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

Lesbian Movies: Here at Autostraddle we want every lesbian, every queer woman, and every non-binary person to know that movies should include us and do include us. We want you all to see our lives on screen with the variety and quality we deserve.

That’s why five years after releasing our original “100 Best Bisexual, Queer and Lesbian Movies” list we decided to double it. The past half a decade has brought new films worthy of exciteable gay celebration — and older works that have been rediscovered.

The goal with this list was to create a canon of lesbian+ movies that honor all the different types of work worthy of viewing. There are films that are simply fun for a casual night in, there are deeply thought-provoking films, and there are films that are mostly just here to turn you on.

This list was created through a rigorous multi-step process that involved a lot of lesbian movie watching, a lot of voting, and a lot of weighing factors often ignored on mainstream film lists. It was important to us that we not take into account any metric voted on by institutions composed mostly of cis straight white men. While it’s impressive when a film about queer women or nonbinary people manages to get Oscar nominations or a high Rotten Tomatoes score, the films that get those recognitions are not often made by us or specifically for us.

Here are some of the metrics we considered when voting and ranking:

  • The prominence of the queer character or storyline
  • Whether or not the work was made by queer people and/or women/nonbinary people
  • Awards given by queer and women specific film festivals and critics circles
  • And, most importantly, artistic quality

This list does not include films about trans men (e.g. By Hook or By Crook, Tomboy), films about trans women exclusively interested in men (e.g. Tangerine, A Fantastic Woman), films based on queer books that had their explicit queerness removed (e.g. The Color Purple, Fried Green Tomatoes), or films where the queerness is just subtext (e.g. A League of Their Own, Rebecca). This list also doesn’t include short films, documentaries, or porn — with a handful of exceptions where length/genre lines were blurred.


The headline says “Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer,” but for us that means any woman or non-binary person interested romantically or sexually in another woman or non-binary person.

One last note: There are lesbian movies on this list not currently available to stream. Some of the greatest works of queer cinema are not being watched, because people not within our community get to decide which films deserve attention. Many titles on this list were included because I contacted production companies and producers, attended rare screenings, and hunted for DVDs at actual video stores. And still some films — most notably The Fox (1967) and Me siento extraña (1977) — were not included because no one on our team was able to access them.

And these are just the lesbian movies we know about! There is a world of cinema and a world of queer cinema and there are films from the last hundred years waiting to be discovered. But hey, we’ll keep searching for lost lesbian classics, the industry will keep making more films that include us, and in the meantime why not start with this little ol’ list of TWO HUNDRED movies? By the time you watch them all, we promise there will be more.

[Jump to Movies: 200 | 150 | 100 | 50 | 25 | 10 | All ]

200. Girltrash: All Night Long

Directed by Alexandra Kondracke, 2014
Watch It

Girltrash! creator Angela Robinson disavowed this lesbian movie and it’s easy to see why — her other films are on the opposite end of this list. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still fun in all its silly, musical glory. Explicit portrayals of queer women have been almost absent from the history of movie musicals, so while we wait for a Fun Home movie we’ll take what we can get. To quote Mandy Musgrave’s Misty Monroe: Don’t shit on my dream it’s just a fantasy!

199. The Intervention

dir. Clea Duvall, 2016
Our Review // Watch It

Clea DuVall’s directorial debut is an ensemble piece about a group of friends in a house working through their various relationship problems. It’s obviously inspired by The Big Chill and it’s just as white, but not as poignant. It has some good performances — most significantly from Melanie Lynskey — and reunites DuVall with her But I’m a Cheerleader co-star Natasha Lyonne as the token lesbian couple of the group. Oh and Sara Quinn did the score!

198. Breaking the Girls

dir. Jamie Babbit, 2012
Our Review // Watch It // Also Available on Hulu

A lesbian remake of Strangers on a Train with even more twists and turns, this erotic thriller is certainly delicious. With direction from Jamie Babbit and a script co-written by Guinevere Turner, this has just the right amount of artistry added to its pulpy trash.

