These Are the Most Sexually Provocative Movies of All Time

3 minute read

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Last Tango in Paris
Last Tango in ParisCourtesy Everett Collection

The Franco-Italian romance starring Marlon Brando centered on a couple that conducts an anonymous sexual relationship in an unfurnished apartment in Paris. The film’s portrayal of sexual violence (and the use of butter as a lubricant) sparked controversy, even earning a TIME cover story.

Risky Business (1983)

Risky Business
Risky Business.Courtesy Everett Collection

Tom Cruise burst onto the movie scene by having sex on an abandoned Chicago “L” train with a call girl as a high schooler in this movie.

9 1/ 2 Weeks (1986)

9 1/2 Weeks
9 1/2 WeeksCourtesy Everett Collection

This Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger film featured BDSM long before Fifty Shades ever did. Some of the scenes border on assault, and at one point the couple even has sex after stabbing another man in the buttocks.

More from TIME

Henry & June (1990)

Henry & June
Henry & JuneCourtesy Everett Collection

Henry & June was the first film to receive an NC-17 rating from the MPAA (which had recently replaced an X rating). The movie was based on the real-life sexual relationships among Anais Nin, famed author Henry Miller, and his wife June Miller.


Basic Instinct (1992)

Basic Instinct
Basic InstinctCourtesy Everett Collection

Sharon Stone’s infamous leg-crossing scene has gone down in cinema history as one of the most provocative shots ever filmed.

Boogie Nights (1997)

Boogie Nights
Boogie NightsCourtesy Everett Collection

Back when he was still widely known as underwear model Marky Mark, Mark Wahlberg took on the role of a porn star in Paul Thomas Anderson’s matter-of-fact look at the mechanics of porn.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Eyes Wide Shut
Eyes Wide ShutCourtesy Everett Collection

Stanley Kubrick’s last film, starring real couple Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, included several sex scenes (real and fantasy) as well as an orgy scene that had to be altered to earn an R rating for the American release.

Y Tu Mama También (2001)

Y Tu Mama También
Y Tu Mama También.Courtesy Everett Collection

Two friends spontaneously decide to engage in a sexual relationship with an older woman while on a road trip.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback MountainCourtesy Everett Collection

In 2005, Brokeback Mountain was one of the first mainstream motion pictures to feature a love story and sex scenes between two gay characters played by two famous actors, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan
Black SwanCourtesy Everett Collection

Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her Black Swan role, but what created the most buzz was a hallucinatory sex scene between her and Mila Kunis and a botched-masturbation sequence.

Nymphomaniac (2013)

NymphomaniacCourtesy Everett Collection

The two-part Lars von Trier movie about a self-described nymphomaniac was released in two formats: the original hardcore version, and an edited softcore one. While some dismissed it as porn, most critics embraced the film as an engaging exploration of a woman’s sexuality.

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

Blue Is the Warmest Color
Blue Is the Warmest ColorCourtesy Everett Collection

This French romance film made a splash first at the Cannes Film Festival and then in theaters for its explicit lesbian sex scenes between two teenage girls.

Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl
Gone GirlCourtesy Everett Collection

Just a few months before Fifty Shades of Grey‘s release, Gone Girl shocked audiences with a brutal and bloody sex scene.

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of GreyCourtesy Everett Collection

Audiences are curious how the popular book filled with BDSM will translate to the big screen. Fandango reports that it has sold more pre-sale tickets for Fifty Shades of Grey than any other R-rated film

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Eliana Dockterman at