
Written By: Jay McInerney, Michael Cristofer
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Mitchell, Eric Michael Cole

Like so many lesbian movies on this list, this HBO biographical film about model Gia Marie Carangi is sexy and sweet and also harrowing and miserable. The love scene between Elizabeth Mitchell and Angelina Jolie, though, is one for the record books. It’s the reason half the lesbians over the age of 35 realized they’re gay.


15. Suicide Kale (2015)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed by: Carly Usdin
Written by: Brittani Nichols
Starring: Jasika Nicole, Brittani Nichols, Brianna Baker, Lindsay Hicks

Jasmine and Penn, a brand-new couple, find themselves at a very confusing lunch when they find a suicide note beneath the mattress of their hosts, Jordan and Billie. This funny fresh feature was shot in a few days on no budget, which says a lot about the raw talent on display here and about how many talented women are just waiting in the wings waiting to see what happens f the


14. Battle of the Sexes (2017)

// our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq lead // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
Directed by: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Written by:  Simon Beaufoy
Starring:  Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough

It’s a comedy about a charming, washed-up, middle-aged gambling addict looking for a little notoriety and one more hustle. It’s a period drama about a group of women athletes trying to get equal pay and a little respect. It’s a sports movie, complete with breathless action sequences, overwrought crowd reactions, and a soaring score. It’s a biopic about a legend. And it’s one of the best lesbian films we’ve ever seen.


13. Professor Marston & The Wonder Women (2017)

// our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%
Directed by: Angela Robinson
Written by:  Angela Robinson
Starring:  Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote, Connie Britton

Writer/director/longtime lesbian favorite Angela Robinson did a really subversive thing with the most talked-about period film of the fall of 2017: she brought an ardent screenplay, a soaring score, and unapologetically gauzy sunlight to bear on the story of the man, his wife, and their lover who created the most iconic female superhero of all time in the hopes that she would prepare the world for matriarchal rule — with a healthy side of bondage.


12. Kyss Mig/Kiss Me (Swedish) (2011)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

kyss-mig
Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A
Directed By: Alexandra-Therese Keining, Therese Keining
Written By: Alexandra-Therese Keining
Starring: Liv Mjönes, Krister Henriksson, Lena Endre, Joakim Nätterqvist, Josefine Tengblad

Oh, you know, just your average 33-year-old straight-engaged woman who accidentally falls in love with her soon-to-be stepsister when she meets her for the very first time. Mia’s dumb boyfriend Tim never stood a chance.


11. The Handmaiden (2016) (Korea)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Written by: Chan-wook Park, Seo-Kyung Chung, Chung Seo-Kyung,
Starring: Min-hee Kim, Tae-Ri Kim, Jung-Woo Ha,  Cho Jin-Woong

Inspired by Sarah Waters’ “Fingersmith,” this highly-decorated seductive thriller takes place in 1930s-era colonial Korean and Japan, where a young woman on a secluded estate develops a sexual relationship with her new handmaiden.

10. Bound (1996)

our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

bound-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Directed by: The Wachowskis
Written by: The Wachowskis
Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano

Violet and Corky decide the best way to be together and break free from their pasts is to steal $2 million of mafia money. The plot and the violence are cartoonishly over the top, but the lesbian sex scenes are for real. They were choreographed by the legendary Susie Bright, who received a cameo in the film for her help teaching Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon how to scissor.


9. Aimee & Jaguar (2000) (Germany)

our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

aimee and jaguar lesbian movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Directed By: Max Färberböck
Written By: Erika Fischer, Max Färberböck, Rona Munro
Starring: Juliane Köhler, Maria Schrader, Heike Makatsch, Johanna Wokalek

Set in Berlin during World War II, Aimee & Jaguar is a fictional account of the real lives of  Lilly Wust and Felice Schragenheim. One is a Jewish mother working with an underground organization to fight the Nazis; the other is the wife of a Nazi soldier. Their relationship is intense and wonderful and unspeakably tragic. You’ll have to watch Imagine Me & You ten times after you watch this to feel better.


8. Bessie (2015)

// our review // mainstream TV movie // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Directed by: Dee Rees
Written by: Dee Rees, Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois
Starring: Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander

“Bessie is the role of a lifetime for Queen Latifah,” wrote Gabby Rivera in her review. “She’s never been more poised, emotionally raw and free in her skin in any other role.” In Dee Rees’ biopic about the most popular female blues singer of pre-Depression America, Bessie’s relationships with women aren’t glossed over or pushed aside.


7. Freeheld (2015)

// our review // mainstream movie // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

Rotten Tomatoes score: 48%
Directed by: Peter Sollett
Written by: Ron Nyswaner
Starring: Julienne Moore, Ellen Page

This tearjerker tells the true story of Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police detective diagnosed with cancer who is prohibited from leaving her pension to her domestic partner, car mechanic Stacie. They take their case to court, struggle for equality, and look real cute together.


6. Pariah (2011)

// our coverage of pariah // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

pariah lesbian movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
Directed By: Dee Rees
Written By: Dee Rees
Starring: Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Wendell Pierce

Despite violent opposition from her mother, who wants her daughter to dress femininely and be straight, 17-year-old Alike prefers to express herself with androgynous clothes and liking girls. When her mother refuses to accept her, she has to choose between staying and trying to gain her mother’s approval or leaving for college early to start a new life. We were big fans of this one.


5. Show Me Love / Fucking Amal (1999) (Sweden)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

fucking amal lesbian movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Directed By: Lukas Moodysson
Written By: Lukas Moodysson
Starring: Alexandra Dahlstrom, Rebecca Liljeberg, Rebecka Liljeberg

In the small town of Amal, Sweden, two girls with very different personalities find that they have a pretty big thing in common. (Spoiler alert: It’s liking girls.) Elin is a popular, social butterfly. Agnes is an openly gay depressed recluse. The two of them decide to take a five-hour ride to Stockholm to solve all their problems, and fall in love along the way.


4. Circumstance (2011) (Iran)

lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

En-Secret-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
Directed By: Maryam Keshavarz
Written By: Maryam Keshavarz
Starring: Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Reza Sixo Safai

In Tehran, Atafeh and her orphaned best friend, Shireen, fall in love, despite her brother’s growing obsession with Shireen and the religious beliefs of her family. This story is full of youth but also sexuality, and family and rules and an underworld where people can be who they are. The two girls at the center are being torn really strongly in a few directions, sometimes almost violently so, but can’t seem to untangle from each other or from their familial obligations.


3. Saving Face (2005)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

saving-face-lesbian-movie
Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%
Directed By: Alice Wu
Written By: Alice Wu
Starring: Michelle Krusiec, Joan Chen, Lynn Chen

A multi-generational romantic comedy about a lesbian surgeon and her pregnant, unwed mother trying to find the courage to follow their hearts instead of their family’s expectations. There is nothing to dislike about this movie and if you haven’t seen it, you should remedy that immediately.


2. Carol (2015)

// our review // our extensive coverage of Carol // mainstream movie // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance


Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Directed by: Todd Haynes
Written by: Phyllis Nagy
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson

Heather Hogan thinks that Carol is the best lesbian movie of all time! In fact, she thinks it’s the best movie of all time, full stop! It’s based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, and the only reason it didn’t win the Academy Award for Best Picture is because it doesn’t focus on the feelings or pleasure of one single man for one single second. Waterloo!


1. But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

// our review // lgbtq story // lgbtq leads // lgbtq romance

1-but-im-a-cheerleader-lesbian-movie

Rotten Tomatoes score: 34%
Directed by: Jamie Babbit
Written by: Brian Wayne Peterson and Jamie Babbit
Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, RuPaul

We’re surprised that the critics didn’t fall for this charming, campy, smart and timeless lesbian movie because we sure did. But I’m a Cheerleader is so many things: a cute love story, an exploration of the coming out experience, a delightfully wacky take on the real-life horrors of gay conversion therapy and, above all, hilarious. It’s also legendary for its battle with the MPAA, who wanted to slap an NC-17 on the film ’cause apparently girl-on-girl culture and female masturbation are downright obscene. After a few rounds of edits, it earned an R, hit movie theaters, and began its legendary claim on our hearts.

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446 Comments

  1. Minor quibble. I really feel you’re selling Love My Life short with such a terse summary. There’s one shitty parent, but really the joy of the film, aside from the relationship between the main character and her girlfriend is the one between her and her father as she learns more about him and her mother’s past. I really think it’s a better movie than its ranking places it.

  2. D.E.B.S. was the first lesbian movie I watched after I came out, and I was like, “Oh my god, lesbian movies are going to be AWESOME!” And then I went on a streak of like eleven in a row where the lesbian got murdered.

    • Haha, I had a similar experience. I watched Imagine Me & You…Then I watched about 10 where terrible things happened. Watched Imagine Me & You a few more times to feel better, and started Googling all my movie options from then on.

      The occasional sad movie’s fine, but there’s a limit.

    • Here in Sweden channel 6 has, for as long as I can remember, had a few movies they keep showing every so often, D.E.B.S. being one of them. And I remember being like 10 or 11 flicking through the channels and stopping on channel 6 when D.E.B.S. was playing. I watched the 2nd half of the movie with the remote in my hand so I could change the channel if my mom came in. A while later they would show the movie again and I would watch the first half of it and then change the channel. I didn’t fully understand it at the time but something with that movie felt so important, something drew me in, and at the same time I felt something was dangerous about that, I needed to stay ready on the remote. Not just because it was PG-13 and I knew my mom wouldn’t want me watching that – she still changes the channel if two character kiss for too long actually. I understood that this particular movie was way worse, and I also understood that it interested me more than any romantic storyline had before.

      So, long story short: I think D.E.B.S. was one of my first clues into realizing I’m ALL the homo.

      • Including Ellen!

        Many of the films in the top 20 are awesome, so will watch the rest. I was lucky to see Desiree introduce Appropriate Behaviour and she was such an autostraddle reader in opinions that the entire audience loved her

        Some of the others (80-100) really weren’t good but it was a stretch to find 100!

    • oh whoops, we’d tried to add those to all the queers but then realized it was too formidable of an enterprise, so went back and removed them. i thought we’d gotten them all but i guess not!

  3. “When Night Is Falling” This walks the fine line of possibly being terrible, but I think it’s a really beautiful film.

    • When Night Is Falling was my first lesbian movie, probably saw it in 1996/7 one late night on cable.

