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50 Best Sex Scenes of All Time

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Do you remember the first time you were sexually excited by an image on a screen? (We do!) It might’ve been a music video to a teen-pop bop, or a particularly mushy episode of Buffy. Most likely, it was a movie of the PG-13 persuasion, which you snuck a viewing of far from the eyes of your parents when you were nowhere near the age of 13. Looking back, those scenes were cute. Harmless. Nowhere near the sex scenes you’ve seen in movies since you branched out into the R-rated category and beyond.

Sex scenes are nearly as old as movies themselves. In fact, one of the first films to be screened for the public debuted in 1896 and was called The Kiss. It was quite steamy for its time, featuring a full-on brushing of the lips, which, let us tell you, really riled up the modest-minded folks of the late 19th century. But these days, a movie sex scene has to accomplish a lot more to be memorable—especially when we’ve been so impressed by the earth-shattering sex scenes appearing in television shows of late (see: Normal People and Insecure). It has to be downright crazy.

“Crazy” can be broadly interpreted in the realm of onscreen sex. There’s the hot stuff that begs for repeated rewatchings. There are downright hilarious sexual interactions that involve comedic timing, musical numbers, awkward improv, and/or puppets. There are scenes from horror movies that make us recoil in disgust, and boundary-pushing scenes that inspire a trove of thought pieces. There’s most of what Micky Rourke touched in the ’80s. Here’s a selection of 50 such movie sex scenes, from the classics to recent releases, each one seemingly crazier than the next.

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The Handmaiden

Released: 2016

Directed by: Park Chan-wook

Actors: Kim Tae-ri and Kim Min-hee

Fun fact: To shoot the lesbian sex scene in a way that made his leads feel comfortable, Park gave the male crew members the day off, hired a female boom operator, and filmed the encounter with a remote controlled camera.

Rent or Buy

Call Me By Your Name

Released: 2017

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Actors: Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer

Fun fact: In the first and only rehearsal for this film, Guadagnino had his actors immediately act out the scene where they make out furiously. (This is also the film that launched a thousand peach memes.)

Rent or Buy

Monster’s Ball

Released: 2001

Directed by: Marc Forster

Actors: Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton

Fun fact: Halle Berry became the first Black woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for this movie. Twenty years later, she remains the only Black woman to have won it.

Rent or Buy

In the Realm of Senses

Released: 1976

Directed by: Nagisa Ōshima

Actors: Eiko Matsuda and Tatsuya Fuji

Fun fact: This erotic film featured unsimulated (a.k.a. very real) sex scenes between its actors, and thus kicked up a lot of controversy in 1976.

Rent or Buy

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Released: 2008

Directed by: Nicholas Stroller

Actors: Jason Segel, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Russell Brand

Fun fact: To promote the film, billboards were placed around big cities attacking the fictional Sarah Marshall. That bothered some real-life Sarah Marshalls.

Rent or Buy

Hancock

Released: 2008

Directed by: Peter Berg

Actors: Will Smith and Hayley Marie Norman

Fun fact: Hancock, an alcoholic superhero stuck in the modern day with severe amnesia and sexual frustrations, is supposedly the Greek god Zeus, and his love interest/sister, played by Charlize Theron, is supposedly the Greek goddess Hera.

Rent or Buy

Midsommar

Released: 2019

Directed by: Ari Aster

Actors: Jack Reynor, Isabelle Grill, and a lot of extras

Fun fact: It took two grueling weeks to film this nudity-filled, crazy-yet-terrifying ritualistic sex scene.

Rent or Buy

King Cobra

Released: 2016

Directed by: Justin Kelly

Actors: Garrett Clayton, Christian Slater, Keegan Allen, and James Franco

Fun fact: This film was based on a real-life murder plot within the gay porn industry.

Rent or Buy

Angel Heart

Released: 1987

Directed by: Alan Parker

Actors: Lisa Bonet and Mickey Rourke

Fun fact: A combination of rough sex, spurting blood, and Rourke’s buttocks got this horror movie an X rating, before the scene was trimmed to appeal to the MPAA.

Rent or Buy

Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy

Released: 2015-2018

Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson; James Foley

Actors: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan

Fun fact: This soft-core take on BDSM pulled in over $1 billion at the box office across all three movies. The books they was based on were actually fan-fic for the Twilight tween series.

Rent or Buy

The Bronze

Released: 2015

Directed by: Bryan Buckley

Actors: Melissa Rauch and Sebastian Stan

Fun fact: Rauch used a body double for this movie’s acrobatic sex scene, but Stan did not. That’s flexibility.

