The Year in Queer: Hollywood Reporter Critics Pick the Best LGBT Films of 2017

5:30 AM 12/18/2017

by THR Staff

From the sun-kissed sensuality of a certain Oscar hopeful to dramas from Chile, France and South Africa to little-seen American indies like 'Princess Cyd' and 'Lovesong,' 2017 was a landmark year for queer film. Here were the 10 best.

From left, Armie Hammer in 'Call Me by Your Name,' Elie Harboe in 'Thelma' and Daniela Vega in 'A Fantastic Woman'
From left, Armie Hammer in 'Call Me by Your Name,' Elie Harboe in 'Thelma' and Daniela Vega in 'A Fantastic Woman'
Courtesy of Motlys (Thelma), Sony Pictures Classics (Call Me By Your Name, A Fantastic Woman)

 

  1. 10
    10

    The Wound

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute/Urucu Media

    When one character asks another, at a heated moment in this unsettling coming-of-age drama from South Africa, "Is it really such an important instrument?," he's referring to the male sexual organ. It's a question at once rhetorical and earnest, and one that finds no easy answers in this sensitive, at times harrowing, exploration of conflicting notions of masculinity. Set among the Xhosa ethnic group during an initiation ritual that's not supposed to be discussed, let alone depicted on the big screen, John Trengove's first feature takes real chances, delivering a troubling portrait of the collision between communal and personal identity. — Sheri Linden

    Kino Lorber; on Amazon, iTunes

  2. 9
    10

    My Friend Dahmer

    Courtesy of FilmRise

    Ross Lynch portrays the teenage Jeffrey Dahmer, before his notoriety as a serial killer, in writer-director Marc Meyers’ adaptation of a graphic novel that also stars Anne Heche, Dallas Roberts and Alex Wolff.  Given the infamous trajectory of its subject's life, it might be no surprise that My Friend Dahmer is one of the most disturbing coming-of-age features in memory. But it's also exceptionally moving — a film that gets under the skin of its troubled, ultimately depraved protagonist with an intelligent mix of horror, dark wit and profound empathy. — Sheri Linden

    FilmRise; limited release

  3. 8
    10

    Lovesong

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    So Yong Kim’s deceptively simple, sadly overlooked film about the ambiguous love between two former college BFFs (a superbly matched Riley Keough and Jena Malone) digs deep beneath the clichés and formulas of familiar subgenres — female friendship movie, road movie, lesbian romance — to come up with something specific, nuanced and insightful. It’s a quiet drama, but as raw and painful as a fresh wound.  — Jon Frosch

    Strand Releasing; on Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, Vudu

  4. 7
    10

    Thelma

    Courtesy of TIFF

    The sexual awakening of a young woman (Elie Harboe) raised according to fundamentalist religious beliefs seemingly sparks telekinetic abilities she struggles to understand and control in Joachim Trier's stylish latest. While that plot description could fit another film named for its female protagonist, the Brian De Palma classic Carrie, Thelma is less interested in supernatural horror than the effects of an oppressive environment on personal development. The movie's sustained intensity might be too muted for conventional genre fans. But its intelligent, measured tone and elegant visual style make this an admirable, haunting and original twist on the coming-out drama. — David Rooney

    The Orchard; limited release

  5. 6
    10

    Princess Cyd

    Courtesy of Wolfe Releasing

    An emotionally and sexually adventurous teen (Jessie Pinick) and her novelist aunt (Rebecca Spence) get to know each other in this coming-of-age drama by Chicago filmmaker Stephen Cone. What might have devolved into cutesy odd-couple territory instead moves in unexpected directions, bolstered by a fundamental idealism; even with a backstory of devastating violence (handled with impressive concision), Princess Cyd is a film in which strangers are kind and where friends gather to share meals and read literary passages to one another. The film rises above its occasional clumsiness to build a believable sense of awakening around its well-played central duo. — Sheri Linden

    Wolfe Releasing; on iTunes, Vudu

  6. 5
    10

    Beach Rats

    Courtesy of Sundance

    The visual influence of Claire Denis' Beau Travail is all over Eliza Hittman’s underseen second feature in its intoxicated observation of tanned young male bodies, both in motion and at rest. But the film is very much the work of a filmmaker with her own voice, combining moody poetry with textural sensuality to tell the story of a Brooklyn teenager (played with understated intensity by newcomer Harris Dickinson) navigating his sexual self-discovery. — David Rooney

    Neon; on Amazon, iTunes, FandangoNow; Vudu

  7. 4
    10

    BPM (Beats Per Minute)

    Courtesy of Le Films de Pierre

    France’s Robin Campillo mines his past as a member of AIDS activist organization ACT UP in 1990s Paris in this moving drama of politics, passion and loss. As he proved in his screenplay for 2008 Cannes winner The Class, Campillo has a terrific ear for the volatile currents of group discussion. But it’s the gently blossoming romance between two of the ACT UP members — a newcomer (Arnaud Valois) and a radical (the superb Nahuel Perez Biscayart) — that gives the film its human heartbeat. — David Rooney

    The Orchard; limited release

  8. 3
    10

    God's Own Country

    Courtesy of Picturehouse Entertainment

    The hardscrabble lives of rural families and the harsh splendor of the West Yorkshire landscape provide the evocative backdrop to a poignant story of self-discovery in Brit writer-director Francis Lee’s first feature, which examines the relationship between a young sheep farmer and a Romanian itinerant worker. Graced by its refreshingly frank treatment of gay sexuality and casually expressive use of nudity, this is a deeply stirring, rigorously naturalistic drama anchored by a terrific pair of lead turns from Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu. — David Rooney

    Samuel Goldwyn Films; limited release

  9. 2
    10

    A Fantastic Woman

    Courtesy of BFI London Film Festival

    Chilean director Sebastian Lelio's film is a work of searing empathy, tracing the emergence from devastating grief of a transgender protagonist (the superb Daniela Vega) who’s treated like a criminal in the wake of her older partner's abrupt death. Shocking and enraging, funny and surreal, rapturous and restorative, this is a film of startling intensity and sinuous mood shifts wrapped in a rock-solid coherence of vision. While it's very much of the moment in terms of trans-rights issues, what's perhaps most remarkable about A Fantastic Woman is that not a word of direct advocacy is spoken. Any trace of the agenda movie is subsumed in pulsing human drama. — David Rooney

    Sony Pictures Classics; limited release

  10. 1
    10

    Call Me by Your Name

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

    Luca Guadagnino’s intimate, piercingly honest, smashingly successful adaptation of the Andre Aciman novel stars a sensual Armie Hammer and an absolutely extraordinary Timothee Chalamet as, respectively, an up-and-coming academic and his mentor’s teenage son, who fall in love during the course of a summer in Italy in the 1980s. With its style, unexpectedly deep wells of emotion and surges of insight into human nature and relationships, this tender, minutely observed queer romance has become a major breakout title and awards favorite. — Boyd van Hoeij

    Sony Pictures Classics; limited release

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