Top Ten Queer Girl Movies That Don’t Suck: Best Lesbian Movies Part #2

6. Loving Annabelle (2006)

Oh wow, it’s a lesbian movie set in a Catholic girls’ boarding school! How revolutionary. Lucky for you, this one has a twist: the main character, Annabelle, isn’t lusting after her roommate. She has her sights on her English teacher, Simone. The boarding school environment gives the two ladies plenty of opportunity for tense encounters, and that’s pretty much all that happens for the first half of the movie. But the actresses do such a good job drawing out the tension, you won’t even care that no one is making out. Of course, there’s some random student-on-student kissing thrown in to keep the audience happy. Don’t worry, there’s a big payoff at the end.

Loving-Annabelle

Loving Annabelle is not the greatest movie ever, but it’s refreshingly realistic. Unfortunately, that means another sad ending to a lesbian movie. But this story couldn’t end happily, anyway. All you need to know is the movie is worth watching because it features not one but TWO types of taboo romance, and it has cute girls in plaid skirts!

(-Intern Sarah)

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7. Tipping the Velvet (2002, BBC)

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Tipping the Velvet is a 3-part BBC drama, based on the Sarah Waters novel, about girls who sing, dress as boys, and like other girls. In London. In the 1890s. It follows Nancy Astley from her girlhood of shucking oysters, through many stages (literally and figuratively) of self-discovery and ladyfriends, until she gets her happy ending. And no one dies! And there is a leather(?) dildo. Which doesn’t seem sanitary to me. There are also some pretty interesting statements about feminism and socialism that seem a little preachy, but not overbearing. You may recognize actresses Jodhi May (from Last of the Mohicans) and Sally Hawkins (who won an Oscar recently for Happy Go Lucky, but can also be seen playing gay in another Sarah Waters adaptation, Fingersmith). In the end, even though Tipping The Velvet is a historical drama, it has its funny moments as well, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. If for nothing else you should watch it for the cute British girls in mens’ suits.

(-Intern Elizabeth)

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8. Imagine Me & You (2005)

So get this: Rachel and Heck, long time friends and lovers, finally tie the knot. On the big day, Rachel starts a friendship with their florist, Luce. And by “friendship” we mean reluctantly totally madly in love-ship.

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Imagine Me & You is a British romantic-comedy about the relationship of two cute girls played by Piper Perabo (Rachel) and the always-gorgeous Lena Headley (Luce – WHAT A HOT NAME). Pretty much the entire film is based around Rachel’s reluctance to betray her husband, Heck, by being with a woman she just happened to meet on her wedding day. You pretty much sit there with sweaty palms and baited breath hoping that for christ sake maybe two girls could live happily ever after together in a movie. WILL THEY?  I can’t tell you it would be a spoiler!!!

Three reasons this movie did not suck: Piper Perabo, Lena Headley, and most importantly — the girl gets the girl in the end!

(-Alex)
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9. Desert Hearts (1985)

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Released in 1985, Desert Hearts was one of the first mainstream films featuring a lesbian storyline, which is why it’s a little surprising that it’s also one of the most nuanced. When Vivian, straitlaced Columbia professor and divorcée, meets Cay, Reno girl with a sexy voice who sometimes wears cowboy boots without pants, you might expect another woman-is-driven-to-lesbianism-by-bad-heterosexual-relationship story, or a gay-relationship-in-the-Southwest-threatened-by-homophobia plot. Instead, Vivian and Cay’s relationship succeeds in being a sweet lesbian love story without being A Lesbian Love Story, you know what I mean?

There is a way in which Vivian and Cay’s relationship feels honest and genuine because it’s outside of the structures of patriarchy.

Perhaps because it’s based on a novel, no one making this movie felt like it was okay to sacrifice things like complex characters or a fully developed plot just because it’s gay. We’re able to take the romance seriously because the movie takes itself seriously – for instance, Cay’s mother throws a fit about her being with Vivian not because she’s a crazy Southern homophobe, but because she’s kind of possessive and codependent and can’t deal with her daughter being committed to anyone else. Cay’s gayness isn’t a big issue in her community; it’s a thing that some people know about and some don’t and that her friends support her in and some other people don’t.

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.

Bottom line, there’s something that resonates when watching this movie; something about it that makes it feel like it could be real. Or maybe just something you wish was real, because the sex scene is generally considered one of the best ever, and Vivian’s wide-eyed nervousness is so cute you just want to cheer her on. Also, like any good movie-of-a-book, it’s beautifully written and full of quotable quotes which I found myself scribbling down as I watched. “I’m not asking you to be on my side. But if you stand in my way…” (Intern Rachel)

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10. Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love (1995)

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Randy Dean (Laurel Holloman) isn’t doing so hot in school and her ‘relationship’ with an older married women seems to be running pretty cold as well, especially cold is the visit the woman’s husband makes to the gas station Randy works (and makes out) at. One afternoon Evie (Nicole Ari Parker), drops by the gas station looking for someone to tell her whether her tires need air or not – Randy sorts this out easily and saves Evie from blowing her face off with an over-inflated tire. The pair soon find themselves testing the waters of a lesbian relationship in a small town, drinking some wine, smoking some pot and having incredibly true adventures. All in all it’s pretty cute/fun. The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love is much like Randy’s Aunt Rebecca says life is; “a little rough around the edges”, but enjoyable nonetheless! (Jen)

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Rieses-Special-Comment

ALSO: Riese’s special comment on why Lost & Delirious Sucks

I know why you think Lost & Delirious was good: firstly, there were young hot girls with feelings were making out, alternately disrobing or dressing themselves in hot school uniforms. Secondly it features some of our favorite ladies; Mischa Barton and Piper Perabo — both of whom have nice lesbionic resumès.

I used to go to lesbian movies in the theater by myself a lot, for reasons I never really thought (enough) about. I was one of maybe four or five people in the theater for L&D. And though at first I was entertained — enthralled, even — all of my lust, longing and perhaps budding homosexuality was snatched from my soul about mid-way, when Paulie loses Tory and the entire film transforms into a heavy-handed horse-beating vehicle for Symbolism and Metaphor, often delivered via the TIRED AS FUCK method of linking the poems studied in class to the pain of Paulie’s actual heart.

Paulie, when not literally nursing a random wild bird back to health, is gallivanting about campus with zealous baroque literary zeal and trust me — I like a good mental illness movie, but this ain’t it. Instead of witnessing anything resembling genuine emotional transformation, pain or complication, we get a litany of Shakespearean allusions.  This isn’t an after-school special … but it starts to feel like one, because making your misery intellectual doesn’t make it authentic. Lost & Delirious reminds me, at times, of a bad Ilene Chaiken episode and ladies, don’t we (and Piper!) deserve better?

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If you haven’t seen it I won’t ruin the terrible ending. I will just say that no one should put Piper in a corner screaming “Blood of the raptor! Blood of the night!” when she could be playing Dance Dance Revolution!

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101 Comments

  1. I saw Lost & Delirious and I cried when that Ani Difranco song came on and Paulie was sobbing in the middle of the night. Then she started running through a forest a lot and did this weird dance thing at the end and I stopped being interested.

  2. I’ve only seen ‘Loving Annabelle’, which I want to see again because once wasn’t enough to settle on how I really felt about it.

    I’d really like to know where in Sydney I can find these movies, because the local DVD store doesn’t stock them.

  3. the absolute winner of all time is DESERT HEARTS. If you’ve never seen it, you just don’t know what you’re missing out on. LOST AND DELIRIOUS is the most over-rated ‘classic’ ever, and I always shake my head when it comes up on *every* lesbian movie list.

      • ah, but trust me, on the big screen it’s a winner. it has a really solid story, and it’s beautifully and carefully made. it’s not just about the main characters: the smaller roles are great too – the best friend, the ranch owner, etc. there are very few lesbian films that are as good. and i watch a lot of them, every year.

        • I liked Desert Hearts and I don’t like anything. Really! I mean some of the movies on this list I very much disliked.

          DH wasn’t fantastic, but it was definitely on level with your average straight drama/romance movie.

  4. I hated Lost and delirious too.The girl didn’t get the girl.Grrr…I have seen all of these movies.I’ll add another one Goldfish Memory.Irish accents were voted the sexiest in the world this year and this movie has sexy Irish actresses and was a pretty good movie to boot.

  5. My Summer of Love? Really? I watched that and was horribly disappointed. I just get sick of watching some confused girl get her heart ripped out. And what was Blunt’s character’s motivation for such bad behavior. Then there’s the bit about the bar tending brother who suddenly decides to be a radical Christian…doesn’t it all seem a bit tired and desperate?

  6. I haven’t seen Desert Hearts but I’ve read the book (christmas present from mom after I came out, thanks a bunch) that it was based on and it… was only kind of okay at best.
    Lost and Delirious was mostly over-dramatic and disturbing? wtf was with that bird? definitely had a rough time sitting through that one.

  7. oh, and also? thanks for NOT including WHEN NIGHT IS FALLING. A truly terrible film that also ends up in the ‘top 10’ list way too often. Unlike the over-looked and under-appreciated I’VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING (same director, much earlier). Now that one you can get on Netflix. Rent it!