      For a 1995 movie it was quite awesome for me, for 2 reasons: the religion thing and the “No Killer/Psycho Lesbian” that was and still is a big trope

    • My favourite film simply because it unashamedly clings to an impossible optimism, I mean, come on … the dog comes back to life to the strains of the Hallelujah chorus. It was this kind of optimism that saw marriage equality germinate, take root and flower.

    • I adore that movie! It’s so beautiful, and I love the way it uses its visuals to make an argument about sex between women and beauty and art.

      Patricia Rozema’s first film, I Can Hear the Mermaids Singing, is also a fun lesbian film about art, and for my money her Mansfield Park is one of the best Austen adaptations ever. I can’t wait to see her Into the Forest, as I love the post-apocalyptic novel it’s based on & Ellen Page, though I’m nervous about how the film will deal with a sexual assault in the source material.

  4. Nice to see Stud Life and High Art on here. This list put a few on my radar, like Salmonberries and Stranger Inside (and reminded me of a bunch I’ve been wanting to see for a while, like Gia).

    Room in Rome: did it really not make the list? I know Riese thought it was truly weird from her review on AS a few years ago.

    Thank you for leaving out Chasing Amy! YES CORRECT.

  5. I’ve seen Amiee and Jaguar and all I can say is, do not watch it alone. I cried legit on & off for an hour after seeing it on Netflix.

    Is it coincidence that two well known streets near Hollywood(Laurel Canyon and Mulholland Drive) feature characters who are into women? I love Mulholland Drive(have a copy of it somewhere on DVD) and thought it was a bit weird. That is until I saw Lynch’s other movie about a place in SoCal, Inland Empire. I saw in theaters with a friend and he even owns a copy of it on DVD, and we still can’t fully grasp what that movie is about. I think Naomi Watts partially narrates the film, if I remember correctly.

      • My Summer of Love is very creepy, but as I remember the film a lot less creepy than the novel on which it’s based. The actresses make their characters much more complex and likable, without watering down the disturbing elements.

    • My queer gal pals and I were all like 17 and we picked it for movie night, having read the back and focused on, “lesbian romance!” and somehow bypassed, “…Holocaust story.”

      No one was happy.

    • I love Aimee and Jaguar. I first watched it in the cinema in Germany and I still cry every time I watch it. I also have the book, although it’s more like a diary.

  6. Read through this list with my gf and we were both like “woooow, Sweden’s only two lesbian films pretty much ever both made top 20!” Quality over quantity, I guess 😉

    (It’s a good thing other countries make movies too…)

  7. Love this list, there are a lot that I haven’t seen, but was happy as I got to the top 20 to see some of my favourites, and that I had seen most of them… There are several ones I saw that I now want to find, I love international ones, but they aren’t always easy to find without having to buy them! So glad to see High Art and Pariah listed, and better than chocolate, it has it’s issues but it was one of the movies I watched many times as a teenager, even before coming out to myself!

  8. Thank you SO MUCH for this list! I’ve only see about a dozen films on this list, so a date night with Netflix is in order.

    I love Bound SO much! So ridiculous, and oh so sexy, I will have a crush on Gina Gershon for the rest of my days.

  9. Thanks for this list! I’ve only seen like 6 of them so I have alot of watching to do now 😀

    Also I LOVED Blue is the Warmest Color so much for 2/3 of it and then hated the direction it went at the end to the point where I haven’t brought myself to watch it again. Why must movies do this? 🙁

    • Have you read the graphic novel that Blue Is the Warmest Color is based on? The last third of the film is radically different from the source.

      I actually prefer the film version & understand why the screen play changed it, but if that’s what bothered you, maybe you should give it a try!

  10. Wow. I gots some movie-watchin to do. (Gotta say: for all its problematic elements, I’m glad to see Better Than Chocolate here. Maybe I just have a soft spot for Canadians.)

    • There’s a category for “this is terrible, but you watch it anyway” And maybe I’m being optimistic, but it’s hard to get to a movie-list-recommendation-reading stage of AS without recognizing your fave is problematic at times

      • As someone who came out in the 1990s and watched Better Than Chocolate on a big screen when it first came out in 1999, I give it some points for good intentions. It was clearly trying hard to argue to argue for the full inclusion of trans & bi women in the queer women’s community at a time when that was not a popular position. And I actually can’t think of another film I’ve seen since in which a trans woman gets get her girl & a happy ending. (Maybe Autostraddle could do a list of those? Clearly I need to find some.)

        That said, I’m not sure I could sit through the cis male actor playing a transwoman today, after the conversation has advanced so far, and the Oversexed Bisexual of Sexual Liberation made me cringe even at the time, and feel worse after a couple of decades of conversation about bi women’s representation.

  11. Aimee and Jaguar is one of my favorite films. I am so happy that it was so high on the list. I honestly cannot recommend this film enough and I think it should be required viewing by all queer women. Yes, it’s tragic but oh so beautiful as well. If you haven’t seen it please do so.

    • I read the book, have always been afraid to watch the movie because what if it doesn’t live up to the book? Is it really this good?? Debating watching it now!

      • It is really good. I promise. If you loved the book, you will love the movie. The DVD has two documentaries about the film and an interview with Lily’s son, who speaks fondly of their relationship.

  12. My first question is: how did you access all these movies? What is your lesbian movie streaming/downloading secret?? Netflix only has a (very select) few 🙁

    • I second this! I’d also love to see a list of all LQB movies you can watch on instant netflix ranked as well for those days you are desperate to watch something, and the pickings are slim!

      • I can’t give you a ranked list of all the Netflix instant LG movies, but here is a list of all the movies in Autostraddle’s “100 Best” list that are currently available:

        • Show Me Love (5)
        • Kiss Me (11)
        • Mosquita y Mari (13)
        • The Hours (15)
        • The Kids Are All Right (22)
        • Loving Annabelle (24)
        • The Fish Child (28)
        • Rent (36)
        • Stud Life (41)
        • The Four-Faced Liar (43)
        • Young and Wild (47)
        • Lianna (48)
        • Blue is the Warmest Color (51)
        • Heavenly Creatures (53)
        • Reaching for the Moon (59)
        • Itty Bitty Titty Committee (70)
        • Drool (73)
        • Girltrash: All Night Long (86)
        • Tru Love (88)
        • Better Than Chocolate (91)
        • A Perfect Ending (95)
        • Breaking the Girls (101)

        And these are movies on Netflix that were mentioned in the comments that did not make Autostraddle’s list:

        • Heterosexual Jill
        • Anatomy of a Love Seen
        • Tomboy
        • The Gymnast
        • Chasing Amy
        • Room In Rome

        I probably missed a couple. I hope this helps!

        • I enjoyed The Gymnast at least as much as lot of the films on this list–it’s definitely better than My Mother Likes Women or Antonia’s Line (whose violent rape scene ruined the film for me).

    • My guess is that there are three secrets:

      1. They’re a team. Combine their personal libraries and they probably own many of the films.

      2. The team members live in a community. They could borrow additional films from friends, or perhaps from a library.

      3. They have a budget from Autostraddle. Not a big one, but if they needed a couple of hundred dollars to research the article they could get it. They can rent the films from Amazon or Apple or wherever if they need to.

  13. Lost and Delirious makes 1000x more sense when you watch it knowing the plot ect. has been cribbed(adapted?) from a novel set in the early 1960’s.
    I watched that movie, on youtube, as messed up teenager who found Paulie’s breakdown and suicide beautiful the same way maybe people find the deceased Ophelia beautiful. Death seemed like freedom better than life because in life you’re always being trapped and weighted down, you can never truly fly.
    The falcon flew.

    But death is nonexistence, how can you be free if you don’t exist?

    Now that poster is messed up y’all it’s all sunshine, gossip and cookies which is so horrifyingly misleading. Who came up with that thing, just no.

  14. No.67: You´re picture of “Mädchen in Uniform” is actually from the remake from 1958, with Romy Schneider and Lilli Palmer. The first movie from 1931, had Dorothea Wieck and Hertha Thiele in the leading roles, anyway both movies are great:-)!

  15. There’s actually films I haven’t seen!!!! 😀

    It’s a silly but I always hated the Imagine Me and You poster because what’s-his-face has his hand so low and practically on Luce’s ass. She never let you do that what’s-your-face!!

  16. I’ll be printing this out to remind me what to rent next! Thanks for including Better than Chocolate. Yes, it’s highly problematic, but on the other hand, *Ann-Marie MacDonald.*

  17. I clearly have some movies to watch.

    I wonder how many of these are on Netflix. Otherwise watching them on shady websites, here I come.

  18. Wow, I haven’t seen so many of these flicks.
    I think Room in Rome, Blue is the Warmest Color, Bound and Saving Face are my favorite gay flicks *^_^*
    Thanks for the list!

  19. You know, that time you counted your money very carefully and thoroughly researched for weeks to then order a VHS from ebay/amazon/feminist bookstore or went, red faced to the local gay bookstore/blockbuster?
    I rented “Two Girls in Love” and “Bound” like this, and I still fondly own copies of “It’s in the Water” “Jessica Stein” and “But I’m a Cheerleader” “High Art” and “Aimee&Jaguar”(which is based on a true story, if you haven’t felt heart punched enough,yet) on VHS. I spent nights and months trying to tape “When Night is Falling” and actually saw “Female Perversions” on TV one night and stumbled across “Heavenly Creatures” on another.
    D.E.B.S. and Romy Schneider and Lilli Palmer in the 1958 “Mädchen in Uniform” are now firmly embedded on my DVD shelf, next to “I Can’t Think Straight” and “Imagine Me&You”, as is “The Hours”. My most lent movie.
    Also, I had the pleasure to see the striking “Spider Lillies” in Berlin with a friend who moved far away shortly after and the then newly restored 1931 Mädchen in Uniform in an Open Air Movie theater in the same city with my first girlfriend on a balmy summer night.
    What I’m trying to say is:
    Lesbian Movies are a part of my very own personal history and if you’re limiting yourself to Netflix, you’re really limiting yourself.
    Lesbian movies can wander back and forth between friends like trading cards and they can be a nice addition to your DVD shelf. Except for Female Perversions, that is.
    I have gotten SO many very weird looks for that harmless artsy movie that I can’t even describe.Also, don’t place it next to “Mädchen in Uniform” in a German speaking country. Very weird looks. Very.

    • I laughed about your last sentence, I have a lot of the movies you mentioned, but not “Female Perversions”. And mentioning “trading” DVD`s with friends reminds me now that I never got back my “Desert Hearts”-DVD, one of my alltime favourites…That was the first lesbian movie I ever saw in a cinema, a long time ago;-)…

  20. Before I moved every time I would go visit my one friend I would always drive by a Christian Center call New Beginnings. It always made me think of “But I’m a Cheerleader” because New Beginnings totally sounds like a name of a gay conversion therapy camp.

