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The best queer movies of 2022: Revisiting our favorite performances, romances, and more

Image credits (Clockwise from top left): ‘The Inspection’/A24, ‘Anything’s Possible’/Amazon Studios, ‘Bros’/Universal, ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once,’/A24 | (center) ‘Fire Island‘/Searchlight

2022 really feels like the year the gays finally found their way into every corner of cinema.

Historically speaking, queer film was something that was looked at as niche, as indie, as a genre all its own. But, over the past 12 months, we’ve seen LGBTQ+ characters and stories pop up everywhere. We were at the center of big-budget studio rom-coms, prestige Oscar hopefuls, animated family fare, coming-of-age stories, horror movies, whodunits, and even a multiverse-hopping metaphysical mindf*ck—no single genre can contain us!

To celebrate the year that was, Queerty is eschewing a traditional ranking and handing out superlatives for our favorite queer (and queer-adjacent) features, highlighting the best, brightest, funniest, sexiest, and most surprising films of 2022. So read on, because these are the performances, movies, and moments we’ll still be talking about for years to come.

Best Performance: Jeremy Pope in The Inspection

After catching our eye with roles in Hollywood and Pose, Jeremy Pope gets the film showcase he’s long deserved in this harrowing boot camp drama. In nearly every frame of the film, Pope keeps us locked into the affecting journey of a gay Marine recruit who faces homophobia not just in training, but also at home from his own mother who previously kicked him to the street. Equally powerful and vulnerable, it’s a true tour de force from one of our favorite rising stars. The Inspection is currently playing in select theaters.

Best Ensemble: Fire Island

They say that no man is an island, much in the same way that no gay’s trip to Fire Island is complete without the company of their chosen family. Thankfully, Fire Island assembled one hell of a group for the summer’s best romp: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Matt Rogers, Tomás Matos, Torian Miller, and Margaret Cho. Not only does the cast chemistry sparkle with a lived-in mutual affection, but everyone gets their own chance to shine and win you over. And that’s to say nothing of Conrad Ricamora, James Scully, Nick Adams, and Zane Phillips, who all bring the charm even when their characters aren’t being so nice. We’d hit The Pines with them in a heartbeat. Streaming on Hulu.

Related: Get to know ‘Fire Island’ breakout star Tomás Matos, the “Staten Island Fairy”

Best Sex Scene: Spoiler Alert

We don’t mean to be facetious here, but this romance brings a whole new meaning to the term “tear-jerker.” Late in the film’s run, Michael (Jim Parsons) takes his cancer-stricken partner Kit (Ben Aldridge) on a beach house getaway. There, in a rare moment alone, the two engage in some mutual masturbation. And, honestly?  It’s one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking, authentic, and unabashedly gay love scenes ever committed to film. Spoiler Alert is currently playing in select theaters.

Best Romance: RRR

One of the surprise global hits of the year has been Indian epic RRR, about the (fictional) friendship and adventures of two (real-life) folk heroes, Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Konidela Ram Charan). Watch them fight side-by-side, watch them sing and dance, watch them stare deeply into each other’s eyes—and just try to tell us these two aren’t madly in love! We’re pretty sure the third “R” in RRR stands for “romance.” Streaming on Netflix.

Related: The debate over whether the homoerotic epic ‘RRR’ is a “gay love story” rages on

Best/Worst Daddy: Lydia Tár in Tár

Say what you will about Lydia Tár—the controversial composer played by Cate Blanchett—but the minute she walked up to her daughter’s pre-teen bully and intimidatingly introduced herself as “Petra’s father,” she solidified herself as one of the great dom daddies of cinema history. Problematic? Maybe so. And yet we have no choice but to stan this EGOT-winning “U-Haul lesbian” (as she calls herself). Available for rental/purchase via VOD and digital platforms.

Funniest Scene: Bros‘ Accidental Four-way

With all the headlines about Bros‘ historical importance and box office shortcomings this year, let’s not forget that Billy Eichner‘s big, gay rom-com was very, very funny—an all-too-rare studio comedy for adults that made the most of its R-rating. Look no further than the riotous and raunchy hookup scene, which saw newly “open” couple Bobby (Eichner) and Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) welcoming a third into the bedroom… only to reluctantly bring along an overeager fourth in the process. Streaming on Peacock.

Sweetest Moment: The Rock Sequence in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Even in a film of boundless imagination, multiverse-jumping, and sex-toy fight scenes, Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s standout moment is its quietest. The strained relationship between Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and her queer daughter Joy (Stephanei Hsu) is the film’s sneaky emotional crux, reaching a crucial breakthrough of understanding when they suddenly appear in a universe of rocks. With nothing but sediment and sentiment, Evelyn begins to realize how alike she and her daughter really are, and how silly she’s been for pushing her away. Streaming via Showtime. Available for rental/purchase via VOD and digital platforms.

Best Film Debut: Eva Reign in Anything’s Possible

If there’s any justice in the world, Eva Reign will be lining up roles in dramas, superhero movies, and plenty more rom-coms after her winning feature film debut in Anything’s Possible as ambitious high school student Kelsa. Billy Porter’s modern, trans coming-of-age story sings thanks to her natural charm, making Kelsa the kind of dreamer anyone can relate to, while establishing Reign as a one-of-a-kind talent. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Related: Billy Porter and Eva Reign discuss the ‘Anything’s Possible’ scene that left production divided

Steamiest Man-On-Man Action: The Northman

So long as you don’t mind a little blood, this historical action-drama is worth a watch based on ab screen time alone, due in no small part to Alexander Skarsgård’s committed and frequently shirtless performance as an avenging Viking prince. In its nail-biting climax, he goes toe-to-toe with his conniving uncle (a hulking Claes Bang) in a brutal brawl atop an active volcano—and for some reason they’re both butt-naked? Not that we’re complaining! Streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Available for rental/purchase via VOD and digital platforms.

