The 50 best sexy movies of the 21st century

From “Magic Mike” to “Y Tu Mamá También” to “Phantom Thread” and “Zola,” here are the best sexy, steamy, and daring movies of the 21st century (so far).

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on July 23, 2017 and has been updated several times since then.

Few movie moments can burn more into the psyche of the audience than a good sex scene. They can shock, excite or simply capture human beauty in a way that cinema is uniquely suited to. Sex scenes don’t have to define what movies they’re in, but they’re often the parts you remember the most.

The nature of sex scenes is constantly changing, as the proliferation of intimacy coordinators and increased concern for the safety of performers in Hollywood hopefully make regrettable sex scenes a thing of the past. This has allowed sexy cinema to flourish, and in recent years there have been plenty of stunning films in the multiplex. With that in mind, it’s time to round up the best accessories in the sexy movie canon.

Our list of the 50 best sexiest movies of the century is international, with movies coming from all over the world. From the biggest studio projects to the smallest independent films, the artists on this list prove that you can be sexy on any size budget. Read on to see the sexiest movies of the 21st century (so far).

Kate Erbland, Jude Dry, Eric Kohn, Ryan Lattanzio, Zack Sharf and Jamie Righetti also contributed to this story.

50. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

CRUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, (aka WO HU CANG LONG), from left: Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, 2000. ©Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics/Everett Collection

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

©Courtesy of Sony Pictures/Everett Collection

Ang Lee’s landmark martial arts epic is as much a love story as anything else, telling the story of the forbidden romance between Lo (Chang Chen) and Jen (Zhang Ziyi). The film’s intimate fight choreography and Lee’s sensitive camerawork blur the lines between fighting and sex, culminating in one of the sexiest fight scenes in modern film history. Sexiness isn’t the only reason to watch Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon — although the liberating feel of Lo and Jen’s desert romance is great — but it’s one of the many factors that made it an enduring classic. . — CZ

49. “Bones and All” (2022)

BONEES AND ALL, from left: Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, 2022. ph: Yannis Drakoulidis /© MGM /Courtesy Everett Collection

“Bones and All”

©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

After “Call Me By Your Name,” Timothee Chalamet and Luca Guadagnino’s ability to make sexy movies together was never questioned. So in their second film together, it’s almost as if the collaborators decided to challenge themselves and make something erotic out of one of the least sexy topics on the planet: cannibalism. By many measures they succeeded, creating an unsettlingly sensual road movie set in 1980s Middle America. While certain viewers will always be haunted by the slapping sounds, Chalamet and Taylor Russell’s sexual chemistry is impossible to ignore. — CZ

48. The Northman (2022)

THE NORTHMAN, Alexander Skarsgard, 2022. ph: Aidan Monaghan / © Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

“The Northman”

©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

Robert Eggers promised he wouldn’t hold back in making a historically accurate Viking film, and no one can deny that he delivered. The Norse revenge saga, drawn from the same myth that inspired “Hamlet,” is full of sex, violence and very sexy violence. The Viking warriors (led by a career-best Alexander Skarsgard) are as muscular as they are scantily clad, and the presence of Anya Taylor-Joy ensures that the prettier aren’t as well represented. Come for the Shakespeare drama, stay for the naked men fighting in the volcano. — CZ

47. “2046” (2004)

2046, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Zhang Ziyi, 2004, (c) courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics/Everett Collection


©Courtesy of Sony Pictures/Everett Collection

Wong Kar-wai films are essentially cinematic prequels. No filmmaker can better capture the beauty and sensuality of slow-burn flirtations that never need to be exposed to an audience. So it’s hardly surprising that a sequel of sorts to his best-loved film (“In the Mood for Love”) contains the same tormented sexiness. Set in 2046, nearly a century after the 1960s Hong Kong romances of “Days of Being Wild” and “In the Mood for Love.” a life of unexplored desire. It’s a unique film that only a unique filmmaker could have made, but it’s a must-see for fans of his work. — CZ

46. ​​”Decision to Leave” (2022)

DECISION TO USE (aka HEOJIL KYOLSHIM), from left: TANG Wei, PARK Hae-il, 2022. © MUBI / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Decision to Leave”

Courtesy of the Everett Collection

Expectations are always high for a new Park Chan-wook film, so the rave reviews for ‘Decision to Leave’ at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival came as no surprise. But few expected his police procedural to be so damn romantic. Park Hae-il stars as a detective whose interest in solving the case is significantly outweighed by his romantic feelings for his primary suspect (Tang Wei). The sexual tension that develops between them throughout the film never pays off in the way that many in the audience probably hoped, but the entire film proves that Park can find humanity in any genre. — CZ

