Pride Month is a fine time to discover new movies and catch up with some classics that helped pave the way for the depiction of a diversity of LGBTQ+ characters and their stories. This is the month for movies that celebrate, mourn and agitate — sometimes in the same breath.
The Inspection (2022)
Jeremy Pope gives a muscular and tender turn as Ellis French, a young gay man whose Marine drill instructor promises to break French and his fellow recruits. The question becomes, has Ellis’ mother already done the deed? Gabrielle Union, 50, does an expert job as Ellis’ intractably unkind mother. As the drill instructor, Bokeem Woodbine, 50, is fierce, while Raúl Castillo is sympathetic as another instructor. The ensemble makes writer-director Elegance Bratton’s deeply personal feature a moving affair and one impressive debut.
Gus Van Sant’s Milk provides a timely reminder of the intimate relationship of gay rights to the civil rights movement. Sean Penn won an Academy Award as the assassinated San Francisco activist and city supervisor. Milk was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the nation. Josh Brolin, 55, is dismayingly excellent as former city supervisor Dan White, who killed Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.
LGBTQ folks no longer have to flinch at less-than-upstanding characters. In this sublime drama, Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett, 54) is a genius, a lesbian — a jerk. Her driven symphony conductor isn’t a role model, but boy is she mesmerizing. So is German actor Nina Hoss, who portrays Lydia’s wise, talented and increasingly vexed wife.
This studio-made gay romantic comedy starring openly gay actors Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane was a commercial bomb — too bad, because it’s a hoot! In pairing geeky podcaster Bobby and buff Aaron, it strikes all the right rom-com notes about opposites attracting, then adds lots of insider snark about LGBTQ verities that is as pointed as it is loving. Playing a philanthropist, Bowen Yang’s riff on a historically themed roller-coaster ride for a new LGBTQ museum is priceless.
A Fantastic Woman (2017)
This Chilean winner of the Oscar for best foreign language film follows Marina, a transgender woman who must navigate an often merciless world after her lover dies unexpectedly. If that sounds too rending, it’s not, thanks to director Sebastián Lelio’s empathic gifts and transgender actor Daniela Vega’s luminous and centered exploration of a woman who indeed lives up to the movie’s title.
Watch it: A Fantastic Woman on Prime Video