2 Days in the Valley (1996)
It’s always about 10 to 20 degrees warmer in the Valley than it is in the rest of Los Angeles. In 2 Days in the Valley (featuring a young Charlize Theron in her first lead role), James Spader uses the heat as an excuse to put ice cubes all over Theron’s nipples and thighs. The movie itself isn’t great, but the scene features Charlize Theron in an all-white lace bodysuit, so there’s that.
Wild Things (1998)
As a porn director, I know there are many, many logistical issues that come with shooting sex in a swimming pool. If there’s too much sun, it can cause unflattering reflections; if there’s not enough sun, that’s a problem, too. (Who wants to see people getting it on in a pool on a cloudy day?). Plus, there’s inevitably going to be at least one girl on set who’s like, “I hope this isn’t a problem, but I can’t get my hair extensions wet.” (You’re shooting a sex scene in a swimming pool. Of course it’s a problem.)
But in the 1998 classic Wild Things, Neve Campbell and Denise Richards have the perfect pool sex scene, all without freaking out about their extensions. After almost beating the crap out of each other, they make out under the perfect moonlight before seamlessly segueing into a steamy sex scene. It’s Hollywood. Anything can happen.
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
The ideal English major jerk-off material, this sex scene featuring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes as Viola de Lesseps and William Shakespeare is truly something special. It’s “making love” in the truest sense of the word: it’s just two people passionately melting into each other’s bodies. I don’t blame the nun for getting hot and heavy over it.
When I was a teenager, I can’t tell you how many times I scribbled in my diary, threw it at the window…. and hoped for a handsome charming murderer to be waiting on the other side of it. Alas (or, I guess, thankfully?), this never happened. But I’ll always have this adorable scene featuring disgruntled teen Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) and equally disgruntled yet also psychotic teen JD (Christian Slater) in the cult classic Heathers.
Sure, this scene doesn’t show any actual sex, but it does show a smidge of nudity, some incredibly intense first-base action, and Winona Ryder’s panties hanging off Daddy’s croquet set — which, in some ways, makes it even hotter.
Directed by Adrian Lyne (the same guy who also made erotic thrillers 9 1/2 Weeks and Fatal Attraction), Unfaithful does a great job of capturing the sexual intensity you can only have with someone you’re not supposed to be attracted to . This scene between bored housewife Diane Lane and sexy foreign stud Olivier Martinez features some highly emotional and very, very sexy infidelity, which culminates with Lane crying and having an orgasm at the same time.
Spoiler alert: Lane’s husband (Richard Gere) later finds out about the affair and murders Martinez with a snow globe, but hey, that doesn’t change the fact that for one brief moment, this guy rocked Diane Lane’s world.
This 2009 Notorious B.I.G. biopic features a scene where Lil Kim (Naturi Naughton) rides Biggie (Jamal Woolard) like a big roly-poly dildo. (Did we mention she’s wearing a schoolgirl outfit in this scene?) But the real money shot is when Lil Kim seduces Biggie by spitting some rhymes — while she’s still in her underwear.
White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
My vote for the 90s film couple with the most chemistry goes to Rosie Perez and Woody Harrelson in White Men Can’t Jump. Whether they’re talking about Jeopardy! or arguing about the intricate breakdown of basketball scores, the two of them spend the whole movie bickering like kids on the playground who secretly have crushes on each other. This scene, where Harrelson playfully throws an irate Perez in the shower with their clothes on and turns the water on before the two have sex on the couch, is so damn cute and fun.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
The Oscar-nominated movie about a 24-year-old professor (Armie Hammer) and a 17-year-old student (Timothée Chalamet) who have an affair is a poignant depiction of the excitement (and confusion) that comes with first love. The hottest sex scene isn’t actually a sex scene, but a masturbation scene, in which Elio (Chalamet) is thinking about Oliver (Hammer) and in a fit of passion, confusion, and anger, masturbates inside of a peach. It’s an odd yet incredibly sensual and romantic scene, and it’s one of the most memorable moments of the movie.
