But survey any moderately sized group of individuals or TIME's culture staff and certain titles come up again and again. Some movies—like In the Mood for Love and Before Sunrise —are more noteworthy for their ambient erotic charge than for outright graphic sexiness. Others, like Body Heat and Mulholland Dr. Sometimes the nastiest or naughtiest characters are the biggest turn-ons. But in one way or another, all of these movies on this list have the power to put us in the mood for love.
In , Lana and Lilly Wachowski—then known as the Wachowski Brothers—made their first movie, the gorgeously tawdry romantic thriller Bound. Violent, sensual and funny, Bound is sly and intelligently made entertainment. Watch it now. The eroticism of The Handmaiden is inextricably linked to its themes of deception and cunning.
Movie sex, after all, is more exciting when there is a possibility that its participants may turn out to be enemies. The less you know about the plot, the better actually. Suffice it to say that a pickpocket Kim Tae-ri becomes handmaiden to an heiress Kim Min-hee whom she intends to swindle out of her fortune.
That date sucked compared to the hours depicted in Before Sunrise. They decide to disembark and bum around Vienna before parting ways, possibly forever. Before Sunrise and its two sequels prove the brain is the most vital sex organ. The two meander and chat for two hours, sharing their life philosophies, stories of their exes, time travel and—of course—love. It's the best kind of foreplay. The three actors who play Chiron at various ages Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes each grapple with the challenges of developing masculinity.
The film's imagery too is at turns vibrant, at others ethereal. Human skin has never looked so beautiful or alive on film before. This is a film of quiet moments, repressed longing, and the barest of consummation. It forever established Benjamin Braddock Dustin Hoffman as the posterboy for aimless post-college youth.
It went even further with its eroticism: Mrs. This movie shimmers with a restless energy that pulses through one sweltering New York City day where tempers flare on one block. Director Adrian Lyne used kinky sex with some not-so-subtle nods to BDSM and the underlying psychological power play to full effect.
Two men meet at a gay club late one Friday and spend the night together. But it's also imbued with something even sexier: real conversation. Tony Scott presented horror at its most sensual with this early work about a doomed relationship between a sexually violent flesh-feasting vampire Catherine Deneuve and her conquests David Bowie and Susan Sarandon.
The topless woman-on-woman sex scene was controversial in its day. It also helped turn Sarandon into a sex symbol. The Hunger may have been light on story, but it became a template for high-concept style. A sweltering Florida heatwave is the perfect backdrop for this legal thriller about an adulterous tryst between unhappily married socialite Matty Kathleen Turner in her first role and her enamored lover Ned William Hurt. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse in which Matty convinces Ned he's in control while, in fact, she's the one pulling all the strings.
Audiences found it impossible not to root for the lovers separated by a tragic lie—and class. The raciest scene, easily, is their furtive encounter in a library. Even more memorable: Knightley's emerald evening gown, possibly the sexiest sartorial flourish on film. In literature, the color often represents magic and folly.
In Atonement , it stood for desire. Director Adrian Lyne's erotic thriller invites viewers to get lost in the fantasy of an illicit affair between married suburban mom Connie Sumner Diane Lane and young French bookseller Paul Martel Olivier Martinez. The film—which also stars Richard Gere as Connie's husband Edward—plays up the suspense as it delves deep into Connie's obsession with her infidelity. A scene of Connie riding the train back from a tryst with Paul shows her struggling with a flood of pleasure and pain. Welcome to the secret lives of male strippers.
Objectifying men has never been so fun, and women fell head over heels for the chance to turn the male gaze inside out. Director Steven Soderbergh's first movie employed tough economic times to give its characters depth. While the sunnier XXL directed by Gregory Jacobs was satisfied to give audiences a bumpy, grindy show. But then again, who needs subtle when hedonism, fantasy and shallowness look this good. Few film scenes have more sex appeal than the moment in Dirty Dancing.
You know the one. The one when roguish dance instructor Johnny Castle Patrick Swayze teaches naive Baby Houseman Jennifer Grey how to swivel her hips to the beat of the music. Or maybe it's actually the one when they crawl across the floor mouthing song lyrics to each other. Or the big dance finale with that lift.
You get the idea. The tension between the two women comes to be deliciously unbearable. The contrast is electric. The film, which begins when they are childhood sweethearts, follows them through adolescence and into adulthood. The moody romance of the film exists in the negative space between bodies that will never make contact. Starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung as next-door neighbors whose spouses are having an affair with one another, the story of unconsummated love aches with desire. There is no nudity, yet Wong serves up shot after shot of lush imagery: the lonely glow of a red lampshade, a disappearing wisp of cigarette smoke, steam escaping from a kettle.
With a cast of pretty young things and plenty of youthful debauchery, Cruel Intentions could easily be mistaken for just another teen drama. This film gave audiences a cold, hard look at just how sexy the art of manipulation, including that famous sapphic kiss, can be. Even when it's also serving as an exploration of teenage sexuality. A gorgeous amnesiac Laura Harring and a bright-eyed movie-star hopeful Naomi Watts fall into bed before, possibly, falling into the abyss. It's a sunlight-and-shadow view of a dream-busting town that leaves a heady perfume in its wake.
No other film offers quite the buzzing erotic charge this one does. Director Ang Lee uses minimal dialogue to deliver maximal impact. Brokeback 's story of repressed gay love resonated with audiences on its way to the Oscars. Their rough passion in a dark, cold tent in the wilderness deepens into anguished love forbidden in its time. Grey, an extra bossy boss whose demands really rev up his employee Maggie Gyllenhaal. Under the direction of Steven Shainberg, the award-winning film showed how a sadomasochistic relationship could evolve from a tilted dynamic that traps the female submissive into one that empowers her.
It must be something about the buttery light, or maybe the playful Spanish guitar or perhaps just Maria Elena's Penelope Cruz tousled hair and petulant anger. Juan Antiono Javier Bardem is the quintessential Lothario, oozing sex from his first line. We'll drink good wine. Meanwhile, Cruz imbues Maria's every action—from throwing a tantrum to painting in a makeshift smock—with sex appeal.
Beginning with their very first encounter, the nearly three-hour long film exudes the intensity and raw emotion of what the French call amour fou "crazy love". Despite critical acclaim, the film's explicit sex scenes—some called them pornographic—were controversial.
Both stars have talked about the difficulties of working with director Abdellatif Kechiche. Most movies about the sexual conquests of horny teenage boys overcome with rabid hormonal urges fail to register as "sexy. Some movies are sexy because they submit to fantasy. This one, which broke box-office records in Mexico, is sexy because it feels real.
Mature tenderness triumphs over adolescent lust in the end. The 25 Sexiest Movies of All Time. TIME Staff. Feb 10, Columbia Pictures. Universal Pictures. Sundance Selects. Warner Bros. Focus Features. Vestron Pictures. Allied Artists. All rights reserved. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.
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