    P.S. But I’m a Cheerleader was the first queer film I bought.

  21. I’ve only watched part 1 of tipping the velvet so far. Sarah Waters is awesome. Life partners was pretty cute. There are so many of these that I need to see. Netflix often discourages me from watching lesbian movies because they give such bad descriptions. This list will be a great resource to avoid that.

  22. Surely that was the best year ever spent.

    I am mighty excited about this list! My lesbian viewing is set for the next…well, hopefully year, but who knows what will arise where I need to procrastinate.

    As you asked for it, WHY ARE BRITISH TELEVISION SHOWS BEING CLASSED AS MOVIES HERE!?! Although I think I might have an inkling of the answer: revenge for our calling “movies” “films”, and producing television shows with a preposterously small number of episodes.

    • I have a strange feeling that some of these were shown as “TV movies” in the states, rather than miniseries. I suggest this as I noticed on Netflix that Tipping the Velvet was one thing not 3 episodes…it was 3 right? I could be wrong…about both.

        • Ah, makes sense. Thanks for clarifying! Yep, Tipping the Velvet was 3 episodes in Britain. We are clearly not as hardcore as US audiences.

          • To be honest, I think every Sarah Waters adaptation I’ve ever seen was shown as one long movie in a LGBT film festival.

            And US women sat through the entire thing in one go, because they were so hungry for it.

  23. Thank you for including El Niño Pez, that movie is amazing.

    I have a recommendation, also from Argentina, Diego Lerman’s Tan de Repente (known as Suddenly in the US). Just a little detail: Mao and Lenin (the lesbian couple).

    I’m a bit surprise that Hu die (Butterfly) didn’t make this list.

  24. Overall this is a terrific list! I do have to take issue with Tipping the Velvet being that high above Fingersmith (which I personally think should be in the top three). But One and two are perfect!

    Oh and “Kids Are Alright” can DIE IN A FUCKING FIRE! There’s no way it should be ahead of some of the actually good queer films it’s above.

  25. Great list, but given our track record, it would be awesome if you guys indicated which movies have a happy ending.

  26. I love Aimee and Jaguar (that scene with Felice in the tuxedo 😉 ), and I’m so glad to see Saving Face so high on this list! Saving Face is absolutely wonderful.

    Also, Gia isn’t just for folks over 35. That movie was definitely part of me recognizing I’m queer, and I’m under 30. I’d ride my boy’s-style bike to Blockbuster to rent that with my allowance…. (good god, how did I not realize sooner?).

  27. Got to see “Pariah” when it debuted at TIFF, and spent the whole evening bragging to my friend that I helped fund it on Kickstarter. Also, the soundtrack is so good!

  28. I strongly disagree with the ranking of ‘Can’t Think Straight’. I mean, it’s not an Oscar-contender, but it is funny and cute and sweet and features women of color and gives you warm fuzzy lesbian feelings. But then, I would also go back in time to prevent Blue is the Warmest Color from ever becoming a movie because I fucking hated it so much. So maybe I have different taste.

    • I was surprised to be told that I Can’t Think Straight isn’t “objectively ‘a good movie.'” Objectively how? I tried looking at the negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but idk several of them didn’t seem to describe the movie very accurately?

    • I have to say, I think I Can’t Think Straight is objectively the same quality as Imagine Me & You.

      I know this is complete blasphemy, because so many people love Imagine, but I’ve always felt like you could tell the latter was made by a straight dude who changed his male character to Lena Headey; it never rang true to me. I actually prefer ICTS!

      And let’s be honest, the mainstream press HATED IM&Y for the same rom-com cliches that people complain about in ICTS. What’s really different about them, except that one is about white queer women and other brown ones?

      Though maybe I need to rewatch them both to make sure…

      That said, if you were going to put a Lisa Ray/Sheetal Sheth lesbian movie made by Shamim Sarif on the list, I would have picked The World Unseen & rated it much higher.

    • I loved I Can’t Think Straight. Yes, it has its issues, but it’s cute and sexy and has some great music and some good laughs. I tried to like Blue but just… couldn’t.

  29. “Character movies” , not necessarily sexy, but worth seeing:
    Gypo (2005)
    XXY (2008)
    Just fun and eye-candy:
    The Gymnast (2006)

    • I’d totally forgotten about The Gymnast! First LGBT movie I’d ever seen. My self-proclaimed “dykadelic” college roommate showed it to me, who somehow knew I was gay loooooooong before I did! (Though by all accounts I was the last person to THAT party – only person surprised when I came out was me…)

  30. Maybe we can have a “gal pals” movie list next.

    I nominate “Kamikaze girls” – my personal “gal pal” favorite. (It is soooo queer!).

  31. THANK YOU. I’m so excited to work my way through this list! And I’ve only seen 16 of these, but I agree with almost all of their locations (!). Mosquita Y Mari, Pariah, and But I’m a Cheerleader are probably my three favorites that I’ve seen so far, although problems aside, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to remove Better Than Chocolate from my heart.

    Now the real question is do I start at the top or the bottom of the list?

    • Your top 3 are mine too!
      I thought I’d seen many…but counted 23 on this list. Apparently I have work to do!

      I vote for starting at the top and working down.

    • Mosquita y Mari was something I’d’ve enjoyed a lot more if I wasn’t expecting it to be queer. There was maybe one scene that could be scene as the beginning of a character realizing she might like girls, but that was kind of it. Still, the rest of the movie was very well done and I’d recommend it for the rest of the plot/character development

  32. Excellent top five!

    Show Me Love is my all-time favourite film. I think it’s the best movie I’ve seen that perfectly captures adolescence, regardless of gender or sexuality. Makes me sob and beam and flail every single time. Everyone should see it!

    • I have to admit, that movie was torture for me to get through. And that whole google maps thing? Why? “why am I watching this?” kept running through my mind. Never again.

  33. The description for “Gray Matters” isn’t quite accurate:

    “Heather Graham stars in this cheesy, adorable rom-com about a ballroom dancer who falls in love with her boyfriend’s girlfriend.”

    Actually, she falls in love with her BROTHER’s girlfriend (who soon becomes his wife). The whole premise of the movie is that she and her brother were inseparable (lived together, ballroom danced together, did everything together) and were often mistaken for a couple rather than siblings, but then their closeness was put in jeopardy after the brother (Tom Cavanagh’s character) has a whirlwind relationship and then a quickie marriage to a woman that the sister (Heather Graham’s character) finds herself falling in love with.

    • The thing I want to know is this: how did it get a 8% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and did it deserve it? That’s downright impressive!

  34. Did no one but me see Revoir Julie? Sweet French Canadian movie that made the festival rounds in 1998-99.

    • Yes! That is one of the sweetest films I ever saw, so creative, unusual, quirky. Too bad not many have heard of it. The conversations, the tension, the looks, while two once-best-friends realize that they might actually still have emotions for each other. And the scene where Julie’s mother discovers them – great and realistic.
      One of my favourites.

  35. I’m sad that “The Moth Diaries” didn’t make it. A lesbian vampire film that sad and depressing in that good way. It stars Sarah Bolger in (what I pretend is) a run up to playing one half of the lesbian Disney princess duo, Sleeping Warrior.

  36. yay for “the baby formula,” it’s a heartwarming, pick-me-up kinda comedy.
    and “yes or no” (fyi, there’s a “yes or no 2” and they’re both pretty good).
    there’s something so familiar and relatable in “saving face” that i just can’t put a finger on, good movie though.
    oh, and thanks for mentioning these movies based on novels by sarah waters (whom i’ve never heard of) and now i’m off to find them to read.

  37. Chloe Sevigny in If These Walls Could Talk 2 is my sexuality.

    So many memories of surreptitiously grabbing The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love, Fire (confession: we fell asleep), Kissing Jessica Stein, The Hours, Lost and Delirious as a 16 year old with my friend Brittney to marathon at my house.

    • Was there any consideration of “Kissing Jessica Stein?” This movie is like, the barometer of my queer identity. (Spoilers ahead)

      When I first saw it, I was just thrilled to watch a movie with women fucking (sort of). It was probably like, my third “lesbian” movie, ever. I probably watched it with my hand on the remote, ready to change the channel at any moment if I heard the sound of family footsteps. #starved

      Then I went to college and loved it because of the witty, snarky dialogue that made me feel sophisticated and New York and part of this gay, glamorous club very far away from Cornfield, Illinois. Just carefully overlooked the part where Jessica chose Josh (“Ew!”) at the end. #snob

      (Btw, am I the only one who figured out how the movie was going to end by that first “ew?”)

      Then at some point I realized…hey, this movie isn’t about LESBIANS. It’s about BICURIOUS STRAIGHT WOMEN. Duped! Stop appropriating my culture! Stop treating me like a PHASE! #rage!

      Then I became pensive. Wow…look how dedicated Jessica is to a relationship she doesn’t actually FEEL. SO TRAGIC. STOIC HERO. But then…Helen ended up with a chick at the end. Even though it was “the one thing she hadn’t done.” Maybe sexuality can be fluid. Maybe experimenting is okay. Maybe erotic and romantic attraction are different things. Maybe showing straight women fucking each other and then going back to men normalizes gay relationships (wait, what?). #deepthoughts

      Now I’m just over it. The dialogue isn’t witty, it’s elitist and unrealistic. Jumpy, girly homophobia is just SOO 2000s. The male gaze is all over this thing. And Jess was totally going to end up with Josh at that first “ew.” #post-impressed

      • I love Kissing Jessica Stein, and it meant the world to me as a bisexual woman when I first saw it. One of the things I like most about it is that there are no lesbians in it–there’s a bisexual woman and a straight woman questioning her sexuality.

        And I still love the ending. It ends not with any romantic relationship–Jessica is single (she doesn’t get together with a guy at the end; she gets his number & considers a date with him) and Helen in a relationship with a woman–but by affirming the friendship between two women, two exes. Especially as I grow older and recognize more and more how valuable queer culture’s affirmation of non-romantic relationships is, I love that.

        I actually think it has a lot of relevance today, when the bi women’s community is grappling with the increasing rise of women who identify as heteroflexible, mostly-straight, and the like, in situations where there is potential for allyship but also erasure and invisibility.

