The Best Queer Movies of 2023

It’s an incredible time be a queer cinephile. Hollywood may be slowing its progress in queer storytelling but there have never been more — or better — independent and international films. That’s why any list of the best queer movies of 2023 is basically just a list of the best movies period.

This year I couldn’t contain the list to a top ten. Hell, I considered doing a top 50. There have been so many great queer films, a range of queer stories and queer storytelling.

Sports movies, romances, magical realist fantasies, broad comedies, horror movies, and films that defy categorization. If you’re willing to explore even just one level beyond the mainstream, the best queer movies of 2023 are waiting to entertain and challenge you.

Past years, I’ve tried to include mention of everything. This year that wasn’t possible. Instead I’m shouting out some worthy straight movies, an honorable mentions list that could’ve been even longer, picking the year’s best queer docs, and then getting to the main top 20 (okay it’s technically 21). If you’re fave isn’t here, maybe I haven’t seen it yet, or maybe it just didn’t make the cut!

What a joy that there are so many great queer movies to watch and discuss!


Best Straight* Movies of the Year:

Greta Lee and Teo Yoo sit on stairs in front of a carousel and look at one another.

Barbie (dir. Greta Gerwig)
The Boy and the Heron (dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
Killers of the Flower Moon (dir. Martin Scorsese)
Magic Mike’s Last Dance (dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Other People’s Children (dir. Rebecca Zlotowski)
Past Lives (dir. Celine Song)
Priscilla (dir. Sofia Coppola)
Return to Seoul (dir. Davy Chou)
Saint Omer (dir. Alice Diop)

*some of these movies have queer elements and I agonized over whether they were queer enough to be included in the main list, if you disagree with me especially on Barbie and Return to Seoul don’t worry I disagree with myself a little bit


14 More of the Best Queer Movies of 2023:

Two cartoon girls cross a river on a rock together.

Biosphere (dir. Mel Eslyn)
Cassandro (dir. Roger Ross Williams)
Down Low (dir. Rightor Doyle)
Frybread Face and Me (dir. Billy Luther)
Jagged Mind (dir. Kelley Kali)
Knock at the Cabin (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
Moving On (dir. Paul Weitz)
Nimona (dir. Troy Quane, Nick Bruno)
Perpetrator (dir. Jennifer Reeder)
Petit Mal (dir. Ruth Caudeli)
Punch (dir. Welby Ings)
Strange Way of Life (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)
Theater Camp (dir. Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman)
Wingwomen (dir. Mélanie Laurent)


The Top Five Queer Documentaries of 2023:

Three trans women — including Kristen Lovell — look out over a pier.

Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate (dir. Benjamin Cantu)
Kokomo City (dir. D. Smith)
Little Richard: I Am Everything (dir. Lisa Cortés)
Queenmaker: The Making of an It Girl (dir. Zackary Drucker)
The Stroll (dir. Kristen Lovell, Zackary Drucker)


The Top 20 Best Queer Movies of 2023

20. Bottoms (dir. Emma Seligman)

Best queer movies of 2023: Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott sit in the front seat of a car with Havana Rose Liu in the back. They all look surprised.

The way Peter Bogdonavich riffed on screwball comedies in movies like What’s Up, Doc?, Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby follow-up riffs on the teen comedies of the 90s and early 00s. It’s less spoof than it is an escalation of the genre to its natural conclusion. That conclusion? Super violent and super gay.

Bottoms is now available to rent

19. (tie) Saltburn (dir. Emerald Fennell)/The Origin of Evil (dir. Sébastien Marnier)

From behind a shot of Barry Keoghan with a red robe half on looks out over the aftermath of a party on the front lawn of a manor.

Ever since I declared Killing Eve season two better than season one, I was destined to defend Emerald Fennell’s imperfect cinema. Her work is like a double pop album or a third scoop of ice cream. It’s fun, it’s sweet, it’s too much, and not enough. Like Promising Young Woman, the depth of the film is in the feeling it inspires. The disgust is the point. The emptiness is the point.

Saltburn is now in theatres

Laura Calamy walks into a room in a mansion, a taxidermied cat is center frame.

If you didn’t like Saltburn, you may still like its twin sister. Replace horny classmate with horny estranged daughter and you get a decent summary of this delicious French thriller. There is no pompacity on display — just an ease of intelligence hidden within expert genre filmmaking.