197. Liz in September

dir. Fina Torres, 2014
Our Review // Watch It

Beautiful beach scenery (and beautiful women) ease the pain of this Venezuelan melodrama that basically has the premise “what if Shane McCutcheon was slowly dying of cancer — but still fell for straight girls.” The film is at its best when it focuses on the camaraderie among Liz and her friends, a chosen family of queer women teasing and supporting one another.

196. Elisa & Marcela

dir. Isabel Coixet, 2019
Available on Netflix

Not the art film its showy Black & White cinematography and more creative flourishes seem to be aspiring for, but nevertheless an enjoyable period romance. Based on the true story of Spain’s first same-sex marriage, Isabel Coixet replaces an average looking queer woman and her androgynous love with two beautiful high femmes. It’s a bit silly and a bit long, but hey the sex scenes are great.

195. Lizzie

dir. Craig William Macneill, 2018
Our Review // Watch It // Also Available on Vudu

Chloë Sevigny was reportedly disappointed with the final results of this long-gestating project, but any movie focusing on a romance between her and Kristen Stewart can’t be all bad. In fact, the movie is pretty good largely because of its two central performances. But as the maudlin tale drags on one is left wondering what might have been if those two performances had a script with a bit more depth and a director with a bit more ingenuity.

194. Angry Indian Goddesses

dir. Pan Nalin, 2015

For a movie centered on a lesbian wedding, this movie sure is light on lesbian content. There’s a charm to its simple feminism, and the ensemble of actresses have a lovely chemistry together. It’s unfortunate that it takes some dark, melodramatic, and borderline exploitive turns, because it’s a really fun watch when it just focuses on a group of women hanging out at a pivotal moment in their lives.

193. The Perfection

dir. Richard Shepard, 2018
Our Review // Available on Netflix

This isn’t a great film, or even a good film, and it’s offensive in a myriad of ways. But what it lacks in quality and morals it sure does make up for in thrills. If you’re in the mood for a gory shockfest that also has lesbian sex and cello playing, then this movie won’t disappoint.

192. Tell It to the Bees

dir. Annabel Jankel, 2018
Our Review // Watch It

Fluctuating between quiet period drama and soft magical realist melodrama, this story of forbidden 1950s lesbian love in a small British town is redeemed by its two central performances from Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger. It’s well-made, but the tonally imbalanced script never quite matches the achievements of similar films.

191. Lovesong

dir. So Yong Kim, 2016
Watch It // Also Available on Netflix

Pretty to look at and grounded by a pair of naturalistic performances from Riley Keough and Jena Malone, this indie drama follows two friends whose connection could be more if they didn’t keep turning towards marriages with men. The dramatic turns at times feel forced, but when the women are allowed to simply be together the film is lovely and poignant.

190. Colette

dir. Wash Westmoreland, 2018
Our Review // Watch It

Keira Knightley is known for her period pieces and this movie certainly fits in with the more middling of the bunch. It’s handsomely made, well-acted, and pretty to look at — if never as artful as the work of its subject matter. It’s unfortunate that the film so poorly handles Colette’s lover Max’s storyline — casting a cis woman and erasing his transness. It could have been the rare big budget period piece to properly represent queer lives, specifically trans lives, but instead it ends up being rather cringe-worthy for anyone familiar with Colette and Max’s story and the pattern of trans erasure in historical narratives.

189. Everything Relative

dir. Sharon Pollack, 1996
Our Review // Available on Vimeo

While very of its time, this big ensemble lesbian movie is rare in its casual, nearly plotless look at lesbian lives. The storylines vary in quality but at its best it’s a portrait of a specific generation of lesbians — or, at least, the upper middle class white cis lesbians of that generation. The references are charmingly 1996 and it all culminates in a lot of sex.

188. What Keeps You Alive

dir. Colin Minihan, 2018
Our Review // Watch It

Simple but effective, this lesbian horror movie about a murderous wife makes up for its outlandish premise with a tight style and a great performance from Brittany Allen. The whole charade would’ve been even scarier with a more logical script, but it’s still a fun ride.

187. Loving Annabelle

dir. Katherine Brooks, 2006
Our Review // Watch It // Also Available on Netflix

As a trashy reimagining of Mädchen in Uniform, this lesbian movie hits several tropes — but it’s fun if you’re in the mood for some light teacher/student fantasy. What it lacks in originality or artfulness, it makes up for with a very short runtime.

