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Copyright The English Patient

Yes, we are talking about those steamy scenes that make the hottest sex films. What mainstream films that aren’t porn, get you so hot you think of them as sex films? Do you have a top list of hot movies that contain sexual scenes that turn you on and get your pulse racing? We reached out to get some thoughts on what summed up an unforgettable moment of heated sex.

In my case, it’s the sex scenes in Wild at Heart by David Lynch. The onscreen chemistry between Laura Dern and Nick Cage has me biting my fists, lusting for a snakeskin jacket and a night in a rock club. It’s not a sex film but is certainly driven by the sexual energy between the characters.

So just what makes a non-sex film sexy?

We chatted with Livvy from Love Sex Video, who has made it her mission to seek out films that have that ‘sex’ factor to tell us what scenes get her going and why.

“Movie sex really works for me! Good movie sex provides exactly the right amount of tease and insinuation to pique my interest, and when it’s beautiful and hot and emotive, it can be fucking incredible. Until I started having sex myself, almost all of my visual references for sex came from movies.

I’ve spent a long time contemplating whether or not this is a good thing. Is it realistic to think of sex as beautiful and well lit and often with a soundtrack? Are the sexual messages within movies good ones to be learning? For example, female pleasure is rarely shown with any accuracy—should we learn from the writhing orgasms in Showgirls or Meg Ryan’s fake attempt in When Harry Met Sally? And more importantly, how often do we see female orgasms on screen?

But despite these concerns, I cannot deny that movie sex can be stunning. There are particular scenes that are so beautiful that they take my breath away.
Atonement is a perfect example of this—it’s a movie that is visually stunning. Full of beautiful people in beautiful locations, but the library sex scene takes it up to the next level. The image of Keira Knightley in that vibrant green dress pressed up against the bookshelves with the luxurious silk of her dress pooling around her body, is one that makes me shiver to think about it. There’s no music, just the sound of their breathing. This combined with the soft lighting, deep shadows and rapid cuts as they kiss and touch each other makes it one of the hottest things I have ever seen, in and out of movies. I am lost.

The Thomas Crown AffairThe Thomas Crown Affair with a hot sexy scene in our list of hottest sex films

The other scene from a mainstream movie that I think of often is the sex in 1999’s The Thomas Crown Affair.

Here, it is the chemistry between the characters that sizzles and makes their sex so fucking hot. From their dance at the black and white ball to the sex on his black and white floor, it is so obvious how much they want each other and their arousal is infectious. And they are just having so much fun! Sweaty, naked fun and I wanted that so much! Some movie sex I can watch and enjoy but not really want; I want to be Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan fucking in that movie.


I mentioned Showgirls earlier. This is an example of how sex in movies can go really wrong. Nomi is beautiful, but her thrashing and writhing during sex are really unattractive and I worry if anyone saw this and thought that was what sex is supposed to be like! This was done on purpose, exaggerating the fakery of the entertainment industry to make later abuse more powerful, but it doesn’t change how bad the sex looks.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

One final sex scene that I’ll mention is one in Zack and Miri Make a Porno.  It’s not a hot sex scene and it’s from a film that I personally found quite problematic, but it is a great reminder of how movie sex is more about how the sex makes you feel rather than how it looks. When Zack and Miri have sex, their perspective shows miraculous, extraordinary sex that is just like all the beautiful, hot sex in great movie sex scenes. From the perspective of the porn film crew watching them, it’s really boring and unadventurous sex. So which is the reality? They felt fabulous, despite looking dull.

And I like to look at movie sex that way. It may be too beautiful and too perfect, but that’s how great sex can make you feel!”

And perhaps that is the essence, it’s a great sex film if it makes us feel like we want to be there, we imagine ourselves in the characters’ place, we yearn for it, want it. And so beautiful hot sex can make us feel beautiful and hot. Immersing us in the fantasy of being in that exquisite place.
And then alongside the beauty is some super-hot gritty electricity.

The Postman Always Rings Twice

In the 1981 movie remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice,  the atmosphere absolutely sizzles with the chemistry between Jack Nicolson and Jessica Lange, you can practically taste it. Especially, that famous scene—you know the one, where there is a close up of his hands and fingers rubbing at the crotch of her white cotton panties. It is one of the most explicit sex scenes in a film I can remember. Such an intimate and sexy act, fraught with sexual tension. I can’t for the life of me remember the rest of the film but I remember that scene as utterly arousing and steamy hot, definitely bringing it into the realms of a sex film for me.


Is it the sex that turns an otherwise dull film into something else? Are there other films where the sex scenes are quite forgotten? For example, I was excited to watch Bridesmaids and declared it a fantastically funny film to my friend and their young teen—I had totally forgotten that pretty intense sex intro, which is hilariously graphic but somehow forgettably unsexy. It is funny and functional but certainly not what I’d personally define as a sex film scene.

