Best Queer Films of 2013
2013 was a queer year for film. Interestingly, and perhaps significantly, the most memorable films and performances did not feature gay men, as is usually the case. This year, queer-themed films showcased a heartbreaking turn by Jared Leto as a transsexual with HIV in "Dallas Buyers Club"; Lindsay Lohan engaging in some naughty bisexual misbehavior in "The Canyons"; and in the year’s most incredible film - the three-hour French lesbian romance, "Blue Is the Warmest Color" - a spectacular performance by Adéle Exarchopoulos as a young adult coming of age and to terms with her sexual identity.
While there were other trends - a pair of films about pairs of murderous lesbians, three films featuring the Beats, two documentaries about gay rights in Uganda, here is a rundown of ten memorable titles (and two not so memorable ones) this year in queer film.
Blue Is the Warmest Color
This intimate epic allows viewers to share the experience of a teenage girl’s first same-sex romance. Tender, poignant, and painful, this astonishing film captures all the bliss and heartbreak of first love thanks to miraculous performances by Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. Smartly directed and co-written by Abdellatif Kechiche, the film eschews the standard coming out drama and instead focuses on the impact a relationship has on the lovers. And the famous, lengthy and explicit sex scenes are a plus.
Dallas Buyers Club
An impressive, comic, and heartfelt film about people with AIDS coordinating the distribution of illegal medical treatments - because hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and the FDA are slow to approve and provide necessary drugs to HIV-plus patients. This film, based on a true story, is the flip side of last year’s remarkable documentary, "How to Survive a Plague." Matthew McConaughey gives an Oscar-worthy turn as a homophobe who reluctantly joins forces with a transsexual (Jared Leto, who provides the film with its heart). "Dallas Buyers Club" is an unexpectedly powerful drama, incredibly well directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
I’m So Excited
Spanish bad-boy Pedro Almodovar returned to silly comedy produced one of the sunniest films of the year. On a Peninsula Airlines flight to Mexico, the three queer male flight attendants in first class have to deal with a handful of frantic passengers when it is confirmed that the landing gear has a problem. I’m "So Excited" is fueled with heavy doses of tequila - not unlike the crew - which is why it is such naughty fun.
While its (bad) reputation preceded its release, this sleek, modest drama - stylishly directed by Paul Schrader and shrewdly written by Bret Eaton Ellis - makes its simple love triangle fascinating because Schrader puts a glossy sheen on the various explicit (and occasionally same-sex) encounters. Despite all the sex and excess, "The Canyons" is really about wielding power in Hollywood. It’s nothing new, but it is alluring, especially given the performances by James Deen and Lindsay Lohan.
An outstanding character study, directed by Joshua Sanchez - who adapted Christopher Shin’s play - this wonderfully uncomfortable film depicts two couples that meet up for sex on the same Fourth of July. One pair consists of June (Emory Cohen), a shy, gay teen who arranges a hook up over the Internet with Joe (Wendell Pierce) a gregarious African American married man. Sanchez deftly captures the awkwardness and strained intimacy of their encounter, which is contrasted with Joe’s daughter Abigayle (Aja Naomi King) reluctantly meeting up with the smooth-talking Dexter (E.J. Bonilla). Not to be missed.