Just four of the tremendous queer themed classics released between 2000-2009
film from a queer perspective
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The Decade in Queer Movies
Expanded Edition of 1-6-10 KATM Windy City Times Column
By Richard Knight, Jr.
The 1990s saw the unofficial birth of queer cinema, a trend which started in the underground, slowly
made its way to the mainstream and expanded exponentially throughout the last decade.  Though
there still aren’t nearly enough LGBT themed movies breaking through to mainstream audiences (let
alone queer ones) to suit me, the last ten years have seen a steady upward momentum in terms of
quantity, quality and most importantly, visibility for Our People at the Cineplex.  Now that the Aughts
are behind us as we enter the Tens here’s a look back at some of the highlights of the past decade
in queer movies.

The millennium opened with
Big Eden, Before Night Falls and Best in Show – three movies that helped
define the years ahead in queer cinema.  
Big Eden, the charming debut of out writer-director Thomas
Bezucha remains my favorite gay themed romance with its always potent message of love conquering
all while
Before the Night Falls gave audiences the double bonus of the compelling portrait of queer
writer Reinaldo Arenas and an instant star in Javier Bardem who played him.  Christopher Guest’s
improv comedy
Best in Show lovingly and hilariously gave us comedic portraits of both a gay and
lesbian couple and the movie also gave out actor Jane Lynch her breakout role.

2001 saw the arrival of John Cameron Mitchell’s
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, his searing, moving and
razor sharp portrait of a transgendered rock singer along with the darling lesbian comedy
Jessica Stein
.  Other highlights of the year included Tilda Swinton as a mother determined to protect
her gay son from a blackmailer in
The Deep End, The Fluffer from Wash West and Richard Glatzer
(creative and life partners), the story of obsessive love set in the gay porn industry, and Altman’s
Gosford Park in which audiences got to savor Ryan Phillippe as a very accommodating bisexual actor
and Jeremy Northam playing British gay icon Ivor Novello, the erudite composer-performer-actor.

The next three years saw an increasing number of LGBT related movies – good and bad – with some
terrific highlights that included out director Rob Marshall’s
Chicago which won the 2002 Oscar for Best
Picture and single handedly brought back musicals to the movies.  Nicole Kidman took the Oscar the
same year playing bisexual writer Virginia Woolf in the adaptation of gay author Michael
The Hours (Meryl Streep played a lesbian character in the film, garnering another of
her 2,000 nominations).  New queer cinema director Todd Haynes’ masterful homage to the 50s
melodramas of Douglas Sirk,
Far From Heaven with Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid as her closeted
gay husband arrived in 2003 along with a batch of offbeat LGBT themed fare –
Die! Mommie! Die!,
Girls will be Girls, Latter Days, Monster, Normal, and Party Monster among them.

Mysterious Skin from Gregg Araki, another of the original nucleus of queer directors, A Home at the
End of the World
and Alexander – both which featured Colin Farrell playing bisexual characters, Bill
Kinsey, Jonathan Caouette’s autobiographical documentary Tarnation, Brian Dannelly’s
Saved! (gay directors all), and Hellbent, the first queer slasher flick – were some of the LGBT film
highlights of 2004.

Then came 2005 in which gay movies went to the Oscars headed by
Brokeback Mountain, the critically
lauded financial hit which found Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as two lonely cowboys romantically
involved, enthralling audiences worldwide (Ledger’s final film, Terry Gilliam’s gorgeous looking but
thin fantasia
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Brad Pitt filling in
Ledger’s unfinished scenes opens this Friday at the Music Box Theatre).  
Capote star Philip Seymour
Hoffman won the Best Actor Oscar playing the gay icon/author Truman Capote and Felicity Huffman
won a Best Actress nomination playing a transgendered woman in out writer-director Duncan Tucker’s

Brokeback was edged out of the Best Picture Oscar, however by Crash, an oversight which in retrospect
perfectly justifies the protests by Our People over the slight.  The loss presaged a relative dry spell in
queer cinema in 2006 and 2007 – though
Imagine Me & You, Hate Crime, Infamous, Quinceanera,
Running with Scissors, Notes on a Scandal, V for Vendetta, The History Boys, Gay Sex in the 70s, The
, Time to Leave, Kinky Boots, Two Drifters, Save Me, For the Bible Tells Me So, Zoo, The Man of
My Life
, and especially the return of John Cameron Mitchell with the sexually explicit and rousing
(pun intended)
Shortbus helped keep LGBT themed cinema alive.

2008 was also on the sparse side with regard to gay movies (and forget about lesbian and
transgendered films) though again, there were some decided exceptions to the rule –
, The Witnesses, Shelter, Chris & Don: A Love Story, Black, White + Gray, The Life of Riley,
and both
Mamma Mia! and Wall-E, two of the year’s biggest box office hits had gay characters or
subtext (I’m convinced little Wall-E the robot is gay and Eve is his gal pal).  2008 was also the year
that we got big screen versions of
Sex and the City and its gay African American doppelganger Noah’s
Arc: Jumping the Broom
.  The highlight of 2008, of course, was Milk, queer director Gus Van Sant’s
tremendous biopic of slain gay rights activist Harvey
Milk which won a well deserved Oscar for Sean
Penn and scriptwriter Dustin Lance Black, whose impassioned acceptance speeches helped to
momentarily heal wounds after the backlash of California’s Prop 8.

The final year of the decade brought us another batch of award worthy contenders – with
A Single Man
and Precious sure to be Oscar nominated along with
Valentino: The Last Emperor as a possible
Documentary Oscar nominee.  There were several other notable LGBT themed films in 2009 –
Outrage, Taking Woodstock, Bruno, Hannah Free, Little Ashes, among them – for queer film
enthusiasts to trumpet and which give Our People much to anticipate at the movies in the decade
More Reviews,
Interviews, and
in the Archives
Note: Reviews of the majority of the films listed from 2004-2009 are listed in the ARCHIVES for
their respective years or can be accessed via a title search by using the Search Box