Is Carol the Best LGBTQ Film Ever?

Five reasons why I think 100 critics and programmers named it the best LGBTQ film ever made


In celebration of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival’s 30th birthday, organizers surveyed 100 critics, filmmakers and programmers to determine the top 30 queer films of all time. Topping the list was Todd Haynes’s Carol. Here are five reasons why I think Carol topped the list.

1. Oscar snubbed it: no best-picture nom

Nothing vexes critics more than seeing their opinions ignored. Many film critic associations, including Toronto’s own and the London Film Critics Association, honoured Carol. Sure, BAFTA gave Carol a best-pic nod, but even the Brits know that Oscar matters more.

2. Todd Haynes is a critics’ darling

Though legions of LGBTQ people (and others) have expressed their disappointment in this very well-reviewed pic, film critics championed it from the start. They’ve always adored Haynes’s idiosyncratic work. His movies almost always go beyond storytelling to make a statement on everything from pop culture (six versions of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, and Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story told via Barbie dolls) to how we look at movies. This last is influenced by Haynes’s training in semiotics. No wonder geeks love him.

3. He gave Julianne Moore her big break

Another critics’ darling, Moore’s first starring role was the suburban housewife suffering from a mysterious chemical disease in Safe, one of Haynes’s early features.

4. It’s the shiny new thing

Carol hit the big screen in 2015 and was the highest-profile queer release of the year. You’d think that wouldn’t matter to film geeks who like to flaunt their nerdiness, but top-of-mindness seems to matter here.

5. Carol is actually very good

Expertly adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price Of Salt (at least Phyllis Nagy got an Oscar nod), Carol is meticulous about its time and place and features exquisite performances by Cate Blanchett (no surprise) and Rooney Mary (a revelation) as two women falling in love in the 50s. 

See the full list here. 

susanc@nowtoronto.com | @susangcole

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