Basic Instinct (1992)
Basic Instinct raised the bar on sex scenes in Hollywood. (Hell, it even gave some porn sex scenes a run for their money.) This scene between cop Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) and sociopathic crime novelist Catherine Trammell (Sharon Stone) is pure carnal attraction: it’s just two beautiful people ravaging each other and having incredible orgasms. They’re clutching the bed posts, scratching each other’s backs, and just generally losing control, and it’s just as hot now as it was more than 25 years ago.
Boogie Nights (1997)
Normally, I hate how Hollywood depicts the adult industry. Most directors seem to think porn stars are either cartoonishly dumb, or that we’re depraved pieces of trash. (To be clear, we are neither.) But Boogie Nights is a fantastic movie with a great cast, incredible writing, and really hot sex. When Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) demands that Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) finishes inside of her while they’re shooting their first scene together… it gets me every time. It’s one of the few instances where a movie shows a woman in porn not as a victim, but as a sexually empowered woman who has a lot of fun doing her job.
Black Swan (2009)
I actually knew Natalie Portman as a child. (Our parents ran in the same circles, so we attended a lot of the same bat mitzvahs.) I was competitive with her as a preteen, and that feeling has lingered into adulthood (even though she’s pretty clearly won, being a famous movie star and all).
When I saw Darren Aronofsky’s psychosexual thriller Black Swan, I had already established myself as a porn actor and director. “Well, at least I can do sex scenes better than she can,” I thought to myself when Natalie and her nemesis (played by a never-been-sexier Mila Kunis) showed up on screen. I was wrong. The scene shows so much but so little: Portman’s orgasms look and sound so gut-wrenchingly real, and you can see the fear and ecstasy in her face as she clenches the sheets. It’s highly erotic, even though it doesn’t show so much as a nipple.
Risky Business (1983)
As someone who’s had public sex more than a few times, I’ve always considered this train sex scene between sex worker Lana (Rebecca de Mornay) and ambitious high school student Joel (a very young Tom Cruise) a huge turn-on. It isn’t so much the actual sex that’s so hot as it is the build-up of sexual tension leading to that moment — but when they finally kick the last guy off the train, you know for sure that these two people need to have sex, and it’s gonna be intense. The Phil Collins soundtrack also helps. (Yes, I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Phil.)
Jennifer’s Body (2009)
I may have been the only person in America who liked this movie, but it’s a zombie comedy-thriller featuring Megan Fox as a hot and horny demon and Amanda Seyfried as her plain Jane BFF: what’s not to like, I ask you? The tension between the two of them builds throughout the whole movie, culminating with a slumber party makeout scene featuring Fox in tube shorts and underwear. The fact that it ends with a lot of blood doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a sweet and sexy moment.
This threesome scene between a tantric sex-obsessed drug dealer (Desmond Askew) and two stoned bridesmaids ends with the entire room going up in flames. So yes, it’s a bit silly, but as the creator of movies with titles like Rock and Roll In My Butthole, silly is something I can certainly appreciate. Besides, imagine being so into your pleasure and the pleasure of your partners that you don’t notice you’re all about to burn to death until the very last possible moment. This scene is both literally and figuratively hot.
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
All of the sex scenes in Y Tu Mama Tambien, a coming-of-age movie about two friends (Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal) who go on a road trip with a gorgeous, terminally ill woman (Maribel Verdu), are hot. But this threesome scene toward the end of the film, which peaks with a liplock between Luna and Bernal, is probably the hottest, capturing a brief burst of passion in the heat of the moment.
Mulholland Drive (2000)
Directed by David Lynch, this movie is so confusing that it yields different interpretations every time you watch it. This sex scene between aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts) and mysterious amnesiac Rita (Laura Elena Harring) is no exception. It’s unclear if it’s real or a dream, or if Betty is actually a woman named Diane, but what is clear is that the sex scene is beautiful and incredibly romantic, with a surging orchestral score and some deep, intense eye contact.