The voting on our Best Lesbian/Bi Movie Ever poll closes next Tuesday, and if you haven’t yet figured out what film deserves your click of approval, then perhaps you’ll take some professional opinions into account. We asked some of our favorite out directors, actors and writers to tell us which movie they’d vote for to win the title of Best Lesbian/Bi Movie Ever, and it proved to be an interesting experiment. Most of them had the same problem you do: It’s hard to pick just one! You might even get a few new films to watch out of reading their responses.
Jamie Babbit, director of But I’m a Cheerleader: Heavenly Creatures is my vote. Kate Winslet in her first role and Melanie Lynsky (she was later in my film But I’m a Cheerleader) embody that teen obsessive first love. Peter Jackson in his movie before Lord of the Rings brought his masterful directing to this spectacular story.
Angela Robinson, director of D.E.B.S.: D.E.B.S. of course! No, just kidding. I actually think the best lesbian/bisexual woman movie ever made is Aimee and Jaguar. It is devastating and amazing and contains an emotional honesty in the acting that I found really compelling. It’s sad and hard to watch so it’s not on my list of cozy movies that I watch all the time to make me happy (I’m talking to you, Imagine Me and You), but I do think it is a spectacular film.
Close second is Show Me Love — so great! Then Bound for the style, boldness and sexiness and Desert Hearts for being brave and groundbreaking. And then But I’m a Cheerleader for proving that lesbians could be fun and hilarious, always a welcome breath of fresh air.
June Thomas, cultural critic at Slate: My favorite lesbian movie is 80 Egunean (80 Days), a beautiful Basque-language film about two older women who reconnect in a hospital ward 60 years after they first flirted as teenagers. Axun is now a married woman with a daughter who lives in America, and Maite is a music teacher more or less out to her friends and co-workers. The relationship is complicated, because they’re both set in their ways, but each provides something the other longs for. Thirty years ago, Personal Best reassured me that women could find and love one another; 80 Egunean proves that the thrill of falling in love isn’t just for hot young things.
Shamim Sarif, director of I Can’t Even Think Straight: Desert Hearts has all the elements I always wanted to have in my own films — characters you believe in, a beautiful sense of place and time, and a killer soundtrack. Aimee and Jaguar is a close second for me — also delicate and just crackling with tension between the two women.
Desiree Akhavan, creator of The Slope:
Classic — High Art is the most satisfying gay film on every level. Skinny drugged out bohemian loft with morally ambiguous but lovable fuck ups? We’ve got that. Hot forbidden sex? Oh yeah. Patricia Clarkson with a German accent? Ding ding ding! This film takes you to that fun sexy place, but doesn’t leave you with the vapid feeling of candy-coated banality that some other gay movies (cough, Imagine Me and You, cough) might. Because it’s got mad depth.
Contemporary — Maria Rivas‘ debut feature Young and Wild premiered at Sundance 2012 and nabbed the World Cinema Screenwriting Award. It’s a coming of age story of a 17-year-old girl in Santiago, Chile coping with a strict Evangelical family and a raging sex drive. She’s keeping it socially acceptable with her family-approved boyfriend, but also hot and heavy with her secret lady lover. Not only is this film smart, sexy and touching, it’s based on a blog and is completely fresh/brilliant in it’s depiction of modern day teenage life.
Coley Sohn, director of Sassy Pants: The first movie that comes to mind for me is Bound. And yeah, the more I think about it, that’s the winner, hands down. Fantastic script, fun performances, the perfect amount of hot and juicy, and in all the right places. It a bit of a bummer that it’s dude directed, but you gotta give the Wachowskis extra big props, it being their first stab at directing and all. And with Larry now being Lana, there was clearly some female input happening there, even back then.
Michelle Abbott, writer on The L Word: Bound!
Ilene Chaiken, creator of The L Word: I have two — The Wachowski’s sexy, funny and subversive Bound. And my pretentious pre-coming-out college favorite, Persona by Ingmar Bergman. Arguably a lesbian movie.
Favorite lesbian character: Dominique Sanda in the The Conformist
Favorite lesbian couple: Meryl Streep and Karen Ludwig in Manhattan by Woody Allen.
Heather Matarazzo, actress: Aimee and Jaguar or Gia. It’s a tie for me. Both are tragic and beautiful. But if I was going for pure comedy, it would be tied with But I’m a Cheerleader or D.E.B.S. Either is perfect to pick up a blue mood.
Katherine Brooks, director of Loving Annabelle: Aimee and Jaguar. The story was so compelling, the acting was brilliant and the photography and music was pure perfection.
Anne Renton, director of The Perfect Family: Aimee and Jaguar. Although I have not seen it for quite some time, it is still one of the top on my list. Incredible story, brilliant acting and very truthful storytelling.
Phyllis Nagy, playwright and screenwriter of Carol: I don’t know if I want to call anything the “best” such movie, as I haven’t seen everything made or yet to be made, and I don’t believe in such qualifiers. But I know that the film that left the most profound stamp on my senses and my aesthetics as a young woman was Diane Kurys‘s 1983 Coup de Foudre (Entre Nous in this country). A complex, beautifully made, beautifully acted and understated portrait of two women in post-war France who truly could not live without the other. Inexplicably unavailable on DVD, VHS copies can still be found. Well worth the hunt.
It looks like Bound and Aimee and Jaguar are two highly regarded lesbian films. Does your vote match any of these? Were any able to sway you?