As summer winds down, film awards season is simply ramping into top gear — bringing together some of this year’s most exciting LGBTQ-themed releases, including a particularly powerful roster of lesbian films.

A trio of powerhouse festivals — Colorado’s Telluride Film Festival, Venice International Film Festival along with Toronto International Film Festival– may tussle amongst one another to exhibit the most esteemed film premieres, but jointly they’ve gained a reputation for being the festivals to watch for some of the season’s strongest Oscar contenders. A solid half of last year’s Best Picture Academy Award contenders debuted at one of those three festivals, including the season’s biggest awards-season titans, “Moonlight” and “La La Land.”

On this season’s Telluride festival only wrapped, Venice festival still in progress along with Toronto festival (TIFF) set to open on Thursday, 2018 awards buzz is already jelling around a few names. Here are our selections for the most exciting LGBTQ films to come out of Telluride, Venice and TIFF this year.


Lady Rachel Weisz in the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2015 in Cannes, France. Pool / Getty Images

It is Rachelmania since Rachel Weisz portrays Ronit, ” a New York-based photographer who returns to London following the death of her dad (an Orthodox Jewish rabbi) and finds herself a effective childhood bond using Esti (Rachel McAdams), who’s now married to Ronit’s cousin. Depending on the award-winning debut book of the exact same name by British writer Naomi Alderman, the film is directed by white-hot Chilean director Sebastián Lelio, and it’s his first outside of his native nation.

“To watch Weisz and McAdams, just two A-listers in a lesbian-themed movie of gravity, will probably be very interesting,” Merryn Johns, editor-in-chief of Curve magazine, told NBC News. “I believe the topic of lesbian desire contrary to the obstacles of expressing faith is a really strong theme to be exploring right now.”

An Excellent Woman

Additionally led by Sebastián Lelio, this winner of the Teddy Award for Best Feature at this year’s Berlin Film Festival stars trans celebrity Daniela Vega as Marina, a young waitress/singer who, following the unexpected death of her elderly lover, Orlando, faces scrutiny from law enforcement and scorn and abuse against Orlando’s household. Vega’s strong performance is already garnering her dark horse Best Actress Oscar buzz.

Screening at Telluride and TIFF; in theatres November 17

Battle of the Sexes

Emma Stone is Billie Jean King and Steve Carrell is Bobby Riggs in this dramedy about the eccentric but legendary 1973 gender battle between the two tennis greats, along with the media circus surrounding it. Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming and Bill Pullman are among the powerful supporting cast.

“This one is really timely,” Johns said. “We all know that the Trump administration is not really spent in maintaining or exercising Title IX, so it is really important that we are reminded right now of the importance of equality for girls. Terrific functionality by Emma Stone, who brings out the vulnerability of Billie Jean King in an essential moment in her private life, and as an historic actor on behalf of girls.”

World premiere in Telluride and viewing at TIFF; in theatres September 22

Phone Me By Your Title

Hailed by many critics as the best gay movie of this year, this sensual adaptation of André Aciman’s book, set along the gorgeous Italian Riviera from the 1980s, stars Armie Hammer as Oliver, a studly young academic who planks with the household of 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet), sparking their fervent love.

“I am trying my very best to tune out all the huzzahs I have been hearing because Sundance about ‘Call Me’– hype can on occasion be a double-edged sword,” said noted movie critic and Outfest senior developer Alonso Duralde, who’s just returned from the Venice International Film Festival, “but I am a lover of those folks involved … and I have very little doubt it will live up to expectations.”

Screening at TIFF; in theatres November 24

My Times of Mercy

Lady Ellen Page attends the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. Taylor Hill / FilmMagic

Ellen Page is Lucy, the daughter of a convicted murderer and an energetic protester against capital punishment. Kate Mara is Mercy, a strong death penalty supporter. Unexpectedly for both, they find themselves drawn together. Can their powerful fascination overcome their deep differences?

“It is exciting to see Page continue to follow through on her 2014 coming out with a different commitment to a LGBTQ function,” Johns said.

Professor Marston along with the Wonder Women

Inspired by an alluring pupil and ideals of feminine strength and liberation, 1920s Tufts psychology professor William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) creates the DC Comics superhero Wonder Woman, meanwhile integrating the pupil (Bella Heathcote) to a three-way relationship with his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall), in this biopic directed by “D.E.B.S.” and “The L Word” veteran Angela Robinson.

“The timing for this couldn’t be better,” Duralde stated. “And if Angela Robinson makes a movie, attention has to be paid.”

World premiere in TIFF; in theatres October 13

120 Beats Per Minute

Robin Campillo (“Eastern Boys”) directed this strong story revolving around a bunch of activists in France’s ACT UP motion in the early 1990s. Winner of the Grand Prix in its debut in Cannes earlier this year, the movie stars Argentinean actor Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, veteran of gay-themed strikes “Glue” and “All Yours.”

“[I am] looking forward to the one,” Duralde stated. “We seem to have reached a point where we can return with some historic distance at the start of the AIDS epidemic, along with the testimonials out of Cannes were shining”

Screening at TIFF; in theatres October 20


Within this stylized first feature by Lebanese manager Mazen Khaled, a bunch of marginalized young guys from various Beirut communities have to face the wake of the buddy’s mysterious drowning along with the unfamiliar rites of his loved ones.

“I am hearing very good hype,” Duralde stated. “It’s a story about homosexual Muslims from Lebanon, and because we don’t get lots of queer stories from that area of earth, I am sure LGBTQ festival developers will make an effort to look.”

World premiere in Venice

Reinventing Marvin

Finnegan Oldfield attends the “Marvin” photocall through the 74th Venice Film Festival on September 3, 2017 in Venice, Italy. Dominique Charriau / WireImage

Within this free adaptation of this 2014 French book “En Finir Avec Eddy Bellegueule” by Edouard Louis, writer/director Anne Fontaine (“Coco Before Chanel”) introduces the coming-out tale of Marvin, who is shunned for being homosexual in his little French hometown. Isabelle Huppert seems as herself.

World premiere in Venice

Love, Cecil

Artist Cecil Beaton attends the art opening of 600 Faces by Cecil Beaton on May 3, 1969 in the Museum of New York City in New York City. Ron Galella / WireImage

Lisa Immordino Vreeland (“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Traveling”) directs this fascinating biography of English photographer Cecil Beaton, who distinctively excelled in war, fashion and celebrity picture photography, and was likewise an Academy Award costume designer for “Gigi” and “My Fair Lady.”

World premiere in Telluride

The Prince and the Dybbuk

Yet another profile of an unsung homosexual film legend, this doc looks in the intriguing and frequently mystery-shrouded lifetime of Michael Waszyński, the aristocratic manager of one of Poland’s most import pre-war Yiddish films, “The Dybbuk,” who later produced several Hollywood epics like “The Fall of the Roman Empire.”

World premiere in Venice

Scotty and the Secret of Hollywood

Scotty Bowers on October 28, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. Charley Gallay / Getty Images for DSquared2

Interestingly a buddy to the aforementioned Cecil Beaton, Scotty Bowers, was one of Hollywood’s most exclusive male escorts and prolific pimps through its Golden Age. This titillating documentary profiles Bowers, who’s now in his 90s, as he looks back at some of his most legendary hookups, customers and confidants, including Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Vincent Price and George Cukor.

Porcupine Lake

Slovak-Canadian manager Ingrid Veninger presents this tale of two adolescent women, big-city Bea and small-town Kate, who locate summer love — and escape from their unpleasant home lives — in Ontario cottage country.