186. Pretty Persuasion

dir. Marcos Siega, 2005
Our Review // Watch It

Like Election, but less pointed and with a bigger lesbian subplot (not sure those balance out), this movie about a sociopath teenage girl is very politically incorrect in a very 2005 sort of way. The premise alone — Evan Rachel Wood’s Kimberly framing her teacher for sexual assault — is cringe-inducing and it’s certainly not handled with any sort of care. But if you want to place morals aside and watch Wood revel in her role as a very anti antihero — and see her hook up with Jane Krakowski — there is fun to be had.

185. Someone Great

dir. Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, 2019
Our Review // Available on Netflix

While largely focusing on the hetero romance/breakup of Gina Rodriguez and LaKeith Stanfield, this anti-romcom also focuses on Rodriguez’s relationship with her two best friends. And one of them is gay! She’s Gotta Have It’s DeWanda Wise plays Erin, a real estate agent struggling to commit and admit her feelings for her girlfriend. It’s a slick movie with a poppy soundtrack readymade for a Netflix night in.

184. Nina’s Heavenly Delights

dir. Pratibha Parmar, 2006

This sweet Indian-Scottish romcom is silly and sentimental, but it’s also a pleasure to watch. It has solid performances from Shelley Conn and Laura Fraser, a fun and breezy script, and a few great dance numbers. Beautiful lesbians and food porn are indeed heavenly delights and this movie has plenty of both.

183. Gray Matters

dir. Sue Kramer, 2006
Watch It

Sometimes you think you’re in love with your brother, but actually you’re just a lesbian. That’s the message of this wild romcom about a codependent sister and brother (Heather Graham and Tom Cavanagh) who fall in love with the same woman (Bridget Moynahan). With supporting performances from Sissy Spacek, Molly Shannon, and the one and only Alan Cumming along with a champagne bath, a spontaneous dance number, and one steamy make out, this movie is a hoot even if it’s certainly no masterpiece.

182. Cloudburst

dir. Thom Fitzgerald, 2011
Watch It

Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker star as longtime partners who flee to Canada to get married. Its take on homophobia is oversimplified, but the romance at its center is lovely. Dukakis also has some really great one-liners.

181. Tru Love

dir. Kate Johnston, Shauna MacDonald, 2013
Watch It

This film might have the least kinky mother-daughter love triangle in cinema history. Its taboo premise gives way to a sweet story about people trying to work through their issues and make the most of life. It’s corny and falls into a few tropes, but it’s moving to watch Tru (yes, that’s her name) work through her mommy issues.

180. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

dir. Cathy Yan, 2020
Our Review // Watch It

Finally after so much subtext, a big budget superhero movie that explicitly includes queer women — in fact, it’s starring one. Cathy Yan’s explosive, misandrist, comic book treat may be light on gay sex and romance, but with a mention of an ex-girlfriend Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is an on-screen canon bisexual. Add Rosie Perez’s lesbian Renee Montoya and her ex-girlfriend played by Ali Wong and a nice amount of the usual subtext that accompanies a female-led action movie and you’re left with a movie that’s gay by any standard and very gay by a Hollywood standard. Montoya also sets a lovely example for lesbian cops across media by doing the right thing — quitting.

179. The Owls

dir. Cheryl Dunye, 2010
Watch It

After a six-year hiatus, icon Cheryl Dunye returned with this flawed but interesting work of lesbian cinema. At only a little over an hour, it acts as a comeback for Dunye, a postmortem on 90s queer cinema, an exploration of generation gaps in the queer community, and an examination of the differences between transmasculine people and butch lesbians. It may not work as well as Dunye’s other films appearing further down this list, but it’s still fascinating.

178. It’s in the Water

dir. Kelli Herd, 1997
Watch It

This 90s satire of small town homophobia is sweet and charming even if its lost its bite in the passing decades. Rumor spreads that the water in Azalea Springs, Texas is turning people gay just as the married Alex reunites with her lesbian high school bestie. Keri Jo Chapman and Teresa Garrett have nice chemistry and make the movie an enjoyable experience.

