"Single All the Way" on Netflix
In celebration of the release of Netflix's new holiday flick "Single All the Way" on Dec. 2, 2021, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at the most powerful LGBTQ+ movies released over the years… starting with this sweet rom-com. In an effort to avoid a slew of questions from his family about why he's still single, Peter (Michael Urie) convinces his best friend to pose as his boyfriend over the holidays. The film — which also stars Jennifer Coolidge, Philemon Chambers, Luke Macfarlane, Kathy Najimy and Barry Bostwick — is Netflix's first gay romantic holiday flick!
Keep reading for more…
"Brokeback Mountain" on Tubi, Apple TV & Prime Video
Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger both earned Oscar nominations for their work as early-'60s cowboys who secretly fall in love while herding sheep through a secluded Wyoming mountain range — and spend the rest of their lives unable to fulfill their dream of being together due to their fear of the consequences — in 2005's "Brokeback Mountain," which is based on a 1997 short story of the same name. The tearjerker earned three Academy Awards, including best director for Ang Lee, best adapted screenplay and best original score.
"The Kids Are All Right" on Tubi, YouTube & Prime Video
In 2010's "The Kids Are All Right," Annette Bening and Julianne Moore star as a Los Angeles-based married couple — an obstetrician and a housewife — who hit a rough patch when their two teen kids (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) connect with their sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo), the untethered owner of an organic restaurant who strikes up an affair with Julianne's dissatisfied Jules. The Lisa Cholodenko-directed drama earned four Academy Award nominations: best picture, best original screenplay, best lead actress for Annette, who also won the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical, and best supporting actor for Mark. (It also won the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical film.)
"Boys Don't Cry" on Hulu & Prime Video
Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal of Brandon Teena in the heart-wrenching 2000 biopic "Boys Don't Cry." Teena, a trans man who dated women, was raped and murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska, in 1993. Sadly, the film is an accurate depiction of the violence that many trans men and women face even today, more than 25 years after Brandon's death.
"Call Me By Your Name" on Hulu & Prime Video
Timothée Chalamet earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as Elio, a teenager living in rural Italy during the early '80s, in 2017's "Call Me By Your Name," which is based on a 2007 novel of the same name. The coming-of-age romantic drama chronicles Elio's sexual awakening as he falls in love for the first time — with Armie Hammer's Oliver, an American graduate student working over the summer with Elio's father, an understanding and supportive archaeology professor. The film took home the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay and earned two more nominations, including best picture.
"Milk" on Hulu & Prime Video
In 2008's "Milk," Sean Penn delivered an Oscar-worthy portrayal of the title character, politician Harvey Milk. In 1978, the gay rights activist became the first openly gay elected official in California history when he was voted onto the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. But less than a year into his term, fellow politician Dan White assassinated him, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.
"The Half of It" on Netflix
Netflix's "The Half of It" shows the complexities of liking someone as a teenager. The film, which debuted on the streamer in 2020, follows the reserved and studious Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), who agrees to help lovestruck jock Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) write love letters to Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), the girl of his dreams, in exchange for cash. Their seemingly simple transaction begins to fall apart when Ellie starts to fall for Aster herself — and Paul develops feelings for Ellie!
"Out" on Disney+
A short film with a massive impact! In 2020, the Pixar animated SparkShorts film "Out," which centers around a young man who comes out to his parents with the help of his pet dog, debuted on Disney+. It's the first time Pixar, an animation studio under the Disney umbrella, has released a project featuring a gay lead character — a huge moment for LGBTQ+ kiddos and families watching from home!
"Beginners" on YouTube, Apple TV & Prime Video
In 2010's "Beginners," septuagenarian Hal shocks his adult son, Ewan McGregor's Oliver, by announcing shortly after his longtime wife's death that he's embarked on a relationship with a much younger man (Goran Višnjić) — and that he has terminal cancer. The comedic drama chronicles the deepening of the bonds between the three men as Hal becomes his authentic self while approaching death. Christopher, who died at 91 in February 2021, won an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance in the film, which is based on writer-director Mike Mills' father, who came out at 75.