  38. Rome & Juliet by Connie Macatuno? A story of two Filipina women who start off in relationships with men falling in love with each other, and I like that it tells about their families, class stuff, faith, side stories, more. My shakespeare expert friend said it’s one of the best adaptations of Romeo and Juliet she’s ever seen, but I didn’t even notice and no, neither of the two main characters die. It’s really, really good drama with multidimensional characters. The main guy is awful, awful, but I guess he’s trapped in the confines of masculinity ya know. You gotta watch past the credits and it makes it all worth it!!!

  39. I love this list because it is exactly what I’ve been trying to find for literal YEARS. There’s a bunch of lists out there that are “the best LGBT” films, but the only ones that were even close to compelling were centered around gay cis men (which was super frustrating for me). So thank you for spending so much time making this, I now have queer lady movies for ages to come 😀

  40. I kept going and going and was SO afraid Saving Face wasn’t going to be on this list because it is my favorite movie. Not favorite lesbian movie. Favorite movie.

    I watch it once every month or two and when I do I’ll just watch it two or three times in a row, with the directors comments every once in a while.

    I LOVE IT SO MUCH AND AM SO SO HAPPY IT’S HERE THANK YOU

  41. Just an FYI, the description of Red Door is all kinds of mangled. Julie, not Mia, is the daughter of the family. And they aren’t both doctors– Julie is, but Mia is an actress who was hanging around the hospital to prep for a role as a doctor.

    (Clearly I watched this movie one too many times in my baby gay days)

  42. Good list overall. Would have had Bound a little higher.

    Also would have included Love and Other Catastrophes. I was obsessed with this movie mainly because the lesbian story was front and centre but wasn’t a ‘lesbian’ movie. It was the first movie I saw where the relationship just WAS.

    • Ditto to everything you said. And I loved the fact that the gay girl and the straight girl were really good and close friends, without any hidden agenda (unlike in many lesbian films). It is such a smart, feel-good film 🙂

  43. I know Fried Green Tomatoes only has queer subtext–but damn that subtext is amazing! That is such a queer movie to me. I mean, the food fight scene??

      • Yes! I read through the whole list thinking “Nina’s Heavenly Delights has to be here! Where is it?”

        Also The World Unseen.

    • I know right? It might not have the greatest plot but music! Food porn! Adorable Scottish accents! A happy ending! I’m glad I’m not the only one disappointed to not see it on here.

  44. Most of the films on this list which I have seen have a lot of sadness, with occasional happy endings. I need to find the happier ones and get them watched.
    I’ve said it before but watching All over me was THE gestalt moment of queerness for me. It really was the catalyst for self realisation and I am so glad I illicitly watched it, age 15, in my room. Forever grateful that channel 4 showed it.

    • me too! all over me was a seminal experience for me. i saw it in the theater and it made me feel things but it took like ten more years to figure out what those things were.

  45. Yeah you mentioned Bumblefuck USA in it. Usually when i mention that one to anybody, i get these really strange looks and nobody has ever heard of it. Really worth to watch, not easy all the time as subject but certainly considering the low budget a great movie.

    All the rest in the list will be offcourse liked more or less by everyones taste, and i guess we could have discussions till the end about it.

    For me for exemple i liked the first part of Blue is the warmest color, because i recognised certain situations from my own confused teen years,but couldn’t get into the second part of the movie very much

    One that is missing for me is Spanish/Catalunian movie Eloïse, a coming out movie in that catholic region and in my humble opinion one with incredible chemistry between the two lead actresses

  46. I vote ITWCT2. For the biker girl charming away the Manson family lady. Or was it gangster, scientologist, ISIS recruit or whatelse, i don’t remember. But it was my favourite cinematic moment and my favourite message ever, maybe save Neo hacking 10.000 sentinels in your ‘Truth’.

  47. I’ve just finished watching “Blue Velvet” and was about to see “Mulholland Drive”, what a pleasant surprise! 😀
    My favourite lesbian film and one of my favourites in general is “Imagine me & you” – I’ve seen it so many times and I’m still excited whenever I rewatch it.

  48. omg! i remember trying to watch the incredibly true adventures of 2 girls in love as a teen while my parents were sleeping. my internet sucked and it felt like some epic task. i didn’t see it again until last year and was soooo happy i did 😀

    really, really happy to see saving face at the top of the list. also, the fish child is included! i wish the hair cutting scene had been mentioned, it feels like such an action-movie thing but better, because it’s a young queer heroine!

  49. Thank you so, so much for this ranking! Most of the rankings online are predictable and just list whatever movies they can think of, this one is acually very well thought of.

    However, in my opinion Blue is the Warmest Colour should have made it AT LEAST to top 50, the point of the film, any film, not only queer one is to tell a story, not have a perfect represenation. It’s not a TV advert. Cinematography in Blue is the Warmest Colour is just fantastic, with almost unbereable close-ups. Lea Seydoux is in my opinion, one of the best European actresses but both, her and Adelem deserve highest praise for their performances. And I genuinely hink that the storyline was interesting and real, it felt vibrant and honest, Adele is so young and naive, of course she is making mistakes. It’s one fo my favourite films, and I don’t really get why it gets such a bad press.

    Anyway, I haven’t even heard about some movies that made it to top 20, so I’m excited to catch up. I’m definitely gonna check out Circumstance and Secrets as soon as possible!

  50. I’m surprised A Marine Story didn’t make the list. Same main actress and director as The Gymnast which someone mentioned up thread, but I think it’s got a lot more substance than The Gymnast. Basically follows the life/re-integration of a queer marine who gets kicked out under DADT. Not the greatest movie by any stretch, but definitely should be on the list, I would think.

  51. I don’t get why people go on and on about IMAGINE ME AND YOU. The kisses where close mouthed and seemed forced, the actresses had little chemistry, and the storyline was mediocre at best.

    I can’t think straight on the other hand is funny, adorable, deals with homophobia, self denial, and how people run away from their truths. No one dies, it had a line that said “Thanks to you I know what I want and I can’t go back…I want to be with someone who, ten years from now, still makes my heart jump when I hear her key in the door. And that someone is you.” and it got such shitty ratings? I can’t even deal

    • Yes! I ranted in the comments upstream about exactly this–I don’t understand the love for Imagine Me & You, when I Can’t Think Straight has the same filmic quality and was actually made by a queer woman, not a straight guy who did a search & replace with Lena Headey for his leading man.

  52. I Can’t Think Straight definitely deserve better rating and higher ranking than this. It was the first movie attract my attention to LGBTQ community and has a profound meaning to those people struggle in mid-east society.

    • I am amazed at this, because My Summer of Love is the film that introduced me to Emily Blunt, and I can’t imagine knowing her from anything else.

      It’s well-worth watching, but definitely not a happy ending film.

  53. Salmonberries is truly,truly awful. I have to say it is among the worst movies of any kind that I have ever seen. I saw it in 1991 when it closed out the NY Gay/Lesbian FilmFest. Lots of folks just walked out in the middle (or stayed and laughed because it was so bad.) Too bad I am not surprised that you actually found 30+ lesbian movies that are worse.

      • Ok- where to start? To be fair, I think that expectations were high because Bagdad Cafe was quite good and it starred k.d. lang and maybe that colored some of the response. That said- the plot was really silly- almost pre-verbal wild child becomes smitten with an East German refugee widow who has an obsession with canning salmonberries. k.d. lang’s acting was wooden- even seeing her naked couldn’t possibly make up for the scene in the bar in Berlin where she jumps up and makes a “speech” on a pinball machine. The dialogue was stilted, and not even the German actress (whose name escapes me but if I recall she had been in a couple of Fassbender movies ( yet another reason expectations were high)) could make it work. And it had Chuck Connor in it!!!

  54. I did a count and I’ve seen 51 of these movies (plus some other movies not on this list). I’ll have to bookmark this and go looking for those movies I’ve missed.

  55. Wow, THANK YOU for putting this together! I am so happy that I wasn’t the only one who thought I Can’t Think Straight was just a terrible movie, and that I have so many more queer lady movies to add to my list of things to watch!

  56. I get movie feelings are really subjective and some people will love or hate a thing.
    But how is I can’t think straight ‘objectively’ not a good movie? Like yes it has some pretty corny lines but no more than general rom coms and that’s what I loved about it. Idk, I’m kinda baffled. I mean, I have a lot of feelings about this film because I am South Asian and I think it deals relatively well with a lot of family stuff re coming out and being a lesbian, and it has this beautiful ending where they end up together and their families have come a place of some acceptance….and yeah, like I get people not liking it for whatever reason, but I disagree that it’s objectively not a good movie. I suppose maybe what was meant is that it was rated badly by critics or something, but I don’t really care what they think. It is exactly the kind of movie I wish I had seen as a younger lesbian.

  57. And now *somewhat calmed after my small rant* I can say yes But I’m a Cheerleader is in fact the best lesbian/queer lady movie ever and Clea DuVall in that movie is the girl I wish I met in high school. Or god forbid, at that gay conversion therapy I was almost sent to.*

    *I am very very thankful that never ended up happening, but if it had, then hopefully someone would have sent me a Clea Duvell lookalike.

  58. Thank you for doing this very hard work, Riese. And I’m completely serious. I imagine you watched a LOT of awful lesbian romance movies and cheesy comedies that did not make this list. I salute you.

    Also I’m glad Drool made the cut. It’s a weird and dark film with really low production value, but I really, really, really love it. Most of my faves are on here. My only surprise was over Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together, which I actually walked out of because it was a 10am screening and the coffee shop number started and I just couldn’t. But perhaps I was being a cranky bitch because I usually like quirky and musical. I will try it again.

    Also also, this list made me feel really nostalgic about 90s lesbians. Such denim. Much pixie cuts. So girl power.

  59. I’m so happy Saving Face is so high on the list. It is by far the cutest and happiest lesbian movie out there. Also D.E.B.S. will always be a favorite, it still cracks me up every time I watch it.

  60. This is amazing, thank you guys so much. The number of times I’ve started a “lesbian movie” and had to give up before I exploded with rage is ridiculous, so hopefully this will solve my problems <3

  61. Also missing is Entre Nous, a film by Diane Kurys. How can you not like a movie that stars a woman named Miou-Miou??

    • And Isabelle Hupert (that I ship very hard with Meryl Streep). Miou-miou is a great actress. Also, also, the movie speak about internment camp in the Pyrénées during the War, wich is very important, because it’s a big taboo in France.

