2018 was an incredible year for movies… and movies centered around gay men in particular. Not only was there a wealth of titles to choose from, but many of them rose above the gay movie niche and made a huge splash on the international film fest circuit. Some even broke through into the mainstream (say what you will about, Bohemian Rhapsody, but that flick is a box office juggernaut). Check out our Top 15 Gay Movies of 2018 below and make sure to pick up your copies on DVD and Blu-ray at TLAgay.com!
Editor’s Note: We limited our considerations to titles that we have available currently on our site (including pre-orders). So, while films like Boy Erased and the previously mentioned Bohemian Rhapsody may be great, they don’t qualify for this particular list as they haven’t been announced yet for DVD, Blu-ray or VOD.
15. The Misandrists
When an injured male leftist on the run discovers the remote stronghold of the Female Liberation Army – a radical feminist terrorist group whose mission is to usher in a new female world order – one of the members takes pity on him and hides him in the basement. However, the man in the basement is just one of the many secrets threatening to disrupt the FLA’s mission from within. Balancing sharp social commentary and salacious popcorn entertainment, maverick filmmaker and beloved queercore stalwart Bruce LaBruce (Hustler White, Skin Flick, L.A. Zombie, Gerontophilia, Otto; or, Up with Dead People) has created another memorable cinematic experience. The Misandrists is a blast to watch and just as much fun to dissect afterwards.
14. The Strange Ones
Remarkable young actor James Freedson-Jackson stars alongside Magic Mike bad-boy Alex Pettyfer in this richly atmospheric thriller. The Strange Ones follows two travelers – one a young man, the other a young teen boy – who are making their way across a remote American landscape. At first glance, the two appear to be brothers. Maybe they’re on a hunting trip? Headed off on a vacation? It’s hard to tell… for both the viewer and the other characters in their orbit. Why are these two paired together? What is the real nature of their relationship? Most importantly, which one of them is in control? Directed by Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein, based on their award-winning short film of the same name, The Strange Ones is a dark and mysterious indie drama that left us with goosebumps.
13. The Wild Boys
The debut feature from director Bertrand Mandico, The Wild Boys tells the tale of five adolescent boys (all of whom are, cleverly, played by actresses) who are mysteriously drawn to lives crime and transgression. After the group collectively commits a brutal crime – aided by “Trevor,” a strange deity of chaos they can’t seem to control – the boys are punished to board a boat with a lecherous sea captain hell-bent on taming their ferocious appetites. They soon arrive on a lush island where dangers and pleasures abound… and the boys start to transform in both mind and body. Shot in gorgeous 16mm and brimming with homoeroticism, genderfluidity, and humor, The Wild Boys will take you on journey you won’t soon forget. It’s a colorful, unique and strangely funny underground queer masterpiece.
From Matt Tyrnauer, the director behind Studio 54 and Valentino: The Last Emperor, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood tells the deliciously scandalous story of Scotty Bowers, a handsome ex-Marine who landed in Hollywood after World War II and became confidante, aide-de-camp and lover to many of Hollywood’s greatest male and female stars. In the 1940s and ’50s, Scotty ran a gas station in the shadow of the studio lots, where he would connect his friends with actors and actresses who had to hide their true sexual identities for fear of police raids at gay bars, societal shunning and career suicide. An unsung Hollywood legend, Bowers gets his due with this cinéma-vérité documentary, which presents eyeopening takes on icons from the Hollywood Golden Age including Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and many more.
Based on the celebrated novel by Emily M. Danforth, itself based loosely around the story of Zach Stark, The Miseducation of Cameron Post follows Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz) as she is sent to a gay conversion therapy center after getting caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night. Run by the strict and severe Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) and her brother, Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) – who claims to be an example of how those in the program can be “cured” – the center is built upon repenting for same sex attraction. In the face of intolerance and denial, Cameron meets a group of fellow “sinners” including the amputee stoner Jane (Sasha Lane), and her friend, the Lakota Two-Spirit, Adam (Forrest Goodluck). Together, this group of teenagers form an unlikely family as they fight to survive. This emotional (and unfortunately timely) film shines a light on the overwhelmingly negative effects gay conversion therapy has on those subjected to it.
10. My Best Friend
Lorenzo (Angelo Mutti Spinetta), a quiet teen, lives in a small town at the edge of the world in beautiful Patagonia. He’s a good student, a curious and smart person more skilled in music and literature than sports. When a dramatic event leaves a family friend with nowhere to live, Caito (Lautaro Rodriguez), a year older than Lorenzo, comes to stay in their home. Covered in fresh bruises, tattooed, and handsome, Caito is both a disturbing and fascinating new presence in Lorenzo’s life. As their friendship grows, Caito begins opening up to Lorenzo – and the more Caito reveals his true self, the more Lorenzo finds his feelings growing for his new house guest. With beautiful cinematography and outstanding lead performances, My Best Friend is a tender coming-of-age story that examines the space between first crush and first love.
9. The Pass
Jason and Ade (“Looking” star Russell Tovey and Arinze Kene) are nineteen. They’ve been in the academy of a famous London soccer club since they were eight, and now it’s the night before their first-ever game as professionals. They should be sleeping, but they’re over-excited. They exercise, fight, laugh, and talk. And then… suddenly… Jason kisses Ade. In the high-profile sporting world where image is everything, this surprising pass sets the men up for a contrasting decade of fame and failure, full of secrets, denial and sensual secret encounters. Relentlessly sexy and deeply heartfelt, The Pass was originally made in 2016, but took quite a long while to make its way to screens in the United States. Having earned stellar reviews, it’s easily been one of our most buzzed-about movies this year.
