The 15 Best LGBTQIA+ Movies of 2022: Let us define the term queer before we look at how popular culture in 2022 interpreted the term. Queer is an umbrella term to define everyone who does not identify as cishet. The word has a long, disturbing history of being associated with the concept of an aberration and is not being reclaimed by the LGBTQIA+ community to represent everyone who doesn’t fit the hetero norm. Queerness is far from an anomaly in society, and 2022 has been a monumental year for the queers in cinema. It has not only upheld queer angst, but also sought to normalize queer presence in society through its narrative while simultaneously drawing out the myriad experiences of being queer. This exercise has, in turn, widened the boundaries of queerness.

Following are the 15 best LGBTQ movies in 2022 that accommodates and surpasses the ideas around queer identities. I have intentionally chosen movies in which queerness forms a central aspect of the narrative or the portrayal of the protagonists themselves and mostly excused those which seek to give a queer spin to a hetero-normative plot or stereotype the community; a couple of these have come to re-define the genres they belong to. Happy Reading 🙂

15. Wendell & Wild

Best LGBTQ Movies of 2022 - Wendell & Wild

Henry Selick’s stop-motion animation horror comedy is absurd but, in equal parts, adorable. The story follows two demon brothers, Wendell (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (voiced by Jordan Peele), who seek to escape the underworld, and their father, Buffalo Belzer (voiced by Ving Rhames). They register the help of Kat Elliot (voiced by Lyric Ross), a teenager bent double under the weight of grief and guilt who wants her dead parents back in her life. However, all hell breaks lose (almost literally) as capitalists, revenge mongers, zombies, and super-naturalism come together to hold up the importance of empathy, courage, and compassion in our everyday affairs.

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The effort that Selick’s animation has made to portray a trans identity makes this film qualify as one of the best queer films of 2022. Kat’s classmate and friend, Raúl Cocolotl (voiced by Sam Zelaya), is a trans boy, but Selick is careful not to throw this information at the audience’s face. They subtly mention him as a person who transitioned in one of the film’s first scenes. Zelaya himself is Latino and transmasculine. Kat is also a queer character because of their non-conformity to traditional animation protagonists. A Black girl with punk interests and appearance, she lives up to the idea of a Hell-maiden. Besides, Selick’s animated venture only seeks to confirm that there are worse things in heaven and earth (and hell) than ambitious demons.

14. In From the Side

Written and directed by Matt Carter, this story is a lens into the complexities of queer identities in the world of sports that many of us may not be familiar with. The story follows two rugby players, Mark (played by Alexander Lincoln) and Warren (played by Alexander King), who try to hide their affair from their long-term romantic partners and teammates. It is a fairly simple plot with a lot of sex and tension about whether or not the protagonists will end up together. Yet it is so charming and leaves us with an insight into the dysfunctional world of rugby.

This film makes it to the list of the best queer movies of 2022 because Carter successfully maintains the delicate balance between a testosterone-rich sports drama and a tender love affair, showing us that they can coexist equally well. Like every other rom-com, Mark and Warren’s partners aren’t paid too much attention to; unlike most rom-coms, it seeks to explore all kinds of modern-day relationships. Between Bros (2022), the first major studio-backed gay rom-com in Hollywood, and Carter’s film, I’d choose the latter for the emotions it manages to harp on.

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13. The Inspection

Written and directed by Elegance Bratton, this debut feature follows the life of a queer soldier in the army, another profession that values hyper-masculinity. Ellis French (played by Jeremy Pope) is a queer individual of color in this story who tries to crawl back into the closet for his survival after being ousted by his mother. Doubly marginalized, French faces homophobic slurs within the prison walls and happens to catch feelings for Rosales (Raul Castillo), the drill sergeant. The character of Ellis French is autobiographical to an extent and mirrors a similar lingering confusion and doubt about his identity that Bratton has confessed to having felt. It is a film of great angst and rock-solid performances.