Rent or Buy

Avatar

Released: 2009

Directed by: James Cameron

Actors: Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana

Fun fact: Cameron is planning to make four Avatar sequels. No word yet if any will feature CGI tail sex, though.

Rent or Buy

Sorry to Bother You

Released: 2018

Directed by: Boots Riley

Actors: Lakeith Stanfield and Armie Hammer

Fun fact: It wouldn’t be a movie about soulless corporate ladder-climbing without coke-fueled orgies. Stanfield said he wanted to go nude, but his character’s nudity was eventually cut from the script.

Rent or Buy

Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

Released: 1983

Directed by: Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam

Actor: John Cleese

Fun fact: The Monty Python troupe wrote a rousing musical number called “Every Sperm Is Sacred,” along with this live sex ed demonstration.

Rent or Buy

Jason’s Lyric

Released: 1993

Directed by: Doug McHenry

Actors: Jada Pinkett Smith and Allen Payne

Fun fact: The sex scenes in this movie had to be cut down to avoid an NC-17 rating.

Rent or Buy

Barbarella

Released: 1968

Directed by: Roger Vadim

Actors: Jane Fonda

Fun fact: The evil scientist Durand-Durand who puts Barbarella through the Excessive Machine was the inspiration behind the band Duran Duran’s name.

Rent or Buy

Destination Wedding

Released: 2018

Directed by: Victor Levin

Actors: Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves

Fun fact: The non-stop, high-velocity banter between Ryder and Reeves throughout Destination Wedding does not let up during this awkward sex scene.

Rent or Buy

The Piano Teacher

Released: 2001

Directed by: Michael Haneke

Actors: Isabelle Huppert and Benoît Magimel

Fun fact: The Piano Teacher explores themes of sadomasochism and sexuality in a way that makes Fifty Shades look like Saturday morning cartoons.

Rent or Buy

Under the Skin

Released: 2013

Directed by: Jonathan Glazer

Actors: Scarlett Johansson

Fun fact: Glazer hired people off the street, not actors, to portray the men who succumb to Johansson’s alien allure and ultimately die in bizarre, mesmerizing ways.

Rent or Buy

Boogie Nights

Released: 1997

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

Actors: Julianne Moore and Mark Wahlberg

Fun fact: Originally, Mark Wahlberg’s prosthetic penis was 12 inches long, but because that looked ridiculous, it was shortened to seven inches.

Rent or Buy

Basic Instinct 2

Released: 2006

Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones

Actors: Sharon Stone

Fun Fact: Two scenes, one of them a threesome, had to be cut from this film for it to avoid an NC-17 rating. The orgy scene and this masturbation scene remained, making the sequel that much crazier than the already-crazy first Basic Instinct.

Rent or Buy

Don Jon

Released: 2013

Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Fun Fact: JGL knew he wouldn’t get a big Hollywood studio to make his porn addiction movie, so he did it on his own.

Rent or Buy

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Released: 1975

Directed by: Jim Sharman

Actors: Susan Sarandon and Peter Hinwood

Fun fact: Sarandon refused to appear nude during this much-beloved, musical ensemble number.

Rent or Buy

Trainwreck

Released: 2015

Directed by: Judd Apatow

Actors: Amy Schumer and John Cena

Fun Fact: Cena said this scene was written to be much more physical, but Schumer and Apatow let him ad lib, so it became something truly memorable.

Rent or Buy

The Room

Released: 2003

Directed by: Tommy Wiseau

Actors: Tommy Wiseau and Juliette Danielle

Fun Fact: Wiseau claimed, “I have to show my ass or this movie won’t sell.” Show his ass he did.

Buy

Sausage Party

Released: 2016

Directed by: Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon

Actors: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, and many more

Fun Fact: This was the first ever 3D CGI-animated film to get an R rating by the MPAA, for obvious reasons.

Rent or Buy

Disobedience

Released: 2018

Directed by: Sebastián Lelio

Actors: Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams

Fun fact: McAdams said the saliva used in this scene was actually lychee-flavored lube.

Rent or Buy

Secretary

Released: 2002

Directed by: Steven Shainberg

Actors: Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader

Fun fact: This was one of few mainstream films to portray BDSM as sex positive, long before 50 Shades of Grey entered the scene.

Rent or Buy

Raw

Released: 2016

Directed by: Julia Ducournau

Actors: Garance Marillier and Rabah Nait Oufella

Fun fact: People allegedly fainted while watching this gory, French cannibalism movie. Consider yourself warned.