Following one man through two timelines, Boys (also known in other countries as Jonas or Boys/Jonas), the newest feature from director Christophe Charrier, is a gripping and compassionate study of first love and the lingering sting of loss. We first meet Jonas (BPM: Beats Per Minute star Felix Maritaud) in the present, where he’s having a rough go of it. He’s prone to starting fights at the local gay bar, and his boyfriend has had enough of his infidelity and alcohol-soaked antics. His volatile behavior may stem from a traumatic incident in his past. The film flashes back to 1997, where Jonas (played as a high school kid by Nicolas Bauwens) meets Nathan (Tommy Lee Baik), the rebellious new student who will become his crush. The boys venture into the night on their first date unaware that it’s about to change their lives forever. Don’t miss this searing mystery-drama.
Directed by Ian Bonhote and co-directed and written by Peter Ettedgui, this impressive new documentary takes a personal look at the extraordinary life, career, and artistry of Alexander McQueen, the celebrated British fashion designer and couturier who, despite countless awards and impressive career achievements, committed suicide by hanging in 2010, at the age of forty, at his home in Mayfair, London. Through exclusive, intimate interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals, and music, McQueen is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary who left us way too soon.
Based on the celebrated novel by Justin Torres, We the Animals is a visceral coming-of-age story propelled by layered performances from an astounding cast – including three talented, young first-time actors – and stunning animated sequences. Drawing from his documentary background, director Jeremiah Zagar creates an immersive portrait of working class family life and brotherhood. Manny, Joel, and Jonah (Isaiah Kristian, Josiah Gabriel and Evan Rosado) tear their way through childhood and push against the volatile love of their parents. As Manny and Joel grow into versions of their father (“Looking” star Raul Catillo) and their mother (Sheila Vand) dreams of escape, young Jonah embraces an imagined world all on his own. Beloved by critics and audiences, it’s easily one of the year’s best.
5. El Angel
Set in Buenos Aires in 1971, this high-profile new film follows Carlos (Lorenzo Ferro), a seventeen-year-old with movie star swagger, blond curls and a baby face. When he meets the handsome Ramon (Death in Buenos Aires star Chino Darin) at his new school, Carlos is immediately drawn to him. A relationship soon develops… with the two embarking on a crime spree fueled by jealousy and unspoken desires. As their relationship grows more combustible, their crimes become more violent and deadly, until Carlos is finally apprehended and becomes an overnight celebrity. Employing terrific performances, propulsive storytelling and a rollicking vintage soundtrack to tell a notorious true crime story in a shocking and sexy way, El Angel is mesmerizing. It’s also the official submission from Buenos Aires for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.
Having been gone for three years, closeted advertising executive Adrian (“Gotham” star Cory Michael Smith) returns to his Texas hometown for the holidays during the first wave of the AIDS crisis. Burdened with an unspeakable tragedy in New York City, Adrian looks to reconnect with his preteen brother Andrew (Aidan Langford) while navigating his relationship with religious parents Eileen (Virginia Madsen) and Dale (Michael Chiklis). When he reaches out to his estranged childhood friend Carly (Jamie Chung), their unresolved issues force Adrian to confront an uncertain future that will significantly alter the lives of those around him. Shot on black-and-white super 16mm film, 1985 takes a unique look at a pivotal moment in American history through the prism of empathy, love and family.
Get ready to swoon over this sexy and deeply romantic gay sports drama from Swiss filmmaker Marcel Gisler, the director behind The Blue Hour and Fogi is a Bastard. There’s a ripple of disquiet in the locker-room when Leon (Aaron Altaras), a new striker, joins the soccer team. Sharing a flat with a keen rival named Mario (Max Hubacher, the up-and-coming star of the bone-chilling psychological WWII thriller The Captain) sets the scene for an unexpected love affair. But when gossip about their romantic affections, along with threats of blackmail, begins to unbalance the team’s morale, their love affair hits a major snag. Mario is a heart-warming roller coaster of a film, set on and off the field, that offers a dynamic and realistic picture of how openly gay professional athletes deserve to be celebrated.
Easily one the most acclaimed gay-themed films of the year, The Cakemaker is an emotionally moving, must-see proposition. Thomas (Tim Kalkhof), a young German baker, is having an affair with Oren (Roy Miller), an Israeli married man who has frequent business visits in Berlin. When Oren dies in a car crash in Israel, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking for answers regarding his death. Under a fabricated identity, Thomas infiltrates into the life of Anat (Sarah Adler), his lover’s newly widowed wife, who owns a small cafe in downtown Jerusalem. Thomas starts to work for her and create German cakes and cookies that bring life into her business. Thomas finds himself involved in Anat’s life in a way far beyond his anticipation. To protect the truth, he will stretch his lie to a point of no return.
1. Love Simon
Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year old Simon Spier (Jurassic World star Nick Robinson) it’s a little more complicated: he’s yet to tell his family or friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing. Based on the acclaimed young adult novel, Love, Simon is a funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about the thrilling ride of finding yourself and falling in love. An uplifting throwback to John Hughes high school comedies, this film was a serious mainstream hit. USA Today called the film “not only historically significant, but also truly excellent.” The Chicago Sun Times said it’s “a wonderful, uplifting, endearing, thoroughly entertaining story.” We hope that real-life teens enjoyed it as much as us old folks did – and that future generations will keep rediscovering its charms.