2023 already opened with a queer banger in Gerard Johnstone’s sci-fi horror flick M3GAN. But don’t worry: There are plenty of other non-cishet cinematic treats still in store for us in the remaining months of the year, as well as some hidden gems from the last few months that didn’t quite make as big a splash as they deserved.
From Gen Z comedies and period thrillers to moving documentaries and book adaptations, these new queer films from some of the most exciting directors today should be on your radar.
Blue Jean (February 10)
Georgia Oakley’s gorgeously shot directorial debut takes us back to 1988 in England, where Margaret Thatcher’s government is moving to pass a law stigmatizing gays and lesbians. Jean, a PE teacher, is feeling the pressure and finds herself in a crisis when she sees one of her students in her go-to gay bar.
The visuals capture the ‘80s pretty well, telling a story inspired by real-life lesbian teachers of the time. The vibes are, unfortunately, a little too 2023, which is why the film — with its treatment of the political and the personal, of queer joy and of the queer self — feels so very urgent.
Blue Jean premiered last year at the Venice Film Festival and hit UK cinemas in February. It deserves more than its quiet theatrical release, though, especially given Rosy McEwen’s engrossing performance as Jean.
Joy Ride (July 7)
Joy Ride’s raunchy, outrageous storyline is based on a sweet chance meeting back in 1998, when Lolo meets Audrey at the playground. When a grown-up Audrey decides to travel to China to find her birth mother, Lolo insists on going with her, and they are joined by Audrey’s former college roommate Kat and Lolo’s eccentric cousin Deadeye.
The film is Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim’s directorial debut, and it’s looking to be a hilariously explosive one.
Stephanie Hsu, the breakout star of Everything Everywhere All At Once and a queer icon, follows up her Academy Award nomination with this film, joining bisexual comedian Sherry Cola (Good Trouble) and nonbinary comedian Sabrina Wu in Cinemacon’s Comedy Ensemble of the Year.
Kokomo City (July 28)
Kokomo City is another stunning directorial debut, this time by two-time Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer D. Smith.
The raw documentary, which Smith directed, produced, and edited, explores the lives of four transgender sex workers in New York and Georgia. It’s shot in stark black and white and sheds an unflinching light on sex work and Black culture. Lena Waithe, who’s worked on the likes of Ready Player One and Master of None, executive produced.
Kokomo City premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and received the NEXT Innovator Award.
Bottoms (August 25)
From the producers of Pitch Perfect comes Emma Seligman’s sophomore film Bottoms, a hilarious R-rated teen lesbian comedy about two unpopular queer girls who start a fight club in hopes of hooking up with hot cheerleaders.
It’s a movie that feels like a love child between Fight Club and Booksmart, only even hornier and bloodier. The cast is anchored by comedic duo Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri and includes Havana Rose Liu, Kaia Gerber, Ruby Cruz, Dagmara Domińczyk, Nicholas Galitzine, and Marshawn Lynch in supporting roles.
Bottoms headlined the 2023 SXSW film festival in March and is one of the most anticipated comedies of the year.
Drive-Away Dolls (September 22)
There’s no trailer yet for Ethan Coen’s Drive-Away Dolls, but what we do know about it is enough to warrant a place on our must-watch list for the year.
The comedy film follows Jamie, a free spirit fresh from yet another breakup, and Marian, who’s a bit more demure and needs to loosen up. The two friends decide to go on an impromptu road trip to Tallahassee in search of a fresh start, but they end up crossing paths with a group of hilariously bad criminals along the way.
The Drive-Away Dolls cast is pretty impressive: Set to star are Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein, Pedro Pascal, Colman Domingo, Bill Camp, Matt Damon, and Joey Slotnick.
The iconic Anne Hathaway takes a risk alongside Thomasin McKenzie in William Oldroyd’s period thriller Eileen, based on the book of the same name by Ottessa Moshfegh.
The film tells the story of Eileen (McKenzie), a secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys in 1960s Boston. She isn’t entirely happy with her life, but things change when she meets Rebecca (Hathaway). Eileen is instantly drawn to her, not knowing the danger lurking behind Rebecca’s captivating eyes.
Hathaway has described the project as a cross between Carol and Reservoir Dogs, and the risk has thus far paid off: Eileen garnered a lot of praise at its Sundance Film Festival premiere last January. Neon acquired the rights to the film in March and is set to get it to theaters in late 2023.
Egghead and Twinkie (TBA)
In Sarah Kambe Holland’s coming-of-age film, Twinkie and her best friend Egghead are going on a road trip. And it’s not just any old trip: They’ve set out to meet B.D. (short for Big Dyke on Instagram), who is the woman of Twinkie’s dreams.
The film is very queer and very Gen Z but with more than a few nods to classics like Scott Pilgrim vs the World. It’s also the first feature to be successfully crowdfunded on TikTok — giving a 2023 twist to the rich history of queer microbudget productions.
Though Egghead and Twinkie was first screened for attendees of the BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival in March, the rest of us are still waiting for a proper theatrical release.
National Anthem (TBA)
National Anthem is Luke Gilford’s debut feature-length film and is another well-received title at the SXSW Film Festival last March.
Starring Charlie Plummer, Eve Lindley, Mason Alexander Park, Rene Rosado, and Robyn Lively, the film follows Dylan (Plummer), a 21-year-old construction worker in rural New Mexico, whose life is changed when he joins a community of queer ranchers and rodeo performers.
The film is really all about family, with Gilford drawing from his own roots and finding his own community. He describes the film as “a love story, but also a Western for the new world.”
In writer-director Vuk Lungulov-Klotz’s feature debut Mutt, Feña is having a truly hectic 24 hours in New York. He’s already dealing with an apartment lockout and an injury, but he also comes face-to-face with three people with whom he’s lost touch since his recent gender transition.
The film tackles the complexity of not just post-transition adjustment but also Latinx life. It helps that both Lungulov-Klotz and star Lío Mehiel are both trans men, and are well aware of the in-betweenness of cultures, sexualities, and identities explored in the film.
Mehiel went on to win the special jury award for acting at Sundance last January, and the film was picked up by Strand Releasing in April.