Rent or Buy

Black Swan

Released: 2010

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Actors: Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman

Fun Fact: This psychological thriller is one of just six horror films to ever be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Rent or Buy

Girls Trip

Released: 2017

Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee

Actor: Tiffany Haddish and a banana

Fun Fact: Though not an actual sex scene, this bonkers grapefruiting demonstration got the crew on Girls Trip to start sending Haddish love letters and jewelry for her performance.

Rent or Buy

The Counselor

Released: 2013

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Actors: Cameron Diaz and a 2013 Ferrari California HS

Fun fact: Angelia Jolie turned down the role of Malkina. Wonder why?

Rent or Buy

9 1/2 Weeks

Released: 1986

Directed by: Adrian Lyne

Actors: Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger

Fun fact: Basinger used a body double for all of her sex scenes.

Rent or Buy

Shame

Released: 2011

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Actors: Michael Fassbender and Amy Hargreaves

Fun fact: The Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District is notorious for couples having sex against the floor-to-ceiling windows, as one scene in this movie demonstrates.

Rent or Buy

Showgirls

Released: 1995

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Actors: Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle MacLachlan

Fun fact: Showgirls is the highest-grossing NC-17 movie of all time.

Rent or Buy

Don’t Look Now

Released: 1973

Directed by: Nicholas Roeg

Actors: Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie

Fun fact: The scene still seems so natural and real that rumors abound that Sutherland and Christie weren’t really acting.

Rent or Buy

Love

Released: 2015

Directed by: Gaspar Noé

Actors: Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman, and Klara Kristin

Fun fact: The unsimulated sex scenes were arguably more exciting during the film’s 3D theatrical release.

Rent or Buy

The Paperboy

Released: 2012

Directed by: Lee Daniels

Actors: Nicole Kidman and John Cusack

Fun fact: This is the movie in which Nicole Kidman peed on Zac Efron. And yet that’s not the most shocking scene of the film.

Rent or Buy

Blue Is the Warmest Color

Released: 2013

Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche

Actors: Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos

Fun fact: One of the multiple sex scenes in this film took ten days to shoot, and sparked intense conversations about a director’s responsibility to actors’ well-being on set.

Rent or Buy

Wet Hot American Summer

Released: 2001

Directed by: David Wain

Actors: Bradley Cooper and Michael Ian Black

Fun fact: This sex scene was all improv. Including the part where they keep their socks on.

Rent or Buy

Watchmen

Released: 2009

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Actors: Malin Akerman and Patrick Wilson

Fun fact: Snyder actually thought it would be a good idea to set a superhero sex scene to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Rent or Buy

Gone Girl

Released: 2014

Directed by: David Fincher

Actors: Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris

Fun fact: Pike practiced this murderous sex scene using a Dora the Explorer doll. She also requested that she and Harris spend two hours alone on set preparing.

Rent or Buy

Wild Things

Released: 1998

Directed by: John McNaughton

Actors: Denise Richards, Matt Dillon, and Neve Campbell

Fun fact: The crew found a dead body before filming a river scene. The police simply anchored the corpse to the shore out of site until filming was completed.

Rent or Buy

Y Tu Mamá También

Released: 2001

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Actors: Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and Ana López Mercado

Fun fact: Luna is not circumcised. That penis you see is pure prosthetic.

Rent or Buy

Team America

Released: 2004

Directed by: Trey Parker

Actors: Two puppets voiced by Trey Parker and Kristen Miller

Fun fact: After showing an initial version of the film to the Motion Picture Association of America, the board gave it an NC-17 rating for the sex scene. After at least nine edits, the film finally got bumped down to an R rating.

Rent or Buy

Shoot ‘Em Up

Released: 2007

Directed by: Michael Davis

Actors: Clive Owen and Monica Bellucci

Fun fact: This film had a body count of 151—nine during this sex scene.

Rent or Buy

Risky Business

Released: 1983

Directed by: Paul Brickman

Actors: Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay

Fun fact: This movie, in which Cruise wears Ray-Ban Wayfarers, boosted sales of the model by 50 percent.

Rent or Buy

American Psycho

Released: 2000

Directed by: Mary Harron

Actors: Cara Seymour, Guinevere Turner, and Christian Bale

Fun fact: Bale based his Patrick Bateman off Tom Cruise, as he called it “this very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes.”

Rent or Buy

MacGruber

Released: 2010

Directed by: Jorma Taccone

Actors: Will Forte and Maya Rudolph

Fun fact: Rudolph was eight months pregnant while shooting her scenes.

Rent or Buy

Eyes Wide Shut

Released: 1999

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Actors: Tom Cruise and a lot of naked people in scary masks

Fun fact: Many of the orgy guests were computer-generated figures that obscured the sex acts, allowing the film to get an R rating.

Rent or Buy

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