The latest Entertainment Weekly raises the question of what makes a movie sexy. Well, they really just present their list of “The 50 Sexiest Movies Ever,” but their designation of the sexiest moment in each movie selected suggests that the factors that contribute to movie sexiness are varied. (You can find EW’s 1-25 here and 26-50 here.)
For example, it can be an explicitly sexual act such as frenzied coitus in an alley in the rain (9 ½ Weeks, #24) or a same-sex kiss with lingering drool (Cruel Intentions¸ #32). It can be suggestive dancing tinged with violence (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, #3), or just an erotically delivered song (The Fabulous Baker Boys, #12). It can even be two strangers (Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood) making dinner (The Bridges of Madison County, #45).
And I get this. While Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood don’t do it for me as a couple, just the idea of Meryl Streep and Allison Janney as a couple — regardless of the lack of sexual contact between them — made The Hours an incredibly sexy movie to me.
Although I certainly disagree with some of EW’s list — anything with Kevin Costner (ew!) — I would include a number of their choices were I to make my own list of sexy movies. And what makes a movie sexy is clearly not an objective measure. Reasonable people can are likely to disagree. For me, there has to be palpable attraction between the characters. It’s even better, of course, when both (all?) characters sharing attraction are women.
There’s a fair amount of lesbian/bi-curious content to be found on the EW list — oddly, there’s considerable more lesbian representation in a “That’s hot” list than there usually is on their talent/power/intelligence lists. (Imagine that.) So I took a look at these options to assess whether I consider them among the sexiest movies of all time.
Mullholland Drive (#17) — No
The sexiest moment identified is the sex scene between Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring. I just didn’t get the connection between the women, much less feel the heat, but perhaps that’s because I don’t really get David Lynch. However, the friends with whom I saw it (one lesbian, one bisexual woman) both loved it, so reasonable people can certainly disagree.
Swimming Pool (#18) — Maybe
I cannot really remember this but I know it had something a little lesbianish going on. However, the fact that it didn’t stick doesn’t bode well.
Basic Instinct (#21) — No
Oddly, I’m not turned on by bisexual ice pick murderers.
Love & Basketball (#28) — Yes
OK, I did not find the real version of this particularly sexy, but the version in my head in which Sanna Lathan is in love with teammate/rival Erika Ringor instead of Omar Epps is definitely hot.
Bound (#29) — Yes
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. The tension between Corky and Violet is established early, and the sex doesn’t exorcise the tension. The cinematography, the interplay and conflict between greed and loyalty, and the sheer chemistry make this an incredibly sexy movie. Plus they ride off into the sunset together at the end, and I love that.
Cruel Intentions (#32) — No
I get why the drooly kiss won an MTV Movie Award, and I can see how the whole power/manipulation thing could be sexy if well-executed — but this was not.
Little Children (#42) — Yes
There’s nothing overtly lesbian in this movie, but sight of Kate Winslet’s lovely curves in the brief nude scene was one of the most erotic sights I’ve responded to in a movie in years. And that makes it lesbian to me.
Kissing Jessica Stein (#47) — Yes
It’s a stretch to call this one of the sexiest movies of all time, but the lesbian pickings are slim. (When I asked a friend for examples of others, she replied, “Sexy lesbian movies? Isn’t that an oxymoron?”) I agree with the EW editors, though, that the thigh-fondling under the table in the bar as the guys describe why girl-on-girl action is hot is a reasonably sexy moment in a not overly-sexy movie.
Of course, after reviewing EW’s list, I had to consider what movies were not there. So after I conducted a scientific poll of friends and, together, we identified a few outstanding omissions:
Sexiest bi-curious movie: Wild Things
Neve Campbell and Denise Richards are basically straight girls kissing each other, but they have chemistry and the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Sexiest lesbian vampire movie: The Hunger
I’m generally not into vampire themes, but Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon? Yes, it’s a little porn-y that Susan Sarandon keeps her high heels on during the sex scene, but that pairing is one of the sexiest I have ever seen.
Sexiest coming-out movie: Desert Hearts
I know that I’m influenced by the role this movie played in my coming out process, but I think it holds up.
Sexiest lesbian circus performer movie: When Night is Falling
I only saw this movie once but what I remember is serious chemistry between the women.
I could go on, but I’ll leave that to the rest of you. What do you think of Entertainment Weekly list? And what movies would be on your list of the all-time sexiest movies?