The 10 Best LGBT Biopics


With the impending release of The Imitation Game this week, we thought it was about time to reflect on the best gay biopics.


Though some are dire and made-for-tv (for a reason), there is a collection of beautifully filmed, superbly acted, and very sensitive films based on the lives of the LGBT community. The following list is just a few of them:


  1. MILK

Dir: Gus Van Sant, 2008

Starring Sean Penn and Josh Brolin, Milk tells the groundbreaking story of Harvey Milk, a gay activist and California’s first openly gay elected official. The film brings the audience through a story of triumph and tragedy, showcasing the characters as accurately as you would assume. It won Sean Penn and, writer, Dustin Lance Black an Academy Award each, however Josh Brolin was also a very worthy candidate for his performance as Dan White.



Dir: Kimberly Peirce, 1999

Boys Don’t Cry tells the tragic tale of Brandon Teena, a transgender teenager that has just moved to Nebraska. An Oscar-winning performance for Hilary Swank, the film shows the journey and search for acceptance with Brandon’s new friends and his love interest, played by Chloe Sevigny. This film would be heartbreaking enough if it was fictional but, unfortunately, it isn’t.



Dir: Jean-Marc Vallée, 2013

Just another film in the era now dubbed the ‘McConnaissance’, Dallas Buyers Club is not necessarily the story of a gay man but of the people a straight man helped by providing medication to Aids patients. Homophobic Ron Woodroff (Matthew McConaughey) is diagnosed as HIV Positive and finds out that the drugs he needs to prolong his life as only available illegally in Mexico. From here, he supplies these drugs to the sick of Dallas, and to himself, and prolongs hundreds of lives. A special mention for Jared Leto as Rayon, a HIV Positive trans woman.


  1. WILDE

Dir: Brian Gilbert, 1997

Based on the life of Oscar Wilde, this film shows the man behind the wit. The perfectly cast Stephen Fry portrays Wilde as a slightly egocentric, utterly fabulous writer who owns his sexuality, as much as he can with a wife and two children. It shows his utter obsession with Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie, and how Wilde’s life changed after their meeting. Jude Law plays Bosie as a petulant little shit and it works well as a contrast to Wilde’s devotion. Though not 100% accurate, Wilde is a great film to showcase what it must have been like for a prominent homosexual at the time.



Dir: Peter Jackson, 1994

Disclaimer: This film is strange. Directed by Peter Jackson, and featuring a young Kate Winslet, Heavenly Creatures tells the story of the 1955 Parker-Hulme murder case. Pauline, Melanie Lynskey of Two And A Half Men fame, and Juliet (Winslet) begin an intense relationship that isolates them from the rest of the world. Their relationship is jealous and rife with tension, believing that no one else can appreciate their genius and wonder. They both believe that Pauline’s mother is trying to keep them apart so they plan to murder her, hoping that her demise will allow them to be together forever.



Dir: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, 2009

What to say about this utterly delightful film? Well, Jim Carrey plays Steven Russell, a formerly straight cop, turn conman who pulls off near impossible trysts to fund his new glamorous lifestyle. After one too many run-ins with the law, Steven ends up in prison, where he meets the sensitive Phillip Morris, played by Ewan McGregor. They fall in love almost immediately and Steven won’t let anything stand between them and their blossoming relationship.


  1. FRIDA

Dir: Julie Taymor, 2002

Salma Hayek plays the irrepressible Frida Kahlo, the tragic Mexican painter whose love of art began while recovering from a bus crash. Though injury plagued her throughout life, Frida allowed her pain to come through in her paintings and made her one of the greatest female artists of the 20th Century. Frida’s tumultuous marriage to Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) is played out as one of the main storylines of the film, though the director didn’t shy away from her bisexuality, depicting her affairs with men and women alike.



Dir: Bennett Miller, 2005

The late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman portrayed the flamboyant and, oftentimes, shallow writer Truman Capote in this film; it depicts the years of research he spent on his final novel, In Cold Blood. Equally delightful and harrowing, this film portrays Capote as a man fascinated by the murders he is researching and the men who committed them.



Dir: Bill Condon, 2004

Have you heard of Alfred Kinsey? If you haven’t, go look him up right now! He is the one responsible for categorizing how gay or straight we all are. Kinsey, played by Liam Neeson, is the story of a sexologist determined to find out about sexuality and gender and quantify the results in a substantial study. Though he faced some backlash – his first set of results was published in the 40s – he was eventually lauded for his work on the subject. During his studies, Kinsey found that he, himself, was not entirely heterosexual and, though married, decided to explore these feelings.



Dir: Patty Jenkins, 2003

Aileen Wuornos, the prostitute-cum-serial killer, is played by Charlize Theron, how won an Academy Award for her efforts. This film depicts the last nine months of freedom in Aileen’s life, during which time she began a relationship with another woman, Selby (Christina Ricci). It began with an attack by a client, where the situation called for self-defense. Thereafter, Aileen wanted to provide for her new partner without using sex, so she began to steal and, eventually, murder the men whom used to pay her. The film ends with Selby’s rejection and Aileen’s fateful demise.

The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, is out in cinemas November 14.

© 2014 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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