    • Ohgawd, When Night Is Falling. I watched that last week and just died laughing through the whole thing TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE.
      I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, on the other hand, YES. Creatively weird and delightful. Might be one of my favorite lezzie flicks.

    • guyyysss. I liked that movie…

      But mostly because it was visually aesthetic. I’m excited to check out I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, though.

  8. I thought My summer of love was creepy as hell and would probably put it on my list of worst lesbian movies, right up there with April’s Shower.

    I’m kind of curious why When Night is Falling isn’t on this list. It’s a very sweet, well written and well acted story.

    • ah i LOVE imagine me and you too. Glad its on this list because had a sneaking suspicion that it might not be a good film, despite how much i loved it. Lena Headey is the reason I started watching the Sarah Connor Chronicles, which is also ace, although sadly not gay in the least.

      • I always have that sneaking suspicion, too. But I just love it so much. I watch it when I get stressed out because it makes me happy. I think I like it because it’s exactly like every other romantic comedy out there but it’s GAY. Which is in many ways comforting.

  9. I was just talking to someone about Chasing Amy tonight! I think I heard Kevin Smith say once that he made it because his brother is gay, and he was sad that he had no visibility. I’m not sure how he thought he would solve that problem by writing about a hot blonde femme lesbian who fucks men, but I guess it was nice that he tried?

    • Have you seen Go Fish? It’s a black and white indie film and kind of interesting as a look into 90s lesbian culture. Anyway, there is a scene where a “lesbian” character feels the need to defend her identity because she slept with a guy and enjoyed it. I guess, like that scene, I feel like Chasing Amy is about labels and how the lesbian community can be as oppressive as the straight community in some ways.

  10. Excellent! Thank you for giving my girlfriend’s Netflix a workout. I’ve only seen Loving Annabelle (which I hated), Imagine Me & You (which is lovely), and Tipping the Velvet.

    For anyone who’s interested in Tipping the Velvet, the book is much better than the miniseries…and the miniseries is already a ton of fun. I also loved Fingersmith. Sarah Waters is a good bet for lesbian historical fiction with some naughty bits.

    • Yeah I’ve read and seen Tipping the Velvet (obvs) and Fingersmith and it was all good fun. I saw Affinity and it wasn’t as good. I haven’t read the book. What’s the other book… oh there’s Night Watch and The Little Stranger. Haven’t read those either, have you? Are they worth picking up?

  11. If you haven’t seen Aimme and Jaguar, rent that shit immediately. Favorite Lesbian themed movie ever. And it’s based on a true story. Yes, it is sad but it is also incredibly executed.

    Tipping the Velvet is also fantastic. As is Fingersmith which should also be on the list.

    One tiny correction though. Sally Hawkins won a Golden Globe not an Oscar for Happy Go Lucky. I should know because I was livid when she wasn’t even nominated.

    • Oooh, I’m kinda glad Fingersmith didn’t make the cut. (For one, I’m not sure either mini-series should be on a ‘movies’ list, but I’m being a stickler…) I just thought the book was SOOO MUCH better, whereas with Tipping the Velvet, the book was only SO much better. I thought Mr. Rivers was terribly miscast — the character was meant to be significantly older. GRUMBLE.

  12. So you liked Summer of Love but not Lost & Delerious? Idk.

    Anywho, Tipping the Velvet? Best. Lesbian. Movie. Ever.
    And anyone who’s seen/loved it on logo, should netflix that shiz because there are crazy sex scene montages that they don’t show on network tv.

    Tipping the Velvet the novel? Seriously. Awesome. Book. Way more awesome, hardcore and risqué than the movie. Sheesh. So good.

    • for me, “my summer of love” gets way more points than “lost and delirious” because at the end, the queer girl gets in the last word. she’s pissed off, obviously, but i got the feeling she was gonna be just fine. “lost and delirious,” on the other hand, just felt like a realllly long to tell me what i should have guessed when i saw the title: bitch crazy.

      but “tipping the velvet?” um yeah, fantastic book.

  13. i still think When night is falling should be on this list, glad to see at least one person agrees with me. haven’t seen Tipping the velvet yet, but i have seen Fingersmith and yes, the book is SOOOO much better. speaking of Sarah Waters, i also really liked Nightwatch. Lost and delirious was a bit too dramatic, but i didn’t think it was a bad film.

