Film is as much about confrontation with reality, or possible reality, as much as it can be about escapism. And in a year like this one, balancing those two approaches has made certain films, particularly within the realm of queer cinema, both more timely and timeless. Queerness will always be seen, to some degree, as other and as non-normative, and cinema can capture the beauty and complexity of that experience in various ways, capable of conveying breathless love and liveliness as well as longing, tragedy, and action.
However, one film is conspicuously missing from this list. Sorry, peach fiends, Luca Guadagnino’s much-lauded queer film du jour Call Me by Your Name, is not on this list, because, well, I didn’t particularly like it. It’s fine. You can even read why here. And here. I’m glad it exists. But I think while that film is all well and good, it feels strikingly apolitical, and its languorous summery quality is more like the cover of a paperback romance than something with a tactile sense of eroticism. And while I don’t discourage people from seeing it, I do think 2017 had a bevy of queer cinema worth watching that exists beyond Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet’s swim trunks.
In cinema, queerness can look like things other than explicitly LGBTQ characters: it can take shape as camp (or the deconstruction of it), persona swapping, or an exploration of toxic masculinity. From quasi-silent movies to tennis matches, from social media stalkers to sex parties, and from farmers to fish twunks, the best queer films of 2017 are emotionally, aesthetically, and politically engaging, representative of how subversive, exciting, and complicated queerness can be.