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The 10 Sexiest Movies Ever Made

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Good news for people who like sexy stuff: amongst tomorrow’s catalog Blu-ray releases is Bound, the debut feature by future Matrix creators the Wachowskis, a cracklingly good noir­-tinged thriller with a generous helping of seriously hot love scenes. Now that those scenes will be available in high-definition video and sound, we thought it might be worth taking a look at some of the sexiest movies ever made (along with a dozen runners-up.)

Bound

Filmmakers of all stripes and skills have immortalized girl-on-girl action, but when the Wachowskis made their feature debut with this 1996 caper, they didn’t want to just present the same old heavy-breathing fantasy. So they hired lesbian erotica writer Susie Bright as “technical advisor,” to make sure that the love scenes between gangster’s moll Violet (Jennifer Tilly) and partner in crime Corky (Gina Gershon) felt like the real thing — and a steamy classic was born.

Mulholland Drive

“Have you ever done this before?” Up until that moment, Mulholland Drive is fairly typical David Lynch — that is to say, totally bonkers and intensely creepy and utterly inexplicable. What comes before the love scene between Naomi Watts and Laura Herring was, in fact, a pilot that Lynch had shot for ABC, but which the network rejected — so Lynch decided to make it into a feature film by twisting the plot and adding in some R-rated action. Oh boy, did he ever.

The Dreamers

A friend called Bernardo Bertolucci’s 2003 effort “Viagra on film,” and he may have summed it up better than I can: a pre-Casino Royale Eva Green, a pre-Boardwalk Empire Michael Pitt, and Louis Garrel enact a love triangle in Paris circa 1968, and their encounters were heated enough to land the film an NC-17 rating upon its initial release.

Y Tu Mamá También

Speaking of NC-17 love triangles, we’d be remiss to not give proper due to Alfonso Cuarón’s remarkable 2001 coming-of-age drama, in which horny teenagers Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal take a road trip with an older woman (Maribel Verdu) with whom they’re both infatuated. The attraction culminates in a three-way sex scene that’s as erotic as it is bold and uninhibited, though all the clips of that scene we could find online stop right before a key turn. At any rate, the rawness of that sequence caused some concern when Cuarón landed the gig of helming the third Harry Potter movies. (They needn’t have worried; reenactments of that scene remained in the realm of Potter slash fic.)

Body Heat

Or, as it might be more accurately called, Sweat: The Movie. Lawrence Kasdan (making his directorial debut after co-writing hits like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back) wrote this 1981 thriller as an homage to film noir of the Double Indemnity variety — but was able to make his take far more explicit than the films that inspired it. Set in the midst of a Florida heat wave, he puts William Hurt’s skuzzy lawyer against rich man’s wife Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner, in her film debut) and lets the sparks fly. They do so most spectacularly in the famous sequence above, where Hurt’s Ned Racine can no longer resist Matty’s sensuality, and isn’t going to let something as breakable as a glass door get in his way.

Unfaithful

Adrian Lyne’s 2002 exploration on infidelity was (and is) noteworthy for its refusal to provide easy answers; unlike most films, and books, and television shows about adultery, married couple Connie (Diane Lane) and Edward (Richard Gere) are not unhappy, or sexually stagnant. Yet Connie still finds herself drawn to a sexy stranger (beautifully played by Olivier Martinez); an early scene, in which she rides the train home, flashing back to her encounter, overwhelmed by both the intensity of the memory and the inevitable guilt, is both scorching and heartbreaking. (Lane received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her work.)

9 ½ Weeks

Lyne was no stranger to onscreen eroticism; his earlier credits included Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal, and this controversial 1987 film that was positioned as the late-’80s answer to Last Tango in Paris. It does not, to put it charitably, hold up as well as that film, but it’s an unquestionably erotic piece of work, with Kim Basinger and a pre-scary-surgeries-and-stuff Mickey Rourke engaging in bouts of gymnastic sex, stripping, food play, and light S&M. (After its bouts with the MPAA to attain the R rating, it was one of the first movies to release a separate “unrated” version on video, so you can thank Lyne for that mess too.)

Secretary

Rourke and Basinger’s S&M experiments in 9 ½ Weeks were child’s play compared to the events of Steven Shainberg’s off-beat, funny, and decidedly sexy look at the relationship between a dom boss (James Spader) and his sub secretary (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Shainberg took pains to approach their encounters straight-faced, without marginalizing or jeering at their behavior, and succeeded; their scenes are sexy even for those not drawn to BDSM. And it does, after all, contain this eyebrow-raising exchange: “Look, we can’t do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” “Why not?”

Out of Sight

Steven Soderbergh’s 1998 comeback picture paired two of the most attractive actors in Hollywood (George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez) and let them spend well over half the film resisting the urge to rip each other’s clothes off. It made narrative sense: they were playing, respectively, an escaped bank robber and the federal marshal trying to track him down. So they shouldn’t want to jump each other’s bones, but their first encounter finds them sharing the cramped quarters of a car trunk, in which proximity and flirtation starts to take hold. When they finally meet up again, Soderbergh pays confessed homage to Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now by intercutting their conversation with the later bedroom action between them, and while it might be more honorable to put that film on the list, let’s be honest: as much as we love him, Don’t Look Now star Donald Sutherland is no Clooney, aesthetically speaking.

Pandora’s Box

All of the other films on our list date from the 1980s on, when there were basically no limits to what exactly could be shown and talked about onscreen, but it’s worth throwing a shout-out to at least one picture from before that time — and it might as well be G.W. Pabst’s 1929 melodrama, which has been making film geeks hot under the collar for decades. Louise Brooks stars as Lulu, whose fierce sexuality (and hold it takes on the men around her) is dramatized with a frankness that’s still rare in cinema.

Runners-up: Tarzan and His Mate, Original Sin, …And God Created Woman, Wild Things, Magic Mike, Maurice, Notorious, Baby Face, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, In the Mood for Love, The Telephone Book, Score.