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The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

by The Playlist Staff
February 14, 2013 1:12 PM
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"Brokeback Mountain"
Regardless of the orientation and gender of its protagonists (and, indeed the viewer), "Brokeback Mountain" stands as one of the most searing and effective films about forbidden and semi-requited love out there, and it all starts with one night in a tent. Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) have been hired to tend sheep over a Wyoming summer, and one cold night, after they've both been drinking, Jack invites Ennis into his tent. There's a sense of inevitability in the moments beforehand, and even as they realize what's happening, the pair are almost trying to fight each other, each instigating, then pushing back violently. But finally, it happens; without even a kiss, Jack takes his jeans down, and the pair have sex. There are more romantic scenes on this list, and ones that are more arousing, certainly, but thanks to Ang Lee (who also contributed some equally memorable, if more explicit scenes in "Lust, Caution"), there's a sensuality to go with the almost businesslike manner of the duo.

"Y Tu Mamá Tambien"
Fittingly for a film that focuses on two adolescent boys who think with their dicks much more than they do with their brains, Alfonso Cuarón's coming-of-age road movie "Y Tu Mamá Tambien" is pretty much obsessed with sex from the get-go, with the earliest scenes finding Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) both having sex with their girlfriends, and masturbating together by the pool. But their sexual competition becomes more pronounced when they head off on a road trip with Luisa (Maribel Verdú), the wife of Tenoch's cousin, who, unbeknownst to Julio or Tenoch, has a terminal illness. She beds first Tenoch, then Julio, each proving awkward and less than skilled in the sack. But the film's most memorable sex scene comes near the end, when the trio all go to bed together, drunkenly, Luisa going down on the boys while they kiss, passionately. It's less panicked and awkward than previous encounters, Luisa's demonstration of the boy's latent attraction to each seemingly proving a release for the pair, even as they worship her (and to an extent, she them). It's a touching and deeply sexy scene, even if it's one of the unlikelier precursors to a 'Harry Potter' movie you can imagine (Cuarón's next film was the third Potter film, "The Prisoner of Azkaban.")


Long after the then-shocking subject matter has been absorbed into the mainstream (hence the enormous success of "Fifty Shades Of Grey"), Steven Shainberg's "Secretary" has settled into its place in film history as a smart, rich and beautifully acted romantic comedy, albeit one with lashings of BDSM. Shainberg was setting out to help to normalize such non-vanilla relationships in the eyes of audiences, inspired by films like "My Beautiful Launderette," and certainly succeeded, with his tale of the relationship between self-harming secretary Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and her employer, attorney E. Edward Grey (everyone's favorite cinematic perv, James Spader). He's initially infuriated by her incompetence at work, but the two gradually work out that her submissiveness, and his dominance, go hand in hand, and they tentatively fall in love. Bar the spanking et al, it's a reasonably traditional love triangle -- Edward the emotionally unavailable Mr. Darcy type, her boyfriend (Jeremy Davies) the harmless, hapless Bill Pullman figure. But even without all that much actual intercourse going on, at least in the more memorable moments, the sex scenes are almost revelatory, Shainberg letting them unfold slowly, placing Lee's gradual awakening, and Edward's emotional thawing, front and center. The director's now prepping a film about a foot fetishist, so let's see if lightning can strike twice...

"Team America: World Police"
Well, they can't all be sexy, can they? Having featured a sex scene between Saddam Hussein and Satan in their previous movie, "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," Trey Parker and Matt Stone had a job on their hands topping it, but managed it in "Team America: World Police" by throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. After a disastrous mission in Cairo, Broadway actor turned anti-terrorist agent Gary (Parker), and psychologist team-mate Lisa (Kristen Miller) share their feelings, and sleep together. Although, really, there's very little sleeping involved; at least in the extended, uncensored version (it was cut in half to avoid an NC-17). The two puppets go through almost every imaginable sexual position and act you can manage to do with two people, from good 'ol missionary to pissing and shitting on each other, and everything in between. It's not exactly a turn-on, but it's pretty damn hilarious. And perhaps more importantly, the scene gets to the heart of a more profound point; sex is pretty ridiculous, from the outside at least, and if you can't laugh during it, you're probably doing it wrong.

