Sex scenes may be one of the most difficult elements to pull off in a film. A well-crafted sex scene requires a perfect blend of writing, direction, and performance. There must be a natural chemistry between the actors — a moment of abandon in which the performers are no longer acting — but instead, a moment between two people, sexually drawn to each other, caught on film, not created for it. And if done successfully, the audience will forget that they’re in a theater, watching a movie. Instead, they’ll become part of the moment, affected. Below is a list of ten sex scenes that do exactly that.
Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon
Why this scene? Everything about this movie plays on female sexual desires. Innocent, young “Nicole” (Witherspoon) falls for very bad boy “David” (Wahlberg) much to the dismay of her father “William” played by sexy Steve Walker. William and David go head to head in a subtle battle of control over Nicole — David wanting to make her his in every way, and William wanting to preserve her innocence. Two alpha males with a deep hatred for each other, it’s bound to go badly for one — and that’s William when David decides he’ll attract the desire of both William’s daughter and his new wife (played by Amy Brennemann). In a scene at the fair, David gives Nicole her first orgasm as they ride the roller coaster— an intensely erotic scene even though they’re both fully clothed.
9. The Fast and the Furious
Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez
Why this scene? We only see the foreplay but wow… Vin Diesel’s “Dom” plays the hunky, dominating father-figure to his crew which includes firecracker girlfriend played by Rodriguez. Sweaty and dirty from working on their prized cars, the chemistry between them becomes too distracting.
Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader
Why this scene? Dysfunction makes for great sex. This film brought BDSM to mainstream Hollywood without the expected parody we usually see. Needy “Lee” played by Gyllenhaal seems to fill an emotional void when she submits to her tightly-wound boss (Spader). In a sexy domination scene, Spader’s character spanks his secretary. Most would agree it’s one of the most erotic sex scenes in recent film history.
7. Fight Club
Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter
Why this scene? If just seeing a sex scene that includes Brad Pitt isn’t enough, the fact that testosterone-driven Pitt’s character (Tyler Durden) represents the repressed masculinity and male sexuality of Ed Norton’s character, should be. All that repression leads to a steamy sex scene with a woman (Carter) he is attracted to, and intensely bothered by at the same time. Desire, passion, punishment, loathing, and even jealousy seem to come through in their love-making.
6. Risky Business
Tom Cruise and Rebecca de Mornay
Why this scene? Good boy Tom Cruise explores his naughty side when he shows prostitute “Lana” (de Mornay) what he’s made of. His virginal nature is symbolically lost when he crosses into a world of sex, prostitution, and money.
5. Wild Things
Neve Campbell and Denise Richards (you knew a lesbian scene would appear somewhere on this list, right?)
Why this scene? Noted as one of the most erotic mainstream lesbian scenes of all time, the chemistry between the two evil girls — their sex almost a personification of their manipulation of each other and everything around them. The movie itself redraws the lines for mainstream erotica as the two lesbians frame their high school guidance counselor for rape.
4. Color of Night
Bruce Willis and Jane March
Why this scene? Barely of age at the time of filming, the scene literally feels like you’re witnessing March’s virginity slip away. Bruce Willis is a man’s man and much older than the young, troubled woman. The scene pushes the limits of sensuality and sexual abandon, and neither March nor Willis are hard on the eyes.
3. Monster’s Ball
Halle and Billy Bob
Why this scene? An unlikely romance grows between Halle Berry’s “Leticia” and Thornton’s “Hank.” Hank, a correctional officer, begins an affair with the wife of a convicted killer sentenced to die. Each have incredible problems with their families — Hank is a failure in the eyes of his son and his father, while Leticia has trouble dealing with her son’s morbid obesity and the anger she feels for her husband. It’s like watching two waves suddenly crash together — each needing only one thing from the other — escape from their lives.
2. Fatal Attraction
Michael Douglas in the elevator with Glenn Close
Why this scene? Again, the lustful sex of an extra-marital affair only this time it’s the man cheating on his wife while she’s away. Engulfed in a weekend of debauchery, Douglas’ “Dan Gallagher” can’t keep his hands off of Close’s “Alex” for a full 48 hours. However, when the weekend is over, his desire to return to the contentment of his normal life doesn’t set well with Alex. Passion in bed morphs into a passionate, obsessive… and yes, maniacal anger when Gallagher chooses his wife over her.
Diane Lane and that sexy French guy
Why this scene? If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s worth it just to see this scene. Unbridled passion and sexual attraction between “almost strangers” sets the screen on fire as Diane Lane escapes from her mundane life with her husband with a seductive French man she meets. You’ll feel like a voyeur.