177. Vita and Virginia

dir. Chanya Button, 2018
Watch It // Also Available on Hulu

While not quite the masterpiece these two icons deserve, there’s still a lot to love about this bold retelling of one of queer history’s greatest love stories. With a discordant score from Isobel Waller-Bridge, Chanya Button’s film refuses to stay in the past, ensuring its tale of women writers, polyamory, and unsustainable connection feels alive and current. Elizabeth Debicki and Gemma Arterton are a pleasure to watch and ultimately the film is as much about these individuals as writers as it is about them as lovers.

176. Love My Life

dir. Koji Kawano, 2006

If you don’t read the plot description for this otherwise low-key lesbian coming-of-age romance, the coming out scene will be one of the most surprising ever filmed. It’s a twist that adds a fascinating layer to the story and the movie is at its best when exploring this complexity and Ichiko’s relationship to her family. Her chemistry with Eri is really sweet and actors Rei Yoshii and Asami Imajuku are fun to watch in the roles. The plot is a bit convoluted with conflict that feels manufactured, but it’s still very enjoyable.

175. High Tension

dir. Alexandre Aja, 2003
Watch It

This is a hard movie to describe, because of its nonsensical twist ending. Part of the New French Extreme movement, this horror movie is endless in its brutality and gore. But it’s also expertly made and, well, tense. You’ll be shouting at the baby butch protagonist (played by Cécile de France who will pop up again on this list) to just give up on her straight best friend she’s in love with and save herself. Alas, the ending is universally reviled and pretty homophobic. But you can still enjoy the ride.

174. Salmonberries

dir. Percy Adlon, 1991

All you really need to know about this movie is it stars kd lang. Yes, that kd lang. She plays an Inuit woman who has taken on a male identity to work as a miner in Alaska. She falls in love with an East German widower librarian much older than her and the two form an unlikely friendship/eventual romance. It’s a slow and odd film about identity and the past that doesn’t totally work but is endlessly fascinating.

173. Take Me for a Ride

dir. Micaela Rueda, 2016
Watch It

A simple coming-of-age movie about queer teen love in Ecuador, Take Me For a Ride works because of the precise cinematography and the chemistry between lead actors Samanta Caicedo and Maria Juliana Rangel. The drama remains low-key and the film feels like a personal snapshot.

172. The Purple Sea

dir. Donatella Maiorca, 2009
Watch It

Similar to Elisa & Marcela in plot, this Italian film is also better before one of its high femmes pretends to be a man in order to marry her lover. There’s something charming and powerful about the character’s unwavering commitment to herself and her romance — it’s less that she’s brave and more that she simply must follow her feelings. The film’s darker turns in its second half may be off-putting to some, but this is a melodrama after all.

171. Daphne

dir. Clare Beavan, 2007

This biopic about Rebecca novelist Daphne Du Maurier focuses on two failed loves, her painful crush on her publisher’s wife and her affair with a troubled actress. Geraldine Somerville gives a layered performance as Du Maurier capturing her at a time when her private life was increasing in complexity as her public life grew larger.

170. Puccini for Beginners

dir. Maria Maggenti, 2005
Our Review // Unavailable

Maria Maggenti’s very New York City romcom about a complicated love triangle is filled with charm due to some witty dialogue and great performances from Elizabeth Reaser and Gretchen Mol. Reaser’s Allegra is a self-identified lesbian afraid of commitment who suddenly falls for a man… and his ex-girlfriend. Chaos, of course, ensues. It’s not deep, but it is delightful.

169. The Firefly

dir. Ana Maria Hermida, 2013
Watch It

A film as much about grief as it is about queer love, Ana Maria Hermida’s debut is about a woman who develops a relationship with her brother’s fiancée in the wake of his death. The two women bond over their shared mourning and shared love and eventually find a way forward together. With magic realist touches and a heavy script, the movie is rich in drama, but it mostly earns its earnest ambitions.

168. Entre Nous

dir. Diane Kurys, 1983
Available on Criterion

While the lesbianism remains implicit, this is still a beautiful movie about love and obligation. Miou-Miou and Isabelle Huppert are heartbreaking as two women whose deep connection pulls them away from the men in their lives. It’s slow and chaste — at least in its queerness — but this delicate film is a tribute to love between women.

