Watching an erotic scene on film between two (or three, or more) attractive Hollywood actors is always a jolly old time, but truly memorable sex scenes don't come along very often. In honor of Kevin Smith's latest masterpiece Zack and Miri Make a Porno (in theaters October 31st); we've compiled a list of the Top Ten X Rated Scenes in Film. In order to keep things current, we stuck to movies on this side of the millennium. Somehow, some way, we manage to persevere through the exhaustive task of watching all these erotic milestones, just for you. Enjoy.
Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Ana (Ana López Mercado) makes a toast with the two charming teen chunks of raging hormones she’s teamed up with on a spontaneous road trip through Mexico: "Here’s to life and love and sex!" she declares, setting off on a journey to teach the flabbergasted boys all about precisely those subjects, with a special emphasis on the third. But a night that begins with a guzzling, raucous celebration ends in a steamy motel threesome – foursome, if you add the tequila — just before Ana’s tragic secret is revealed.
A History of Violence (2005)
This is the second sex scene in the film, the first being much more tame, despite Edie’s titillating cheerleading outfit. When they go at it again, the wholesome family facade has been torn away. Edie, having learned that Tom is really a mobster in hiding, slaps him, and a fight ensues that quickly transforms into rough, screaming, combative sex. In his DVD commentary, Cronenberg notes, "It was a physically difficult scene to shoot and an emotionally very difficult scene to shoot. We wanted to suggest that she’s attracted and repelled by Joey, and she’s still looking for the Tom that’s in this creature." The passion, the pain, the pleasure and betrayal all comes through in the scene, which manages to be both disturbing and insanely erotic at the same time.
Monster’s Ball (2001)
Prison guard Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) certainly didn’t expect to be sleeping with the wife of one of the men whose execution he presided over, but finds himself comforting Halle Berry’s living-a-nightmare character Leticia, the only way he knows how. "Make me feel good," Berry begs, searching for an ounce of happiness in the hell her life has become. She finds temporary comfort in Hank’s arms, as evidenced by a love scene that’s more urgent and passionately animalistic than any in recent memory.
21 Grams (2003)
Make no mistake – 21 Grams is definitely one of those films that you see only once. The subject matter is crushing and overpowering: A man (Sean Penn) with a fatal heart condition is given the heart of a hit-and-run victim, whose devastated wife (Naomi Watts) turns to drugs and spirals into addiction. Penn and Watts’ characters eventually become fatally entwined with the driver in the hit-and-run (Benicio Del Toro), but in the midst of all that, a tortured, heartbroken union between Watts and Penn leads to a love scene that’s as emotionally charged and sexually tense as any film in memory. Watts’ astonishing beauty played no small part in this particular scene making the list.
Sex and Lucía (2001)
Gorgeous Paz Vega, who you may remember as the sizzling housekeeper in Spanglish, sorta-kinda stalks novelist Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa) and once they finally talk, he’s suddenly talked into letting her move in with him. Their fun comes at a terrible price, but their love scene convinces you that it’s well worth it.
Little Children (2006)
Suburban outcasts indulge their instincts as emasculated, housebound husband Brad (Patrick Wilson) takes the artsy Sarah (Kate Winslet) in the laundry room on the dryer. The rocking of the machine helps, but it’s no comparison to the passionate thrusting between these two.
Anyone with a particular fondness for Maggie Gyllenhaal and S&M will be head over heels for this one, which features all kinds of spanking, demeaning and kinky antics performed on Miss G at the hands of James Spader. But it’s the bathtub scene, where Gyllenhall’s body glistens as Spader shampoos her hair, the voiceover where she explains how "for the first time in my life, I felt beautiful."
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Naomi Watts makes the list again as Betty, half the strangely desperate pair of would-be girl detectives, along with Rita (Laura Elena Harring), a silvery-blond wigged Hollywood amnesiac. After a traumatic afternoon, a goodnight kiss takes a passionate turn and Betty asks Rita, "Have you ever done this before?" – to which the afflicted Rita replies, "I don’t know. Have you?" Betty says, "I want to… with you," and with that, a heavenly all-girl love scene unfolds before the two descend into a typically Lynchian hell. Points deducted for the digital blurring of Harring’s unmentionables, but this is otherwise one of the hottest, most breathless scenes on celluloid.
Team America: World Police (2004)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone had to make some massive cuts to Team America in order to secure an R-rating, but the infamous marionette sex scene is still far and away one of the most graphic sequences in movie history. The puppets do all sorts of things the MPAA would never, ever let humans do onscreen, but their lack of anatomic specifics allows for some rather alarming flexibility, both literally and figuratively.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The highly controversial scene between Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Ang Lee’s homoerotic drama marks the first full gay love scene between two major Hollywood actors of our generation. Sure, the Wyoming mountains tense moments in a sleeping bag leads to a scene mostly bathed in darkness, reliant upon shadows and sound to deliver the message. The film serves as a testament to the versatility and courage of both actors.