Blue is the Warmest Colour

And another extremely surprising and very explicit scene in Blue is the Warmest Colour, I simply wasn’t expecting it to go on so long and in such graphic detail! Certainly a beautiful depiction of lesbian sex and intimacy but my goodness! A friend of mine said he’d squirmed a lot after suggesting he, his wife and their in-laws go to see some international cinema. He must have been squirming for rather a long time 😀

AtonementAtonement with a hot sexy scene in our list of hottest sex films

What other films got our sap rising and juices flowing? As Livvy already mentioned, Atonement which got a lot of pulses racing in my poll and was mentioned several times. The library scene with ‘that green dress’ worn by Keira Knightley as she and James McAvoy finally get down up among the bookshelves definitely elevates it to sex film status for our viewers.

Dirty Dancing

I guess in a lot of ways, mainstream cinema is our first glimpse into that rousing world of sex and depictions of sex in film. Imagine the leap from a romance film to an actual sex film, oh the thrill! My school friends and I used to spend our lunchtime watching a VHS of Dirty Dancing and hitting pause and rewind on a particular scene where Johnny and Baby are practising their dance and my friend insisted you could see Patrick Swayze’s stiffy. Needless to say, the tape was rather a mess by the time we’d finished with it. I’m still not convinced there was an erection on show but I certainly got hugely turned on by the beautiful sex scene and can’t listen to Cry to Me by Solomon Burke without conjuring the sexy intimate private dance between the two before they get it on. A sensual, hot and emotionally fraught love scene. A definite sex film hit!

The English PatientThe English Patient with a hot sexy scene in our list of hottest sex films

Are there films which you could argue are just sex films or pornos in loose disguise? Is it that old censorship debate, you can market a mainstream film depicting sex—a discussion of sex, or being about sex, but not overtly showing sex. Sex as an essential part of the story but not the whole point of the film.
Kristin Scott Thomas & Ralph Fiennes Sexy Scene from The English Patient 1996

The scene where she feigns illness and meets him while Silent Night plays at the Christmas party outside. The electricity—the beautiful cinematography—zooming in on the perspiration at the dip in her neck, the fluttering of her heartbeat… the way it catches these details to heighten the chemistry is masterful.

Wild at Heart

With a lot of memory involved with what we think of as sex films, it is interesting to note that in many cases the sex was a minuscule part of the whole movie. So why did it become so huge in our imaginations? Indeed, in Wild at Heart, while there was so much more to the plot, including a jealous crazed mother (played by Laura Dern’s real-life mother Dianne Ladd) it was an incredible performance that gained her an Academy Award nomination but I didn’t remember it! The film had been seared in my memory as a sex film and that was, in my opinion, completely down to the chemistry between Lula and Sailor. I was captivated by their passionate fiery romance.

What we remember from those hot sex films?

Another fascinating thing is often how forgettable the character’s names are when we cast our minds to the hot scenes we have enjoyed. We can sometimes remember the name of the stars, but most of the people who volunteered their sex film suggestions either mentioned the actors’ names or gave a description of the characters, very few gave the on-screen names. Indeed, even I had to check to make sure I had Lula and Sailor correctly identified and Wild at Heart is one of my all-time favourite films.

Joy from The Joy as it Flies mentioned Sex and Lucia. “The naked sunbathing scene. The one with the… twitch.” When probed further, Joy explained, “The twitch I was thinking of was when she and the man (I can’t remember who he is!) are sunbathing nude, and it’s very, very hot, and there’s a close-up of his cock getting hard and pulsing. I watched it on the big screen at the National Film Theatre, so the close-up was… quite delicious. And I’m someone who finds that kind of extremely hot, languid summer weather very sexy, so that scene has always just stuck in my mind—not a sex scene, but a very erotic one, literally pulsing with sexual tension. But that might just be because it’s the only time I’ve seen a cock twitch on a big screen and that in itself made me squirmy!”

It’s that moment of exquisite chemistry

So it seems like our own private go-to sex films we’ve chosen from mainstream viewing is really bound up and boiled down to that moment of exquisite chemistry. Everything else seems to fall away—yes the build-up to what makes the chemistry sizzle and burn is the great storytelling beforehand, but there’s something about that moment where the dams break that keeps us coming back.

Escaping and falling into the beautiful fantasy where onscreen sex turns you and you imagine yourself right there, every touch and sensation turning into yours.


The Editor

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4 thoughts on “10 of the hottest sex films in mainstream cinema

  1. Dear Anna, sorry for being off topic. I am curious how FrolicMe ensures everyone’s safety and income during this crisis. Would love to read a blog post about this.
    Wish you all the best

    • Thank you for your message, will try and add some feedback on this but being a digital company we are able to continue in remote ways during lockdown. We can continue to work with many in the world of erotic writing and audio artists who work on our audio porn stories. Sadly what we are not able to do is to shoot at the moment, understandably, but we always have a stock of films that we will be able to continue to work through in post-production while the lockdown is happening and look forward to planning our filming schedule again as soon as it is safe to do so.

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