Taylor Kitsch and Mark Ruffalo, 'The Normal Heart'
Taylor Kitsch and Mark Ruffalo play gay activists trying to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s in HBO's film adaptation of The Normal Heart. Ruffalo's openly gay main character Ned Weeks is based on playwright Larry Kramer while Kitsch plays closeted investment banker Bruce Niles. Ruffalo recalls: “I said to Ryan [Murphy, who directs], ‘Aren’t we at the age when a gay actor should be playing this?’ He made it clear to me that attitude wasn’t in the spirit of the film.”
Firth plays George Falconer, a suicidal English professor residing in Los Angeles in 1962, whose longtime partner died in a car accident eight months prior. The film, which takes place over the course of a single day, follows Falconer as he comes to terms with his grief and finds a renewed will to live. Firth's performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Lead Actor.
Greg Kinnear, 'As Good As It Gets'
Simon Bishop (Kinnear) is a struggling gay artist living in New York City, where he is assaulted and nearly killed. While in recovery, he enlists the help of his eccentric, slightly prejudiced neighbor (Jack Nicholson) to take care of his dog. After Bishop's rehabilitation and a comical Baltimore-bound road trip, the two form an unconventional friendship, emotionally benefiting from each other's presence.
Robin Williams, 'The Birdcage'
In this remake of the 1978 French film La Cage aux Folles, Williams plays the gay owner of a South Beach drag club, whose newly engaged son asks him to pretend to be straight in order to impress his fiancée's ultra-conservative father (Gene Hackman), an Ohio Republican senator.
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, 'Brokeback Mountain'
In the Ang Lee directed feature, Ledger and Gyllenhaal play two cowboys who enter into a heated love affair while herding ship in Wyoming during the summer of 1962. Deterred by the social stigma and possible dangers of continuing their relationship, the two part ways and start separate families of their own but continue to harbor feelings for each other. Ledger was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for his performance, while Gyllenhaal received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Christopher Plummer, 'Beginners'
After the death of his wife, Hal (Plummer) comes out to his son (Ewan McGregor) and, despite his advanced age, begins to explore his life as an openly gay man, while simultaneously reestablishing a relationship with his son. Plummer won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Dennis Quaid, 'Far From Heaven'
Frank (Dennis Quaid) is a successful advertising exec in 1950s suburban Connecticut, whose wife (Julianne Moore) discovers that Frank is having several homosexual extramarital affairs. Frank turns to alcohol as a means of quelling his true romantic desires, while his wife pursues an interracial love affair; the film then follows the degeneration of their marriage.
James Franco, 'Howl'
In Howl, James Franco plays the famous Beat poet Allen Ginsberg as he composed and preformed his seminal work "Howl." Broadway actor Aaron Tveit co-stars as Ginsberg's fellow poet and lover for over 40 years, Peter Orlovsky.
Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey, 'I Love You Phillip Morris'
I Love You Phillip Morris is the real-life story of Steven Jay Russell (Carrey), an incarcerated con man, who falls in love with fellow inmate Phillip Morris (McGregor). After Morris is released from prison, Russell proceeds to escape from jail an unprecedented four separate times in order to reunite with his partner.
Robert Redford, 'Inside Daisy Clover'
Redford plays Wade Lewis, a closeted 1930s singing sensation who marries a fellow artist (Natalie Wood), who is dismayed when Wade's sexual ordination is revealed to her. The 1965 film is generally recognized as one of the early depictions of a gay or bisexual character in American cinema.
William Hurt, 'Kiss of the Spider Woman'
Luis Molina (William Hurt) is imprisoned in a Brazilian correctional facility for having sex with an underage boy. After his release, Molina is eventually shot and left for dead by a homophobic police chief, who believed Molina to be a member of a leftist revolutionary group.
James Wilby, 'Maurice'
Maurice follows the sexual awakening of the film's tittle character, Maurice Hall (James Wilby), from closeted Cambridge University student to an outed adult in early 20th century England.
Sean Penn, 'Milk'
This 2008 biographical feature sees Penn play real-life politician and gay rights activist Harvey Milk, who in 1977 became the first openly gay person to be elected to California public office. The film was nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award, and Penn won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
River Phoenix, 'My Own Private Idaho'
In the Gus Van Sant directed feature, Phoenix plays a male prostitute who, with the help of his friend/lover/fellow prostitute (Keanu Reeves), traverses the nation and the world in search of his birth mother.
Joesph Gordon-Levitt, 'Mysterious Skin'
After being sexually molested by a baseball coach, Neil (Gordon-Levitt) becomes sexually compulsive, eventually moving from Kansas to New York City, where he falls into a life of petty crime and male prostitution.
Tom Hanks, 'Philadelphia'
Andrew Beckett (Hanks) is an associate at a corporate Philadelphia law firm who, despite living with his long-term partner, is not open with his co-workers about his homosexuality or his AIDS. Beckett hires a personal injury lawyer (Denzel Washington) after he gets fired from his job, believing it has do with his HIV diagnosis. Beckett eventual wins the trial, but loses his battle with AIDS. Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his moving performance.
Will Smith, 'Six Degrees of Seperation'
Smith plays a real-life, gay con artist David Hampton, who cons an Upper East Side family into believing that he is a close friend of their Ivy-league children. The extremely well-read and charming Hampton is then welcomed into the household and given money, clothing and accommodations.
Matt Damon, 'The Talented Mr. Ripley'
Tom Ripley (Damon) uses his gift of impersonations to forge a friendship with the wealthy playboy Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), pretending to be Greenleaf's old friend from Princeton. Ripley becomes sexually obsessed with his new friend, but eventually murders Greenleaf after he confronts Ripley about his wide assortment of lies. Ripley then steals Greenleaf's personality, lifestyle and wealth.
Ed Harris, 'The Hours'
Harris plays a depressed poet and author living in New York City with AIDS, who is being honored for his literary career at a party hosted by dear friend/ former lover (Meryl Streep). Before the party, he throws himself out of an open window to his death.
Leonardo DiCaprio, 'Total Eclipse'
The film is based on the letters that were exchanged between two 19th century French poets, Paul Verlanie (David Thewlis) and Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo DiCaprio), which chronicles their violent and passionate relationship.
Bradley Cooper, 'Valentine's Day'
In the star-studded Gary Marshall ensemble romantic comedy, Cooper plays the partner of a closeted professional football player (Eric Dane), who eventually makes the decision to come out on national television.
Ewan McGregor, 'Velvet Goldmine'
McGregor plays the collaborator and onetime lover of glam rock star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who fakes his own onstage murder and then disappears from the public eye.
Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, 'Behind the Candelabra'
Behind the Candelabra follows the real-life romance of eccentric pianist Liberace (Douglas) and his longtime companion Scott Thorson (Damon), a relationship that began when Thorson was only 16. In an infamous 1982 lawsuit, Thorson sued the eccentric entertainer for palimony.