Cinema is an effective medium to convey a message and break the social taboos. The visual aesthetics, along with the literary elements, the narrative, sound and editing, help films create experiences that go beyond the story-lines and plots. But a good story-line is the basic requirement for any film. Over the years, we’ve seen several films about the injustice done towards certain section of people in the society. The LGBT community first comes to mind when you think of those movies.
Directed by Kimberly Peirce and co-written by Andy Bienen and Peirce, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ is a biographical film about a trans man, Teena Brandon, who adopted his male identity of Brandon Teena in Nebraska. The film stars Hillary Swank who gives one of her career-best performances and won the Academy Award for “Best Actress”. The film is hard hitting, realistic and gut-wrenching. It was an important piece of work that told a true story in an unapologetic manner.
For this article, I have taken into account films that explore similar subject matter. They may not have the same story-lines but are all thematically or stylistically similar to this 90s classic. Here’s the list of best movies similar to ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
10. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)
‘To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar’ follows three drag queens — played by Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo — who embark on a road trip. Directed by Beeban Kidron and written by Douglas Beane, the film is quite a fun piece to watch. ‘To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar’ released on September 8, 1995, and received moderate reviews. The movie holds a rating of 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
9. A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story (2006)
Directed by Agnieszka Holland and written by Shelley Evans, ‘A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story’ is an LGBT biographical film about the titular Gwen Araujo, a young transgender who was murdered after associates discovered that she had male genitalia in 2002. A made for television film, ‘A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story’ is quite a hard-hitting story which explores a variety of themes and issues surrounding the transgender community. The narrative is complemented by the performance of J. D. Pardo, who brings in the innate emotionality of the tormented teenager with balance and substance.
8. Boy Meets Girl (2014)
A romantic comedy, ‘Boy Meets Girl’ is a compassionate tale of Ricky Jones, a transgender woman living in a small town in Kentucky who is in a journey looking for love. Written and directed by Eric Schaeffer, the film is a comedic and light-hearted take on expressing the emotions of the transgender community. While the other films on the list are hard-hitting dramas with depressive narrative techniques, ‘Boys Meets Girl’ utilizes its genre to its best potential to engage into a dialogue with the audience. The leads Michelle Hendley, who plays the role of the 21-year-old Ricky Jones, and Michael Welch, who plays the 21-year-old Robby Riley, are the soul of the film without whom the charm of romance and comedy would not work at all.
7. Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
Adapted from Argentine author Manuel Puig’s ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’, published in 1976, the drama film centres on a homosexual and a political prisoner who share a prison cell. The film follows the gay man as he narrates the stories of two fake movies. The setting of the film helps the director craft an intrinsic narrative which provides a microscopic view of the expressive functionality. Sonia Braga, who dons on the role of the titular “Spider Woman”, provides strong insight into the character through her subtle yet immensely expressive performance. The film received positive reviews and has scored a rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. Soldier’s Girl (2003)
A Canadian American drama, ‘Soldier’s Girl’ is the story of a young soldier who falls in love with a transsexual night club performer. However, what he does not know are the consequences he has to face for falling in love, which is essentially a social taboo. ‘Soldier’s Girl’ premiered in Sundance Film Festival and received positive reviews. American Film Institute listed the film in the list of “The Ten Best Television Programs of the Year” in 2003. In addition, the film also received a couple of nominations at the Emmys, Gotham Awards and the Satellite Awards, to name a few.
5. The Danish Girl (2015)
A romantic biographical drama, ‘The Danish Girl’ follows the story of Danish artist Lili Elbe who became the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery and thus emerged as a transgender pioneer. ‘The Danish Girl’ is perhaps the most famous work which explored the LGBTQ community. The film is led by the unforgettable performance of Eddie Redmayne, who perfectly captures the emotional turmoil and identity crisis with astonishing compassion. He won his second Academy Award nomination for the performance. Since its release, many critics have considered the film one of the most important artistic works of our time due to its subject matter. In addition to the brilliant performance of Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, who played Elbe’s conflicted wife, went on to win the Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress”.
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4. A Fantastic Woman (2017)
Directed by Sebastián Lelio and co-written by Sebastián Lelio and Gonzalo Maza, ‘A Fantastic Woman’ is the story of Marina, a transgender woman who works as a waitress and moonlights as a nightclub singer. Winning the Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film”, ‘A Fantastic Woman’ is a hard-hitting tale which explores the unfortunate social taboo that plagues the transgender community. The film won rave reviews at film festivals and was immensely appreciated by the LGBTQ community. ‘A Fantastic Woman’ holds a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and an average score of 86 out of 100 on Metacritic.
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3. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
A musical comedy-drama, ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ stars John Cameron Mitchell as Hansel Schmidt, a transgender punk-rock girl from East Berlin. The film follows her as she tours the U.S. with her band, tells her life story and follows the former lover and band-mate who stole her songs. Written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell himself, the film is a borderline bizarre piece of work. This might be the reason for its commercial failure, as it grossed merely $3.6 million against a budget of $6 million. However, though the film was a commercial failure, ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ was immensely appreciated by critics for the humour, the narrative, the direction and the performances, and has a score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. In addition, the movie also bagged the “Best Feature Film” award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
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2. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
An Australian comedy-drama, ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ follows two drag performers and a transgender woman, who travel across the desert to perform their unique and seemingly exceptional style of cabaret. Written and directed by Australian filmmaker Stephan Elliott, the film is steered into comedic territories by Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce who essay the parts of the drag queens and Terence Stamp, who plays the role of the transgender. A surprise hit at the box office, it was one of the first films to represent the LGBT people to the mainstream audience. On Rotten Tomatoes, ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ has a rating of 95%.
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1. All About My Mother (1999)
A recipient of the Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film”, ‘All About My Mother’ is a fascinating piece of work that explores a variety of themes such as AIDS, homosexuality, transsexualism, faith, and existentialism. The writing is brilliant and like all Almodovar films, we can never forget the characters. The film received high praise from critics and is often regarded as one of the Spanish maestro’s greatest works.
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