"The Postman Always Rings Twice"
Whether Bob Rafelson's 1981 remake (or, if you prefer, second adaptation of James M. Cain's novel) is preferable to the 1946 original is up for debate, but one thing's for certain; the more recent film is a lot more explicit. As with previous takes, the film sees Frank Chambers (Jack Nicholson) come into rural California, where he begins an affair with Cora (Jessica Lange), the wife of a Greek immigrant (John Colicos). Together, they plot to kill the husband, and the usual noirish complications ensue. But one of the major differences from the Lana Turner-starring original (besides a sharp script from David Mamet, his first screen credit) is the initial sex scene between the pair. Frank and Cora go at it hammer-and-tongs in the kitchen, tearing their clothes off, and there's a desperate, lustful intensity to their coupling that has been rarely matched on screen. Indeed, as with "Don't Look Now," rumors have persisted that the two actors did it for real, and you can judge for yourself below.


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  • no | April 15, 2014 9:51 PMReply

    hilariously bad list. reads like a typical woman's fantasy list. calling wild thing's sex scene threesome as "laughable" then calling broke back mountain's terrible sex scene as arousing. you're also a bad writer

  • NO ONE CARES | July 22, 2014 1:30 AM


  • Ryan george | February 5, 2014 7:32 PMReply

    i love t thank

  • Mark | November 17, 2013 8:04 AMReply

    Monster's Ball should be somewhere on either of these lists, it at least deserves a mention.

  • Seth | April 8, 2014 1:43 AM

    I'm actually surprised that the Monster's Ball scene isn't here. It was a really good one.

  • khlel72 | September 28, 2013 4:05 AMReply


  • Goose | August 17, 2013 11:32 PMReply

    Bound should have been on here, beautifully done with Jennifer Tilly's seductive voice. It would be enough to get straight men and women going, better then a lot on here/

  • KHAN | May 23, 2013 11:32 PMReply

    Stupid Vedios I want full fuck with pussy

  • dumm | June 25, 2013 8:35 AM


  • NMH | April 13, 2013 2:30 PMReply none from Unfaithful at all? Despite the fact that the bathroom scene and the hallway scene are damn near what the movie is known for?

  • dodo | April 12, 2013 7:23 PMReply

    very nice

  • sozial | June 25, 2013 8:36 AM

    Fuck you bitsches

  • yuri | May 27, 2013 2:39 PM

    Want to watch

  • Isla | April 8, 2013 11:07 PMReply

    One of the best sex scenes I have ever seen is from Late Marriage (2001).

  • Isla | April 8, 2013 11:06 PMReply

    One of the best sex scenes I have ever seen is from Late Marriage (2001).

  • mohamed | June 28, 2014 9:04 PM

    grand film

  • jman | November 25, 2013 10:40 PM

    loved it! one of the best sex scene ever

  • Bella | September 24, 2013 5:05 PM

    ISLA can you send it to me baby?

  • Isla | April 8, 2013 11:06 PMReply

    One of the best sex scenes I have ever seen is from Late Marriage (2001).

  • Just wondering | September 19, 2013 7:39 PM

    Has anybody ever seen Late Marriage (2001)?

  • Zoe | April 5, 2013 10:21 PMReply

    I think one of the worst has to be Matthew Broderick's character furiously thrusting while having sex with his wife and imagining he is fucking a younger pupil of his in "Election" (1990). The camera angles for all the sex scenes in that film are intentionally painfully awkward, but then being a bleak political satire that's often the point.

  • Mohd Razali | March 15, 2013 2:22 AMReply

    I want to watch first,and then I will sent you my comments

  • sangit | March 10, 2013 3:33 PMReply

    So hard sex

  • Kanerwa | February 20, 2013 8:03 AMReply

    The best sex scene directed by Cronenberg is from Cosmopolis.Packer with Kendra are portrayed as equel lovers and camera is focus on both of them(not only on actress,like in most movies).And this scene was filming in one take.