The Origin of Evil is now available to rent

18. Rotting in the Sun (dir. Sebastián Silva)

Best queer movies of 2023: Jordan Firstman puts a hand on Sebastian Silva's neck on a nude beach.

Watch Sebastian Silva’s latest for viral internet comedian Jordan Firstman and you’ll be part of its best joke. Silva plays a fictionalized version of himself, a filmmaker who decides to go on vacation rather than killing himself only to be terrorized by a fictionalized version of Firstman. What begins as a lo-fi take on Adaptation spirals into its own unique concoction of misery and farce.

Rotting in the Sun is now streaming on MUBI

17. Blue Jean (dir. Georgia Oakley)

Close-up on a woman with short blonde hair at a bar, a cigarette dangles out of her mouth

Queer people can exist in every shadow; not in every spotlight. Set in 1988, this debut feature follows a familiar story of a closeted teacher torn between her job and her life. Elevated by sharp writing and acting, the film also distinguishes itself with a willingness to hold conflicting truths, to push for moral courage while acknowledging its limitations.

Blue Jean is now streaming on Hulu

16. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (dir. Aitch Alberto)

Two teen boys, one in a jean jacket, one in a letterman jacket, embrace with a desert terrain behind them.

When adolescents fall in love, they’re falling in love with themselves. Like all the best films about teenage romance, this long-awaited adaptation respects the connection of its leads while centering their individual growth. This is a beautifully crafted film about the way queer people shape each other’s lives — in love and beyond.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is now available to rent

15. All of Us Strangers (dir. Andrew Haigh)

Best queer movies of 2023: Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal stare into each other's eyes sitting on a couch.

In Andrew Haigh’s ghost story, death is a metaphor. Ostensibly about a middle aged gay man reconnecting with his dead parents and hooking up with his neighbor, the grief echoing through the film is something quieter than total loss. It’s a portrait of the isolation of queerness. There is so much potential for connection if one can ignore the blurred pane of heteronormativity.

All of Us Strangers opens in theatres on December 22

14. Mutt (dir. Vuk Lungulov-Klotz)

A transmasc in a white tank top glances down at his sister as they lean against the wall in the Morgan Ave subway stop.

Cis people have been making bad trans movies for so long, it felt like only cis people could be human. If trans people wanted dimensionality on-screen, we would have to ignore our transness altogether. Well, this film is the counter argument. Just about everything its protagonist faces during his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day intersects with being trans. And yet it still doesn’t define him. He’s allowed to be trans and allowed to just be.

Mutt is now streaming on Netflix

13. Joyland (dir. Saim Sadiq)

A trans woman bends down to kiss a cis man as their faces are lit up by the pattern of a green star.

Alina Khan’s Biba towers over this film like her gargantuan cardboard cut-out towers over the film’s central household. She is at once separate from the family who lives there and the catalyst for their greatest triumphs and tragedies. For Biba, transness is one part of her identity. For the rest of the characters, it’s a symbol of a freedom they’ve been denied.

Joyland is now available to rent

12. NYAD (dir. Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)

Annette Bening as Diana Nyad stares into a mirror.

My favorite sports movies treat athletics like a compulsion. The feat Diana Nyad sets out to accomplish is impossible — and yet she can never give up. With rousing swimming sequences, and a complicated queer friendship that lets Jodie Foster go full dyke, this story is at once human and superhuman.

NYAD is now streaming on Netflix

11. The Five Devils (dir. Léa Mysius)

Best queer movies of 2023: Swala Emati and Adèle Exarchopoulos smile facing each other singing into one microphone.

Magic smells, time travel, arson, ice cold swims, a high school dance team. A fantasy with the human specificity of a quiet drama, there is so much here to reflect upon. It’s a tribute to lives lived and unlived, and a welcome return to lesbian cinema for star Adèle Exarchopoulos.

The Five Devils is now streaming on MUBI

10. L’immensita (dir. Emanuele Crialese)

A transmasc child lies on the ground with a rose in their mouth as a girl does a headstand on their chest.

The first movie I’ve seen about a trans person who doesn’t know they’re trans, this is a film that could only be made by a trans filmmaker. After years of working while stealth, Emanuele Crialese has come out to tell his childhood and does so with detail and whimsy. It captures the magic of even the most confused youth.

