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Despite an up-tick in queer representation in Hollywood films, there’s still a must-needed gap to fill when it comes to lesbian movies. And we’re not talking about inauthentic representations written by straight men. No. We want lesbian love stories at the front and center, lesbian characters being just as messy and chaotic as heterosexual ones, and even lesbian superheroes saving the world. Really, it’s not too much to ask!
This year already started off strong with the release of Mean Girls that includes a “loud and proud” lesbian Janis portrayed by Auli’i Cravalho. Still, if you’re having a chill day at home and want to stream a lesbian film while eating popcorn on your couch (no judgments here!), we’ve rounded up plenty of queer movies for you to enjoy.
From sapphic period dramas to psychological thrillers that *might* give you nightmares, we found the best lesbian movies to watch right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for movies on Netflix, movies on Hulu, or lesbian drama movies (we’ve got plenty of those) — you’ve got options. And, yes, we included Kristen Stewart’s sapphic holiday rom-com. You’re welcome.
1. Booksmart (2019)
The thing we really love about this movie is that it’s not a plot centrally focused on a tortured love story. The film follows two best friends—Kaitlyn Dever as Amy and Beanie Feldstein as Molly—embarking on a night of wild adventure before high school graduation. What qualifies this as a lesbian film is the epic is a goal made early in the film: for Amy to hook-up with a girl before the night ends. Of course, the entire night brings hilarious and relatable obstacles of all kinds, but it’s a refreshing look at the chaos of impending adulthood.
2. Tár (2022)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a moment that isn’t tense in this Oscar-nominated drama starring Cate Blanchett as the fictional character Lydia Tár. Constantly dressed to perfection in a tailored suit, Blanchett plays a tough and toxic — and world-famous — conductor who has a history of manipulating her students, despite being partnered with someone in her orchestra. It’s a constant cringe watching Tár spiral against the allegations placed in front of her in a beautifully cinematic world.
3. Bound (1996)
Part heist film, part lesbian romance, this movie stars Jennifer Tilly as Violet and Gine Gershon as Corky. After meeting in an elevator, the women kick off a love affair—which becomes complicated considering Violet is the girlfriend of a gangster named Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) who was just released from prison. The film centers around creating an escape from Caesar… along with 2 million dollars of the mob’s money.
4. The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (1995)
In this high school movie of friendship-turned-romance, gas station employee Randy Dean (Laurel Holloman) finds a friend in popular girl Evie (Nicole Parker). Randy deals with ridicule from locals because of her sexual identity, which Evie also experiences as she and Randy find love and reveal their relationship to friends and family. It’s a tale of teenage love, coming out, and all of the ups and downs that come with it.
5. The Handmaiden (2016)
This South Korean psychological thriller takes place in 1930’s Korea-ruled Japan and was directed by Park Chan-wook (Snowpiercer, Stoker) and stars Kim Min-hee as Sook Hee, a girl sent to be the handmaiden for Lady Hideko. What Lady Hideko — and Uncle Kouzuki, the man of the manor — don’t know if that Sook-Hee is actually the daughter of the region’s most famous thief. In a plan to steal from the family, Sook-Hee falls for Lady Hideko, and vice-versa. The story has two strong vibes: the sneaky moves of a con artist and a fragile love story between two women.
6. Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Starring Kate Winslet as wealthy teenager Juliet, this plot follows her transfer to a new school in Christchurch, New Zealand from England. After becoming friends with Pauline (played by Melanie Lynsky) and bonding over their shared love for star tenor Mario Lanza, the budding friendship raises concerns with their parents, who decide the intense friendship to be unhealthy. The two devise a plan to run away together to America, alongside a darker agenda aimed at those trying to keep them apart.
7. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
A French historical romance that follows the story of an artist commissioned to paint a wedding portrait of a bride-to-be. The film won several awards and even has an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Did we mention that everyone in the cast looks like they could be a chic Parisian model? Yup, you need to watch this one ASAP.
8. D.E.B.S. (2004)
An early aughts film that’s basically Charlie’s Angels but queer, D.E.B.S. follows a team of teen crime fighters as they hunt down an enemy. The only problem? One of them has fallen in love with their target. Yeah…things are about to get messy.
9. Desert Hearts (1985)
This ’80s film is lauded by many as the first lesbian story line in a film where the women ultimately end up together. The critically acclaimed movie follows the story of a young professional in the middle of a divorce who unexpectedly falls in love with a young artist.
