After compiling a list of the most essential LGBT movies, The Advocate is pitting the top 32 entries against one another in a series of one-on-one face-offs. In this Sweet 16 round, Making Love, the first major Hollywood drama about a closeted gay man coming to terms with his sexual orientation, is up against the groundbreaking drama Philadelphia, which stars Tom Hanks as an HIV-positive lawyer fighting for his rights and his life. Which film is more essential? Vote below, and check out our full list of the top 175 most essential LGBT movies at Advocate.com/top175.
The plot of this 1982 film — a supposedly straight, married L.A. doctor falls in love with another man — sounds like a Lifetime movie now, but at the time it was groundbreaking. Making Love was also well-acted, with stellar performances from Michael Ontkean as the latently gay protagonist, Kate Jackson as the confused wife, and especially Harry Hamlin as the sexy, hedonistic novelist who Ontkean's character falls for. Hamlin, a huge star at the time, would later say the movie damaged his career but that he remains proud of it. —Neal Broverman
Philadelphia encapsulates so many things that signify excellent filmmaking, but one of them is showing something that is simply true to life: When we get to know people who are different from ourselves, we become better people. Tom Hanks's unparalleled performance as Andrew Beckett, a man who is fighting for his dignity and his life, convinces small-time (and homophobic) lawyer Joe Miller, played by Denzel Washington, to represent him in a wrongful-termination suit. The film came out before there were revolutionary drugs that helped save the lives of many with HIV and AIDS. Meanwhile, it followed the initial shock of the epidemic, which led to heightened paranoia on one side, and on the other, a better understanding of the virus itself. Philadelphia is undoubtedly a groundbreaking time capsule. —Michelle Garcia
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— The Advocate (@TheAdvocateMag) July 19, 2014