The central focus of this narrative is the small but prominent fissure between French’s real identity and the uniform identity he dons. The difficulty of French’s day-to-day existence is brought to the screen in this one, easily qualifying it as one of the best LGBTQIA+ movies of 2022. One cannot deny that the confines of the army is charged with homoerotic energy that is otherwise determinedly masculine. Bratton’s debut also seeks to study the hierarchy (and abuse) of power structures by looking into the social institution of the army while commenting on the necessity of an inclusive peer group. This moving drama, which ultimately chimes about hope, is as pertinent in contemporary times as it was during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era.

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12. Bones and All

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, this romantic drama seeks to redefine the borders of what we traditionally consider to be queer. Maren Yearly (played by Taylor Russell) is a cannibal in the 1980s who has been deserted by her father and is on her way to meet her mother. She meets Lee (played by Timothée Chalamet), a fellow cannibal. They travel across the country, falling in love, as they unpeel the different layers of their life and decide to spend it together. It is a whole new kind of coming-of-age drama that plays with metaphors of blood, self-discovery, and queer desire.

If you can read cannibalism as an allegory for queerness, Bones And All will open itself up to you as one of the best queer movies in 2022 that gives voices to the development of societally forbidden desires in teenagers. Lee and Maren find comfort and feel seen when they share how the first person they gnawed at was a babysitter. The anomaly of their cannibalistic desires (read: queerness) doesn’t necessarily find a nod at home, forcing them to lead secret lives as cannibals and find a community that they can safely belong to – these experiences have resonated with queer people raised in strictly heteronormative settings. Guadgnino underlines every scene of the film with one pertinent observation – queerness is everywhere; one needs to look at it for what it is “bones and all.”

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

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11. Natchathiram Nagargirathu

Written and directed by Pa Ranjith, Natchathiram Nagargirathu is a Tamil-language Indian film that is like a surprise queer bomb eager to expose the traditional hetero-patriarchal attitudes inherent in Tamil society. The theatre troupe at the center of this plot makes pertinent social commentary under the disguise of seeking to understand and interpret the nature of ‘love’ better through a new play that they are practicing to perform. The troupe has an intersectional cast with a new joinee, Arjun (played by Kalaiyasaran), a cis-het man coming from a privileged background. The love stories of a few of these theatre actors cross paths, especially as caste consciousness opens up and threatens to rip them apart, making this one a standout Tamil film from 2022.

The place where the theatre group situates itself in Ranjith’s latest gives us an idea of a queer space that grants an individual the freedom to explore the complexities of their desire to its limits. It also actively educates the audience about trans identity through the character of the late Sherin Celin Matthew. Against the inclusive theatre space, we constantly witness the warped ideas about caste, class, sexualities, and religion that Arjun brings to the troupe. It is this constant friction between ideas that leaves the audience shifting in their seats, making Natchathiram Nagargirathu one of the best LGBTQIA+ films of 2022.

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10. Bodies Bodies Bodies

Best LGBTQIA+ Movies of 2022 - Bodies Bodies Bodies

Directed by Halina Reijn, this film screams out queerness and Gen Z behavior stereotypes in a disarmingly comic whodunit fashion. There is a hurricane party being hosted by David (played by Pete Davidson), and in attendance is his friend, Sophie (played by Amandla Stenberg) and her partner, Bee (played by Maria Bakalova); David’s girlfriend, Emma (played by Chase Sui Wonders); Alice (played by Rachel Senott) and her partner, Greg (played by Lee Pace). However, things start going awry when they decide to play a dark party game, and the lights go out. It is all things quirky, spooky, and hilarious!

The central characters in Bodies Bodies Bodies, arguably one of the most fun and among the best queer films of 2022, are queer, and there’s no overt commentary around it. Queerness exists and is a part of society – this is the kind of inclusivity that pop culture should start aiming for once it is done with educating the audience about the basics of queer identities. Reijn’s film, on the other hand, tells us how far the horror-slasher genre has come from being rife with queer characters as the perpetrators of criminal activities. This film wasn’t marketed as a queer-horror movie, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find the plot hinging on a queer relationship. It displays a possibility of becoming the new cult classic in the coming years.

