Beyond the lack of chemistry in the Fifty Shades movies and the forced romances in just about every major release year-on-year (here’s looking at you Jurassic World, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, etc. etc…), cinema can really produce when it comes to relateable tales of falling in love, and even love falling apart. Every now and then however, a filmmaker comes along with an ability to produce an aura of sexuality unlike the rest, designing a sex appeal to rival the greatest of erotic novels and even the steamiest of real-life relationships. These are the movies that will always be a little too awkward to watch with your parents and they’re almost certain to get your heart racing in all the right ways. In this list, we’ve dedicated ourselves to celebrating five of these films for our own selection of the top 5 sexiest movies of all time. We have selected these films based on the overall sexual tone or underlying sexual tension of the movies as a whole, with particular attention paid towards the different ways through which films can be seen as “sexy”. Our honourable mentions include the obviously sexy fare of Magic Mike and its sequel Magic Mike XXL, the more distressing and dangerous love of The Dreamers and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, as well as Cruel Intentions, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Mulholland Drive, 9 1/2 Weeks and the abundantly obvious Secretary.
As always, we’d love to hear what you would have chosen, so make sure to leave your comments at the foot of this article!
The Handmaiden (2016/17)
Park Chan-Wook’s marrying of Korean sociopolitical history with an English novel for what is essentially a Korean/Japanese period drama doesn’t seem like the sort of movie that would blow your socks off, but there are few films released this century that can come close to the red-hot chemistry on offer in the absurdly sexy The Handmaiden. Told from three perspectives, each one acting as an individual act, the eroticism of the piece is given an opportunity to grow into the movie, with Park’s beautifully constructed long takes earning every bead of sweat that’s bound to drop down your brow. The film explores romance and love, sexual awakening, sexual exploits and sexual perversion in an adult and sophisticated manner that simply oozes sex appeal while remaining entirely engaging on an intellectual level. If you’re looking for a truly adult way to build sexual tension over a glass of wine or two, this is the perfect film for you.
Basic Instinct (1992)
Is there any film in the annals of history that is more typically associated with dangerous sex than Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct? Perhaps the most famous and celebrated erotic thriller of the brief late-80s early-90s trend, Basic Instinct was every bit as much about sexual tension and true eroticism as it was about that moment when rising star Sharon Stone uncrossed her legs. You know the one.
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Our entry from Classic Hollywood is From Here to Eternity (1953) which beats classic Film Noir entries and a handful of Hitchockian pictures to this spot on the list courtesy of perhaps the most clenched-fist-inducing kiss in the history of cinema. Kissing in the sand, then the sea, then the sand again. The entire love-making sequence in From Here to Eternity is the archetype of steaming-hot sex scene, so much so that the early 50s censors felt it necessary to cut 4 seconds of it for being “too sexy”. Need we provide any further proof as to why it deserves to be in this list? The film itself actually offers a lot more than just sex appeal, with the story taking place during peace-time Pearl Harbor on the brink of entering World War II, and the male characters of the piece each holding particularly dislikeable character traits – the likes of which were purposefully included to offer a less than respectable commentary on military personnel of the time. A classic film with an even more classic Hollywood all-star cast including Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity is more than just the best love-making sequence in the history of cinema, but it is a damn good scene!
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Patrick Swayze is usually enough of a reason for most people to agree that Dirty Dancing is one of cinemas most sexy films, but if you haven’t yet been convinced… the true eroticism of this music-laden film steams through every dance scene and every antagonistic interaction between the two leads, with the movie doing a real good job of offering every 80s person that-way-inclined just a sniff of fantasy wish fulfilment that comes with Jennifer Grey’s Baby hooking up with a red hot, hyper masculine, dancing sex pot like Swayze’s Johnny Castle. The music may not be as sexy after 30 plus years, but the movie sure is!
In the Mood for Love (2000)
Wong Kar-Wai’s romantic masterpiece merges camera, lights and orchestral soundtrack to present some of the most erotic sequences ever put to film, often by simply showcasing a walk down a corridor or a meeting in the dark of the night. In the Mood for Love is a picture you truly have to see to believe, as it offers an almost otherworldly beauty to top its story’s deeply sophisticated premise of a man and a woman who find solace in one another upon discovering their spouses may be cheating on them. This film won’t get you all hot and bothered in an obvious sex-God worshipping way like Dirty Dancing, nor will it confront sex in the way that The Handmaiden does – it doesn’t shine sex in your face like Basic Instinct or offer an all-time great love scene like From Here To Eternity. Instead, In the Mood for Love will bleed the sensuality right out of your deepest recesses through pure art in its most cinematic sense, making it an undeniable classic of Sexy Cinema, and the final entry to our list.