167. Bumblefuck, USA

dir. Aaron Douglas Johnston, 2011
Watch It // Also Available on Tubi

Part mumblecore romance, part documentary, this film combines real interviews with the story of a Dutch woman who visits her gay American friend’s small town after he commits suicide. Blaming homophobia for his death, she sets out to learn what it’s like to be gay in this place, but ends up falling in love with a woman and learning firsthand. It’s a lowkey story with some painful turns, but it captures the confused messiness of newly coming out — or dating someone who’s newly coming out.

166. The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

dir. James Kent, 2010
Watch It

Before Anne Lister’s diaries were turned into an HBO show, there was this BBC film adaptation. While less thorough of a portrait than the show, Maxine Peak’s performance as Anne makes this version worth watching. Her Anne is a bit more desperate and a bit whinier, but she still maintains that alluring swagger.

165. Pimp

dir. Christine Crooks, 2018
Our Review // Watch It

While certainly dabbling in stereotypes — probably due to its white writer/director — Pimp still portrays a lesbian character and lesbian love story rarely shown on screen. Keke Palmer plays Wednesday, a pimp living in the Bronx desperate to prove herself, help her mom who just got out of prison, and be with girl-next-door Niki. The plot takes some wild turns and the performances, while committed, don’t exactly feel real, resulting in a lesbian movie that’s epic in drama if not the gritty tale it seems to be attempting.

164. Pride

dir. Matthew Warchus, 2014
Our Review // Watch It

This feel-good tale of class solidarity, tells the true story of the organization Gays and Lesbians Support Miners, a group of queer individuals who raised money and provided support during the 1984 British Miner’s Strike. The film finds humor and pathos in the culture clash of the rural heterosexual miners and the queer Londoners offering their help. It’s a tad simple, and very cis and white, but it’s still a delightful and inspiring film.

163. Life Partners

dir. Susanna Fogel, 2014
Our Review // Watch It

A twist on the lesbian in love with her best friend trope, Leighton Meester’s Sasha never falls for Gillian Jacobs’ Paige — but she is jealous when Paige starts dating Tim played by Adam Brody. This is a sweet exploration of codependent friendships with casually resonant lead performances and a great supporting cast of Gabourey Sidibe, Abby Elliot, Beth Dover and Kate McKinnon.

162. Goldfish Memory

dir. Elizabeth Gill, 2003

Like Love, Actually, but Irish, gay, and riddled with commitment issues this ensemble romantic comedy follows the lives and intersecting relationships of several delightfully messy people. Equally split between gay, lesbian, and straight romances, some storylines work better than others, but all of the actors are charming and the film is smarter about love than most of these kinds of romcoms.

161. My Days of Mercy

dir. Tali Shalom-Ezer, 2017
Watch It

Capital punishment romance is a tough sell, but three stunning performances from Ellen Page, Kate Mara, and Amy Seimetz, and endless chemistry between Page and Mara, make this movie more watchable than its premise. It’s certainly emotional, but rarely maudlin, avoiding too much melodrama by focusing on the characters as people. There are moments of humor and even a few stellar sex scenes.

160. Drool

dir. Nancy Kissam, 2009
Watch It

At times delightfully campy, at others rather off-putting, this low-budget comedy stars Girlfriends’ Jill Marie Jones and Mulholland Drive’s Laura Harring as lovers on the run. Kissam has cited John Waters as one of her key inspirations and that’s clear in the boldness of the work and its extremely dark sense of humor. But ultimately the film is rather wholesome as it creates a world where new family structures can arise from abuse.

159. To Faro

dir. Nana Neul, 2008

Melanie dreams of going to Portugal to live out all her queer dreams. But instead she’s stuck in a small German town at a job she hates. When she meets Jenny and is mistaken for a boy she decides to take on the alter ego of Miguel, a sweet Portuguese boy that quickly wins Jenny’s heart. This results in a tender — but at times harrowing — tale of sexual and gender discovery. The twist that Jenny is younger than she first says adds an unnecessary uncomfortable element to the whole movie, but it’s still an affecting coming of age drama.