"Carol" on Tubi, Apple TV, Pluto TV & Prime Video
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara earned Oscar nominations for their work as two women who fall in love in 1950s New York City in 2015's "Carol," which is based on the 1952 novel "The Price of Salt." The Australian actress stars as the title character, an upper-crust housewife fighting for custody of her daughter after her husband, whom she's divorcing, discovers that she's having an affair with a female friend, while her younger American co-star portrays the new woman in her life, an aspiring photographer. The film, which earned six Academy Award nominations and five Golden Globe nominations, depicted the devastating prospect of losing one's children, which is something faced by many LGBTQ+ individuals of previous generations.
"The Danish Girl" on Netflix, YouTube & Apple TV
Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander earned Oscar nominations for their performances as Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener — one of the first known recipients of gender confirmation surgery, who risked her life to become her authentic self, and her supportive wife — in 2015's "The Danish Girl," which is based on the 2000 novel of the same name. Ultimately, only Alicia walked away with the Academy Award for her work in the Tom Hooper-directed romantic biopic.
"Happiest Season" on Hulu
In Hulu's "Happiest Season," Kristen Stewart shines as Abby, a 20-something whose plan to propose to her girlfriend, Harper (Mackenzie Davis), over the holidays goes awry when Harper realizes that Abby hasn't yet come out to her conservative parents. Harper's solution? To have Abby pretend to be her roommate for the duration of the holidays instead. Talk about complicated! The heartwarming romantic dramedy, which debuted in 2020, also stars Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy and Victor Garber.
"Moonlight" on Hulu, Showtime & Prime Video
The moving 2016 coming-of-age drama "Moonlight" centers around Chiron, a young gay man, and the emotional and physical abuse he suffers at three stages of his life due to his sexuality. The Barry Jenkins-directed film won three Academy Awards: best picture, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali, who portrayed drug dealer Juan, the closest thing Chiron has to a father. "Moonlight" earned five more Oscar nominations, including best directing, best cinematography and best supporting actress for Naomie Harris, who starred as Chiron's mother.
"Disobedience" on Hulu, YouTube & Apple TV
In 2018's "Disobedience," which is based on a 2006 novel of the same name, Rachel Weisz stars as Ronit, the black sheep of a London-based Orthodox Jewish community (a group rarely depicted by Hollywood) who is forced to confront her past when her father — a revered rabbi who exiled her after he caught her in a moment of passion with a female friend, Rachel McAdams' Esti — passes away before they've had a chance to reconnect. When she returns home, Ronit reconnects with Esti, who is now married to Alessandro Nivola's Dovid, Ronit's other childhood friend and the late rabbi's extremely conservative protégé.
"A Fantastic Woman" on YouTube, Apple TV & Prime Video
Transgender actress Daniela Vega earned raves for her performance as Marina, a singer-waitress dealing with her older boyfriend's transphobic family following his sudden death, in 2017's "A Fantastic Woman" — Chile's entry into the best foreign language category during the 2018 Academy Awards. Ultimately, the devastating but empowering drama won the Oscar — along with fans across the globe for its depiction of Marina's strength in the face of extreme adversity.
"Boy Erased" on Peacock, Apple TV & YouTube
Lucas Hedges stars as a college student who's subjected to the horrors of gay conversion therapy at the behest of his parents, a Baptist pastor (Russell Crowe) and his compliant wife (Nicole Kidman), in the 2018 drama "Boy Erased," which is based on writer Garrard Conley's real experiences after being outed to his family. Lucas scored a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the Joel Edgerton-directed biopic.
"But I'm a Cheerleader" on YouTube, Tubi, Pluto TV & Prime Video
The 2000 satirical rom-com "But I'm a Cheerleader" also centers around conversion therapy, though from the perspective of high school cheerleader Megan (Natasha Lyonne), who falls in love with another "camper," Clea DuVall's Graham, as the program leads to her sexual awakening rather than to the repression of it. Though the low-budget comedy, which didn't exactly impress critics, failed to make an impression at the box office, it's gained cult status over the years.
"Welcome to Chechnya" on HBO Max, Hulu & Prime Video
The HBO Films documentary "Welcome to Chechnya" — which has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — centers around a group of activists in the Russian republic of Chechnya risking their lives fighting against deadly anti-LGBTQ policies and legislation. The film, which debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and scored a Grand Jury Prize nomination, was shot in secret to protect its subjects and their life-saving work: hiding gay people in safe houses, securing visas for them and ultimately smuggling them to other countries as refugees. Especially noteworthy? Filmmakers employed groundbreaking facial replacement techniques to protect the identities of the individuals who appeared in the film.