  14. tipping the velvet is amazingly hot, and stands out, even on this list, for its quality. i hated L&D and loving annabelle pretty equally, but maybe something is wrong with me. also i absolutely love bound and high art. maybe because they, again, are superfuckinghot. also, my summer of love doesn’t do a whole lot for me as a queer movie, but i still think its pretty impressive compared to say, go fish. go fish also scared the fuck out of me because i was young, in the closet and skittish, so that does reveal a bias.

    also, can i note that i watched the vast majority of these movies after renting them surreptitiously at my grandparents’ house after waiting for my family to go to sleep? when i was like, 16 and i thought i was straight? what?

    • oh yeah i love tipping the velvet. i’ve only seen pieces, i loved the book so much i was scared to see it that it might be ruined.

      high art and bound were on our first list, i liked them too because they had dark haired andro lesbian destructive naked seductresses in them which i think is my type

  15. Speaking of Shamim Sarif (i just cant think straight) The world unseen-(also based on a book) is very good as well although I cried all over myself during it. Don’t worry Riese I still go to movies alone.

    I saw the secrets (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0782867/) which is a movie set in Israel the lesbian plot is there but it is more about the women and the struggle that they encounter in a ultra orthodox Jewish society the end is kinda brutal. For those of you in NY Quad Cinema regularly shows queer themed movies that do not get wide release.

    I LOVE MOVIES.

  16. Imagine Me and You is probably one of my favourites. It’s right up there with Gia and But I’m a Cheerleader. That scene after they make out in Luce’s flower shop when Luce tells her not to forget her and Rachel says “I won’t remember anything else..” Oh my god, I die every time I watch it.

    Also, I obviously need to watch Unveiled (as well as aimme and jaguar) because foreign film is probably my favourite type of film. I’ll get right on that.

  17. Nobody else likes L&D? I did, can’t think of any clever reasons why, just did. Desert hearts blew me away the first time I saw it but I’ve put off watching it now I’m older & more experienced (?!) in case it has lost its impact. So many of these films are special because of the time in my queer life/development that I’ve watched them in. Nina’s Heavenly Delights is supersweet and awesome but doesn’t seem to have made a very big impression on anyone else. I think that my top ten list of movies that didn’t suck would be everyone elses top ten that did. Agree that most of the above are generally non-sucky although incredibly true adventures is boring and tipping the velvet creeps me out.

    • I love L&D. I also don’t have a good reason why. It’s just the feeling it gives me, I guess. An emotional reaction, nothing intellectual. I just fell in love with all the characters, even crazy-ass Paulie.
      Also, I know this is like a year later, but still.

  18. I have also always thought lost and delirious sucked. For me, its only redeeming qualities were that it was filmed at Bishop’s and Jessica Pare is from Montreal. Falconry has no place in lesbian cinema. That’s all I have to say.

  19. The only one of those films from above that I would consider a terrific film is My Summer Of Love. The others, for the most part, have strong scenes here and there. Some off the path selections would be Memento Mori, Blue Gate Crossing, Water Lilies, Edge of Heaven, Set Me Free and Bizarre Love Triangle. As for Lost and Delirious, I would rank that film up there with Almodovar’s Talk To Her, Malick’s The New World, Lynch’s Inland Empire, Linklater’s Before Sunset, Van Sant’s Gerry, and Martel’s The Headless Woman as among the top films of the decade. What Pool does is take the cliche and flip it on itself without changing the fate which in and of itself is a difficult proposition. To top it off, Pool decides on no distancing tools and instead embraces the emotionalism of the individual (the embrace of such hothouse emotions carries over to the purposely heavy use of symbolism – the cliches are appropriated for the heroine to revel in – instead of being condemned to be applauded). The film therefore becomes that most bewildering of species, a coming of age story that radically shifts into a document of the destruction of idealism. In many ways it may be the single most angry statement against homophobia ever put on screen. If seen solely for plot, and without a consideration of it’s deconstruction of the evil lesbian plotline or it’s emphatic use of metaphor being in service of that deconstruction, it could be seen as just another lesbian tragedy. However most persons that love the film see it as exhilarating, a repudiation of the exploitative and a statement about how conformity is the true villain.

  20. Where were you when I needed you, Riese?! I read nothing but raving reviews of Lost and Delirious, bought it, and promptly labeled it the wost movie ever. IT’S JUST SO BAD!

    Though, it was at least laughably amazingly bad and did inspire my friends to create a facebook group and learn to say Say it to the RAPTOR! in four languages, so I guess it had its value. And the book it’s based on is waaay crazier even.

  21. The first time I saw Desert Hearts, it was passed to me on a bootleg VHS tape. We didn’t have these movies or the ability to get them in the bad old 80’s. That’s when I came out. Hell, I just enjoy the fact that these movies are getting made.
    It strikes me as funny to even say that. I’m just shy of 40.

