The best queer movies to watch this Pride Month, including 'Power of the Dog' and 'Fire Island'

Pride Month is nearly over, but it’s not too late to catch up on the very best of queer cinema.

LGBTQ+ characters have been at the forefront of movies this past year: In March, darkly sensuous Western “The Power of the Dog” and family adventure “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” (both streaming on Netflix) contended at the Oscars, where the former won best director (Jane Campion). Meanwhile, on Hulu, “Flee” told the harrowing true story of a gay Afghan refugee, while “Titane” was a shocking – and shockingly emotional – exploration of gender fluidity.

Queer rom-coms are everywhere, too: Joel Kim Booster's Jane Austen riff "Fire Island" is streaming on Hulu, while Billy Porter ("Anything's Possible") and Billy Eichner ("Bros") will put their spins on the genre this summer and fall.

We rounded up 15 more of the greatest queer movies of the 21st century, all of which you can watch now:

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15. 'Other People' (2016)

A criminally underseen dramedy from "Saturday Night Live" writer Chris Kelly, co-creator of Comedy Central's brilliantly subversive "The Other Two." David (Jesse Plemons) is a gay comedy writer going through a breakup who moves home to take care of his cancer-stricken mother (a never-better Molly Shannon). "Other People" explores grief and love with acerbic humor, gentle pathos and scene-stealing turns from John Early and Josie Totah. It's also a touching story about acceptance, as David struggles with his conservative father's (Bradley Whitford) refusal to acknowledge his sexuality.

Streaming on Netflix

14. 'Sauvage / Wild' (2019)

A visceral and surprisingly tender window into the life of a young gay prostitute (Félix Maritaud). Filmmaker Camille Vidal-Naquet's human approach is still sadly rare for a movie about sex work, refusing to cast judgment on his reckless protagonist as he jumps between nightclubs and backwoods cruising for men. Although the film may be too grim and unsentimental for some, Vidal-Naquet manages to find striking moments of intimate connection, and the feral final shot will stick with you for weeks.

Streaming on Amazon Prime (with Strand Releasing free trial)

13. 'The Handmaiden' (2016)

A stylish thriller from South Korean director Park Chan-wook ("Oldboy"), about a young Korean grifter (Kim Min-hee) hired to scam a Japanese heiress (Kim Min-hee) out of her inheritance. The less you know the better about this sexy, darkly funny movie, which has plenty of gasp-worthy twists and a surprising female empowerment story.

Streaming on Amazon Prime

12. 'The World to Come' (2021)

What will it take for Hollywood to give lesbians some electricity? With the back-to-back releases of "Portrait of a Lady on Fire," "Ammonite" and now "The World to Come," some on social media have expressed frustration that so many queer love stories center on stifled white women in the past. They’re valid concerns, but also shouldn’t dissuade you from watching heartrending frontier drama “World to Come,” about two unhappy housewives (Katherine Waterson and Vanessa Kirby) kept apart by their domineering husbands (Casey Affleck and Christopher Abbott). While many beats of their forbidden romance seem familiar, Waterson and Kirby deliver career-best performances as women quietly bonding over grief, motherhood and unrealized dreams. The magnetic pair has more fire than a kerosene lamp, with one of the most intensely erotic first kisses we’ve seen in recent memory.

Streaming on Hulu

11. 'Pain and Glory' (2019)

Antonio Banderas earned a best actor Oscar nod for his achingly vulnerable work in Pedro Almodóvar's meditative drama, about an ailing gay filmmaker named Salvador taking stock of his life. Wonderfully surreal yet subdued, the film is most poignant in its depiction of Salvador's queer awakening as a young child and his fraught relationship with his mother (Penélope Cruz) as a result. And in the movie's most memorable scene, Salvador reconnects with a former lover (Leonardo Sbaraglia), now married with a wife and kids. Brimming with tension, lust and melancholy, the actors movingly capture the spark of an old flame and the pain of reconciliation.

Rent or buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Vudu

10. 'Carol' (2015)

Todd Haynes' sumptuous adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel "The Price of Salt" follows a sophisticated married socialite named Carol (Cate Blanchett) who falls for ingenuous department-store clerk Therese (Rooney Mara). Once again exploring repressed sexuality after 2002's "Far from Heaven," starring Julianne Moore as the wife of a closeted gay man, Haynes infuses "Carol" with silence and deep longing, as the characters' stolen glances eventually spill over into a brief moment of heated passion. "Carol" is all about the slow build, which is part of what makes it so immensely satisfying.

Streaming free on The Roku Channel and Pluto TV

9. 'Call Me By Your Name' (2017)

If you haven't stared tearfully into a fireplace listening to Sufjan Stevens, have you really had your heart broken? No other gay movie this century has been more heavily memed than "Call Me By Your Name." But few films have also so palpably captured that dizzying, all-consuming feeling of first love, as the scoffing yet sensitive Elio (Timothee Chalamet) pines for his father's student assistant (Armie Hammer) during an idyllic Italian summer.