  62. THank you so much for this list !

    Imagine me and you literally changed my life when I was 15. I went to bed crying, and then I watch the movie once a day. I remember watching it in a streaming version, with 5 parts, in english with very bad subtitles, and pausing every five minutes because there was so much thinking in my head. I had so much cliché about lesbian – the only movies/books with lesbian I had seen before were Millenium and the L word – that the whole “you can be a classic girl and still attracted to girl” resonnated in me so hard it was physical. I’ve had the same reaction with the fosters (who is the best series in the world about lesbian and family and everything, and why is it so little known ??). I sometimes think about writing a letter to Lena Headey or the realisator to thank them.

    Fucking Amal is amazing. The actress are so good.

    I want to see Mosquita and Mari, but can’t find it in streaming with subtitles in french 🙁 I’ll try to watch it in english.

  63. Everything Relative is one of my favorites. Love the ensemble thing. I’m disappointed that it didn’t make the list.

  64. I have to say I’m kind of surprised that you guys classify Tomboy as being a film about a trans boy, I don’t think the conclusion of the film supports that theory and also think a lot of masculine of center women probably really identify with the feelings portrayed in that film.

    • (Sorry for my poor english)
      Exactly !
      I don’t know if it’s a problem of translation. A lot of non-french speakers seems to thing the same…
      Tomboy is not a trans movie… It’s in the title, it’s about un tomboy. It’s the story of a young girl questionning her sexuality and, yes, her gender because it’s a question every tomboy go through at some point. During the biggest part of the movie she pretends to be a boy but it’s what kids do when it’s complicate to explain, when they are lost and try to found out who they are. For her it’s easier to say she is a boy and she likes girls than that she is a girl, dressed as a boy and she likes girl…
      At the end she does’nt see herself as a boy… She sees herself as a girl, a lesbian, a tomboy. Not a trans. It’s a movie about figuring out who you are.
      It’s a lesbian movie.

  65. Such a great list, thank you to all who put it together!

    I have to say, I’m a little disappointed to see Israeli movies on the list. While I know we cannot throw movies out based on the politics of the countries where they were made (see: The U.S.) there is a call for a cultural boycott of Israel from Palestinians in occupied Palestine.

    If we’re being intersectional in our analysis of movies, it feels like we should at least mention that these films were made in an occupied country by an occupying force and that by patronizing them, one becomes implicit in that occupation.

    That being said, Queer films forever, this list rocks.

    • The phrase “cultural boycott of Israel” sounds one step away from true antisemitism. Also, queer Jews exist, and deserve to be represented just as other minorities within the queer community do. I’m going to assume films produced in Israel have a higher percentage of Jewish characters than films from anywhere else, so as one of the goals of this list is to highlight diversity within the category of “lesbian” movies, Israeli films definitely belong on this list.

  66. “Itty Bitty Titty Committee” and “Cloudburst” are criminally low on this list, IMHO. I am pleased with the top 10 though. Thanks for compiling this!

  67. How is I Can’t Think Straight ranked so low and Loving Annabelle ranked so high? WHAAAAAAAT is even happening

    Also, how about some love for The World Unseen! Same folks as I Can’t Think Straight, except ICTS is pure happy sexy candy and The World Unseen is set in 1950s South Africa. Both super gay, with the same super hot leading ladies.

      • Um no one dies brutally or ‘tragically’ in the end but there’s no joint riding off into the sunset.
        Mild downer?
        But I still say trigger warning because one of the lady loves’ mothers was a product of rape for which granmaw got punished for it corporally in addition to having her child forcibly taken from her and we see parts of these events while she’s telling the story of her grandmother.

        • Yes! I love the World Unseen. And I love I Can’t Think Straight and think it should have been rated higher. (Though if I was going to pick one, it would be The World Unseen–the director had more experience & money for it.)

          I echo Lex’s comment–The World Unseen doesn’t have a big rousing happy song-and-dance ending, but it’s not devastating or in the same league as, say, the wonderful but appropriately depressing Aimee & Jaguar.

          And I have sexual violence triggers, but this film did not bother me in the least. (There is nothing anywhere near the brutal rape in Antonia’s Line, which triggered a major meltdown for me in the theatre, for instance.)

    • I do!

      I don’t actually remember it being very good, but it was better than a lot of things on this list. (Better than Go Fish or My Mother Likes Women, at least.) It was funny & sweet and cute, and the supportive Jewish mother of the girlfriend meant a lot to many people I know.

  68. And Fremde Haut (Unveiled)? Maybe it was sent to the trans boys or men category? If that’s the case, I had to say that it was, in my opinion, a bad interpretation on what the film is about.

    And maybe someday we can talk about Ma Vie en Rose (not to be confused with La Vie en Rose), a movie about a 7 year old transgirl. This movie is kind of old (1997) so it doesn’t reflects all the GLAAD Media Reference Guide, but it deals with trasnphobia, homophobia, bigotry.

    • fremde Haut (Unveiled) was a major oversight. totally inexcusable, we’d even included it on one of our ten lesbian movies that don’t suck posts back in 2009!! (we wrote two of those). i have no idea what happened between the spreadsheet and this post, but yes, that belonged on this list.

      • So glad to hear you say this, because that film is fantastic & deserves more attention. I’m amazed to have gotten this far down in the list without remembering it.

  69. I am so glad you have decided to put Saving face towards the top, I love that movie so much!! Also if anyone is in doubt aver Antonia’s line -it’s an old movie, but incredible. It’s feminist, matriarchal, feminist, portrays generations of women and their decisions and lives. It portrays disabled people, deals with rape and also elderly women being sexual and important. You need to see this movie is what I am saying:) I swear it’s my favorite movie of all time.

    • I respect that you love it, and I can objectively say that it has many good qualities, but the rape scene in it was so brutal and trigger a major meltdown for me in the theatre, so I still cringe whenever I think of it.

      If any film deserves a trigger warning, that one does.

  70. Here’s the films in a list form, for those who want to print it out and put on the fridge ;P

    102. Contracted (2013)
    101. Breaking the girls (2013)
    100. The baby formula (2008) (Canada)
    99. Joe + Belle (2012) (Israel)
    98. I can’t think straight (2008)
    97. Lost & Delirious (2001)
    96. Jamie and Jessie are not together (2011)
    95. A perfect ending (2012)
    94. Jenny’s wedding (2015)
    93. Puccini for beginners (2007)
    92. It’s in the water (1997)
    91. Better than chocolate (1999) (Canada)
    90. Love my life (2003) (Japan)
    89. Family (2008)
    88. Tru love (2014)
    87. My Friend From Faro / Mein Freund aus Faro (2008) (Germany)
    86. Girltrash: All night long! (2013)
    85. Ashley (2013)
    84. Antonia’s line (1996)
    83. Female perversions (1997)
    82. Daphne (2007) (UK)
    81. My Mother Likes Women (A Mi Madre Le Gustan Las Mujeres) (2002) (Spain)
    80. Cupcakes (2013) (Israel)
    79. Affinity (2008) (UK)
    78. Go fish (1995)
    77. The night watch (2011) (UK)
    76. The hunger (1983)
    75. Salmonberries (1991) (Canada)
    74. Miao miao (2008) (Taiwan)
    73. Drool (2009)
    72. Red Doors (2007)
    71. The Chinese Botanist’s Daughters /Les Filles Du Botaniste (2006) (China)
    70. Itty Bitty Titty Committee (2007)
    69. Gray Matters (2006)
    68. You and Me Forever (2012) (Denmark)
    67. Mädchen in Uniform (1931) (Germany)
    66. Camp Takota (2014)
    65. The Truth About Jane (2000)
    64. Cloudburst (2013)
    63. Bumblef*ck USA (2014)
    62. Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf? (2013)
    61. Monster (2004)
    60. The Journey / Sancharram (2005) (India)
    59. Reaching For The Moon (2013)
    58. Yes or No (Yak Rak Ko Rak Loei) (2012)
    57. Personal Best (1982)
    56. Spider Lilies (2007) (Taiwan)
    55. The Secret Diaries of Ms Anne Lister (2010) (UK)
    54. Laurel Canyon (2002)
    53. Heavenly Creatures (1994)
    52. Karmen Gei (2001) (Senegal)
    51. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) (France)
    50. Girl With The Dragon Tatto (2009) (Sweden)
    49. Pretty Persuasion (2005)
    48. Lianna (1983) (Canada)
    47. Young and Wild / Joven y Alocada (2012) (Chile)
    46. The Incredible True Adventures of 2 Girls In Love (1995)
    45. Fingersmith (2005) (UK)
    44. BFFs (2014)
    43. Four-Faced Liar (2010)
    42. Concussion (2013)
    41. Stud Life (2012) (UK)
    40. Fire (1996) (India)
    39. Valencia (2013)
    38. Water Lilies (2008) (France)
    37. Farewell, My Queen (2012) (France)
    36. Rent (2005)
    35. Mullholland Drive (2001)
    34. Set it off (1996)
    33. Foxfire (1996)
    32. Boy Meets Girl (2014)
    31. High Art (1998)
    30. D.E.B.S. (2004)
    29. Codependent Lesbian Space Aliens Seeks Same (2012)
    28. The Fish Child / El Niño Pez (2009) (Argentina)
    27. Stranger Inside (2001)
    26. The Watermelon Woman (1997)
    25. Drifting Flowers (2008) (Taiwan)
    24. Loving Annabelle (2006)
    23. The Runaways (2010)
    22. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
    21. All Over Me (1997)
    20. Tipping the Velvet (2002) (UK)
    19. Life Partners (2014)
    18. Desert Hearts (1985)
    17. If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000)
    16. Appropriate Behavior (2014)
    15. The Hours (2002)
    14. The Secrets/Ha-Sodot (Israeli) (2007)
    13. Mosquita y Mari (2012)
    12. My Summer of Love (2004)
    11. Kyss Mig/Kiss Me (Swedish) (2011)
    10. Pride (2014)
    9. Bound (1996)
    8. Gia (1997)
    7. Aimee & Jaguar (2000) (Germany)
    6. Pariah (2011)
    5. Show Me Love / Fucking Amal (1999) (Sweden)
    4. Circumstance (2011) (Iran)
    3. Imagine Me & You (2006)
    2. Saving Face (2005)
    1. But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

  71. I’ve seen 69 of these which is a good number. I have my gripes about the order of some films and omission of others, but the most important thing is, I had no idea what you’d rank #1 but when I saw it I knew it was exactly right. Thank you!

