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    Looking Back at 2022’s LGBTQ Films

    By Gary M. Kramer–

    Looking back at the year in queer film, there were some outstanding LGBTQ films—as well as some duds—featuring queer talent in front of and behind the camera. Here is a rundown of 25 films that made strong impressions in 2022.

    The best film of the year is arguably Tár,showcasing a tour de force performance by Cate Blanchett as a lesbian conductor who manipulates everyone around her before she gets her come-uppance. 

    Similarly, The Conductor, was an excellent documentaryabout the lesbian conductor Marin Alsop. It is a different, celebratory film, but equally worthwhile.

    Lesbian horror was prominent in 2022 with films like the period thriller The Last Thing Mary Saw, about two lovers in 1843 New York. Mary (Stefanie Scott) and Eleanor (Isabelle Fuhrman) have “sinful affections” that get them punished, prompting them to exact revenge.

    The flinty slow-burn folk horror film You Are Not My Mother,by queer writer/director Kate Dolan,had Char (Hazel Doupe), a troubled teen, grappling with her depressed mom, Angela (Carolyn Bracken), who goes missing and then appears—changed. It was an interesting film about otherness and Char realizes she is a bit different from her classmates.

    Do Revenge wasn’t a horror film per se, as it had two teenage girls, Eleanor (Maya Hawke), a lesbian, and Drea (Camila Mendes), trade places to get payback from exes who wronged them. It doesn’t all work, but this candy-colored film had its moments. 

    Gay male horror films also trended in 2022 with Hypochondriac, out gay writer/director Addison Heimann’s auspicious feature directorial debut “based on a real breakdown” that he himself experienced. Will (Zach Villa) jeopardizes his own mental and physical health, as well as his relationship with his boyfriend, Luke (Devon Graye), when his dangerous mother reappears in his life.

    So Vam, written and directed by 17-year-old transgender filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay, was a low-budget horror film about Kurt (Xai), a bullied gay high school student in Australia who wants to be a drag queen. When he is “changed” by Landon (Chris Asimos), who feeds on outcasts, Kurt becomes a vampire. 

    They/Them wasa fabulous queer horror film that had a dozen teens sent to a conversion therapy camp where they try to stay alive—because a killer is on the loose. Cooper Koch distinguished himself as one the gay teens. Koch also gave an impressive performance in the gay horror film Swallowedthat screened on the festival circuit this year.

    Dramas in 2022 featured some magnificent acting. Brendan Fraser delivered a comeback performance as a severely obese gay man in The Whale, director Darren Aronofsky’s stagey screen adaptation of the play by out gay writer Samuel D. Hunter. Better was Jeremy Pope’s remarkable, internal performance in The Inspection, asEllis French, a young gay homeless man who enters boot camp to become a marine in this tough but rewarding film.

    One of the best films of the year was Benediction by out gay writer/director Terence Davies. This elegant, elegiac biopic of the gay British poet Siegfried Sassoon was exquisite and emotional. In contrast, The Laureate was a bland, ambitious biographical drama about bisexual poet Robert Graves (Tom Hughes) and his “modern relationship” with two women in the late 1920s: his feminist wife, Nancy Nicholson (Laura Haddock), and Laura Riding (Dianna Agron), an American poet who comes to live with them in Islip, Oxfordshire.

    Likewise, the fusty British drama My Policemandepicted a love triangle four decades apart between two men and one woman in Brighton, England, that began in 1957. The film was most notable for actor Harry Styles playing a repressed gay man. The film fails to jerk tears, but Spoiler Alert did so with its poignant tale about Michael (Jim Parsons) caring for his boyfriend Kit (Ben Aldridge), who is diagnosed with cancer.

    Queer comedy in 2022 consisted of the charming Fire Island, a riff on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, written by Joel Kim Booster, who plays Noah, a gay man who unexpectedly falls for Will (Conrad Ricamora) during his week summering in the gay mecca.

    Bros, the first studio gay romcom, got more press for flopping at the box office, but the film was a very funny comedy that features two characters—Bobby Leiber (co-writer Billy Eichner) and Aaron Shepard (Luke Macfarlane)—who keep love at arms’ length. They could be perfect together if they just got out of their own way. Hopefully the film will find an audience now that it is available for home viewing.

    Out gay actor Billy Porter brought verve and style to his upbeat directorial debut Anything’s Possible, a romantic comedy-drama about a trans teenager Kelsa (trans actress Eva Reign), who falls in love with her classmate, Khal (Abubakr Ali).

    Documentaries this year include several strong entries. Framing Agneswasout trans filmmaker Chase Joynt’s fantastic and fascinating documentary, which deftly unpacks the legacy of Agnes and five other transpeople who were interviewed about their lives and experiences by UCLA professor Harold Garfinkel. Stay on Boardchronicled the life of trans skater Leo Baker, while Loving Highsmith provides a superficial portrait of queer writer Patricia Highsmith.

    There was an exciting crop of foreign films this year. Highlights include Compartment No. 6, aboutLaura (Seidi Haarla) a Finnish lesbian grad student, travelling by train from Moscow to Murmansk, who meets Ljoha (Yuriy Borisov), a young Russian man. The film beautifully shows how these two lonely strangers make an unexpected connection.

    Likewise, the Finnish coming of age film Girl Picturesensitively portrayed the romance between Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff), an acerbic lesbian, who lets her guard down when she meets Emma (Linnea Leino), a figure skater.

    The Brazilian romance Private Desert was a gritty and powerful queer drama about a cop who is romantically involved with Sara, a woman who is revealed, around the film’s midpoint, to be Robson (non-binary actor Pedro Fasanaro, in a star-making performance).

    Lastly, Peter Van Kantwas out gay director François Ozon’s fabulous and clever gender reworking of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant, featuring Denis Menochet’s stunning turn as the title character—a version of Fassbinder.

    2023 will get off to a strong start with the release of Close, out gay Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont’s sensitive and moving drama about Léo (Eden Dambrine), a thirteen-year-old boy in Belgium whose best friend is Rémi (Gustav De Waele).

    Here’s to more great queer films in 2023.

    © 2022 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer

    Published on December 15, 2022