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Hollywood’s 20 Most Erotic Movies, Ranked

In current Oscar contender ‘Poor Things,’ Emma Stone plays a reanimated Victorian woman with a voracious erotic appetite. THR’s chief film critic ranks 20 other sizzling movies in which Hollywood said yes to sex.

“Why do people not just do this all the time?”

That incredulous question comes from Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter midway through Poor Things, following a vigorous introductory bout of copulation with Mark Ruffalo’s caddish lawyer, Duncan Wedderburn.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ imaginative riff on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein charts a deceased Victorian woman’s reanimation with the brain of an infant, allowing her to reject the rules of a patriarchal society as she develops and acquires knowledge. Among the taboos she gleefully shatters is the notion that respectable women must display a decorously prim attitude toward sex.

Bella can’t get enough of what she calls “furious jumping.” Discovering masturbation before she knows the word for it, she describes the experience as “working on myself to get happiness.” You go, girl.

Such joyful sex-positivity in movies has been on the decline of late. Recall the rare bestowal by the MPA earlier this year of an NC-17 rating on Ira Sachs’ Passages over a torrid session between Franz Rogowski and Ben Whishaw that was entirely integral to character and plot. Witness the online emergence of delicate Gen Z flowers calling for the removal of sex and nudity from movies.

We’re a long way from the more relaxed attitude toward sex and sensuality in the New Hollywood of the 1970s, when Faye Dunaway’s Katie Elder in the 1971 Western Doc responded to the suggestion that she should get herself off to church by saying, “When I’m on my knees, it ain’t in prayer.” (Likewise, from the gloriously tawdry heyday of the erotic thriller in the 1980s and ’90s, when the femme fatale played by Linda Fiorentino in the neo-noir The Last Seduction swaggered into a bar inquiring, “Who’s a girl gotta suck around here to get a drink?”)

The following 20-title list is an entirely subjective rundown of personal favorites that made me sit up and pay attention on a first viewing, in most cases decades ago. The titles and the order they appear in could be completely different a month from now. I’m not claiming these are the sexiest films in Hollywood — or Hollywood-adjacent — history. But all of them earned their place in the sensuality annals, whether with unapologetic raunch, the power of steamy suggestion or even just one smoking hot, lingering kiss