    • And now for my suggestions of other filmd you could have included:
      -Room in Rome
      -Nina’s Heavenly Delights
      -Being John Malkovich
      -Edge of Heaven, the
      -8 Femmes
      -Frida
      -Nathalie…
      -French Twist
      -V for Vendetta
      -Spanish Apartment, the
      -Two Sides of the Bed, the
      -Kissing Jessica Stein
      -Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
      -Henry & June
      -The Girl Who Played With Fire
      -Vivere
      -A Family Affair
      -April’s Shower
      -And Then Came Lola

      • V for Vendetta isn’t even a lesbian movie but it still made me cry and almost come out to my dad (he dismissed me about two words in, so that didn’t really work) and is generally the movie I have had the most emotional response to. Also Natalie Portman with really short hair, so I recommend it highly

  72. So glad to see that my all-time favorite film, Antonia’s Line, made the list. I recommend it all the time. Also, Imagine Me and You…I fell in love with those characters from the word go.

  73. Didn’t read all the comments but have yall seen “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”? Gus Van Sant directs Uma Thurman in a truly delightful movie. Soundtrack by K.d. Lang- nuff said…

    • I loved that film as a teenager, even if it’s a bit weird. I am disappointed to see that it’s considered as terrible, while it is campy, ironic, well acted and directed.

  74. I’m always disappointed that Bobbies Girl doesn’t make the list of top lesbian movies. Rachel Ward as a tavern owner in Ireland and her life partner Bernadette Peters facing cancer and taking in a nephew…. OK now I need to watch it again

  75. Imagine Me & You is too high on the list! :/ I’m glad you included British tv mini series, they are better than most of these movies and should be higher on the list.

    Also this fantastic Taiwanese movie is missing: BLUE GATE CROSSING (2002).

    “Yes, this is a Taiwanese ‘art film’; and it does explore an old and worn theme – coming of age in high school. However, it does so in a tender, unusual way. Additionally, it tells a teen lesbian awakening, still now quite daring material for film from that part of the world. ”

    The love story is about love triangle among 3 high school kids who don’t love the right person – the girl who loves her best friend/classmate who is also a girl, who loves a boy, who falls for the first girl, while she tries to forward her friend’s love letters to him).

  76. Pretty good list, but definitely would’ve added Kissing Jessica Stein (so witty and they have great banter!) and Room in Rome!!

  77. The, uh, Red Doors summary is inaccurate. Mia Scarlet is an actress studying for a doctor role at the same hospital where Julie Wong is studying.

  78. Really wish the description of The Chinese Botanist’s Daughter included some sort of warning about how the love affair wasn’t only sensual but also TRAGIC to the point where I wish I hadn’t watched it depressed and unprepared.

    So allow me to write a more accurate one. SPOILERS.

    Li Ming, an orphan of the Tangshan earthquake, receives the opportunity to internship for a renowned, reclusive and verbally abusive botanist who’s daughter An she subsequently falls in love with and vice versa. The botanist’s son, a soldier who visits them on leave, also likes Li Ming and he proposes after knowing her for a day and a half. Li Ming and An decide the only way for the latter to remain in the family is for her to marry the brother which she does. On their wedding night he gets angry and violent because she’s not a virgin anymore and beats her up pretty badly. She goes back to An’s he goes back to the army. An and Li Ming are happy for a few months until the botanist discovers their relationship. They are trialed and sentenced to death by firing squad. The End.

    • I just watched it. The movie is beautifull and also very sad in the final part. But people shouldn’t spoil it for the others who didn’t see it. For me, there is no point in seeing a movie for which you know what will happen. :/

      I recommend you to check out Blue Gate Crossing, movie which I described in the comment above. The ending is not hartbreaking, I promise. 😉

  79. Commenting for the first time ever to say, unless I’ve been hallucinating all 800 times I watched it, the description of Red Doors is totally off. Julie is the daughter, not Mia, and only one of them is a doctor. And the movie is delightful, so this saddens me.

    Also, I love I Can’t Think Straight, and I cannot believe how low it is on this list.

    • I mean seriously, Kiss Me may be more polished but it is just as silly and the characters/plot don’t really ring true, and it’s way up at the top.

      Also, where is Nina’s Heavenly Delights? Also pretty silly, but very sweet, and Scottish accents everywhere.

      Ok, done ranting.

      • Agreed that I Can’t Think Straight should be much further up and Nina’s Heavenly Delights should be here & highly rated.

        Though I do think Kiss Me deserves its relatively high rating for the quality of its script and the complexity of the relationships.

      • I love that Karmen Gei is on this list! I adore that movie, and no one else seems to have heard of it! Though you should probably add that it is a retelling of the opera Carmen, or the ending would seem out of nowhere.

        I also love that you have Farewell, My Queen, which is another one of my absolute favorites, and Appropriate Behavior, and The Journey (so beautiful but oh so sad!). Though for my money Saving Face actually should have taken the top spot from the cheerleader movie.

        And I really miss the inclusion of When Night Is Falling (or at least I Can Hear the Mermaids Singing), Nina’s Heavenly Delights, and Unveiled. Kissing Jessica Stein is on my personal list of Best Bisexual Movies (which would also rate Puccini for Beginners much higher) but I get why lesbians hate it; it doesn’t include them.

        Also what about the Hong Kong film Intimates, or Ji Sor? I saw that in the 1990s when I was coming out and it made such a huge impression. So big and epic–it was really the lesbian equivalent of the Titanic for me, and not just because of the climatic scene with the boat.

  80. Okay I know this thread is over a month old now, but I just watched “But I’m a Cheerleader” for the first time and oh mY GOD! I loved it so much! It was so sweet and cheesy and wonderful and Natasha and Clea oh GOD! Where has this been all my life! I need to watch so many more movies on this list!

    • Jesus Christ, I SO IN LOVE WITH THIS MOVIE….SO SO SO IN LOVE
      I’ve seen this movie like…an year ago almost and I still watch with great plesure the trailer

  81. Great list! Don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but hey, it’s not an east task and we all have our personal tastes. BUT, having just seen ‘Carol’, my major comment is that it absolutely has to slot in at #1, and push everything else back a spot. Most. Beautiful. Film. Ever.

  82. What? No “World Unseen”? Sheetal Sheth and Lisa Ray again, this time in apartheid South Africa? I loved that movie! (In my opinion, I Can’t Think Straight deserves a higher ranking; it’s not perfect but it’s cute, funny, sexy, has a happy ending AND great music – it introduced me to Ishtar Alabina and Leonie Casanova. Maybe it can swap places with Blue is the Warmest Color?)

    Other movies I’m surprised didn’t make the list include When Night is Falling, A Marine Story, Elena Undone and The Gymnast.

  83. Although it is a great list , missing two of the greatest is unforgivable.

    The Duke of Burgundy and Carol should be in it.

  84. Please consider in the list this best lesbian movies ever that will make you excited and never been in this list; Bloomington, Summer of Sangalie, Girl gets girl ( De chica en chica), Armune de Fermune or search it maybe I type wrong spelling, The Girl King and the last the best lesbian movie is “Bandaged”.

  85. On the classic side of things, I’d love to see The Children’s Hour make the list some time. James Garner, Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn. Classic/Dramatic/Sad but epic performances from all involved.

  86. You all need to watch this. O Perfume de Memoria / The Perfume of Memory by Oswaldo Mentenegro. Full movie on You Tube under the director’s account. It’s a brilliant movie. The concept is one night story like ‘Room in Rome’ .. no sex scene (sorry for spoilers) but I tell you..it is just brilliant, that I actually watch it again after i finished watching it for the first time just to make sure i didn’t miss any words that they spoke.

  87. I found a random photo (pre-2012) on some random site that appears to depict a lesbian-theme (or lesbian undertone?) film. Can anyone help me find it? It shows 2 women, one Asian (ponytail hair, blue shirt unbuttoned) and one White (wide brim hat, blond hair, tan vest) who appear to close in for a kiss. The setting appears to be a ranch of some sort near the gate. Thanks!

  88. Imagine Me and You was just a bad movie. No wonder the ratings were horrible, the acting/writing was not good. The main females were basically having eye sex from the start of the movie. There wasn’t enough build up they were just instantly in love. Way too cliche. Also, Mosquita y Mari is hardly a lesbian movie. While it was a good film, I was utterly disappointed on the lesbian side of things. There’s a tiny tiny hint of them being attracted to each other, but that is it. There is not as much as a kiss or any sign that they would in any way romantically go after each other. Again, it was a good movie, I just would not personally say you can put it in this category.

  89. “Margarita.” A film about a Canadian nanny and her life, her girlfriend, immigration, domestic work, feminism, hot tubs…

  90. Great list but very sad that Nina’s Heavenly Delights was not included. It is a wonderful film set in Scotland. I love it.
    Also, Jenny’s Wedding is just awful. I can honestly think of ten films to replace it.

  91. Five words “The Killing Of Sister George”
    How did this classic not break into the top ten, let alone not even making the top 102?

  92. I literally clicked the link to this article while debating whether Girltrash: All Night Long was likely to have made the cut due to the drama surrounding the film’s release and the fact that it’s, uh, trashy but very entertaining and fun, and I did not have long to wait to find out!

  93. Yep, that’s why I have a great collection of Asian and European LGBTQ movies.

    So, big fan of Lisa Cholodenko? Taking High Art of the equation, the Nicole Conn thing about not watching a good movie applies totally to her.

    Thank you for including El Niño Pez. Lucía Puenzo’s XXY is also worthy of watching.

  94. Let’s not forget the delightful Swedish film, Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål) from 1998.

    Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
    Directed and written by: Lukas Moodysson
    Starring: Alexandra Dahlström, Rebecka Liljeberg

  95. Heh, our number ones are homogeneous.

    I have been waiting to use that word in sentence with queer positive intentions since middle school.
    Did not think my bucket list would get shorter this year. :p

  96. I love this list!!! It’s exactly what I needed. I have watched so many garbage lez movies that I began to lose hope in good ones.

  97. All I can conclude from this list, is that I have very different film tastes to other people.

    Also I swear I watched The Hours and there was zero gay in it, am I misremembering?

    • But c’mon she’d have to carefully read the whole list, not just charge ahead to the comment sect.
      We’ve noted with previous mega lists many people struggle with such an undertaking.

  98. It always makes me sad to see Fucking Åmål top lists like this. It’s not a bad film, it’s just that I can’t at all share the positive, heart-warming feelings people have about it.

    I was the same age as Elin and Agnes when the film came out in 1998, living in the same kind of community in the same culture, and my school had a private screening at the cinema. Like Agnes, I was bullied and depressed. I had a crush on a girl sitting on the opposite end of that screening. I was terrified that I might be a lesbian, because one more thing that made me different and made my life difficult was more than I could handle. Sitting there, with these thoughts and the general attitude towards homosexuality in 1998, surrounded by bullies and the entirety of my social life which I could in no way escape for the next few years… I didn’t see any of the uplifting courage others have talked about, I just saw that being gay was about being alone, targeted and exposed. For me, the film didn’t end as the credits rolled, because I knew exactly the kind of hell that awaited them around the corner, and I knew that being brave for five minutes that one day didn’t fix anything.

