Despite its taboo, sex is almost impossible to avoid in media, and it's especially difficult to ignore in film. Directors love to sprinkle in some gratuitous nudity or a few intimate encounters, but can you blame them? After all, sex sells, and it’ll continue to sell a lot more than any “I love you” or romantic, prolonged eye contact ever will. 

My favorite part of watching movies is experiencing the genuine emotion that seeps off the screen and worms its way into my heart, and sex scenes are no different. When I watch a sex scene, I want it to mean something. Sure, the attractive and semi–naked actors are a great bonus, but I want to view something so intimate I begin to doubt if it was ever really meant for my eyes in the first place. I want to see passion, chemistry, and tension packed within each steamy scene, or I don’t want to see sex at all. 

Although many sex scenes just leave me with the dirty feeling of watching a low–budget porno, there have been a prized few that have provided me with that uncomfortable, squirm–around–in–my–seat tension that I’ve been waiting for. 

Here—in no particular order—are some sex scenes that have managed to top my list, and I hope you all enjoy a taste of raw emotion in this season of love and saccharine romance:

1) Blue Valentine: Oral Sex Scene

This steamy scene almost dipped the film into NC–17 territory. However, the director battled against this and eventually got the movie restored to its award season–friendly R rating, arguing that the scene was only considered inappropriate due to a sexist standard that perpetuated the taboo against female pleasure. The scene, in which Ryan Gosling performs oral sex on Michelle Williams, displays a detailed depiction of the female orgasm, which both Gosling and Williams argued contained nothing particularly scandalous. Despite much press and the many rumors surrounding the moment, the film (as well as the sexual encounters it depicts) turned out beautifully and continues to be one of my all–time favorites. 

2) The Notebook

I couldn’t really go through an article about sex scenes without mentioning The Notebook. This was the first sex scene I remember fully watching, with those before it accompanied by the rapid descent of my mother’s hand over my face and a press of the fast-forward button. I saw this movie with the company of a few friends, no parents to control the content we were consuming. So, we sat and watched Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams run at each other with a mix of anger, pain, and longing that literally none of us could comprehend, giggling and closing our eyes almost all the way (but not quite). 

Years later I sit down and watch the movie again, desperate for something to pass the time. And, although I hate to admit it because The Notebook is everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure, I can’t help but love the captivating energy that emanates from their every touch. 

So yes, I’m basic, but I like The Notebook and all of its intimate moments. Sue me.

3) Cruel Intentions

This one is a classic, and it would be almost rude of me to not include it. Don’t lie, we all experienced a weird sexual awakening when watching this, whether we wanted to or not. I don’t know if I can see this movie twice because of the absolute level of discomfort it brought me, but in my opinion that’s when you know a sex scene is truly good. Which sex scene in particular, you might ask? Honestly, take your pick—you won’t be disappointed. 

4) Y Tu Mamá También

In case you wanted to venture into the world of foreign films, this one is bound to have you at the edge of your seat the entire time. My mother deemed this movie "pornographic," and I wasn’t allowed to see it until I grew up and gained some form of autonomy over my viewing habits. It shook adolescent me to my core. I was left reeling at the sexual overtones layered over every scene, to the point where I had to pause every twenty minutes in order to make it all the way through. I had never seen a movie focused on an older woman with a younger man, and the film really opened my eyes to the vastness of human relationships that I was previously not privy to. Overall, great watch and a wonderful way to brush up on your Spanish (I know I need to).

So, whether you’re out there looking for a little bit of love this season or just a way to pass the time, I would recommend giving these movies a try. Sex is something I wish was celebrated more, so let’s do our part and give it the recognition it deserves. Pleasure is as important a feeling as heartbreak, romance, and everything else that films tend to prioritize.


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