This June brought back the beautiful Pride celebrations we missed during the COVID lockdowns. People took to the streets with parades and celebrations throughout the country, all month long. If you, like me, feel like this year deserves more Pride than normal, you might be looking for more ways to celebrate, even as we head into July. However, too much celebrating can take a lot of energy. How can we keep our Pride going without totally draining our social battery? The answer is: movies. Hundreds of LGBTQIA+ film directors worked their directing and writing butts off over the last decade or so to create some brilliant films. They deserve some recognition.
We compiled a list of movies with LGBTQIA+ directors to put a little Pride in your relaxation.
1. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, directed by Desiree Akhavan
Both written and directed Desiree Akhavan, The Miseducation of Cameron Post takes place in 1993 at a conversion therapy camp called “God’s Promise.” Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) gets sent to God’s Promise after getting caught having sex with her female best friend. Akhavan directed in a way that made me feel like I watched the story unfold from the point of view of the kids at this camp. It immersed me into the story. Throughout the film, we watch Cameron try to understand the camp’s teachings, and through that, we watch her learn more about herself. I’d watch the entire movie again just to get to the last scene. Without giving too much away, here’s what I’ll say: Cameron and two friends realize that their sexual preferences do not make them any less than someone else, so they work together to give themselves the life they deserve. You can watch The Miseducation of Cameron Post on Hulu or free with ads on YouTube.
2. Fire Island, directed by Andrew Ahn
Rom-Com lovers, look no further for your next obsession. This brand-new Hulu movie revolves around a group of friends on their annual summer trip to Fire Island in Long Island, N.Y., inspired by Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Most of the story surrounds Noah (Joel Kim Booster, who also wrote the script) trying to be a good, self-appointed wingman for Howie (Bowen Yang). This classic, romantic comedy includes all the traditional big gestures and surprising love affairs. Andrew Ahn’s direction paints a beautiful picture of love, friendship and self-growth in this raunchy spin on a classic story. You can watch Fire Island on Hulu.
3. Nocturnal Animals, directed by Tom Ford
Content and trigger warning: this film includes r**e, gore, nudity and graphic physical violence.
Nocturnal Animals, a psychological thriller written and directed by Tom Ford, comes based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. The story revolves around Susan (Amy Adams) as she reads the final draft of a book written by her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). The most interesting part of the film is that we watch what Susan reads in Edward’s book as she’s reading it. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the protagonist in the book as well, whose wife (Isla Fischer) and daughter get kidnapped by a group of men led by local deadbeat, Ray (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The way Ford directed and wrote the story made you feel like you read Susan’s book alongside her, as if Susan’s life came in movie form and the audience actively imagines the book playing out as we read it. If you label yourself a fan of disturbing, psychological thrillers, this makes for a can’t-miss. You can watch Nocturnal Animals on Netflix.
4. The Boys in the Band, directed by Joe Mantello
I wanted to watch this film since it got announced, and I’m glad to say it lived up to my high expectations. This movie adaptation of The Boys in the Band came straight from the revived Broadway run in 2018. Joe Mantello directed the Broadway revival as well, and the movie kept the same star-studded cast: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, and more. The 1968 story unfolds in Michael’s (Parsons) New York City apartment, where a group of friends—all gay men—gather for Harold’s (Quinto) birthday party. Drama ensues when Michael’s straight, college roommate, Alan, calls in a panic asking to come over and talk. When Alan meets Michael’s friends, he makes a series of homophobic remarks, making it an incredibly uncomfortable evening for everyone. Mantello kept the play’s structure despite adapting it for the screen. It still felt like watching a play, which makes sense; the Broadway revival received high praise. You can watch The Boys in the Band on Netflix.
5. Other People, directed by Chris Kelly
Other People relays a beautiful story about a young screen writer who moves back home for a year to support his dying mother. Directed and written by Chris Kelly, this film stars Jesse Plemons as David, Molly Shannon as his mother, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow and Zach Woods. The story centers around David and his struggle to readjust to living with his family, especially while his mother suffers through the remaining months of her life. Although the plot seems bleak, Shannon—with the support of Kelly’s script and direction—does a beautiful job keeping everything light and funny. While it ends on a dark note, it still feels peaceful. You can watch Other People on Netflix.
6. Shiva Baby, directed by Emma Seligman
Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby tells the story of Danielle (Rachel Sennott), a 23-year-old college graduate who struggles to find her career path. After a morning with her sugar daddy, she joins her parents at a Shiva, where she runs into her ex-girlfriend, Maya (Molly Gordon). To pile onto the awkwardness, her sugar daddy, Max (Danny Deferrari), also attends with his wife (Dianna Agron) and their 18-month-old daughter. Emma Seligman’s script and direction offer the audience a hilarious, yet awkward invitation to this Shiva, whether we want it or not. You can watch Shiva Baby on HBO Max.
7. The Half of It, directed by Alice Wu
This rom com with a twist, written and directed by Alice Wu, revolves around Ellie Chu, a very smart student who’s struggling to take care of her and her father financially. She makes an unlikely friend in the stereotypical jock student, Paul, when he pays her to help him win over his crush, Aster. The catch? Ellie starts to fall for Aster, too. Wu’s direction makes our view wider than just Ellie’s; we get to see how each character feels about the same moments. This film puts a sweet, coming-of-age, romantic comedy in a completely different light, making it a must-see. You can watch The Half of It on Netflix.
8. The Normal Heart, directed by Ryan Murphy
You might recognize Ryan Murphy for his work on Glee and American Horror Story, but Murphy takes a shot at a big directing gig with The Normal Heart. Based on the award-winning Broadway play of the same name, The Normal Heart tells the story of Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo) and his fight to bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic. The film features other big theater and film actors such as Joe Mantello, Julia Roberts, Jonathan Groff, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Matt Bomer. Murphy directs the film in a way that makes it seem like it really was meant for the screen. You can watch The Normal Heart on HBO Max.
9. Chicago, directed by Rob Marshall
Based on the award-winning Broadway musical of the same name, Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger). After Roxie kills her lover, she’s sent to a women’s prison where she meets Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a fellow inmate who longs to return to the vaudeville stage. Roxie starts to pick up Velma’s tricks, dazzling news-reporters with her story. Marshall’s direction of this musical movie offers an easy, smooth transition from stage to screen. It’s as fun as it is sexy, full of spectacle and, well, “All That Jazz.” You can watch Chicago on HBO Max or Hulu.
10. The Lizzie McGuire Movie, directed Jim Fall
I couldn’t help myself with this one. Any twenty-something who grew up watching Disney Channel knows that The Lizzie McGuire Movie embodies a classic Disney film; and one that will hopefully never get left behind. Like the show, this movie revolves around its namesake Lizzie McGuire (Hilary Duff) and her trip to Rome with her fellow middle school graduates. McGuire discovers that she looks identical to an Italian popstar and gets tricked into performing at an awards show. This classic early 2000s Disney movie for teens includes music, cheesy acting, and an impossible storyline. You can watch The Lizzie McGuire Movie on Disney +.