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9. Badhaai Do

Directed by Harshavardhan Kulkarni, this Hindi-language Bollywood drama was also one of the finest Indian films to hit theatres last year. It follows the stories of Shardul Thakur (played by Rajkumar Rao) and Suman Singh (played by Bhumi Pednekar), who enter a lavender marriage to be able to lead their secret queer lives. Shardul and Suman navigate their individual territories of love, desire, and heartbreak while living as flatmates until the societal pressure for conceiving a child threatens to hinder their arrangement. Kulkarni draws out one of the most poignant coming-out scenes in Indian cinema and situates a coming-of-age moment for one of the queer protagonists during a Pride Walk.

Commercial Indian cinema is still trying to educate the audience about queerness. In most cases, this leads to the portrayal of a queer character with stereotypes in isolation from society. While Kulkarni’s film has an educational bent, it doesn’t water down the intersectionality of queerness, making it one of the best queer movies of 2022. For example, Shardul Thakur’s character is at once grappling with his queerness and the traditionally masculine roles of a policeman, husband, and son, redefining them as he journeys through the plot. Similarly, Suman’s relationship with Rimjhim (played by Chum Darang) interweaves queerness with a conversation about racial discrimination against the people from the North East. Kulkarni displays superb poise in the way he handles it all!

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8. All the Beauty and Bloodshed

Best LGBTQIA+ Movies of 2022 - All the Beauty in the Bloodshed

Directed by Laura Poitras, this is a documentary that closely looks at the career of Nan Goldin, a famous photographer, and queer activist. Goldin’s works have been eye-opening in understanding the subtext of intimacies and queer subcultures in traditionally urban societies. However, Goldin is primarily remembered for holding Purdue Pharma, run by the Slacker family, responsible for the opioid epidemic. Winning the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival 2022, this documentary plays out in seven distinct chapters containing real-life footage of Goldin. Bonus: The documentary’s narrator is none other than the 69 years-old activist herself.

Nan Goldin is a true, living queer icon, and a well-shot documentary that sheds light on her pathbreaking works is bound to be on my list of the best queer films of 2022. Poitras makes a noticeable effort to transport the audience to New York in the late 20th century when the AIDS epidemic was at its peak. Along with commentary on the perception of queer people in those times, the interviews and Goldin’s own voiceover help uncover the gritty reality of drug addiction. This documentary is like a rich painting that is brimming with queerness head to hoe!

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7. Girl Picture

Best LGBTQ Movies of 2022 - Girl Picture

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Directed by Alli Haapasalo, this Finnish film is pregnant with desires, angst, and coming-of-age among three young adults, Mimmi (played by Aamu Milonoff), Emma (played by Linnea Leino) and Rönkkö (played by Eleonoora Kauhanen). Rönkkö and Mimmi are buddies at school and work while Emma is their classmate and is immediately attracted to Mimmi when the former comes across her at her workplace, a smoothie shop. The three teens become friends, and at the cusp of adulthood, they are left to navigate all kinds of complex emotional curves and wonder aloud at the wide world of opportunities – sex, pleasure, love, etc. – that lies ahead of them.

Haapasalo’s film makes the three protagonists set out to look for their individuality which is intricately linked with their gender and sexual identity. The not-so-cringe commentary around teenage sex is frankly refreshing, especially because you know that these ideas are going to metamorphose for them until late into their adult lives. I could swear by this as one of the best LGBTQIA+ movies of 2022 because of how richly each of the three protagonists’ voices are knitted together and yet paid individual heed to, making us feel empathetic for them as they rollerskate into adulthood. No overarching theme of homophobia or queer-bashing forms a subplot here. It is like tasting a simple but well-made vanilla cake; only the cherry on top may have fallen down somewhere because of teenage messiness. As adults watching this film, we know that it’s okay.

