In My Top 10 Favorite Lesbian Movies, various members of Autostraddle’s TV Team tell you about the movies nearest and dearest to our hearts and invite you to like all the same things we like. Today, CEO Riese shares feelings about her favorite films of all time.
After eleven years at this website, I have summarized every single one of these movies eighty thousand times. So I’m not going to do that all over again! I’m just gonna talk about my favorite topic…. myself. Also the movies! The movies and me.
10. All Over Me (1997)
“It’ll make you want to be a lesbian,” Lörn told me, standing on the street outside the Michigan Theater, sucking on the ring pop looped around her pink-and-yellow lanyard. She’d already seen it so she wasn’t coming in with us but we’d meet up later. Her lips turned red as strawberries and I was scared, but also excited? “All Over Me” was an indie film about teenagers and I pretty much watched all of those, then. I knew, unfortunately, that my Mom and her friends had chosen the same showing but she’d promised not to talk to me, but when they noisily filed in to a row near the back in their tucked-in t-shirts, giddy and laughing and talking, I think some of my friends knew. I kept thinking about that film forever, about the damaged oversexed best friend who crawls into bed and kisses you in secret. I’d had friends like that, moments like that. Maybe not quite that far but on the verge of it. I thought about it forever. Maybe Lörn was right.
9. Foxfire (1999)
Knowing that Angelina Jolie and Jenny Shimizu met and started dating on the set of this overlooked film in which teenage girls take revenge upon the men who violate and oppress them only deepened my already-intense feelings about it. Re-watching it recently I found, surprise, that it completely holds up until the like, last 30 minutes, when it falls to pieces. Angelina Jolie in a bowl cut and a leather jacket climbing through the window? Possibly my root. This is peak lesbian style. Look at those girls!!!!!
9. The Hours (2002)
Sign me up for the mid-century suburban housewife with secret lesbian longings. For getting the flowers herself. For Phillip Glass and Virginia Woolf and a smidgen of Claire Danes.
8. The Handmaiden (2016)
I was invited to see this film when it debuted and I declined — I’d just emerged from a terrible breakup and didn’t want to be reminded that other people still had sex and fell in love or whatever it is I imagined would happen in this movie. I agreed to meet for drinks beforehand and then, slightly soused, was cajoled into attending. I think it’s important to support independent film so I bought a ticket and got in an aisle seat and about five minutes in, said I was going to the bathroom and instead took an Uber home. Then like two years later I watched it on my TV with my jaw open like an idiot. I just could not believe! It is so hot and meticulous with twists in all the right places.
6. A Simple Favor (2018)
I’ve perhaps praised this film more than any other film in human history over the past two years even though technically it’s not that good. There’s just something so delicious and ridiculous about it. I lament all those entering the theater with prior knowledge of its gay content. I took a girl on a date to this film not even knowing how wonderful and occasionally gay it would be, and I felt very good about myself afterwards. The promotions had all the trappings of an Ocean’s Eight-esque clit tease, but it was not, not at that level. Like Gone Girl, but a comedy.
5. Gia (1998)
If you wanted to watch a movie at boarding school you had to walk to the video store in town, which was maybe a mile or three away, who can remember. So we did that; for this. By “we” I mean me and my friend who I had a mildly homoerotic friendship with. You know the type! Even straight girls can have them. I think we all had them, then. Maybe from watching Foxfire, or maybe from something else. Anyhow, Angelina Jolie (again here we are) is beautiful and tragic, everything a teenager wants to be or be close to. So of course we loved it. So of course we never walked back to the video store to return it. I apologize to the town of Interlochen, I hope you had HBO subscriptions.
4. Saving Face (2005)
I did that thing when I was first coming out to myself where I watched all the films and read all the books? I just went ahead and knocked out one after the other on Netflix’s lesbian section — back when Netflix was DVDs in the mail. Most of the movies felt like compromises, You give me lesbians and I accept mediocrity. Not this one, though. This was a romantic comedy as solid as they come. Congratulations to everybody involved!
3. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)
I read afterwards that the families of the people involved in this film dispute the account, which I found annoying, because this account is delightful. This film, directed by the esteemed Angela Robinson, has everything: hot sex, a man who doesn’t suck, history, feminism, school.
2. Blockers (2018)
I flew a lot in 2018, like at least once a month, so if the film was on the airplane’s entertainment system, there was a good chance I’d enjoy it with my tiny plastic box of grapes and crackers. This one blew my mind. It was fucking delightful! I landed in Dallas and within 5 hours, was watching it for a second time with Sarah, and then within 24 hours, was watching it a third time with Laneia. So sex-positive, so fun! The queer storyline was great and the parents were funny and interesting and I cannot think of one single thing this film did incorrectly, besides to market it like a gross-out teen sex comedy a la Porky’s, thus ensuring nobody would actually go see it. Sad!
1. But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
All of the stories around these ’90s movies feel fake as I’m writing them, but sometimes life is on the nose! The State Theater was packed for this one and while ceremoniously avoiding my popcorn until lights down, Amelia started talking about a girl she’d dated at college, and told me about another friend who also had a girlfriend, which I described in my diary as “a bit shocking,” before noting, “I used to be scared when I was a kid that I’d grow up to be a lesbian.” After some hemming and hawing around the exact circumstances upon which I could consider “being with a girl” I have only this to say about the film: “Good movie though — FUN.” I’ve seen it ten thousand times since. It’s exactly right, every minute of it. It’s hard to get something like that right — a colorful, energetic, sarcastic comedy about a tragic circumstance — but they did.
Almost making the list: Show Me Love/Fucking Amal, If These Walls Could Talk 2, Desert Hearts, Appropriate Behavior, The Hours, I Shot Andy Warhol
Want more movies? Check out Autostraddle’s 200 Best Lesbian Movies of All Time.