Top 12 Best Lesbian Movies of All Time

Lesbian Movies & TV

Growing up, Poppy and I would each secretly scour the internet to watch any lesbian movie that we could find. We wanted more than anything, to see others in movies and TV who looked like us, thought like us, and lived lives that we one day hoped to live.

Whenever we came across a lesbian movie with a happy ending–which was very rare (see our comic titled "Lesbian Movies")–we would watch and re-watch that movie until we memorized almost every scene. When we first met each other, we both quickly discovered that we loved the same movies and have since spent many weekends and "Netflix and chill" nights adding to our growing list and put together our favorites below.

Summary of our Top 12 Best Lesbian Movies

1. Saving Face

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What this movie is about:  A Chinese-American lesbian and her traditionalist mother are reluctant to go public with secret loves that clash against cultural expectations.

What we like about it: A heartfelt story that touches upon so many topics: love, coming out, mother-daughter relationship, the clash between Asian & American culture, community and filial piety vs. individuality and freedom. Saving Face was a rare gem for its time and even today, there hasn't been another movie quite like this.

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes!

Watch it here.

2. The Handmaiden

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What this movie is about:  A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in an elaborate plot devised by a Korean con man to seduce and defraud the heiress.

What we like about it: A griping storyline with lots of plot twisters coupled with excellent acting and great execution. This lesbian movie will have you believing that there will be a tragic ending, but you'll be pleasantly surprised at the end.

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes!

Watch it here.

3. Carol

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What this movie is about: A young aspiring photographer, Therese (Rooney Mara) develops an intimate relationship with a beautiful older woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett) in 1950s New York. As their bond deepens, things become more complicated when Carol decides to leave her husband. Based on an adaptation of the novel "The Price of Salt" by Patricia Highsmith.

What we like about it: Strong cast, beautiful cinematography, and intricate storytelling that culminates with a happy ending. It's no wonder that Carol was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara being nominated for best actress and best supporting actress respectively.

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes!

Watch it here.

4. Kiss Me

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What this movie is about: A young woman engaged to be married finds herself falling in love with her soon-to-be stepmother's lesbian daughter.

What we like about it: It's a captivating love story that has you rooting for both lesbian characters to end up together as they both struggle to deal with their feelings for each other and the consequences that follow. The acting and cinematography are great.

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes!

Watch it here.

5. I Can't Think Straight

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What this movie is about: Tala, a London-based Jordanian, prepares for an elaborate wedding with her Palestinian fiancé, when she encounters Leyla, a young British Indian woman who is dating her best friend, Ali. Spirited Christian Tala and shy Muslim Leyla could not be more different from each other but the attraction is immediate and soon both women reveal their feelings for each other.

What we like about it: It's a classic lesbian rom-com that comes with all the feel good and cheesy romance that you crave and long for. While the acting falls short of an Academy Award, the movie does a great job portraying the cultural tensions and family expectations the two women face as they struggle to come out to their families and live their lives openly. 

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes!

Watch it here.

6. Debs

best-lesbian-movie-of-all-time-debs

What this movie is about: Plaid-skirted schoolgirls are groomed by a secret government agency to become the newest members of the elite national-defense group, D.E.B.S. but their leader and star agent falls in love with the villain that she is supposed to take down. 

What we like about it: This movie is fun, light-hearted, and playful. While some of the action scenes are more silly than believable, the two main actresses have great chemistry and it's one of those lesbian movies that you can watch again and again.

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes!

Watch it here.

7. The Firefly

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What this movie is about: Following the sudden death of her estranged brother, Lucia finds comfort through her brother's fiancée, Mariana. Though strangers at first, the two women slowly bond over their loss, sharing memories and stories of the man they both loved. Eventually, they fall in love and Lucia finds herself at a crossroad. She must choose whether to return to her old life with her husband or embark on a new journey with her new found love.

What we like about it: One of the more unique and original storylines that we've come across for a lesbian movie. Though the movie is centered around a man both women loved, the plot evolves to beautifully capture the feelings of love, loss and new beginnings.

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes!

Watch it here.

8. Disobedience

best-lesbian-movie-of-all-time-disobedience

What this movie is about: A woman returns to her Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her for her attraction to a female childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.