  22. So what do you all know about The World Unseen? It’s the same director, same actresses, slightly similar plot as in I Can’t Think Straight, which caused a major deja vu moment for me the first time I saw a promo for the latter. Did the director just think, “hey, I have a bigger budget this time around; let’s try this again, only this time let’s make a film that isn’t a total snooze?”

  23. Whatever happened to “Fingersmith?” As a response to the last list, “Saving Face” is my favorite ever. I love it so much that I’ll even watch the interviews over and over.

  24. actually…lost and delirious is my favorite movie of all time. it’s an amazingly pure true story of teenage true love and how when something falls..so do you…into a crazy manic scared depression. madness. it’s amazing. heart-fealt, REALISTIC, beautiful, romantic, tragic, intellectual, and the beauty of their rapter…wow…it’s amazing. this is a bad review. lost and delirious takes my breath away!

  25. Wolfe doesnt ship here to australia 🙁
    ive seen most of the movies though, you can get them off ebay. 🙂
    Im from a kinda small town and they have Loving Annabelle and Imagine Me And You at our video store, so im sure you can find it somewhere.

  26. there was a movie i loved when i was first realising that i liked girls. it was set in new york, featured a lot of drugs and not going to school and shootings, and two girly lovers who were all troubled-teen-like and spent a lot of time in a crumbling-down apartment belonging to the mother of one of them.
    one of them was super emotionally abusive to the other one.
    ulgh, my descriptive skills are incredible, right?
    any idea what movie this is?? it was actually pretty good… but that could be my 18-year-old self talking.

  27. hey guys, no need to be so harsh toward Lost & Delirious!
    It was very dark and heavy at times and unnecessarily depressing,
    but at the same time it was incredibly well acted, the girls were beautiful, and the storyline was actually good.. it’s young obsessive love, what did you expect to happen to them? Not to mention Paulie was unstable to begin with
    I loved the movie

  28. Seen everything but tipping the velvet and lost & delirious. Going to see the former now. Ignoring the latter.. i hate sad movies, that’s why i refuse to watch the last season of the L world. In my fictional world, jenny went off on a book tour, Shane and Carmen got married and Dana is at a game somewhere. There is no waterfall.

  29. Watched all the movies on the list except for Desert Hearts and Aimee. Meh I probably not going to watch them. As for My Summer of Love I remember watching that during the summer thinking what the hell. Did they just think of some random controversial stuff and decide to call it a movie.
    As for Loving Annabelle i’m pretty sure the only reason it’s on the list is for the sex scene- that is all.

    Really L&D was great- I figure the only reason you lot saw it’s rubbish is because it reminds you of an old unrequited love… comeon we all have a little Paulie in us.
    Piper made that movie *goes into a swoon*

    Yeah so theres my rant 2 years later haha. btw WATCH LIPSERVICE WHENEVER YOU NON UKR’S CAN!

  30. Why doesn’t Gray Matters ever get attention? It’s probably my favorite ‘lesbian’ comedy and it has one of the most realistic storylines of all of these without all the angst. Plus, the main character was VERY cute.

    As for My Summer of Love, umm… no. I was not into it at all. The main character grossed me out so much that I could barely even watch it all the way through, and the movie took so many twists and turns that it felt like a Spanish soap opera. I’m not sure why, but the redhead just came off as creepy and weird to me.

  31. Oh, Tipping the Velvet. The book is amazing. Love. The movie… I also love. It almost falls into the category of “so bad it turns back around into good!”
    TtV turned me on to Rachael Stirling… yum. Her voice, seriously, she could just read to me all day!

    When I was a tiny, questioning, baby-queer I remember getting Two Girls in Love and High Art and watching them locked in my room with the sound turned down so my parents wouldn’t hear. Memories. 🙂

  32. Loving Annabelle – because it’s the first queer movie I’ve ever watched. LIKE. EVER. So it was, admittedly, my favorite for a long time. But then ‘Imagine Me & You’ happened and out came my brand new favorite FF movie. I love ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ too, although I’m pretty sure it’s not considered lesbian, but it’s just so heartbreaking and so beautifully done and acted that I can’t help but love it. Also, it made me cry.

    Other movies I enjoyed: Fingersmith, Saving Face, I Can’t Think Straight, But I’m A Cheerleader and (though not a popular opinion) Chasing Amy.

  33. I can’t believe you left out Fingersmith and Kiss mich! They’re like the best lesbian movies! I don’t know.. personally I found I can’t think straight kind of silly. The plot moved too quick like everything was perfect and dreamy. It didn’t feel real.

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