4. Desert Hearts (1985)
Set in Reno in 1959, Desert Hearts tells the tale of Vivian Bell, a highbrow, high strung professor of English Literature from New York City. Somehow, her impending divorce has brought her to Reno, where she has to wait out some paperwork and take a break from her life. Lucky for her, she happens to stay at a ranch full of ladies — already a win-win situation — one of whom, shockingly, is a huge dyke. She’s also out, a somewhat big deal in Reno in 1959. The building of Vivian’s relationship with Cay until they finally get it on is wonderfully acted and written, and is backed up by an amazing soundtrack full of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Patsy Cline. Basically, it is a lesbian Western dream.
5. I Can’t Think Straight (2008)
Do you like cultural diversity? Do you like hot sex between hot women? Well, then! Here is a movie for you! Written and directed by Shamim Sharif, it stars Lisa Ray as Tala, a Jordanian about to be married until she meets Leyla, played by Sheetal Sheth, a British Indian who wants to be a writer. While they both face personal, cultural, and familial obstacles in pursuing their relationship, they press forward because, look, did I mention they’re both really hot? And that they have hot sex? Who wouldn’t press forward? A really satisfying watch.
6. Imagine Me & You (2006)
Piper Perabo. Lena Headey. Adorableness everywhere. That is all you need to know. Rachel and Luce standing on cars in the middle of traffic declaring their love for each other is our John Cusack holding a boombox over his head.
7. Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
I have a hunch there are people who might protest the inclusion of Kissing Jessica Stein. Without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, I’ll just say that this one doesn’t end exactly the way all the other ones on this list generally end. That said, at least in my opinion, that doesn’t mean the ending was bad. In fact, I think this whole movie is a really honest, really true, important — and happy! — exploration of sexuality. And Jessica’s mother’s speech to her in the yard during her brother’s wedding is perfect: “And maybe, just maybe, it would have been the best ever. You never know.” Plus, it was written and co-produced by the two stars, Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen, which is rad. And while it was technically released in the 2000s, it has that romantic-comedy-set-in-New-York-City-in-the-1990s vibe to it (Jessica’s red spiral staircase in her apartment! Ahhh!), and I would live in that particular vibe at all times if I could.