10. I Care a Lot (2020)
This star-studded dark comedy follows the story of a greedy legal guardian who steals from her wards alongside her girlfriend and business partner. That is, until they meet their match. We mentioned Rosamund Pike leads this film, right? Right!?
11. Imagine Me and You (2005)
Looking for an early-aughts rom-com full of sapphic longing? Watch Imagine Me and You, a British film starring Piper Perabo and Lena Headey about a new bride who develops a crush on a local florist.
12. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
Set in the early ’90s, this coming-of-age drama follows the story of Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) after she’s sent to a conversion therapy center. It is based on the novel of the same name. Fair warning: You will need tissues for this one.
13. Crush (2022)
Starring Rowan Blanchard and Auli’i Cravalho, this cute coming-of-age story follows Paige Evans (Blanchard), an artistic student who joins the track team to get close to her crush — only to fall for her twin sister (Cravalho).
14. But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
But I’m a Cheerleader is a satirical teen rom-com starring Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, RuPaul, and Melanie Lynskey. Need we say more?
15. Carol (2015)
Widely regarded as one of the best LGBTQ films in history, Carol is a romantic drama set in NYC during the early 1950s. Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, and more, the film follows the affair between an aspiring female photographer and an older divorcee. It is based on the 1952 novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.
16. Ride or Die (2021)
Based on Ching Nakamura’s manga series Gunjō, this Japanese drama tells the story of Rei (Kiko Mizuhara) who kills her friend’s abusive husband. Together, Rei and her friend run for their lives—and discover their tumultuous feelings for each other in the process.
17. The Half of It (2020)
What happens when you’re hired to write love letters for the high school jock and end up falling in love with his crush? The Half of It is an endearing coming-of-age story about young love and learning to embrace yourself.
18. The Favourite (2018)
An award-winning film that earned Olivia Colman her Best Actress at the Oscars, The Favourite is a must-watch for fans of period drama and dark comedy. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz also star alongside Coleman in The Favourite, which tells the story of two cousins fighting to become the Queen’s favorite.
19. The Kids Are Alright (2010)
An Oscar-nominated film, The Kids Are Alright features a star-studded cast, including Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and Josh Hutcherson. Lauded as one of the first mainstream movies to depict a same-sex couple raising teenagers, this film tells the story of Nic (Hutcherson) who wants to find his biological father — and what happens when he finally does.
20. The Prom (2020)
Directed by Ryan Murphy, The Prom is a feature-length adaptation of the award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. After Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) is denied bringing her girlfriend (Ariana DeBose) to prom, a group of has-been Broadway stars comes to the rescue.
21. Kajillionaire (2020)
22. Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
This early aughts independent rom-com is based on the off-Broadway play Lipschtick. Nearly thirty, Jessica Stein is ready to settle down. After tons of bad dates, she answers a personal ad only to later find out it was in the “Women Seeking Women” section.
23. My Summer of Love (2004)
Emily Blunt and Natalie Press star in this award-winning British drama. Two unlikely women from two different walks of life become fast friends — and maybe something more.
24. Ammonite (2020)
25. The New Mutants (2020)
26. Go Fish (1994)
This ’90s drama delves into the lesbian scene in Chicago, following a young college student, Max West (Guinevere Turner) and an older woman, Ely (V.S. Broadie).
27. Freeheld (2015)
Based on the documentary of the same name, Freeheld recounts the story of New Jersey police lieutenant Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Alongsider her registered domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Elliot Page), Hester fights to secure the pension benefits for Andree before she dies.
28. Pariah (2011)
An award-winning Sundance film, Pariah follows the life of a 17-year-old Black teen learning to navigate her sexuality and define her identity as a butch lesbian while dealing with familial and societal pressures.
29. Wild Nights with Emily (2018)
Fans of Emily Dickinson will appreciate this rom-com detailing the life of the famed poet, her struggles to become a published writer, and her lifelong romance with her friend-turned-sister-in-law Susan Gilbert.
30. Rafiki (2018)
The first Kenyan movie to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival, this African romance follows the love story between Kena and Ziki. Together, they navigate young love, their sexuality, and dealing with family and political pressures surrounding LBGTQ+ rights in Kenya.