    That said, I’m definitely not blaming Fucking Åmål for the fact that I clung to heterosexuality as if though I were drowning and it was a lifeboat when I finally developed a boy crush the following year—there’s a whole slew of other 1990’s reasons for that.

  99. nice list. loads to check out. but what about ALONG CAME LOLA (LGBT version of Run Lola Run), ELENA UNDONE, OUT AT THE WEDDING and ROOM IN ROME? Well worth watching. more so than a lot of the films that made this list. I am personally over all the depressing films we usually get served and love it when we get a half decent flick that has a happy ending and is fun to watch.

    • You don’t have to be this person.
      I have been you, and no appreciates it when you bring scholarship into a joke unless it’s going to make it funnier.
      Especially when it was a joke come up by an 11 year old CHILD that like call certain humans by the trinomial name of our species because I knew it would make them tattle on me like 6 year old and get laughed at by the teacher.

      I dunno if you’re spectrum, just like to share your knowledge, or are trying to lord over me.
      So eh, 11 year old me wasn’t a cunning and knowledgeable linguist, but please leave silly harmless jokes go.

  100. I feel like I’ve been so burned by bad 90s lesbian movies at this point (always Wolfe movies, ALWAYS movies that I streamed from Logo.com years and years before I came out) that I can’t even look at these movie covers without feeling pangs of PTSD.

    • Sensitive to people that love toss knowledge around in a way that won’t be appreciated, yes.
      Being that kid wasn’t fun and being the way as adult is not more fun.

      But okay you don’t appreciate my concerned perception that you’re socially awkward etc.

      Noted.

    • So, just to be clear, you mean to tell me that you are so hurt that I pointed out your misuse of the word “homogeneous” that you will attack my character and call me names? And, I’m the jackass?

      Noted.

    • Homogeneous. Homo geneous. HOMO GENIUS.

      pun
      pən
      noun
      1.
      a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings.

    • Chassis, you realize that the person who called you a jackass (me) is a completely different user than the person who you acted like a jackass to, right? Or is it just you against the world and it doesn’t matter if anyone other than yourself exists?

      No one cares if you’re right. People care if you’re a kind person who can engage in good faith without looking to score points with your pedantry. It matters how you make people feel in a community — at this point, you’re trolling.

      • All About E was ok. I really didn’t like the lead character. But the other characters were ok. It had a happy ending.

      • I watched it and I don’t remember hating it, but also not loving it? So I would recommend watching it if you find it free or inexpensive to watch, but I wouldn’t buy it or anything.

  101. whoa. I had no idea how few lesbians movies I’d actually seen, but this list has educated me.

    A not lesbian but kind of sort of queer movie I like is Victor/Victoria. Julie Andrews, ya’ll.

    I’ll have to watch “The Hunger” post haste because Catherine Deneuve.

    I think my number one is probably the Handmaiden. I just loved that movie. I love seeing movies like that in a theater full of straight people (which I did). I like to look at them react to the graphic sex. It’s like original twitter.

  102. Ok, I know this could be an impossible task and I can’t seem to find a post if that was already done, but I would loved to see a list of films “that relied solely on lesbian subtext”.

    You had a great start with A League of Their Own, Fried Green Tomatoes, Ghostbusters and The Color Purple (I still think that we need to remake this films and maken totally Lesbian Movies). I can add Bend It Like Beckham, Thelma & Louise and, of course, Muriel’s Wedding, for me the queerest film of all times

  103. Just popping in to say: THANK YOU for the high ranking of “Pariah”. That movie came out just I was, ahem, “coming out”. And as a black queer 20something in Brooklyn… even though Alike was a teenager, I felt so seen in her story. If in 30 years someone were to ask me, what was the movie that best encapsulated black queer Brooklyn in the late aughts/ early 2010s- that is 100% the movie I would point them to. It’s a cultural artifact. A moment in time.

  104. I think it’s perfect that the (revised) list of best lesbian movies includes so many terrible and depressing ones. Finding a movie rental place (ah, the days of vcrs and dvds) that had a queer section was a blessing and a curse. So many hopeful nights that ended in horrified disbelief! I love that Saving Face made it in the top 3. And But I’m a Cheerleader is perfect.

    I remember liking a movie about Thanksgiving maybe? There was cooking. With Julianna Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick. Pretty sure nobody died and the lesbians stayed together, which would’ve made it Oscar worthy in my mind no matter how bad it may have actually been.

  105. Oh, and moving on from my love letter to Pariah… I was so excited to see SUCH high rankings for both Bessie and (surprisingly! I didn’t see this coming!) Dope!

    I agree whole-heartedly with Gabby’s “Bessie” review. I remember sharing it widely on social media when the movie first premiered. It was the most comfortable and honest I have ever seen QL in a movie, and it was a magnificent sight to behold. Also the queer history of the Harlem Renaissance is not highlighted nearly enough- in either queer or black circles.

    If you haven’t seen Dope- YOU SHOULD SEE DOPE!!! It’s one of my Top 10 favorite movies of all time! It’s so quirky and original and it takes black nerds seriously in all their geeky joy. It’s on Netflix- so you have no excuse. SEE THIS MOVIE!!!

    (And also: YAY SET IT OFF! That is one of the biggest tearjerkers of all time. High up there with Beaches on my list for female friendship movies that will both empower you and tear your heart up and you will love so much that you will watch it again and again and again)

  106. I might be the only person that liked Room in Rome, it wasn’t flawless but it was one of those film that let me forget everything else. Could also be that I have a soft spot for magic realism (When Night is Falling!).

    The only other film I think is missing on the list is Auf der anderen Seite/The Edge of Heaven (Germany/Turkey).

    Nonetheless a great list!

      • Well, technically, homogeneous wouldn’t be the right word if you mean that your number one is exactly the same as the one on this list. It would be true to say that all of the movies on this list are homogeneous because they are all lesbian or of the same kind (maybe that’s not true though, according to Riese’s rules).

        In terms of a word from the chemistry lexicon, I though maybe you’d say that you have a cis number one with Riese. However, cis is a Latin prefix that actually means “on this side of”, so I don’t think that’s technically right. If you’re looking for a strictly scientific or mathematical term, I’d stick with “equal”. But, if you’re looking for something in Latin then maybe “idem” would work. So your and Riese’s number one choices are idem.

    • Plenty of gay but I’d have to re-watch for the LGBT female side of it. Unless it’s that Virginia Woolf is in it but that seems a stretch? Not watched it in over ten years though and it’s a great movie so be worth re-watching it for that.
      If I remember correctly, the main character of the modern day story line is this gay guy who’s dying of AIDS.

  107. This is reminding me that I need to buy Saving Face on dvd already, man. I can only check it out from the library so many times before it gets ridiculous.

  108. I really appreciate all the international films on this list, including several I’ve not seen/not heard of; it’s often really tricky to find out about them all, so thank you!

  109. No The World Unseen? Has the same two actresses from I Can’t Think Straight. Personally, I think Carol should get top spot because WOW. This movie was so stunning it made me break my “going to the cinema to watch the same movie again” record, which is now 6. I saw it SIX times in theaters because it was THAT GOOD and it was SO STELLAR that when my mom came for a visit, I dragged her out to watch it even though there’s a lengthy sex scene and I can barely handle watching a movie with my mom where people are kissing let alone full on sex but Carol was THAT MAGNIFICENT that I just had to share the awesomeness. I’m still peeved it did’t get more rewards and recognition. I also think DEBS should be higher…at least in the top 15. Then again since it’s the first ever queer movie I ever saw I’ve a soft spot for it.

  110. I liked “A World Unseen.” IMHO it was better than “I Can’t Think Straight. Glad you included Circumstance…such a good movie

  111. really appreciate the update and there are a few here I will add to my watch list!

    what I really want more than anything is a list of lesbian movies where the 2 (or more) central love interests already know they’re gay and to just forget about the whole sad coming out angst for a few sweet minutes!

    freeheld was groundbreaking to me in that sense but also very sad in a whole other way… so I guess I have to make appropriate behaviour my no. 1 as the only gay film I’ve ever seen which features out people and a non-sad ending!! please help me find more/everybody make a film about your average queer lives, post-hetero-oriented-angst, thanks

  112. I’ve seen my summer of love twice and that move still a bit weird to me. Like something about it has an air of creepiness(and not really in a good way). Also, the end I am still not 100% sure about. I did like the acting though.

    I am kind of surprised there isn’t any of those Israeli women and Arab and/or Muslim woman fall in love(or the less common, Muslim and Christian fall in love during war), Romeo-Juliet type movies on this list.

  113. I AGREE WITH HEATHER !!!!!! THIS IS A TRAVESTY !!!! CAROL IS EVERYTHING !!!!!

    (I’ve just realized I’m too lazy to come up with well-honed insults).

    Thanks for this beautiful list.

  114. (I was waiting to see if there would be a V-Day feelings open thread but since it looks like there won’t, I’ll post this here.)

    Happy Feb. 14th (whatever it may mean to you) Autostraddle community!! I made you a thing because I love you.

  115. I will say this a forewarning, but Amiee and Jaguar made me cry for like 2 hours straight after watching it. Really, tragic story that was well acted. Also, don’t watching it alone like I did, watching it with someone you can hug.

  116. Is there a specific reason why Nina’s Heavenly Delights isn’t on the list?

    Oh, sorry, I fail to follow the instructions in the introduction.

    IS THERE A SPECIFIC REASON WHY NINA’S HEAVENLY DELIGHTS ISN’T ON THE LIST?!?!???!??!?!?!?

    (I’m not going to include insults, because you’re simply too fabulous for taking the time to put this together).

  117. I Can’t Think Straight is amazing, definitely in my personal top 10. It is cheesy and I love it.

    Also, how about some love for Nina’s Heavenly Delights? Cheesy lesbian romance AND food porn!

    In the “regular good not ridiculous good” category, echoing demand for The World Unseen.

  118. Was Farewell, My Queen that blatantly gay? I remember it as subtext-ish. Like heavy subtext, but I guess my memory isn’t great for films anyway.

    I love I Can’t Think Straight, cheesy jokes and all.