Best Biopic: Benediction

Gay war-time poet Siegfried Sassoon rose to prominence at a time when homosexuality was illegal, and his emotional inner turmoil is carefully portrayed in this sensitive and stirring biopic from acclaimed filmmaker Terence Davies. But Benediction also shows us that Sassoon wasn’t alone, offering glimpses into a world behind closed doors, where gay men found a sense of community even if it had to be out of the public eye. The result is a film that’s both a beautiful character study and an eye-opening history lesson. Streaming via Hulu. Available for rental/purchase via VOD and digital platforms.

Related: Before Stonewall: 9 must-see queer period pieces set in the mid-20th century

Most Homoerotic Moment: Beach Football in Top Gun: Maverick

How can one possibly top Top Gun‘s iconic beach volleyball montage, in which the camera lovingly ogles sweaty, shirtless male bodies to the tune of Kenny Loggins’ “Playing With The Boys”? Well, you can’t. But its 36-year-later sequel sure did try, delivering a back-lit beach football scene with plenty of bouncing pectorals and physical contact. If only they’d just used “Playing With The Boys” again! Available for rental/purchase via VOD and digital platforms.

Best Anthropomorphic Queer Hero: Marcel The Shell

A teeny-tiny shell with a giant heart, internet favorite Marcel The Shell With Shoes On headlined his own movie this summer, and it wound up being one of the silliest and sweetest indie hits of the year. Behind the hilarious visual gags and adorable animation was a touching story of resilience and carving a place out for yourself in an often times unforgiving world that should strike a chord with LGBTQ+ audiences in these trying times. Available for rental/purchase via VOD and digital platforms.

Related: Marcel The Shell is the tiny queer icon we need right now

Best Boyfriend Reveal: Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

We knew there had to be a reason we were so drawn to world-famous detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). And, it turns out, it’s because he’s family! As Knives Out filmmaker Rian Johnson confirmed earlier this year, Blanc is “obviously” queer, and a scene in the crowd-pleasing whodunnit Glass Onion even gives us a glimpse into his home life, introducing us to his partner, played by none other than…. Well, we won’t spoil that fun here. Streaming on Netflix beginning December 23.

Most Unforgettable Musical Moment: “F*ckin’ Perfect” in They/Them

It’s our duty to remind you that They/Them—which set a classic summer-camp slasher at a conversion retreat—inexplicably features a full-blown musical number wherein the campers earnestly sing along to Pink’s 2010 single, “F*ckin’ Perfect.” (No shade to Pink, but who really knows all the lyrics to that song?) Yes, this horror movie fully stopped and became Glee for a second. Not to throw a loaded term like “camp” around all willy-nilly but, baby, that‘s camp! Streaming on Peacock.

Best Multi-hyphenate Showcase: Troye Sivan in Three Months

Troye Sivan was an actor long before he was a pop star, but it’s been a few years since he’s had a leading role outside of his own music videos, which makes his performance in this coming-of-age dramedy all the more surprising. He’s a natural as a recent high school graduate waiting on his HIV test results, projecting both a youthful confidence and a weary uncertainty. And, lest you forget he’s also a great musician, he delivered two fantastic original songs for the film, too (“Wait” and “Trouble“). Streaming on Paramount+.

Related: Director Jared Frieder is changing the narrative around queer sex, shame, and HIV

Best Villain: Jamie Clayton’s Pinhead in Hellraiser

After years of queer-coded villains (looking at you, Disney), we’re now in an era of complex, nuanced LGBTQ+ characters who exist all over the morality map, and there may be no better example of that this year than trans actress Jamie Clayton’s chilling take on Pinhead. The “Priest” of the long-running horror franchise gets a clever re-vamp, and Clayton makes an indelible mark as the demon, haunting and blood-thirsty, but also not entirely unreasonable? It’s complicated, and we like it that way. Streaming on Hulu.

Related: Moving Beyond the ‘Bury Your Gays’ Trope: Reclaiming Queerness in Horror Films

Most Quotable: Bodies Bodies Bodies

Bodies Bodies Bodies is technically a horror-whodunit, where partygoers are mysteriously picked off one by one, but the movie’s sharpest weapons are its words. As delivered by a killer cast (including Amandla Stenberg, Lee Pace, and Rachel Sennott), the dialogue is cutting, withering, and laugh-out-loud funny, proving that nobody can hurt you quite the same way a friend can. And we mean that literally in this case. Available for rental/purchase via VOD and digital platforms.

Best Ass: (TIE) Banshees Of Inisherin and EO

Okay, please don’t be mad—we just couldn’t resist the easy pun. But, seriously, how wild is it that we have not one but two award-worthy donkey performances this year. The former is a pitch-black dramedy and the latter is a cross-continental road trip movie (of sorts), and both just so happen to feature performances from asses that will steal your heart. Banshees Of Inisherin is streaming on HBO Max. EO is now playing in select theaters.

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