Streaming on Amazon Prime

8. 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' (2018)

Marielle Heller's part-crime drama, part-buddy comedy stars an Oscar-nominated Melissa McCarthy as the real-life Lee Israel, a down-on-her-luck lesbian author who turns to forging and selling embellished letters by famous writers in the early '90s. The film achingly captures queer loneliness, as the curmudgeonly Lee struggles to let others in but finds a kindred spirit in fellow bar fly Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), a gay man living with AIDS. Their quick rapport and melancholic wit make "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" unexpectedly moving, reminding us that not all great love stories have to be romantic.

Rent or buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Vudu

7. 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' (2001)

John Cameron Mitchell's fearless musical drama is about a German genderqueer singer forced to come to terms with their botched sex-change operation and fading spotlight. Unusual, triumphant and hard-rocking, it's also one of the most inventive stage-to-screen adaptations of the past 20 years.

Streaming on Amazon Prime (with BroadwayHD free trial)

6. 'Weekend' (2011)

The gay "Before Sunrise" we didn't know we needed. Set entirely over the course of one erotic weekend, two men (Tom Cullen and Chris New) meet at a gay club and hook up, only to hit it off before one leaves the country. Andrew Haigh's talky, tear-jerking drama will make you reminisce about relationships that could've been, but also help you appreciate moments of genuine human connection, however fleeting.

Streaming on Amazon Prime (with AMC+ or IFC Films Unlimited free trial)

5. 'Tangerine' (2015)

Before "The Florida Project," writer/director Sean Baker gifted us this neon-lit, EDM-soundtracked assault on the senses, which he shot entirely on an iPhone. The pulsing indie dramedy follows a day in the life of Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), a trans sex worker who discovers her boyfriend and pimp (James Ransone) has been cheating on her while she was in prison. What begins as an outrageous, vengeful trek across L.A. to find her man's new flame becomes a poignant look at gender identity and friendship, told with empathy and respect by Baker, and featuring a breakout turn from trans actress Mya Taylor as Sin-Dee's straight-talking best friend Alexandra.

Streaming on Netflix

4. 'Moonlight' (2016)

Masculinity and its pressures on gay men in particular have long been a theme in LGBTQ cinema, more recently explored in carnal British romance "God's Own Country" and the dark, drug-addled "Beach Rats." But none have captured coming of age as viscerally and beautifully as "Moonlight," Barry Jenkins' stunning Oscar-winning best picture about the diffident Chiron (played at different ages by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) coming to terms with his sexuality.

Streaming on Amazon Prime (with Showtime free trial)

3. 'Blue is the Warmest Color' (2013)

Abdellatif Kechiche's three-hour, NC-17-rated epic has rightfully courted its share of controversy. It features a gratuitous seven-minute sex scene between its two young heroines (Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux), and both stars have since alleged abusive on-set behavior by Kechiche. (Another actress anonymously accused him of assault in 2018, which he denied.) But if you choose to watch, you'll find there's still much to appreciate in Exarchopoulos and Seydoux's bracingly lived-in performances, with the kind of explosive, raw chemistry that's impossible for a director to create. It's to their credit that when the drama was awarded the prestigious Palme d'Or at France's Cannes Film Festival, they became the first actors – male or female – to share the award with their director.

Streaming on Amazon Prime (with AMC+ or IFC Films Unlimited free trial)

2. 'Pariah' (2011)

The debut feature of writer/director Dee Rees ("Mudbound"), who tells a very personal story about a shy, thoughtful teen named Alike (Adepero Oduye) struggling to find her voice as both an aspiring poet and young gay woman. Like many closeted LGBTQ youth, Alike is in a constant push and pull with her two conflicting identities: Under her strictly religious mother's (Kim Wayans) watchful eye, she is forced to wear blouses and skirts, and is discouraged from hanging with her lesbian best friend (Pernell Walker). But at school and her neighborhood's local gay club, Alike dons baseball caps and baggy polo shirts, and bashfully tries to talk to girls. It's a realistic, devastating but ultimately hopeful portrait of someone finding the courage to express their true self, anchored by a captivating lead performance from Oduye.

Streaming on HBO Max

1. 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' (2019)

One of the best love stories ever put on screen, period. Set in 18th-century France, Celine Sciamma's intoxicating fourth film follows a young artist (Noemie Merlant) hired to do a portrait of a reclusive noblewoman (Adele Haenel) who's soon to be wed. Gorgeously written and shot, with mesmerizing performances from Merlant and Haenel, the movie is deeply erotic without ever being exploitative, as the two women discover mutual attraction in each others' idiosyncrasies. It's an intelligent drama about how we create and analyze art, imagining a female utopia where women have total freedom over their bodies and work. But it's also a stirring romance about being truly seen for the first time, and how real love can haunt you long after the paint has dried and easel's been packed away.

Streaming on Hulu

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Best LGBTQ+ movies for Pride Month viewing, including 'Fire Island'