  119. Question!! Has anyone seen “All About E”? I wanted to watch it but it’s not on this list is it terrible? It looks super fun and I’m guessing no one dies, but I guess I could be wrong about that.

  120. I didn’t see the original list so I read through the summary of criteria. In that summary it was stated that trans films like Boys Don’t Cry would not be included but then you included Boy Meets Girl? It’s been a while since I’ve seen many of these movies but after Brandon was outed as a girl, he and Lana had sex again and were going to run off together.
    As for the movies on the list, I’ve probably seen less than half (there are a lot of foreign/independent ones that I never even heard of) and I WAS surprised where the ones I did see, the more “mainstream” lesbian ones (i.e.with notable stars) stood on the list and the other mainstream films (that were made with a budget and came out in theaters) that have a lesbian but didn’t contribute to the plot.

    THE WORST MOVIE is Loving Annabelle, and a good handful of movies that I love were lower (or is it higher? they had a higher number than #70) on the list. Blue is the Warmest Color I could not watch in 1 sitting, it took about 5 stops and starts to get through that one.

    DEBS at 37, come on! Yeah the green screen was a hot mess but that made it funnier. But when I saw Imagine Me and You (19) was NOT even TOP 10 I was like what the hell is #1 because I seemed to have scrolled past a lot of the movies I know and could only think of a couple more to be on the list. Freeheld at #7, really? Top 3 are all good movies, and I would keep them in at least the top 10 but DEBS and Imagine Me and You are my faves.

    Omissions:
    Jenny’s Wedding, Alto, A Girl Thing (though this might be a mini series), What’s Cooking?, Out at the Wedding, The Perfect Family (which I didn’t see but remember reading about it on AfterEllen) and maybe even an Amy Adams movie (not Sunshine Cleaning). I’m sure there are many more that I can’t think of at the moment. Good List, I should check out some more (which is to say I’ll probably just re-watch some of my old favorites.)

  121. Interesting list, but a few things…to exclude such classics as “The Children’s Hour,” “The Fox” and “The Killing of Sister George” is doing a great disservice to your older readers. I also wished I had known about this..I would have pleased ask to have the TV movie I wrote about back in September “The War Widow” be considered for inclusion in this list. Although technically not a theatrical release, it was a pioneer in positive depiction of a lesbian relationship. One final thing: “Carol” at number two and “But I’m a Cheerleader” at number one? Hell no. oh HELL HELL HELL no….

  122. Again, I know these were theatricals, but “Losing Chase” with Helen Mirren and Kyra Sedgewick was one of the most beautiful movies of the last 20 years. It should be included in a future update. While made for Showtime, it had a short theatrical run..UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  123. I feel like I’m the only person who was underwhelmed by carol??? everyone seems to love it and I’m just sitting here like it was okay I guess

  124. I love love love “Go Fish”. It’s one of my very favorites. Does anyone else agree? I wish it had made the list. I really respect the reasons some films were left out, but can’t think of any reason why this one would be (correct me if I’m not thinking of something obvious). Did it just not make the cut?

    I also liked “The World Unseen”, but I could definitely understand reasons for leaving that off.

    Also “Clouds of Sils Maria”… but I know that one’s all subtext 🙂

  125. Autostraddle has been sleeping on it but definitely watch and talk about Elvis and Madona, it’s so cute, sweet, campy and gay and has a lesbian plot involving a trans woman.
    Also the new Palestinian movie, In Between, has a lesbian character/plot that is a lot more explicit than the lesbian plot in Caramel (a movie about lebanese women).

    Love this list esp since Pariah and Saving Face are on the top of the list!!

  126. This is a great list, and now I want to try watching all of them! You can’t please everyone but this is a great recommendation and now I have 102 things to watch. I really love the international representation 🙂

  127. That’s not the plot of Show me Love is it? I don’t remember them going to Stockholm at all. At one point they thumb down a car (not a euphemism) and it seems like that’s going to happen but then the guy driving the car sees them kissing, asks if he’s on candid camera (because girls only kiss for a joke, right?!) and kicks them out, back to Amal.
    Great film though. Great list too. Sorry, I mean…WORST REVIEW. PLOT WRONG.

  128. Thanks for this list 🙂 I especially love that you’ve included many different types of film in terms of genre and lots of movies from different parts of the world. So no excuse not to go watch at least something off of this list.

  129. I find it fascinating to see how and when people get attached to these movies; a list like this is hard to assemble because we have such diverse experiences of viewing context.
    I barely even finished DEBS and don’t understand its appeal at all, but I saw it in my mid-twenties. I am attached to When Night is Falling, because I first saw it as a 15 year old. Now I find it a bit ridiculous, but my nostalgia still obscures my judgment.

    Saving Face is solid and stars Joan Chen and requires no nostalgia.

  130. I’m delighted that Lianna is still solidly on the list. That great scene after she finally “realizes” and walks down the street and just sees every woman as a lesbian is such a great encapsulation of that revelation afterglow.

  131. Seconding the calls for The World Unseen – come on, not anywhere in the top 100? Also I can’t think straight all the way down at #74?? Also DEBS should have been higher, but I’ll pick my battles 🙂

    Thank you for including Circumstance and Saving Face, and for *not* including Room in Rome or Jenny’s Wedding.

    So many new films for me to watch…

    • YOU’RE SO RIGHT, THEY DIDN’T EVEN MAKE IT ROUND THE CORNER!

      But if we reason this through a bit, they did technically *decide* to take a five hour ride to Stockholm as stated, and the 90 seconds or so that they were actually in the car on the way to Stockholm could technically have been the point at which they fell in love, who are we to say? And in that case we’d both have egg on our faces because this summary would be absolutely accurate, inasmuch as it never actually alleges that they participate in the remaining four hours and fifty eight and a half minutes of the journey.

      HOWEVER, this defence is very much predicated on the journey to Stockholm *actually taking five hours*, which I do not believe is ever stated in the movie and which I have no way of independently corroborating (is Amal even a real place..?), so it still seems a gloomy possibility that this summary is, as originally suspected, fake news 🙁

      Otherwise 10/10, loved the film and the summary.

  132. And! Glad to see Kissing Jessica Stein making the cut. Sure, it’s annoying that Jess goes back to men, but Helen definitely doesn’t and they’re both the protagonists.

  133. No estoy de acuerdo con el orden y algunas no deberían ni estar,pero bueno. Faltan pelis en la lista como Nina heavenly delights, Room in Rome,Butterfly hu die…

  134. The only thing that would make this list better is if there were some indication of which films will leave you feeling emotionally devastated after watching (or at least a warning on the ones where a lesbian dies). I’m really keen on a having a cheesy gay movie night, but I’m not in the best emotional state for an unexpected tearjerker right now.

    I know the obvious rom-com/happy-endings – But I’m a Cheerleader, I Can’t Think Straight, Imagine Me & You, and Saving Face – but I’m searching for something new that’ll give me those same warm’n’fuzzy feelings.

  135. So proud of myself for seeing most of the top ones, but thanks so much for all the new suggestions! I wish my girlfriend would put up with watching half-decent to good lesbian movies with me, hahaha. I’m surprised Imagine Me and You isn’t higher, though, I feel like it got demoted!

  136. But where’s “THE WORLD UNSEEN”?
    Seriously I’m really surprised not finding that movie here. Especially when they have I Can’t Think Straight (Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth are just, epic), because TWU is better than it.
    I even brought the book and read it after seeing the movie. I was so hooked on it, forever my top 5 of “lesbian” movie.

  137. I completely forgot about that Daphne movie. I’m re-watching it now… why is there murder music in nearly every scene? No one gets murdered and I’m anxious anyway.

  138. Obviously Carol should be #1 because Carol is everything, and I’ve seen it now like 20 times I guess?, and I will never be over it. and because it inspired Heather Hogan’s brilliant act of resistance on the airplane, and just for THAT it should be #1.

  139. Great list, thank you for putting it together. Me too, I miss “Nina’s Heavenly Delights”, though. To me, it’s one of those feel-good movies like “Imagine Me & You” or “I Can’t Think Straight” that I can watch over and over again.

    Also, thank you for including so many international movies. A lot of lists like this that are put together by American websites, usually barely include any foreign language movies. (One thing about “Aimee & Jaguar”, though: Felice, the Jewish woman in the film, is not a mother. Only Lily, the soldier’s wife, has children.)

  140. Next time you update this, I’d love to see a couple scales – maybe just quality of movie 1-10, quality/amount of lesbian content 1-10, quality/amount of non-cis/white/American content 1-10, and one adjective to describe how the movie leaves you feeling. Some of the movies I don’t know don’t have enough info with them for me to know anything about whether I’d want to see them or why, and some of the movies I do know I think people might get the wrong impression about if the only info they had was from this list.

    For example, Pride is one of my new favorite movies but it has very little lesbian content, and I think the description here is misleading. Yes, there’s a bit about the lesbian subgroup, but it’s mostly portrayed as ladies being ridiculous and divisive. I would not recommend the movie at all for someone looking for a good lesbian movie, although I’ve been recommending it all over the place as just a great movie, despite how it treats the lesbians.

    Also surprised that Lost and Delerious didn’t make it on here, i get the objections to it but also I think it’s the first movie I saw that showed teenage girls being in love in a really tender and believable way…and also fairly realistic sex between them. Plenty of these films have terrible endings.

    But thanks for doing all this work! I agree on the top ten for the movies I’ve seen, and will need to finally see the others now. This is a super great resource.

  141. am I the only one who watched and liked Lost and delirious.
    It wasn’t on the list, and I am not completely sure why…

    • Honestly… I have rarely heard anyone say they enjoyed Lost and Delirious.

      Eight years later, I am still bitter I spent $5 buying the DVD to watch it.

  142. I just wanted to say jenny’s wedding isn’t the best as the chemistry between jenny and her ‘girlfriend’ is not there at all, jenny is more a straight girl trying to act gay but it doesn’t work at all. if her girlfriend in the movie was my girlfriend I would be the happiest girl alive seriously she is bloody beautiful!!

  143. How about Women who kill (2016) by Ingrid Jungermann? it got a 100% on rotten tomatoes. And I saw someone mention Even cowgirls get the blues, if nothing but for the soundtrack by k.d.lang.

  144. Check the list twice cause I couldn’t believe “Carol” isn’t on it, but finally noticed the posting date. The list was compiled before “Carol” was released. Do yourself a favor and go watch it. At the very least top five of all time.

  145. Would love to see a version of this list with spoilers for all the endings, to be honest. I just watched Kissing Jessica Stein and now I’m sad I committed to it :/

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