31. Bessie (2015)
Queen Latifah stars in the titular role of this HBO TV film. Following the life of American blues singer Bessie Smith, Bessie gives viewers an inside look into the life and struggles of “The Empress of the Blues.” The film earned four Primetime Emmy Awards nominations and ultimately won one for Outstanding Television Movie. It would go on to become the most watched HBO original film in the network’s history by 2016.
32. I Can’t Think Straight (2008)
Just one of the few feature-length films that put queer South Asian women at the forefront, I Can’t Think Straight follows the illicit affair between Tala (Lisa Ray), a young Jordanian of Palestinian descent preparing for her wedding, and Leyla (Sheetal Sheth), a British-Indian. The movie is based on a novel of the same name.
33. Jack and Diane (2012)
Depending on who you ask, Jack and Diane is either the greatest film ever made—or the worst. A romance-horror flick featuring Ted Lasso’s Juno Temple, Riley Keough, and Kylie Minogue, this film puts its own twist on your typical sapphic coming-of-age story. With quite a few jump scares, of course.
34. Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
This coming-of-age film follows a French teen as she explores a relationship with another woman. Over the course of the movie, the two navigate growing together as lovers and adults.
35. Disobedience (2017)
Starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, this sapphic romantic drama follows a young woman as she returns to her Orthodox Jewish community after being ostracized for her sexuality. Even after years apart, the two women reconnect and explore the intersection of their attraction to each other and their faith.
36. Summerland (2020)
In this drama, a reclusive writer in the British countryside reluctantly takes in a young boy during the London Blitz. In an effort to bond with the boy, she shares a story of her lover in college, a young woman who eventually broke her heart.
37. A Secret Love (2020)
This Ryan Murphy-produced documentary follows the life of Terry Donahue, a former professional baseball player, and her partner Pat Henschel. For decades, they ran a successful business all while keeping their relationship hidden from their families.
38. Happiest Season (2020)
A sapphic holiday rom-com starring Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and Davy Levy? Say less. In this Christmas film, Harper Caldwell (Mackenzie Davis) invites her girlfriend, Abby Holland (Kristen Stewart), home for the holidays. The only problem? Harper isn’t out to her family yet—instead, she asks Abby to pose as her roommate for the holiday.
39. Unpregnant (2020)
Barbie Ferreira and Haley Lu Richardson star in this coming-of-age film about a pregnant Missouri teen who discovers she can’t get an abortion in her home state. With her college dreams on the line, she enlists help from her friend — who is coming to terms with her own sexuality — to drive across country in order to secure access to a safe abortion.
40. Dating Amber (2020)
The fake dating trope but make it queer. In an attempt to fit in with other kids from school, friends Amber (Lola Petticrew) and Eddie (Fionn O’Shea) pretend to date. Both closeted, Amber and Eddie help each other learn to accept their sexuality throughout the film.
41. Gia (1998)
With Angelina Jolie starring in the titular role, this 1998 biographical TV film recounts the life of Gia Carangi, one of the world’s first supermodels. Throughout the film, viewers watch as Gia rises to fame, battles substance abuse, and falls in love with Linda, a makeup artist.
42. Bottoms (2023)
Fight Club (1999) meets high school in this roaringly funny comedy. When two best friends start their own underground club in a grand attempt to lose their virginity, things quickly go awry. Starring The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri, model Kaia Gerber, and Red, White, and Royal Blue’s Nicholas Gailtzine, you’re sure to love this lesbian feature film.
43. Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls (2022)
This 2022 film is bringing inclusivity to middle school with a tried-and-true coming of age story following a young lesbian as she pursues a crush while leaving her BFF to fend for herself. With young love and friendship put to the test, it’s a heartwarming reminder that we need more LGBTQ+ storylines in middle grade fiction and film.
Starring Chloë Sevigny as infamous ax murderer Lizzie Bordon and Kristen Stewart as her love-interest and maid Bridget Sullivan, this 2018 thriller will have you on the edge of your seat wondering exactly how it will end. Even though most of us already know…
45. The Queen of My Dreams (2023)
Say it with me: We need more queer films made by and for the BIPOC community! This 2023 film is one step in the right direction. The Queen of My Dreams follows a young Pakistani Canadian woman whose sexuality causes a strained relationship between her and her parents. After her father dies, she finds herself reliving memories, Bollywood style.
46. Jagged Mind (2023)
This psychological horror film will have you questioning just about everything. When Billie, a young artist, starts to experience unexplained blackouts and strange visions. Could this be related to the new woman she started dating?
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue