Best and Worst Gay Films of 2010

Taking the good with the bad. By Gary M. Kramer

The best/worst films of the year? That’s always such a subjective question. How about the best bodies of work?

Best Queer Film: I am still howling about Howl, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s intriguing, ambitious and intimate biopic of Allen Ginsberg (played by James Franco, who was everywhere this year). Not only is this film a fascinating portrait of the gay man’s coming of age and development as a writer, but it features splendid animation, a dynamic court case about free speech and homosexual expression, and period details that captured the spirit of the 1950s and 60s (now out on DVD).

Best Queer Character: In 44 Inch Chest, Ian McShane is damn seductive as Meredith, the dandy gangster who kidnaps hottie Melvil Poupaud. He stole this actors’ showcase from an all-star cast of Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt, Ray Winstone and Stephen Dilllane. And lucky Ian even got a love scene with the delectable (and nude) Ramon Christian, who was identified in the credits simply as “Boy on Sofa.”

Best Female Body: Even if A Marine Story wasn’t the best lesbian film this year, queer-friendly actress Dreya Weber wins for best body, hands down. Her rock-hard abs match her character’s hard-headed attitude as a marine discharged for lesbian conduct. And with DADT making headlines, the timing of this fine film (out on DVD in March) couldn’t be better.

Best Male Body: It wasn’t a queer film, but Edgar Ramirez is captivating in Carlos. Sure, he is menacing as a terrorist taking hostages on an airplane, and he is incredibly sympathetic as a bloated has-been with testicle issues, but seeing the sleek, sexy Ramirez stare at his nude body in the mirror was possibly the most hypnotic (and gay) moment in this mesmerizing (five-hour) film.

Best Chest: Philadelphia-born Volkan Eryanman barely wore a shirt in Taqwacores, a fun, lesser-known feature about Islamic punks that includes several LGBT characters.

Best Male Buns: Burlesque wasn’t bad – which was actually disappointing since I wanted it to be the next Showgirls. I’d see it again just to ogle Cam Gigandet’s adorable bare derriere.

Best Bisexual: If Noomi Rapace in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy doesn’t appeal to you, you don’t have a pulse.

Best Film You Missed: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was a quirky, queer-friendly cult film that never found its audience – and it deserved to. This is definitely one of the sleepers of the year.

Best Queer Family Film: As good as The Kids Are All Right was – and it was plenty good – Off and Running, Nicole Opper’s story of an adopted African-American teen with lesbian moms searching for her birth mother, was the most remarkable film about queer families this year (now out on DVD).

Most Homoerotic Film: Jackass 3D has those merry pranksters doing gleefully naughty things with their bodies. I laughed. I cringed. I threw up in my mouth a little.

Best Queer Debut: Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s Easier With Practice is an odd indie that shows the out writer/director’s considerable promise. It’s tough to discuss what makes his film so good without spoiling things, so just take my word for it.

Worst Gay Character: Mario Van Peebles isn’t bad playing the gay best friend to Timothy Hutton in the shouldn’t-be-seen Multiple Sarcasms, but hearing him discuss a vagina with disgust was just too much.

Worst Missed Opportunity: Surely there is a fascinating film to be had about gay Neo-Nazis in love, but oh, brother, Brotherhood wasn’t it. This contrived Danish melodrama featured the very hunky David Dencik, but even his sexy presence failed to make the choice of gay love vs. skinhead loyalty credible or even palpable.

Worst Gay Couple: While the idea of Eric Dane and Bradley Cooper as lovers is appealing, Valentine’s Day kept these guys apart for 125 minutes. A box of half-eaten chocolate and wilted flowers are more desirable than this Garry Marshall film.

Worst Bisexual: Mena Suvari gives arguably the year’s worst performance in Hemingway’s Garden of Eden (now on VOD). The actress spits out her atrocious dialogue badly and her same-sex love scenes happen off screen.

Worst Queer Twist: It’s a spoiler to say that the three-character crime film The Disappearance of Alice Creed has a queer twist, given that two men (Eddie  Marsden and Martin Compston) kidnap the title character (Gemma Arterton). But this well-made film is worth a look, and not just because of Compston’s impressive nudity while handcuffed.

Gary M. Kramer is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and film critic. He is the author of Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews (Southern Tier Editions, 2006).