movies are really, really good. that’s something i found out recently. three years ago, i hardly watched any movies at all. if you asked me then, i would say i didn’t like them. that all changed when my hot boyfriend made me start watching more movies. now i love the crazy things. we watch at least one movie together every week, and sometimes mark special occasions by watching multiple movies in the same sitting. these are the best movies i watched with him in 2021.

(be sure to read dyl's top 10 list too, for complementary perspectives on many of the same movies.)


The Red Shoes (1948)
a classic tale of the "wizard story" genre, where a man who thinks his abilities make him important and powerful overreaches and destroys himself. the dancing was cool too! originally ranked #5, but demoted to make room for two very important entries i realized i missed when i compared lists with dyl.

Serial Mom (1994)
shared this with some friends over discord last spring in the first of what would become an irregular movie night, was extremely glad to see them enjoy it as much as i did. disqualified from the top 10 because it's a rewatch from 2019, but probably my top pick of the 2010-2020 period, in which i probably watched fewer movies than i did in 2021 alone

Columbo - Any Old Port in a Storm (1973)
episodes of television are typically not considered movies, but donald pleasence's embodiment of "the wine pervert" is so spotless, so committed, every bit as much as if they were making a movie. also it’s an hour and a half long. i loved it so much i made my boyfriend rewatch it with me a scant few days after first catching it on a zone nite (shoutout to the zone and their nites)

The Room (2003)
my first viewing was such a monumental experience i can hardly believe it was only 9 months ago. a really great bad movie to watch because it’s all meat: every single scene gives you something to raise your voice about - usually multiple! i don't understand how nobody stopped this movie from happening.

Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)
expected eye-rolling christmas romcom trash, got a surprisingly convincing argument for why a man would leave his rich fiancee for a proto-millennial slob who kidnapped him at gunpoint and forced him pose as her boyfriend to impress her shitty family. i kept waiting for it to disappoint me but it kept getting better, honestly as long as you can accept its premise it’s just a straightforwardly good movie


#10. Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

a lot of my favorite movie experiences with dyl have been watching dumb 90s action movies or dumb 90s keanu reeves movies. speed might be the fullest union of the two, but johnny mnemonic has a way funner and funnier cast and setting and visual imagination. watch this to be cleansed of any poison lingering in your body from the cyberpunk 2777 discourse

#9. Born in Flames (1983)

revolutionary left alt-history spec fic feels like something 90% of the people i know would have an immediate interest in seeing, and 20% of the people i know are probably working on anyway. well, here’s a great example of it being done 40 years ago, and with a ton of care, insight and vision. probably the movie off this list i’d most readily recommend

#8. Possession (1981)

a lot of the movies dyl and i watched were too nuts for me but this one was the most too nuts. i don't think it's right to try to say why it's good or interesting. some movies just live on as a tangled lump in your stomach that you'll never understand and that's ok.

#7. La Cage Aux Folles (1978)

this is a comedy made in 1978 about a nightclub owner and a drag queen from the south of france who’ve been in a messy but ultimately loving and secure relationship for 20 years. i have a lot of love for works that take gay perspectives and experiences as a given and build from there, without trying to make any of it palatable or legible for straight viewers. in those terms, la cage aux folles is actually a little humdrum, especially compared to some of the other queer films on this list, but that’s part of what’s special about it. that these escapades can feel so languid and ordinary underscores that, as much as our queer little world is weird and transgressive (especially to the union for moral order, but, importantly, to us too), at the same time, for those of us living inside it, it’s kinda just business as usual.

#6. The Lighthouse (2019)

i'm sure there's a deeper psychological current running underneath the two men's larger than life conflict and the cum and mermaids and wonky sense of time. the real brilliance of this movie is watching willem dafoe play a perfect caricature of a sea captain for 90 minutes. that's why it's good.

