6. Saving Face (2004)
Starring: Joan Chen, Michelle Krusiec, Lynn Chen Director: Alice Wu
When two Chinese-American women have to balance their lesbian relationship with family loyalty, they don’t necessarily make the right choices. But Wil and Vivian end up realizing that their love for one another is stronger than the disdain of their disapproving critics. Drawn from the experience of out director Alice Wu, Saving Face detailed a very real situation for gay Asian women who feel very intense societal and familial pressure to turn out “right.”
7. D.E.B.S (2004)
Starring: Sara Foster, Jordana Brewster, Meagan Good, Devon Aoki, Jill Ritchie Director: Angela Robinson
The short film version did so well at Sundance that the feature film was destined to become a lesbian-favorite. Schoolgirl spies fighting for their lives are interrupted by the fact their enemy is in love with one of their own. It’s like Romeo & Juliet meets Charlie’s Angels, but with an agreeable conclusion. Overall it’s a fun, feel-good film for those of us who have always dreamed of gun-toting with our girlfriends.
8. Fingersmith (2005)
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Imelda Staunton, Elaine Cassidy Director: Aisling Walsh
Sarah Waters‘ novel-turned-TV movie was a Victorian romance written just for us. Maud and Sue start out as friends but quickly realize there is more to their admiration of each other. As is true in other Waters’ work, there is commentary on the class system as well as the way the two women feel for one another.
9. Loving Annabelle (2006)
Starring: Diane Gaidry, Erin Kelly Director: Katherine Brooks
Based on a film that narrowly missed the cut-off for this very list (Mädchen in Uniform), this teacher-and-pupil forbidden love story has some heavy moments. But there’s balance with the tenderness shared between a mature boarding school teen and her object of affection who’s still reeling after the loss of her partner. Anyone who has ever had a crush on a teacher likely found this film to be their favorite.
10. Desert Hearts (1985)
Starring: Helen Shaver, Patricia Charbonneau Director: Donna Deitch
The 1964 novel was adapted 20 years later and came to be famous as the first lesbian film to have a positive ending. Out director Donna Deitch has said she had trouble finding financing and actors willing to play the leading lesbian roles, but the final product was so good, it ended up being given to every actor on The L Word to take notes on its sex scene. Desert Hearts was nominated for Sundance and Indie Spirit Awards, and won Helen Shaver the Bronze Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival.