Ah yes, we’ve arrived back at the most carnal of all storytelling devices: the sex scene. Writers, artists and filmmakers have used sex to evoke a multitude of different emotions to the audience, like love, hate, confusion, lust, among many, many more. But every one of the best movie sex scenes of all time adds something essential to a story, whether it be comedic, dramatic, or stylistic.

In this article, we’re going to rank movie sex scenes by looking at a few crucial criteria: Visuals, Impact and Acting. The scenes on this list are ranked by their importance to the narrative of a story, not by how sexy they are. With that note out of the way, let’s jump in!

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Movies With Good Sex Scenes

20. The Notebook (1990)

Famous Sex Movie Scenes  •  The Notebook Clip

How could I not put The Notebook on the list? Do I hate sentimentality in sex? Do I loathe impassioned embraces in the rain? No, I’m a sucker for meaningful intimacy – and so are the characters in The Notebook.

Of course, it’s Hollywood – and the couple in question just so happens to be played by two incredibly good looking people: Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. But that’s not the reason the scene is good: it’s good because it’s emotional.

Sex Scenes for Movies

Conclusion

The Notebook treats sex less cavalierly than some of the other examples on this list, which adds dramatic weight to its inclusion in the story.

Movies With Good Sex Scenes

19. Ghost (1990)

Famous Sex Movie Scenes  •  Ghost Clip

Ghost follows the story of a dead-man (Patrick Swayze) who must find his killer to save his girlfriend (Demi Moore). It’s insane, ludicrous, and remarkably cheesy – but the pottery sex scene is hot and heavy.

But although the sex scene is definitely scintilating, it’s been parodied to death due to its innane premise.

Sex Scenes for Movies

Conclusion

Don’t try to recreate this scene with your significant other unless 1) one of you is a ghost or 2) you can make wet clay disappear in the throes of passion.

Movies With Great Sex Scenes

18. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963)

Famous Sex Movie Scenes  •  Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Trailer

Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren star in this anthology film about sex and romance. The third chapter of the film, titled “Tomorrow” or “Domani” in Italian, follows a prostitute (Loren) as she attempts to stave off a hungry client (Mastroianni) whilst encouraging a neighbor (Gianni Ridolfi) to enlist in a seminary.

The whole film treats sex like the complicated thing it is. At times, it’s simply a tool for child-rearing, at others it’s a tool for pleasure. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow shows it all – and no two actors are better suited to the task than Mastroianni and Loren.

Sex Scenes for Movies

Conclusion

Loren entices Mastroianni (and the audience) with her natural beauty and seductive characters. 

Movies With Good Sex Scenes

17. Ecstasy (1933)

Famous Sex Movie Scenes  •  Ecstasy Clip

We can’t bring up the world trailblazing in cinema without bringing up Hedy Lamarr. And we can’t bring up Hedy Lamarr without bringing up Ecstasy. Ecstasy is regarded as the first non-pornographic film to feature nudity and a female orgasm.

The film was a Czech production, but it mirrored many of the topics and themes of Pre-Code Hollywood. Lamarr went on to star in many famous Hollywood films, such as Algiers and Samson and Delilah. She also went on to play a major role in World War II as a co-creator of frequency-hopping spread spectrum jamming with George Anthiel.

Best Sex Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

For many in Hollywood, Hedy Lamarr epitomized the term “brains and beauty” – and Ecstasy was certainly her most seductive work. 

Movies With Great Sex Scenes

16. Queen & Slim (2019)

Famous Sex Movie Scenes  •  Queen & Slim Clip

Queen & Slim is a harrowing film about pervading social issues like racial discrimination and police brutality. Some argue that the film’s simmering sex scene between it two title characters – portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith – detracts from the focus of its very serious themes; while others say it’s integral to the greater structure of the story.

You can watch the film through the “watch now” link below and decide for yourself. But there’s no denying that the film’s sex scene is impassioned and impactful.

Best Sex Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

Queen & Slim is the most recently released entry on this list. It’s a beautifully shot film – and it packs a punch with its story.

Movies With Good Sex Scenes

15. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Sex Scenes for Movies  •  A Clockwork Orange

Let’s get one thing straight: A Clockwork Orange is messed up. The film uses sex like a weapon – and it’s frequently tough to watch. Sex is at the center of just about everything in A Clockwork Orange.

Although there are a lot of sex scenes in A Clockwork Orange, the one in question takes place at the very end of the movie, when – spoilers beware – the protagonist fantasizes of having sex with a beautiful woman while a crowd of spectators cheer him on. It’s startling, seductive, and entirely disarming. 

Best Sex Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

Don’t go into watching A Clockwork Orange strictly for sexiness – you’ll be sorely disappointed and potentially scarred.

Movies With Good Sex Scenes

14. Risky Business (1983)

Sex Scenes for Movies  •  Risky Business

Tom Cruise stars in this 1983 classic about a high-school student who engages in “risky business” when his parents go away on a trip. Risky Business is a less nuanced Rebel Without a Cause; its success at the box-office can largely be attributed more to sensationalist sex than dramatic storytelling.