#5. Chocolate Babies (1996)

being gay (or anything) is a whole damn planet and straight art treats it like a far-off dot of light in the sky, if it acknowledges it at all. a lot of well-meaning queer art defies this, offering high res satellite images of the martian surface. it’s a beautiful planet, to be sure, but how much can you really tell about it from space? my favorite art shows us a view from down on the ground, occupying a specific position and orientation, just like us mars-dwellers do. no matter how beautiful the view from space is, the half of the planet that’s visible at any time can only be rendered in the broadest, flattest way, a romantic abstraction. yes, aerial photography has an essential place - but the heart of any world is level with its inhabitants, not looking down from the heavens. that’s the work that nourishes me the most as a martian, even if it’s about a part of the red planet i’ve never been to. chocolate babies, la cage aux folles, and born in flames are all set in different hemispheres, but squarely on martian soil, for an audience that doesn’t need an establishing shot to recognize their own planet. of the three, chocolate babies spoke to the biggest hunger in me

#4. Body Heat (1981)

man falls in love with a mysterious femme fatale who asks his help to murder her husband. is she really in love with him, or is he just a pawn in her perfect crime? i came for my favorite actor ms. kathleen turner but i stayed for the movie's devotion to making its classic noir story work out mechanically and dramatically, and for my favorite actor ms. kathleen turner

#3. Death in Venice (1971)

in my formative gay years i was consumed with hard, creeping desire that, i felt, would only end badly for both its object and myself if i were to act on it or even just admit it. in reality, probably not as explosive and damning as von aschenbach's in death and venice - but i still see the same longing isolation reflected with a depth and specificity i haven't seen elsewhere. i want to hug this sad, pathetic man as much as i want to drag him all the way back to germany by the scruff of his neck

#2. Joker (2019)

i think i expected this movie to take itself too seriously and be embarrassing to watch as a result. instead it feels like 75% the movie knows exactly how goofy it is and it’s duking it out with the quarter that wants to impress edgy depth. why so serious? i laughed and smiled the whole way through this dumb, delightful movie, but like point break last year i walked away convinced i was meant to. if not for a handful of "trying to be cool" music cues it'd be an a+ from me. look forward to my bootleg recut next birthday season
originally ranked #1, but upon comparing lists with dyl i realized it wasn’t even my #1 joker movie…

#1. Pink Flamingos (1972)

of course i love the joker, as we all do, but it’s plain to see that divine exceeds him in every way. everywhere he has gone, everything he has done, divine has been there, done that, and moved on to bigger things - and with the added benefit of a way funner supporting cast. i didn't expect the plot to center such a straightforward blood feud, but watching these violent freaks commit crimes back and forth against each other and against decency tickled my faggot heart from start to finish. the rightful claimant the title of clown prince of crime (thought it is beneath her), the exact opposite movie of death in venice, and the most cathartic of all the martian cinema i watched this year


  • American Psycho (2000)
  • Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
  • Body Heat (1981)
  • Born in Flames (1983)
  • Chocolate Babies (1996)
  • Death in Venice (1971)
  • Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)
  • Home Alone (1990)
  • Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
  • Joker (2019)
  • La Cage Aux Folles (1978)
  • My Dinner With Andre (1981)
  • My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
  • Pink Flamingos (1972)
  • Possession (1981)
  • Querelle (1982)
  • Spirited Away (2001)
  • Sidewalk Stories (1989)
  • The Lighthouse (2019)
  • The Red Shoes (1948)
  • The Thing (1982)

  • B-Tier
  • A Naija Christmas (2021)
  • Barbarella (1968)
  • Bandini (1963)
  • Blow Out (1991)
  • Candyman (1992)
  • Chameleon Street (1989)
  • Desert Hearts (1985)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
  • Face/Off (1997)
  • Freak Orlando (1981)
  • Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (2017)
  • Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
  • Madhumati (1958)
  • Milford Graves: Full Mantis (2018)
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1948)
  • Nausicaä (1984)
  • Near Dark (1987)
  • Phenomena (1985)
  • Pom Poko (1994)
  • Princess Mononoke (1997)
  • Speed (1992)
  • Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  • Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 1 (1968)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • Teorema (1968)
  • The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970)
  • The Family Man (2000)
  • The Room (2003)
  • The VVitch (2015)
  • Troll 2 (1990)

  • C-Tier
  • Apparition (2012)
  • Atlantics (2019)
  • Candyman (2021)
  • Close-Up (1990)
  • Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
  • Gohatto (1999)
  • Inside (2021)
  • Je ne me regrette rien (No regrets) (1992)
  • Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
  • Moonstruck (1987)
  • Paprika (2006)
  • Sonatine (1993)
  • Space is the Place (1974)
  • Storme: The Lady of the Jewel Box (1987)
  • Sweet Home (1989)
  • Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2 1/2 (2005)
  • The Celluloid Closet (1995)
  • The Killer (1989)
  • Tongues Untied (1989)

  • D-Tier
  • Deck the Halls (2006)
  • Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever (2014)
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
  • I'm No Angel (1933)