158. The Pirate

dir. Jacques Doillon, 1984

This lesbian movie starts the drama at 100 and then turns it up. It’s as French as it is over-the-top as it is gay gay gay. Only the French would cast Jane Birkin in a love triangle with another woman and a man PLAYED BY HER BROTHER. It’s a brutal, unpleasant movie, but its magnetism is undeniable

157. Better Than Chocolate

dir. Anne Wheeler, 1999
Our Review // Watch It // Also Available on Vudu

Famous or infamous depending on who you ask, this memorable ensemble comedy about a group of lesbian friends is noteworthy for its silly sex scenes, Ani DiFranco filled soundtrack, and inclusion of a trans woman character. Feminist bookstore, nudity-centric performance art, and sexy body painting are just some of the very lesbian things in this very lesbian movie. It’s not great, but it is ours.

156. Les Biches

dir. Claude Chabrol, 1968

Claude Chabrol’s interest in queer women seems to begin and end with how hot it is to watch us make out — but, to be fair, he’s not wrong. Male gaze abounds in this gender swapped Talented Mr. Ripley, but that doesn’t take away from all its pleasures. Chabrol knows how to make a compelling movie and this is certainly compelling — almost as compelling as actresses Stéphane Audran and Jacqueline Sassard. But be warned: the man takes over as the main love interest for both women.

155. Concussion

dir. Stacie Passon, 2013
Our Review // Watch It // Also Available on Netflix

What begins as a gay twist on the classic story of sex-driven mid-life crise, becomes a deeper exploration of ennui and desire. Despite focusing largely on protagonist Abby’s foray into sex work, the film seems less concerned with representing that profession realistically and more concerned with how the sex (lots and lots and lots of sex!) impacts Abby as a character. Robin Weigert’s performance as Abby anchors the film despite its somewhat silly premise, and Maggie Siff gives a sexy supporting performance as one of Abby’s clients. There’s more to this movie than just the sex, but there is a lot of sex and it’s very well done!

154. You & Me Forever

dir. Kaspar Munk, 2012
Watch It

Brutal and filled with heterosexual sex, nevertheless this film is noteworthy for its realistic portrayal of teenage confusion. The protagonist isn’t sure why she’s so taken with the bisexual new girl in school, but she’s quickly at her mercy. The film painfully portrays how susceptible closeted queer people can be to manipulation and the immense cruelty of teenage girls.

153. Farewell, My Queen

dir. Benoit Jacquot, 2012
Watch It

Telling the story of Marie Antoinette’s love affair with Yolande Martine Gabrielle de Polastron through the eyes of one of Antoinette’s servants, Benoît Jacquot is more concerned with capturing Versailles than the affair itself. There are pleasures to be found in the film’s gorgeous costumes and production design, as well as its three main performances from Diane Kruger, Léa Seydoux, and Virginie Ledoyen, even if it never quite has the fire its story demands.

152. Blush

dir. Michal Vinik, 2015
Watch It / Also Available on Tubi

This Israeli coming-of-age film draws parallels between protagonist Naama’s burgeoning sexuality and her country’s troublesome politics. While she’s having the usual queer teen experiences of first love, first heartbreak, and first post-heartbreak head shave, she’s also forced to deal with her violent home life and racist father. It’s a tale of intolerance across identities that’s affecting even as it follows familiar beats.

151. The Killing of Sister George

dir. Robert Aldrich, 1968

Robert Aldrich’s film is a landmark of lesbian cinema, but it’s brutal to watch. It perpetuates the trope of the bitter old lesbian with none of the pleasures of similar films. But as a movie it’s quite good with a devastating performance from Beryl Reid. It’s worth watching for her performance and for its historical importance even if it leaves a sour taste.

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

Drew has written 126 articles for us.


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

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

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

  3. This is an amazing list!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  9. 40/200 and „Lost & delirious“ is not one of them 😁 We have a queer film festival in town, so once a year I watch a lot of movies but mostly documentaries. I will miss it so damn much this year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks San Carlos Public Library and libraries everywhere for their work

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

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

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

  17. Ooook. I have to be honest….

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

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

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

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

    Thank you for the amazing beginning though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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