Two of our writers venture into the depths of their wank banks and select their top sex scenes. For your eyes only.
Top Gun (1982)
Perhaps more famous for its incredible aerial cinematography, military propaganda and homo-erotic subtext, Top Gun made its impression on many teenage minds with the love scene between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. Director Tony Scott puts his expertise learned through advertising to great use, the two lovers seen only as silhouettes against the cool blue night. The cinematography means that very little of the two leads is actually visible (save for pouting lips, roaming hands and a lot of tongue action) so almost everything arousing is left entirely to the imagination of the viewer.
A History of Violence (2005)
The scene between husband and wife (Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello, respectively) that takes place on a set of stairs is the perfect example of a sex scene that shows both everything and nothing. While the two remain almost fully-clothed throughout, the sheer passion they feel for each other is evident and is also a great juxtaposition with the more violent aspects of the film. It’s realistically awkward and clumsy in places (understandable, given the setting), but it’s clear that these are two people who are madly in love to the point that they know their other half inside out.
The sex scene in Danny Boyle’s descent into the repressed abusive tendencies of gambler Simon (James McAvoy) is exactly what it needs to be: revealing hidden knowledge of what her patient desires sexually, hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) emerges into the apartment fully naked, her swaying hips and the other-worldly glow of the apartment further fuelling the suggestion that Simon may just be under hypnosis. McAvoy’s hushed ‘How did you know?’ melts away into nothing as his character gives into passion and we too, the audience, ignore our suspicions and let ourselves go.
Stacie Passon’s story of mother turned escort has many scenes of lust and intimacy, but the greatest of which is when Abby (Robin Weigert) is confronted with new client Sam (Maggie Siff). Obviously much more in tune with her sexuality and desires, Sam’s requests puzzle and confuse Abby at first, but the two slowly enter into a highly-charged affair. Though there is a line drawn at how much the camera is privy to, the stark natural lighting means that the inquisitive and ultimately joyful nature of the two lovers is clear for all to see. It is heartfelt, passionate, and scorchingly erotic.
Bound is often remembered for the explicit sex scene between its two female leads, Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon. The scene involves Violet (Tilly), a gangster’s girlfriend, seducing tough ex-con Corky (Gershon). Corky, curious but hesitant, asks Violet “Why?” to which she replies, “Because I want to”. This perfectly characterises the film’s treatment of the women’s relationship; there is total lack of ulterior motive. The seduction scene is raw but tasteful, intimate but erotic and entirely non-gratuitous. It refuses to commodify female sexuality and fetishises lesbianism (i.e Black Swan). Occurring at the start, it is the film’s only sex scene but manages to generate enough heat to sustain their chemistry right to the end.
My Beautiful Launderette (1985)
My Beautiful Launderette is a comedy-drama that follows the efforts of a young Pakistani man, Omar (Gordon Warnecke), and his white street punk lover, Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis), to open an upmarket launderette in South London. Subject to great discrimination, Omar and Johnny find solace in their forbidden relationship: sometimes sweet, often comedic but always sexy. The notable scene would be before the scheduled opening of the Launderette as Johnny takes Omar into their office to help him “relax”. The scene manages to be lovingly romantic without losing any of its sexual tension; furthermore as Omar’s uncle approaches the office door a sense of their forbidden love is only increased.
Before Fifty Shades’ Christian Grey, there was Secretary’s Edward Grey. The frustrated Grey (James Spader) is a perfectionist lawyer who employs the self-harming, repressed Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal) as his personal secretary. Their professional relationship transforms into a sadomasochistic one, providing each other with previously deprived satisfaction. The pivotal scene that marks this transition is in Grey’s office as he scolds Lee for a typo she has made in a letter. Instructing her to “bend over” and read the letter off his desk, he begins to spank her without much warning. Initially shocked, her continuation to read is her acceptance of the situation, one that provides them both with sought-after pleasure.
Monster’s Ball (2001)
Most famous for earning Halle Berry an historic Oscar, Monster’s Ball was a remarkable film for its confrontation of racism and the pains of parenthood. Billy Bob Thornton plays Hank, a racist Death Row warden who falls for Leticia (Berry), the African American wife of an executed prisoner. The famous scene begins as Hank awkwardly attempts to console Leticia through a tragedy and they begin to bond over the troubled relationships they have with their sons. Leticia tells Hank, “Make me feel good” with complete desperation. Thus begins a long, grueling, explicit love scene between the two that manages to be entirely unique in its ability to be simultaneously erotic and tragic.