This small-town-girl-makes-good-in-the-big-city tale features Christina Aguilera’s acting debut — can she or can’t she? — plus bombastic production numbers, the always fabulous Stanley Tucci, and a shirtless Cam Gigandet. But really, as with most important things in life, the appeal of this film can be boiled down to one word: Cher.
Even if you didn’t already own the original Broadway cast recording (Who are we kidding? Of course you did!) Rob Marshall’s Oscar-nominated slice of razzle-dazzle (starring Catherina Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, and Queen Latifah) was mandatory viewing.
Waiting to Exhale (1995)
This one had all the required elements: Based on a classic piece of chick lit (by Terry McMillan), packed with powerhouse female leads (Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon), and a first-rate soundtrack chock full of overcoming-the-obstacles anthems. Bonus points for that scene where Bassett’s Bernadine creates a cathartic bonfire from the cherished possessions of her cheating husband: The feel-good scene of the decade!
You knew you were destined for opening-weekend tickets to this campy crapsterpiece thriller the minute you saw that trailer with Beyoncé shouting, ”I’ll show you crazy!” Uh-huh! That’s right, B. Get that homewrecking skank!
Sex and the City (2008)
You watched all 96 episodes of HBO’s classic single-gals-in-Manhattan sitcom — and, if we’re being honest, memorized half the dialogue during repeated DVD viewings — so chances are you were in line opening weekend for the big-screen debut of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha.
Legally Blonde (2001)
As adorable as a Chihuahua in pink, this hilarious comedy starring Reese Witherspoon as a brighter-than-she-appears law student (and the peerless Jennifer Coolidge as her manicurist Paulette) rates a perfect ”10” on the Gays & Gals movie scale — and an ”11” if you add a bonus point for teaching us all ”the bend and snap.”
We endured Shanghai Surprise, Body of Evidence, and even Dangerous Game — all in support of the Material Girl. There was no way in heck we were about to miss Madge in a movie that actually came with awards-season buzz and reasonably good reviews.
Steel Magnolias (1989)
We could spend the next few sentences explaining the appeal of this 10-hanky Louisiana-set dramedy — or its extraordinary ensemble cast (Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts) — but, really, if you haven’t already seen it, you simply need to update your DVR queue or find it On Demand, and remedy the situation — immédiatement!
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
Julia Roberts’ loopy leading lady employs her Main Gay (the debonair Rupert Everett) to help her stop her best friend/ideal mate (Dermot Mulroney) from marrying another woman (Cameron Diaz). Scheming and hijinks — including bad karaoke — ensue.
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Another chick-lit classic (Helen Fielding’s 1996 novel) gets first-rate cinematic treatment thanks to Renée Zellweger’s Oscar-nominated turn as the curvaceous, self-improvement-seeking British singleton. (Come to think of it, it might be time to catch this one on cable again over the holidays!)
Mariah Carey’s critical and commercial disaster featured our heroine’s cat outacting each and every human cast member (including Da Brat and a pre-Top Chef Padma Lakshmi). Of course, hidden under the dung of a woeful script and ”look, ma, no brakes!” direction, an audience of camp-loving queens of both genders found themselves an instant classic.
Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (1997)
Lisa Kudrow (later to give us The Comeback, natch) and Oscar winner Mira Sorvino starred as high-school losers determined to make a glorious return to their old stomping grounds. Not a fan of this one? ”Oh yeah? Well, I hope your babies look like monkeys!”
Based on the Tony-winning Broadway musical, Bill Condon’s glitzy drama about the trials and tribulations of a black girl group in the ’60s gave us sequins, power-hair, and glory notes in a volume that’s all-too-rare in modern-day Hollywood. Add in some delectable Beyoncé glamour, and the star-making turn of American Idol castoff Jennifer Hudson, and I am telling you…everyone (except perhaps straight dudes) was going to catch this one on the big screen during the 2006 holiday season.
Jennifer Lopez’s drama about a timid woman fighting back against her abusive husband was utterly preposterous, but sometimes you have to just sit back and enjoy a thoroughly unrealistic (and rather violent) revenge fantasy, right, gays and gals?
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Not even joking here: Couldn’t you just swoon recounting the doomed love affair between Nicole Kidman’s Satine and Ewan McGregor’s Christian? The ”Elephant Love Medley” alone — not to mention ”Your Song” and ”One Day I’ll Fly Away” — oh, come on, it’s all just too beautiful and tragic. Add Kylie Minogue flitting around as the Green Fairy, and this is like the gayest movie about heterosexual romance of all time ever.
All together now: ”I’m not a whore, I’m a dancer!” This absolutely wretched (and shockingly unsexy) film was supposed to be titillating for hetero males, but its unintentionally hilarious dialogue and performances made it an instant favorite among discerning females and the boys who (platonically) love them.
Coyote Ugly (2000)
Shy (but extremely hot) aspiring songwriter (Piper Perabo) works at a bar that only employs rowdy (and extremely hot) lay-dees. Stuff happens. Dreams come true. There’s even a little Tyra Banks (as the barmaid who ”got out”). We can’t really remember much more ’cause we tend to drink a little whenever we’re watching it with our gal-pals, y’know? (Don’t judge: This movie is set in a bar!)
The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994)
This Australian road-trip comedy about three drag queens (a pre-Memento Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving, and Terence Stamp) traveling through the outback in a bus not only won the Oscar for Outstanding Costume Design, but the long-lasting fandom of taste-making audiences around the globe.
Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom (2008)
Okay, so it wasn’t as splashy a TV-to-movie adaptation as, say, Sex and the City. But just as we experienced with Carrie & Co., fierce fashion, feuding, flirtatious flings, and foolery were the main order of business when the four L.A.-based gay black friends at the heart of Logo’s cult-favorite dramedy travel to Martha’s Vineyard for the anticipated nuptials of central character Noah (Darryl Stephens).
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Oscar-nominated Meryl Streep coated her Anna Wintour-esque editrix with 14-karat bitchery, and her every moment of screen time, her every withering line-reading, was an absolute joy to behold. Streep’s rant about a cerulean sweater — ”that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff” — was worth the price of admission all by itself. A-mah-zing.