In the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic was both horrifying and heartbreaking. These top 10 movies are the best depictions of this era on the big screen.
Even today, it is considered one of the most devastating and heartbreaking tragedies in the history of the contemporary world. Gay people were in risk of becoming extinct because of a lack of understanding across the country.
Books, plays and films were all used by The Arts to fight the disease. Hollywood and indie filmmakers would eventually produce some wonderful films about the AIDS epidemic, but it took time for studios to overcome their trepidation. Steve Buscemi’s role as the first actor to portray an AIDS patient in a film launched his career, and Tom Hanks’ portrayal of an AIDS patient forever altered his life. Here are some of the best films about the AIDS issue that you should see.
10. An Early Frost – Directed By John Erman (1985)
“Soap opera-esque” in style, but John Erman’s forthright and honest film was groundbreaking and made television history as the first to convey the AIDS crisis to the small screen.
When Aidan Quinn’s son gets AIDS, the film examines how his parents (Ben Gazzara and Gene Rowlands) handle the situation. When Quinn has to notify his family that he has AIDS, the story takes on a powerful resonance. A multiple Emmy winner, the film awakened the minds of many viewers to the topic.
9. It’s My Party – Directed By Randal Kleiser (1996)
On the independent circuit, Randal Kleiser’s intimate, hilarious, and poignant story of an AIDS patient nearing the end of his battle won significant critical acclaim, and it was a small box office hit.
It was a goodbye party for a man who was losing his battle with AIDS, and Eric Roberts played the starring role. The film was nominated for GLAAD’s “Outstanding Limited Release Film” award in 1997 for Roberts’ heartbreaking performance.
8. BPM (Beats Per Minute) – Directed By Robin Campillo (2017)
“BPM (Beats Per Minute)” is a politically and sexually charged film that follows members of the ACT UP Paris branch in the early 1990s.
The film received a lot of praise from critics because the filmmakers were able to convey how, for AIDS victims, the personal and the political are inseparable.
7. Philadelphia – Directed by Jonathan Demme (1993)
‘Philadelphia’ by Jonathan Demme made a tremendous impression on critics, audiences, and the Academy Awards. When Tom Hanks’ character was sacked from his law business because of his homosexuality, it was a striking indictment of discrimination against gays. As the homophobic lawyer who accepts his case, Denzel Washington plays the role.
The film was nominated for five Oscars, and Ron Nyswaner’s screenplay, Bruce Springsteen’s original song, and Tom Hanks’ performance as the title character each took home a trophy. This was the first major studio picture to address the AIDS problem in a mainstream way.
6. Yesterday – Directed By Darrel Roodt (2004)
A Zulu community in Africa serves as the backdrop for Yesterday, which tells the terrible story of a lady who finds she has HIV, but tries to live long enough so that her daughter can attend college.
By nominating Roodt for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2005 Oscars, the film demonstrates elegance and respect in telling a powerful subject. Leleti Khumalo’s tremendously moving lead performance and the film’s focus on the AIDS crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa earned the picture significant appreciation from critics and audiences alike.
5. We Were Here – Directed By David Weissman & Bill Weber (2011)
In Weissman and Weber’s film, the participants recall their time in San Francisco during the early stages of the AIDS crisis, making it one of the best documentaries on the subject.
Among the film’s many admirers was its ability to expose a society that was unprepared to deal with a problem of this magnitude and to force the viewer to witness how the virus affected these men.
4. Angels In America – Directed By Mike Nichols (2003)
Angels in America, a large HBO production that won numerous Emmys and Golden Globes for its examination of the AIDS epidemic, is widely regarded as one of the definitive works on the subject.
It was a big ensemble that included Al Pacino, Emma Thompson, and Meryl Streep that Mike Nichols adapted Tony Kushner’s play about the AIDS epidemic in the mid-1980s. HBO’s miniseries was a critical and ratings success.
3. How To Survive A Plague – Directed By David France (2012)
ACT UP and TAG helped the LGBT community learn how to live longer and healthier with AIDS through their tireless advocacy in David France’s documentary How to Survive a Plague.
The beginning of the AIDS problem is depicted in France’s film, which follows the activities of the two organisations previously mentioned. Filmed in South Africa, it was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Oscars in 2013.
2. Longtime Companion – Directed By Norman Rene (1989)
When a group of friends is decimated by the disease, Longtime Companion is the Independent Spirit Award-winning film that tells their story.
As a compelling, honest, and human depiction of homosexual men at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, Rene’s film is widely regarded as one of the best.
1. And The Band Played On – Directed By Roger Spottiswoode (1993)
Roger Spottiswoode’s HBO version of Randy Shilt’s novel And the Band Played On relates the narrative of the first discovery of the AIDS virus and the fight against prejudice and the political reasons that shelved any rapid response, which would lead to millions of deaths.
With Lily Tomlin, Alan Alda and Richard Gere in a stellar cast, this picture is both intimate and grand in scope. With its depiction of a politician’s reluctance to move forward with medical research, Spottiswoode’s film made it clear that a cure was impossible. There were several Emmy Award nominations and it was considered one of the best HBO films of the decade.