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6. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

Best LGBTQIA+ Movies of 2022 - We're All going to the World's Fair

Written and directed by non-binary filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun, this experimental horror film seeks to detectably redefine our idea of all things queer. Casey (played by Anna Cobb) partakes in the World’s Fair Challenge to post videos that increasingly threaten to dissociate her physical identity. She reaches out to another fellow collaborator, JLB (played by Michael J. Rogers), to understand what is up with her, but things start getting scary and violent as the forces behind the World’s Fair start to take over her senses. If Host (2020) made you think twice before attending a Zoom call, Schoenbrun’s debut would ensure you don’t indulge yourself on the internet ever again.

The deeply unsettling aspect of Schoenbrun’s film is also what makes it most queer – the vague outlines of identities that are in the process of metamorphosis. However, what makes it one of the best queer films of 2022 for me is the queer time – a sort of liminal space between late night and early morning – that Casey seems to occupy. Some critics have read this absurd mishmashing of the digital and the real as an allegory for the transitioning of trans people. If you think of it subjectively, instead of scaring you, the concept of transitioning becomes more real and bittersweet. The film also refuses to point out a single truth, stick to one narrative, or pinpoint Casey’s changing behavior, thus helping the audience understand the idea of ‘becoming someone.’ The internet has become the new-age vessel for one.’

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5. Fire Island

Best LGBTQIA+ Movies of 2022 - Bodies Bodies Bodies

Directed by Andrew Ann, this film is a queer starter pack for all things summer and romance. It follows the story of Noah (played by Joel Kim Booster), Howie (played by Bowen Yang), and their friends on a trip to the titular Fire Island, where they are putting up at Erin’s (played by Margaret Cho), their house mother. On this trip, they meet Will (played by Conrad Ricamora) and his company. Soon, desires start to ferment between Noah and Will, but, like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, they remain at loggerheads until the very end. One of the best queer films of 2022, Fire Island is the mainstream queer rom-com we all needed!

Regency-era dramas and Austen adaptations have gained quite a buzz in pop culture (thanks to Netflix!). However, Fire Island is an intersectional and subversive interpretation of Pride and Prejudice, unlike the spirit of Clueless (1995), which seeks to retell Austen’s Emma. It uses traditional character tropes to craft its queer protagonists, proving the timelessness of Austen and shifting the hetero-normative lens to gaze into the oft-overlooked spaces for gay men, male friendship, the Meat Rack, underwear parties, drugs, and sexual desires in American society. Simply put, it takes every kind of cliche and, giving it a queers spin, makes it better.

4. Benediction

Written and directed by Terence Davies, this film tells the story of a famous poet and World War I veteran, Siegfried Sassoon. He is said to have romantic interests in another popular war poet and WWI soldier, Wilfred Owen. However, he found himself admitted to a psychiatry hospital ward after the war was over, married Hester Gatty (played by Kate Phillips) and fathered a son, and died as a Catholic. The film shifts between his old age and youthfulness to give us an idea of the fracture that his identity underwent since the war and his many relationships with men along the way. Jack Lowden, who plays young Sassoon, neatly holds up the brand of disillusionment about queerness that has been the signature of most of Davies’ filmography.

Certainly one of the best queer films of 2022, this biopic weaves the poet’s words into the screenplay, therefore giving his art a political bent. Davies, in several of his interviews, has confessed to peppering the characterization of Sassoon with autobiographical elements like he did with the characterization of Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion (2016).

Benediction portrays the queer desires of Sassoon while he was still trying to grapple with the larger realities of nation and state after WWI was over, showing us also the tragedy that his whole life since the war has been. It also brings to the fore the other side of Sassoon, the socialite out-of-the-closet queer person in early 20th century England, which remains mostly masked behind the haunting words of his celebrated anti-war poems.