"Love Is Strange" on YouTube & Prime Video
John Lithgow and Alfred Molina portray a longtime couple dealing with the repercussions of their decision to tie the knot after almost four decades together in 2014's "Love Is Strange." The two men are forced to live apart after George is fired from his job — a risk many LGBTQ+ individuals face — as a music teacher at a Catholic school following their nuptials, making it impossible for them to afford the New York City apartment they call home. The Ira Sachs-directed drama racked up Independent Spirit Award nominations, including best feature, best screenplay, best male lead for John and best supporting male for Alfred.
"Love, Simon" on Hulu, YouTube & Apple TV
The 2018 teen rom-com "Love, Simon" chronicles the coming out of a suburban high schooler, Nick Robinson's Simon, who develops a crush on an anonymous pen pal who's also gay. What's so great about the flick, which drew comparisons to the classics of John Hughes, is how loving and supportive the title character's friends and family are — even if he faces some bullying at the hands of a few classmates after he's outed — and how relatable his search for love is regardless of his sexual orientation. The movie, which is based on the novel "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda," was so beloved, it spawned a TV spinoff: Hulu's "Love, Victor."
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" on YouTube, Apple TV & Prime Video
John Cameron Mitchell wrote, directed and starred in the 2001 rock musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," a film adaptation of his 1998 stage play of the same name. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as the titular transgender East German rock star — who's "more than a woman or a man." Though the film tanked at the box office, it performed well with critics and earned a devoted cult following due to its heartfelt depiction of the complexities of queer identity and challenging of the concept that gender and sexuality are binary.
"Saving Face" on YouTube & Prime Video
Written and directed by Alice Wu (who went on to pen Netflix's "The Half of It"), 2004's "Saving Face" is a romantic dramedy that explores the dichotomy of being true to one's self and upholding traditional expectations. The film stars Michelle Krusiec as Dr. Wil Pang, a successful surgeon living in New York City. While her career may be flourishing, her personal life is far from ideal: She's yet to come out to her mother, who was recently disowned by their family for being pregnant and unmarried. After meeting at the hospital, Wil develops a romantic relationship with Vivian, a free-spirited dancer. As their relationship deepens, however, Wil struggles between coming out to her mom and their close-knit community or stifling what she wants in order to avoid widespread humiliation and judgment — also known in East Asian cultures as "saving face."
"Imagine Me & You" on YouTube, Apple TV & Prime Video
It's love at first sight for Rachel (Piper Perabo) and florist Luce (Lena Headey) after they lock eyes on the former's wedding day in 2005's "Imagine Me & You." Though the film failed to make an impression at the box office or with critics, who accused it of being yet another clichéd romantic comedy except with lesbians, that's kind of why we love it!
"Blue is the Warmest Color" on Apple TV & Prime Video
The 2013 French film "Blue is the Warmest Color," which is based on a graphic novel of the same name, kicks off with the sexual awakening of introverted teenager Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and goes on to chronicle her first love with an older free-spirited artist, Emma (Léa Seydoux). Though the women face few outside conflicts aside from Adèle's conservative parents, who are unaware of their romance, the drama, which won the Palme d'Or during the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, is powerful due to its focus on the love between two individuals and how that love changes over time — regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
"BPM" on Tubi, Apple TV, YouTube & Prime Video
The 2017 French film "BPM" centers around members of the Paris chapter of ACT UP, an HIV/AIDS advocacy group, during the early '90s, focusing on their work as activists, as well as their personal health struggles. At the center of the film is Arnaud Valois's HIV-negative Nathan, a newcomer to the group, who falls in love with Nahuel Pérez Biscayart's Sean, an HIV-positive veteran. The drama cleaned up during the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, taking home the international film critics prize, the Francois Chalais Prize (which honors films dedicated to the values of life affirmation), the Queer Palm and the jury grand prize.
"The Handmaiden" on Prime Video
The 2016 psychological thriller "The Handmaiden" centers around a Japanese heiress (Kim Min-hee) and her handmaiden (Kim Tae-ri), a Korean pickpocket con-woman hired by a potential suitor to seduce the wealthy young woman and steal her inheritance. Double crosses abound as the two women fall in love in the South Korean drama, which is based on the Victorian Era-set 2002 novel "Fingersmith." The film, which performed well with critics and at the box office, racked up awards, including the BAFTA prize for best foreign language film.