  • BEF | February 19, 2013 11:06 AMReply

    I think this list (with the exception of the second History of Violence scene, but not the first) is that The Playlist prefers making love to fucking.

  • BEF | February 19, 2013 11:07 AM

    And when they like fucking, they like it with inanimate objects.

  • Glass | February 19, 2013 1:13 AMReply

    I beat off to the Wild Things sex scene so many times when I was a kid, real talk

  • Ian | February 18, 2013 5:57 PMReply

    Kathleen Turner, William Hurt and the ice cream in Body Heat. Hot. Intentionally funny and unlikely scene is the one between Emma Thompson and Jeff Goldblum in The Tall Guy. The dusty orgy in Zabriskie Point should have some kind of special WTF award.

  • sarfee | February 18, 2013 7:14 AMReply


  • nightgoat72 | February 17, 2013 11:18 PMReply

    Oh, and MacGruber clearly has the best sex scenes of all time.

  • nightgoat72 | February 17, 2013 11:14 PMReply

    I love the sex scene in Watchmen. It's easily my favorite part of the movie. It's hilarious. I think it's purposely played for laughs in a subtle way.

  • Zoe | April 5, 2013 10:25 PM

    I agree, I think the point of that scene is to ridicule the characters to an extent. Pity the excellent opening sequence of Watchmen far surpasses the rest of the film though (in my opinion, at least...)

  • Jordan Hoffman | February 17, 2013 9:59 AMReply

    Dittos on MUNICH. Re-edit that one scene and you may have a perfect film. As is, embarrassment.

    Suggestion from the peanut gallery: it isn't a good or even memorable movie, but Laura Linney & Topher Grace in P.S. pull off a rather realistic and erotic love scene.

    Similar to Damage - Kathleen Turner & Jack Nicholson rolling off the bed and continuing their activity in PRIZZI'S HONOR.

  • Jinky | February 15, 2013 4:59 PMReply

    Betty Blue's opening scene is pretty close to the real deal. Some say it is.

  • PyroSikTh | February 15, 2013 2:38 PMReply

    Someone didn't understand Watchmen...

  • MichaelHaneline | March 10, 2013 1:27 AM

    I thought Watchmen was trying to make the sex intentionally awkward, to make it more realistic. I can't think of how the scene could have been any more realistic, especially for that character.

    Sex is awkward, stop pretending it isn't.

  • MichaelHaneline | March 10, 2013 1:26 AM

    I thought Watchmen was trying to make the sex intentionally awkward, to make it more realistic. I can't think of how the scene could have been any more realistic, especially for that character.

    Sex is awkward, stop pretending it isn't.

  • Fran | February 17, 2013 9:41 AM

    Glad Watchmen is on here. It's hilarious, retarded, etc. I spittook in theaters.

  • Jamie | February 14, 2013 4:36 PMReply

    Sometimes the best scenes are the ones where you see nothing. Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham when all you see is her hand grabbing the leg of the wildly shaking dresser.

  • Karen | February 14, 2013 4:02 PMReply


  • Frank | February 14, 2013 2:01 PMReply

    Amen on Wild Things. Thanks for putting it in its place.

  • blue | February 14, 2013 1:41 PMReply

    what about Hoffman and Tomei in 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead'?

  • wes | February 14, 2013 1:35 PMReply

    Also, L'atalante should be on here for best, and John Malkovich in Antonioni's Beyond the Clouds should be on here for worst.

  • Wes | February 14, 2013 1:25 PMReply

    I agree with most, but I remember the History of Violence and the Brokeback Mountain scenes being too violent for my taste. Good films, but those scenes bothered me. Also, Matrix Reloaded is a bad film with a great sex scene. I don't understand why people don't like that scene.

  • wes | February 14, 2013 1:29 PM

    So, no, I don't think Cronenberg pulls that one scene off. But the other scenes are good. :)

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