3. Tar

Best LGBTQIA+ Movies of 2022 - Tar

Written and directed by Todd Field, this film traces the orchestrating of power by its awe-inspiring (but problematic) queer lead, Lydia Tár (played by Cate Blanchett). As the narrative progresses, we come to understand more and more about the professional misconduct that Lydia engages in, making this a film that could have very well been about any of the social figures facing cancellation due to their opinions or behavior in recent times (think J.K. Rowling?).

Blanchett’s powerful performance makes this one of the best films from 2022 that treats the character’s queer identity as part and parcel of her everyday life. She is a woman composer-conductor in a male-dominated field of art, is married to another woman, Sharon Goodnow (played by Nina Hoss), and has a daughter, Petra (played by Mila Bogojevic), while simultaneously being a lesbian predator – these are all treated as matter-of-fact aspects in the plot. Her queer identity, in this case, only makes her a more magnetic personality for the people around her; it caters to fuel her power. Lydia’s queerness swings between defining and threatening her own personality as it is completely cognizant of the socioeconomic and racial privilege it enjoys over others. This intricate character development has to be one of Field’s greatest gifts to pop culture.

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2. Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best LGBTQIA+ Movies of 2022 - Everything Everywhere All At Once

This absurdist drama, written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, explores queerness in all its forms and succeeds at it gloriously. Evelyn Quan Wang (played by Michelle Yeoh) is a dissatisfied laundromat owner whose marriage with Waymong Wang (played by Ke Huy Quan) is on the cusp of a divorce. She also shares a hostile relationship with her queer daughter, Joy Wang (played by Stephanie Hsu), because Evelyn is unwilling to accept her daughter’s lesbian identity and partner, Becky (played by Tallie Medel). Evelyn finds her monotonous existence shaken up one fine day while she has gone to meet an IRS agent and is instead pulled into a multi-dimensional rabbit hole. She is up against Jobu Tupaki, an “agent of pure chaos,” and must save the world from falling apart. This is a 139 minutes-long joyride that gives bountifully and demands only your complete, unfaltering attention in return.

At the heart of one of the best LGBTQIA+ movies of 2022 is the tension between Evelyn and Joy. The latter is doubly marginalized because of American-Chinese lesbian identity. The queer grief that Joy experiences transform her into a campy, nihilistic caricature of the multi-dimensional universe. The film also argues that everything – race, behavior, gender identity, sexuality – beyond the normative is essentially queer. The several identities that coalesce in the mind of Jobu is her motivation to end the universe. Fraught with the debate of inter-generational acceptance of queerness, the search for kinship, and the desperate desire to hold on to one true queer moment in time, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a genre-defining queer film that deserves every accolade coming it’s way.

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1. Joyland

Best LGBTQIA+ Movies of 2022 - Joyland

Written and directed by Saim Sadiq, this is the first Pakistani drama that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Haider (played by Ali Junejo) belongs to a typically patriarchal family in Lahore, Pakistan. He is married to Mumtaz (played by Rasti Farooq) but is left juggling with his heart after he meets Biba (played by Alina Khan), a queer dancer. This is a poignant tale that breaks your heart with the kindness it assumes in portraying the tangled mess of lives, like old streets, that form the cultural fabric of the city.

The antagonist in this tale is not Haider’s aging father (played by Salmaan Peerzada) but the patriarchy itself. Haider must play hide-and-seek about his job with his family because it is a queer job, a job that doesn’t fit the normative societal expectations. Similarly, the relationship with his wife is detectably queer as well. What, however, makes it one of the best queer films of 2022 for me is the subjectivity of the gaze, and its shifting nature. Besides, Khan as Biba is a tour-de-force herself! Sadiq does a fantastic job of not being subtle about the anger, grudges, tension, and religious conservativeness of the people in Haider’s family and surroundings, making this drama humane and innately political at the same time.

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