What we like about it: Thought-provoking plot featuring a great cast. The romantic buildup between two the characters played by Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams are captivating yet nuanced. Both actresses have great chemistry. Disobedience is certainly not a light-hearted movie, but it does a great job of tackling the line between religion and sexuality. 

Happy Ending? ⛅️Kinda 

Watch it here.

9. Battle of the Sexes

best-lesbian-movie-of-all-time-battle-of-the-sexes

What this movie is about: In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women's movement, the movie is based on the 1973 tennis match between women's world champion Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-men's-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell)–one of the most watched televised sports events of all time. King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett developed.

What we like about it: This empowering movie made you feel good about being a woman, being gay, and being a badass. We also love that it's based on a true story and real-life icon.

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes! 

Watch it here.

10. Blue is the Warmest Color

best-lesbian-movie-of-all-time-blue-is-the-warmest-color

What this movie is about: Adèle's life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire and to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adèle grows, seeks herself, loses herself, and ultimately finds herself again.

What we like about it: Both a coming of age and coming out story that beautifully illustrates the experience of falling in love and discovering yourself for the first time and subsequently the pain and heartbreak of breaking up with your first love.

Happy Ending? 🌧Not really 

Watch it here.

11. Imagine Me & You

best-lesbian-movie-of-all-time-imagine-me-and-you

What this movie is about: Rachel is getting ready to marry Hector ('Heck'), her longtime boyfriend. While working on the wedding preparations, she meets Luce, the wedding's florist and unexpectedly falls in love with her. She begins to question her sexual orientation and tries to brush off her feelings only to have them grow stronger for Luce.

What we like about it: It's a funny, fresh, and light-hearted romantic comedy about "love at first sight" and features a happy ending.

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes!

Watch it here.

12. But I'm a Cheerleader

best-lesbian-movie-of-all-time-but-I'm-a-cheerleader

What this movie is about: A confident and opinionated teenager, Megan, is sent to rehab camp when her straitlaced parents and friends suspect her of being a lesbian. Soon Megan meets the equally defiant Graham, and the two form a fast friendship. 

What we like about it: This movie does a good job of making light of the fact that being gay can be changed through rehab. Though it came out at the beginning of the century, it's message and story is still very relevant today. Parts of the movie make you feel like you're living in a dystopian, yet realistic world.

Happy Ending? 🌈Yes!

Watch it here.

How we rated each movie across 5 categories:

While this list reflects our own preferences, we tried to create a set of criteria and rating system that would be applicable to any lesbian movie. 

1. Ending (40%) - The most important thing we care about in any lesbian movie is whether it has a happy ending (i.e. the lesbian characters don't die tragically or unnecessarily). 

2. Execution (10%) - How were the acting and cinematography? Did it help bring together and enhance the storyline?

3. Character Development (10%) - Are the characters likable and how did they grow/develop over time?

4. Storyline (20%) - Is it interesting, unique, original, and/or thought-provoking?

5. Romance (20%) - How much interaction and romance is there between the lesbian characters?

Total Weighted Score = Sum of the scores across the five categories

Check out our ratings of the top 12 list of lesbian movies below:

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What are your favorite lesbian movies of all time? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Tonton on

    I watched some of these movies. I really enjoyed “Imagine Me & You” which was the first “lesbian movie” I watched and I really enjoyed the characters (the girls and Heck!). I liked “The Handmaiden” too but was horrified by the torture scene before the ending… 😱
    However, I don’t think I liked “Blue is the Warmest Color” (which is called “La vie d’Adèle” in French). I read the comic before watching the movie and the movie was a huge disappointment for me. The comic’s name is “Le bleu est une couleur chaude” and I think it is available in English! I found it on Amazon if you want to read it (if you haven’t already!) : https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Warmest-Color-Julie-Maroh/dp/1551525143/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=Blue+Is+the+Warmest+Color&qid=1595877620&sr=8-5
    But the story is even sadder in the comic… 😞 That’s a beautiful story though.

  • Eva on

    Great post. Saving Face is definitely my all time favorite every once a while I would watch it again and again. Alice Wu rocks!!!


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