L’immensita is now streaming on Prime

9. Bad Things (dir. Stewart Thorndike)

A wide shot of an empty hotel conference hall. Four queer people sit on the floor.

Even though I find many buzzed about contemporary horror titles to be self-important, narratively muddled, and thematically confused, horror remains my favorite genre because of films like Bad Things. Stewart Thorndike’s second film excels as a work of art, a work of reference, and a queer character dramedy all while being extremely scary. Patient in its craft, sharp in its writing, perfect in its casting, this is a film worthy of its genre’s history.

Bad Things is now streaming on Shudder

8. Showing Up (dir. Kelly Reichardt)

Michelle Williams and Hong Chau stand next to each other looking up to the sky.

One of our great film artists making a movie about art-making. As patient and specific as we’ve come to expect from Kelly Reichardt but filled with humor, this is a film to sink into, to live within. Enjoy the experience and let its power surprise you. May our greatest ambitions be intrinsically linked to our humanity.

Showing Up is now streaming on Paramount+

7. Something You Said Last Night (dir. Luis De Filippis)

Best queer movies of 2023: a close up from behind of Carmen Madonia lying on a bed

When I saw Luis De Filippis’ debut feature at TIFF in 2022, I knew something had shifted in trans cinema. Finally, here was an independent film — an excellent independent film — that approached character and story with a casual ease akin to decades of cis cinema. It’s not only that De Filippis is drawing from personal experience the cis voyeurs of the past lacked; it’s that the film feels personal to one artist’s singular voice, transness just one part of that. My hope for trans cinema is for more films like this, more films like Isabel Sandoval’s Lingua Franca, more films where brilliant trans artists are allowed to simply create their vision.

Something You Said Last Night is not currently available to stream

6. Passages (dir. Ira Sachs)

Best queer movies of 2023: Franz Rogowski and Adèle Exarchopoulos sit next to each other on a bed, Rogowski in a green sweater, Exarchopoulos in a blue dress.

A hungry, horny treat where beautiful people wear beautiful clothes in beautiful apartments and then take off those clothes for desperate sex. Ira Sachs does not abandon the tenderness of his previous work so much as contrast it with a deliciously selfish bisexual terror. Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, and Adèle Exarchopoulos are the reason moving images were invented.

Passages is now streaming on MUBI

5. The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future (dir. Francisca Alegria)

A trans teenage girl dances with headphones on, a beautiful lake behind her.

An ecological fantasia about our suffering world. This unique debut is experimental in narrative and form yet wholly accessible due to its attention to character and its immense watchability. I feel the urge to compare it to the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, an insufficient urge that nevertheless speaks to the film’s splendor. The future is dire, the future is hopeful, the future is trans.

The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future is now available to rent

4. Anatomy of a Fall (dir. Justine Triet)

Sandra Hüller lies in a couch cuddling with her dog in the dark.

Anatomy of a fall. Anatomy of a marriage. Anatomy of a broken justice system. Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or winner is a sticky character drama with a possibly murderess, certainly flawed bisexual main character. The nuanced script and powerhouse performance from Sandra Hüller make for a thrilling cinematic experience — one that gains new resonance every time a bisexual celebrity is found in a legal and media frenzy.

Anatomy of a Fall is now in theatres

3. How to Blow Up a Pipeline (dir. Daniel Goldhaber)

Best queer movies of 2023: Sasha Lane and Ariela Barer smoke cigarettes with a toxic waste plant blowing fumes behind them.

Can movies change the world? I don’t know, but I do think it’s better to have high-octane genre-filmmaking that’s queer, environmentalist, and anti-colonialist than the empire propaganda we usually get. Maybe it’s not fair to compare this indie shot on 16mm to blockbuster actions films, and yet it’s a testament to this film’s craft that the comparison feels apt. This is edge-of-your-seat, radical filmmaking with an expert script and wonderful performances to back it up. Can movies change the world? I don’t know, but ecoterrorism probably could.

How to Blow Up a Pipeline is now streaming on Hulu

2. May December (dir. Todd Haynes)

Natalie Portman sits next to Cory Michael Smith outside a restaurant.

Before you tell me this film isn’t queer, I already wrote an essay about its queerness. A queer filmmaker does not always equal a queer film, but when it comes to Todd Haynes, it usually does. His queer sensibility is deeply felt in the film’s craft and in his approach to these characters — also the one explicitly queer character is integral to the film’s depth. Uncomfortable, upsetting, hilarious, and moving, there is so much movie in this one movie. With every watch, new layers are revealed like never-ending butterflies from never-ending chrysalides.