The best sex scene in the movie happens when Joel (Cruise) and Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) have impassioned intercourse on the Chicago L train. It’s stupid, sexy, and somewhat gross – but its an iconic movie sex scene.

Best Sex Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

Risky Business brought prostitution to mainline Hollywood cinema in a way that had rarely been done before.

Movies With Good Sex Scenes

13. Anchorman (2004)

Famous Movie Sex Scenes  •  Anchorman

This sex scene from Anchorman is just truly, truly ridiculous. There’s no nudity nor any explicit sexual acts; instead the film uses a fantastical world called “pleasure town” to simulate the euphoria of sex.

Pleasure town is full of bonkers imagery like animated cupids, mountains in the moonlight, and colorful unicorns. 

Best Sex Scenes in Movies

Conclusion

Anchorman’s pleasure town subverts the traditional sex scene with exaggerated visuals and comedy.

Best Movie Sex Scenes

12. Gone Girl (2004)

Top Ten Sex Scenes in Movies  •  Gone Girl

Spoilers beware: this sex scene from Gone Girl is anything but sexy. Most sex scenes act as a climax to the tension between characters, and this example from Gone Girl is no different. However, the climax here isn’t sexual pleasure, it’s murder.

Gone Girl does a great job of using the “sex scene” format in an untraditional way, which ultimately creates an unsettling effect on the viewer.

Top Movie Sex Scenes

Conclusion

Look no further than Gone Girl for instruction on how to build a fascinating mystery between two lovers whose love has gone awry.

Best Movie Sex Scenes Ever

11. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

Best Sex Scenes in Movies  •  Blue is the Warmest Color Trailer

Blue is the Warmest Color made waves upon release for its graphic depictions of sex. The most famous and iconic of these sex scenes is nearly eight minutes long and involves Emma (Léa Seydoux) and Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos.) Sorry, you won’t find this scene on YouTube – but you can rent/buy the movie through the “watch now” link below.

Among the sex scenes on this list, this is certainly the most pornographic. But for what the scene lacks in subtext and narrative nuance, it makes up for in passion and visual style.

Top Movie Sex Scenes

Conclusion

Blue is the Warmest Color pushes the boundaries of sex in cinema with an unabashed vision of two lovers.

Movies With Good Sex Scenes

10. Boogie Nights (2004)

Best Movie Sex Scenes  •  Boogie Nights Trailer

Boogie Nights is a film about the porn-industry, as such you’d be right in thinking there are more than a few sex scenes. Paul Thomas Anderson’s early great-work follows the highs and lows of the hedonistic lifestyle, as told through the vantage of porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg.)

There are some sexy sex scenes in Boogie Nights and then there are some tragic sex scenes in Boogie Nights. The best of these scenes belongs to the former group, when Dirk shoots his first professional porn scene for Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) with “Amber Waves” (Julianne Moore.)  

Top Movie Sex Scenes

Conclusion

This sex scene from Boogie Nights does a great job of establishing character dynamics, a voyeuristic theme and a complex tone.

Best Movie Sex Scenes

9. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

 Best Movie Sex Scenes  •  Eyes Wide Shut Trailer

For better or worse, there’s no movie like Eyes Wide Shut. Part thriller, part drama, but mostly pornography, Stanley Kubrick’s indomitable picture is an other-wordly vision of sexual intimacy and sexual fantasy.

The best sex scene in the film is near the beginning and involves Bill (Tom Cruise) and Alice (Nicole Kidman) who share discreet details of their fantasies while engaging in foreplay. But when Alice reveals that she once considered leaving him due to an infatuation with another man, Bill spirals into a sexual hysteria.

Top Movie Sex Scenes

Conclusion

Eyes Wide Shut has lots of nudity and sex, but the film is more about unfulfilled desire than acting on lust. 

Movies With Good Sex Scenes

8. Bridesmaids (2011)

Famous Movie Sex Scenes  •  Bridesmaids

Sex scenes work well when they match the tone of a story. This is especially true in Bridesmaids, which is riotously funny throughout. The sex scene between Annie (Kristen Wiig) and Ted (Jon Hamm) matches the comedic tone of the film and works well as a result.

It also helps when a sex scene communicates something essential about a relationship, whether that be due to passion or lack of passion. In this case, the latter holds true as Annie and Ted simply don’t click together.  

Top Movie Sex Scenes

Conclusion

Bridesmaids uses exaggerated comedy to create a noteworthy and iconic sex scene.

Best Movie Sex Scenes

7. Blue Valentine (2010)

Best Movie Sex Scenes Ever  •  Blue Valentine Clip

Blue Valentine is perhaps most well-known for receiving an NC-17 rating from the MPAA for a sex scene involving man-on-woman oral sex. The rating was later reversed after Gosling challenged the MPAA on the grounds of sexism, citing that other movies which featured woman-on-man oral sex had received R ratings from the board.