45. Casino Royale (2006)

CASINO ROYALE, Eva Green, Daniel Craig, 2006, (c) Courtesy Sony Pictures/Everett Collection

“Casino Royale”

©Courtesy of Sony Pictures/Everett Collection

Martin Campbell’s 007 film not only marked the introduction of a new actor (Daniel Craig) to play James Bond, but also a complete reinvention of what the iconic spy character could be. After years of increasingly silly and dated Bond films, Campbell decided to ignore the character’s camp past and bring the womanizing secret agent into the 21st century with a bang. “Casino Royale” is sleek, gritty, and yes, very sexy (so Craig’s swim trunks are a defining example of sexy on-screen clothing). Instead of portraying Bond as some kind of comic book character, it allowed the audience to see what he would look like if one of his high-stakes espionage missions took place in a location reminiscent of the real world. While many other acclaimed directors have dabbled in James Bond during the Daniel Craig era, they all owe a debt to “Casino Royale.” — CZ

44. The Love Witch (2016)

THE LOVE WITCH by Samantha Robinson, 2016. © Courtesy Oszcilloscope / Everett Collection

“The Witch in Love”

Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Any horror lover will get a kick out of Anna Biller’s “The Love Witch,” which dutifully embraces the Technicolor aesthetic as a playful homage to 1960s horror films. As the title suggests, the film follows a witch who uses her supernatural powers to lure men into her bed. The film is actually an intelligent commentary on gender roles and the unique power that women wield over men in the real world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy plenty of delightfully campy sex scenes. —CZ

43. “Lingua Franca” (2019)

Lingua franca

“Lingua franca”


Isabel Sandoval’s masterful portrait of a trans Filipina immigrant is rendered so intimately that at times it feels almost too close. The elegant breakout film was directed, written, produced and edited entirely by Sandoval, who also plays the film’s likable lead, Olivia. The film follows an undocumented trans woman as she saves for a green card marriage while working as a home health aide for an elderly Russian woman (Lynn Cohen) in Brighton Beach. Her plan is complicated by a simmering romance with her good-for-nothing grandson, Alex (Eamon Farren), a lost but gentle soul with Slavic sex appeal. Their scenes are charged with sexual tension, which eventually gives way to latent desire, foreshadowed by intimate erotic scenes of Olivia’s self-satisfaction. With so many hats to turn into such confidently crafted cinema, Sandoval is the closest queer film to a trans auteur working at this level. Sharply edited and shot with austere beauty, “Lingua Franca” is a profound example of what happens when marginalized voices are given full creative control. —JD

42. The World to Come (2020)

The world to come

“The World to Come”

Bleecker Street

Mona Fastvold’s frontier lesbian romance is filled with all the hardships that plague life on the edge in the 1850s—apocalyptic blizzards, dying livestock, buried desires confined to secret diary entries. But the spark between Abigail (Katherine Waterston) and Tallie (Vanessa Kirby), two women in heterosexual relationships with difficult men, is volcanic. What’s not seen is the most steamy romance, as the two women engage in a kind of drawn-out dance during a blossoming friendship that has always had an electrifying erotic current. Finally, they take her to the bedroom in a sort of supercut of steamy sex scenes that mark the film’s inevitably tragic finale — emphasizing that their relationship was doomed from the start, but one that remains indelibly close to Abigail’s heart (and groin). . —RL

41. “Parallel Mothers” (2021)

PARALLEL MOTHERS, (aka MADRES PARALELAS), from top: Milena Smit, Penelope Cruz, 2021. ph: Iglesias Mas / © Sony Pictures Classics /courtesy Everett Collection

“Parallel Mothers”

©Courtesy of Sony Pictures/Everett Collection

Pedro Almodóvar never shies away from a complicated erotic bond, and here the relationship between Janis (Penélope Cruz) and Ana (Milena Smit) is a kind of mother-daughter relationship, but takes increasingly rough turns. Their dynamic constantly changes from maternal to erotic and back. Plenty of Almodóvar films have had rough, steamy sex scenes, but “Parallel Mothers” is the sexiest between middle-aged childless Janis and Janis, derailed by a relationship gone wrong, and a frightened teenager, Ana, staring into the sexual abyss. paternity. All these threads are tied together in a twisted little package, which is also one of Almodóvar’s most extravagant love stories. —RL

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