May December is now streaming on Netflix

1. Mars One (dir. Gabriel Martins)

Best queer movies of 2023: A young woman leans in the lap of another young woman. The second woman puts a finger on the first's nose as her blue braids cascade down.

My favorite film at Sundance in 2022 is now my favorite film of 2023. (Thanks to the always wonderful ARRAY!) I love it now as much as I loved it then. A rare film about a family that does right by every member, each starring in their own intersecting movie. Through the specific experience of a Black lower middle class family living through the early months of Bolsonaro’s presidency, Gabriel Martins has made a film about finding a way in an impossible world. In this difficult yet tender film, coming out to someone is a gift. To share your desires, your wants, your dreams is to let someone know you better. It’s an invitation to dream together.

Mars One is now streaming on Netflix


Want to weigh in on the best queer movies of 2023? Go to the Autostraddle Instagram where all weekend we’re conducting reader polls in our stories! Argue for your faves in the comments and the final results will be posted on Monday.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and I Heart Female Directors. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 474 articles for us.

15 Comments

  1. The fact I’ve only seen 1 of these on the ENTIRE list and sub lists is very useful as it highlights what I suspected – I have been watching a LOT fewer movies in cinema this year than last. So this list is useful twice over! (May tell the last person still asking that id like a Curzon membership…)

  2. Does anyone else feel as if lesbian spaces are just… vanishing? Gah I’m sure people are going to see this and come at me with pitchforks – please don’t. I love seeing how far we’ve come as a community. I love seeing the spotlight shared, but I also feel like there’s less lesbian content than ever before because the pendulum is swinging in other directions. It isn’t that I don’t want to share the spotlight, it just feels like it won’t come back in our direction again any time soon and it was only us for what seems like a brief time.

    • I think you should examine why you’d rather a cis lesbian recommend you five lesbian films you’ve already seen than a trans lesbian recommend you a dozen lesbian films you haven’t, plus a dozen movies about cis queer men, plus a handful of movies about trans people.

      I think you should examine why you want to wrap yourself in homogeneity when lesbian history has always included trans people and intersected with queer male community.

      • This is a weirdly defensive response. They didn’t even mention anything about cis or trans. They’re just asking about more lesbian-specific content, which very well can include trans lesbians.

  3. Lots of good stuff here, including The Five Devils, one of my 2022 faves. Also, thank you for bringing my attention to The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future and Bad Things, I would miss them otherwise. On my list, I would probably put Smoke Sauna Sisterhood by Anna Hints, the Estonian documentary which suprised me with its queerness, and Julia Murat’s very bold Rule 34 (actually I still don’t know what I think about this one – and I like it). Jennifer Reeder’s Perpetrator opened something for me; She is Connan proves that Bertrand Mandico didn’t put all his ideas into Les Garcons Sauvages. Such a good year.

  4. “Mars One” is one of the best brazilian movies ever! While watching the movie, I recalled what we’ve lived and felt during the Bolsonaro Era in Brazil. It was terrible, but just like the movie characters the only solution was TO HOLD ON TIGHT. I feel that this movie was injusticed by the academy, and still believe it’s the perfect contender for the foreign film category.

  5. Where did the commenter even make a distinction between trans and cis lesbians? It feels like you’re introducing that narrative try and paint the commenter in a negative light.

    Maybe you should examine why you apparently can’t empathise with a lesbian who wants content about being a lesbian. It’s not the unreasonable ask you’re making it out to be. People want to see stories that represent us and lesbians don’t usually get the kind of coverage and prominence in other LGBT publications let alone mainstream ones that Autostraddle offers.

    If you can’t understand why lesbians and sapphics more generally might need their own spaces then congratulations for making me lose faith in this site almost entirely.

    • Exactly. Drew’s comment was defensive about something that the comment by Elysian a never even brought up, this seems like two different conversations. I’m glad that there’s a lot more attention on all members of the LGBT+ community. I’m also really bummed that the website that bills itself as being a big source for “girl on girl culture” can’t seem to bother with any lesbian specific content anymore. We are already a minority in the broader community in the world, and being treated like we’re evil for missing content and community is not making me want to stick around. I’ve been really holding out hope for this website but I’m losing it lately.

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