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Tops of 2012

Matt Thomas takes a look back at the essential gay films of 2012


Awards season is upon us, and every outlet under the sun is gleefully releasing its lists of the top films of 2012. Here at Fab we're more interested in talking about the best gay flicks of the year than debating the quality of Les Mis or the merits of the dance moves in Magic Mike (although the latter has been thoroughly discussed in the office). With that in mind here are the top five gays flicks that hit screens in 2012 that should make your must-see list:

How to Survive a Plague - Directed by David France


This documentary, about the grassroots struggles of the AIDS activists of ACT UP fighting larger than life foes that include politicians, big pharmaceutical, the Catholic Church and even the FDA, is the cinematic equivalent of dynamite. France, a former journalist who covered the crisis as it happened, has crafted a vital time capsule that has become one of the best-reviewed films of the year, scoring an Oscar nomination for best documentary. Full of mind-blowing protest footage and brazen interviews, this doc isn't just the story of a heartbreaking period for our community; it's an inspiring and kickass portrait of some of gay history's greatest heroes who helped saved countless lives and literally changed the world.

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Keep the Lights On – Directed by Ira Sachs


When New York filmmaker Erik (Thure Lindhardt) picks up boyish lawyer Paul (Zachary Booth) off a phone sex line, the two begin a tumultuous relationship that spans years and drastically tests the strength of their characters and their hearts. Painfully realized in soul-crushing detail by Sachs and his leading men, this Sundance hit pulls no punches in showcasing the effects of substance abuse on a relationship and features some of the most cringe-worthy scenes on screen this year. This is not a storybook gay romance, but, thanks to the truths it tells about the human struggles we all face in romance, along with its message of personal independence, it's a film worth the emotional energy it demands.

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Any Day Now – Directed by Travis Fine


Who knew Alan Cumming could make you laugh and cry? This 1970s period piece tells the “inspired by a true story” tale of sassy drag queen Rudy (Cumming) and his closeted attorney boyfriend Paul (Garret Dillahunt), who decide to take in Marco, a 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome, after his mother, Rudy's drug-addicted neighbour, is arrested. Rather than leave him to the horrors of child services, the pair start their own unconventional family. But the story really gets started when a maddening legal struggle ensues, thanks to some nosy homophobes set on tearing them apart. It's as full of laughs as it is tears, and the performances are truly top notch; plus, any excuse for Cumming to showcase his killer set of pipes on some killer disco cuts is always welcome in my books.

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Vito – Directed by Jeffrey Schwartz


Vito Russo is one of the kings of gay cinema; his book The Celluloid Closet was an exhaustive and groundbreaking text about the history of queer representation in film. This doc tells Russo's life story, from his youth spent swooning in front of movie screens to the writing and researching of his infamous tome. While some of what's covered here is rehashed from the classic documentary based on his book, the recollections from his early gay-movie-club meetings and the details of his love life and personal struggles are definitely worth watching. The section covering the last years of Russo's life as a community builder and AIDS activist is where this film becomes truly extraordinary. Well-spoken and passionate, Vito was one of the essential members of the ACT UP collective, and his tenacity right up until his final days fighting the disease makes him one of our community's true heroes.

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My Brother the Devil - Directed by Sally El Hosaini

This rough and raw exploration of masculinity, crime and the bonds of brotherhood racked up awards at tons of festivals this year, and rightfully so. It follows Mo (Fady Elsayed), a smart young student, and his older brother Rashid (James Floyd), a gangbanging boxer with a heart of gold, living with their traditional Egyptian family in a housing estate in London. Mo idolizes Rashid and gets drawn into his lifestyle of easy money and street crime. The film takes an intriguing turn when Rashid develops an interest in a photographer named Sayyid, who exposes him to a side of himself he's never explored before. Full of fascinating performances, local flavour and unique identity politics, this flick delivers, thanks to some expertly fleshed out characters and some talented direction.

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Matt Thomas is a writer who watches an obscene number of flicks every year.

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    • TruthofDare
      1/31/2013 12:00:33 AM
      'Laurence Anyways' was a beautiful movie that gained international attention, and was written and directed by a YOUNG GAY CANADIAN. It was one of the most brilliant and poignant queer films to come out in the last decade. How did that not make it onto this list?
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