Ultimately, Blue Valentine’s famous sex scene is more than just a cinematic milestone, it’s an intimate moment in the relationship between two doomed lovers.

Top Movie Sex Scenes

Conclusion

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling’s natural chemistry make
Blue Valentine a great, yet tragic love story.

Best Movie Sex Scenes

6. Her (2010)

Top Ten Sex Scenes in Movies  •  Her Clip

I can not express this enough: watching this scene from Her is in the top ten of the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been. But that’s a good thing. Science-fiction is supposed to push our minds beyond the boundary of what we know today, whether that’s through astronomy, biology, or the human condition.

In Her, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with, and has sex with an Operating System. It’s weird- and uncomfortable, very, very uncomfortable. But after it’s over, we’re left to wonder, what was uncomfortable about that? Why is it weird? These questions are ultimately the reason why the scene works so well.

Movies With Good Sex Scenes

Conclusion

Her is much more than the film where Joaquin Phoenix has phone sex with his operating system, it’s a movie not to be missed.

Best Movie Sex Scenes

5. The Disaster Artist (2017)

Movies With Good Sex Scenes  •  The Disaster Artist Trailer

How does one create a great sex scene? How about starting backwards by recreating one of the worst sex scenes ever made? That’s exactly what director James Franco does in The Disaster Artist by exposing what supposedly happened “behind the scenes” during the iconic sex scene from The Room.

This scene from The Disaster Artist shows exactly what not to do when making a sex scene, which consequently serves as instruction on how to do it right.

Movies With Great Sex Scenes

Conclusion

Whether or not The Room writer, director, star Tommy Wiseau ever said “I need to show my ass to sell this movie” like Franco does in The Disaster Artist remains unclear. But the sentiment shows fundamentally how not to approach a sex scene.

Best Movie Sex Scenes

4. Burning (2018)

Top Ten Sex Scenes in Movies  •  Burning

Burning is one of the best films in recent years, and it also has one of the most awkward sex scenes ever made. As many great filmmakers have said over the years, “story is created out of conflict.” Burning takes this sentiment to heart and applies it in every scene, sexual encounters included.

We’ve talked about why it’s important that a sex scene adds something to a movie, but not whether a not a movie could survive without it. Burning simply wouldn’t achieve its end result without its cringeworthy sex scene, which speaks volumes to the scene’s importance. 

Top 10 Movie Sex Scenes

Conclusion

In many ways, Burning is all about the fallout of this one awkward sexual encounter.

Best Movie Sex Scenes

3. Blade Runner: 2049 (2017)

Famous Movie Sex Scenes  •  Blade Runner: 2049

Although not quite as uncomfortable as the operating system sex in Her, this scene from Blade Runner: 2049 is definitely an unnerving look at what some sex could look like in the not so distant future.

In a world where deepfakes are already transplanting the faces of people onto other people’s bodies, it’s terrifying to imagine how far the technology will progress in the next thirty years. In this scene, we see how that technology may be used when Officer K (Ryan Gosling) has sex with a prostitute, who assumes the identity of his AI girlfriend with the help of holographics. It’s truly insane- and yes maybe just as unsettling as the scene in Her

Movies With Great Sex Scenes

Conclusion

Blade Runner: 2049 is a dystopian nightmare that exudes artificiality in every facet of the story, including the sex scene.

Best Movie Sex Scenes

2. City of Women (1980)

Movies With Good Sex Scenes  •  City of Women Trailer

Federico Fellini’s stirring nightmare of a man’s (Marcello Mastroianni) lustful quest for sex in a world with only women is transfixing, visually stunning and thought-provoking.

Although there’s overt sexuality throughout, the best sex scene is when the man named Snaporaz attempts to have sex with two beautiful young women. However, he’s interrupted by his ex-wife who snuggles into bed with him. 

Top Movie Sex Scenes

Conclusion

City of Women expertly creates a surrealist world that’s dominated by male obsession and feminine empowerment. 

Best Movie Sex Scenes

1. Angel Heart (1987)

Movies With Good Sex Scenes  •  Angel Heart Trailer

First and foremost, Angel Heart is an awesome movie. It’s also host to an unabashed vision of morality, violence and lust. The sex scene between Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) and Epiphany Proudfoot (Lisa Bonet) was initially responsible for the film receiving an X-rating from the MPAA. 

Eventually, ten seconds of the scene were removed and the picture was re-rated to R. 

Movies With Great Sex Scenes

Conclusion

This sex scene from Angel Heart displays passion between characters, unsettles the audience with expressive visuals and is massively important to the story; three things that make it essential to the film.

UP NEXT

How to Write and Direct Sex Scenes

Now that we’ve looked at some of the best sex scenes in movies, perhaps you’re considering working one into your own production. If that’s the case, make sure to check out our instructional guide on how to write and direct sex scenes with industry standard formatting. 

Up Next: How to Make Sex Scenes →
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Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

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