Looking for a movie that has as much nudity as porn, but...isn't a porn movie? Unlike actual porn, mainstream movies are saddled with things like "plot" and "coherent storylines," but that doesn't mean that those plots and coherent storylines can't be served by lots (and lots and lots) of nude scenes. And, over the years, many mainstream movies have taken advantage of their ability to tell beautiful stories full of beautiful bodies in various states of undress. Some of these sex scenes are truly almost porn (we're looking at you, Room in Rome and The Dreamers) and some nudity is so mainstream they were nominated for Academy Awards (like The Wolf of Wall Street and Boogie Nights). Across the board, many of these feature A-list, top tier talent (like Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Antonio Banderas, and James Spader, just to name a few). The lesson to be learned: You may need to rethink your preconceived notions of what excessive nudity in a movie says about that movie.
Ready to dive in and explore the world of mainstream movies with nearly porn-levels of nudity? Here are movies that will get you turned on with their almost nonstop nude scenes. And yet, they're still totally mainstream with great plots and talented actors. Consider it sex with a side of sophistication.
'9 1/2 Weeks' (1986)
This erotic saga follows a city couple whose relationship starts innocently enough—until they start exploring their kinks, and feel the freedom of not having to hide their desires behind niceties. Think of it like a 50 Shades precursor.
'Neon Demon' (2016)
Elle Fanning is an aspiring young model who venutes to Los Angeles to find her fame and fortune. What she finds is a sexy, pulsating, pretty psychedelically creepy world of competitive other models who will do anything to stay young and beautiful.
This film, directed by John Cameron Mitchell, was an attempt at exploring the realistic sex lives of all walks of New Yorkers in an almost documentary style. Told through a series of vignettes, the tension all comes together in one final, climactic scene (puns intended).
'Sleeping Beauty' (2011)
A provocative female-directed film that premiered at Cannes, Sleeping Beauty stars Emily Browning as a college student-turned-sex worker in a rather specific field: She sleeps while clients pay to touch her. This movie explores a lot of themes about consent, sex work, and the digital age.
'Deadly Illusions' (2021)
Kristin Davis stars as a famous author who hires a young woman named Grace to take on some of the pressure from her home life—but who ends up getting more than we bargained for when Grace is not who she says she is. It's a revival of the erotic thriller that was so commonplace in the 1980s and 1990s and which, frankly, we miss!
'Do The Right Thing' (1989)
Though not a fully erotic movie, there’s a particular scene in Do the Right Thing that is so sexy it remains memorable several decades later. Who knew that an ice cube could be so hot?
'Basic Instinct' (1992)
Erotic thrillers are the place to turn for mainstream movie nudity and no list of iconic erotic thrillers or iconic movie nudity would be complete without a nod to 1992's Basic Instinct and that interrogation scene.
Michael Fassbender stars as a sex addict forced to take a hard look at his life in this movie, which also brought audiences a full-frontal look at Fassbender.
'Blue Valentine' (2010)
The fact that Blue Valentine was originally rated NC-17 should give you an idea of just how far the movie goes when it comes to pushing the envelope (and, yes, that includes plenty of nudity).
'Magic Mike' (2012)
Today in Things That Are Not Surprising, Magic Mike, a movie about male strippers, includes a fair amount of nudity. Also not surprising: Said nudity is 🔥🔥🔥.
'The Concubine' (2012)
This South Korean drama is so hot it'll practically scorch you. The story takes place during the Joseon Dynasty, and focuses on a woman named Hwa-yeon, who is forced to become a royal concubine against her will and the triangle around her that involves the Prince Sung-won, who only has eyes for Hwa-yeon and Kwon-yoo, with a drive for revenge.
This French arthouse film premiered at Cannes in 2015 and made headlines for featuring unsimulated sex scenes in—of all things—3D. It's like you can reach out and touch the copious amounts of nudity.
This 1979 "erotic historical drama" (per its official Wikipedia description) is all about the fall of the Roman Emperor Caligula and it's the kind of movie that is technically a mainstream movie, but is also basically porn. Needless to say, the nudity levels are off-the-charts in this one.
This 2011 French film includes plenty of nudity and even some unsimulated sexual situations. The plot follows Cecile, a young woman who has recently lost her father and is on a quest to distract herself from her grief with a series of sexual encounters.
'Killing Me Softly' (2002)
Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes costar as a troubled married couple in this sexy, sexy erotic thriller about a woman who becomes increasingly suspicious of her controlling husband as she learns about a woman from his past.
Jason Schwartzman and the late, great Brittany Murphy star in this black comedy about about hard drugs and harder to believe scenarios.
No, we're definitely not talking about the Oscar-winning ensemble film. 1996's Crash stars James Spader as a film producer who becomes involved with a group of symphorophiliacs—aka people who are sexually aroused by car crashes.
'Room in Rome' (2010)
If you're looking for a mainstream movie that gets as close to the "actually porn" line as possible without crossing it, Room in Rome fits the bill. The 2010 Spanish erotic drama is about the emotional and sexual relationship between two women who spend a single night together in a hotel room in Rome.
An artist suffering from insomnia decides to get a job working the night shift at a local supermarket, where he develops a crush on a coworker and lets his imagination run wild. Is it any surprise that a movie about an insomniac artist's rich inner imaginary world would be heavy on nudity?
This French film is one step away from being soft core porn. The movie stars Juliette Binoche as a journalist who takes on an assignment that requires her to enter a prostitution ring run by college students. It's like an overtly sexual Never Been Kissed.
'Tokyo Decadence' (1992)
This Japanese pink film is a tells the story of Ai, a submissive prostitute who is struggling with her romantic relationship with a married man. Warning though: The scenes depicting Ai's sex work explore some of the darker aspects of BDSM relationships.
'The Canterbury Tales' (1972)
Sex, nudity, slapstick humor, and literary clout? 1972's The Canterbury Tales truly has it all.
'Original Sin' (2001)
In 2001, Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas gifted the world with this sensual historical drama that totally lives up to its tease-y title.
'Henry & June' (1990)
Henry & June, starring Uma Thurman, was the first movie to receive an NC-17 rating and it definitely earned it. Based on Anais Nin's memoir of the same name, it takes viewers through Nin's affair with Henry Miller and her sexual awakening via his wife, June, in early '30s France.
This movie is famous for being just bad enough to gain a cult following, and for heavily sexualizing Saved By the Bell star Elizabeth Berkley, who spends a lot of the movie pole dancing in the nude.
'Boogie Nights' (1997)
This one isn't pornography, but it is about pornography. Set in LA's San Fernando Valley, this film stars Mark Wahlberg as a nightclub dishwasher who becomes a big adult film star during the Golden Age of Porn in the '70s.
'Eyes Wide Shut' (1999)
If you haven't seen Eyes Wide Shut, the 1999 "erotic daydream" movie starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, now's the time.
'The Dreamers' (2003)
This 2003 movie based on the novel The Holy Innocents follows a love triangle between an American student in Paris in 1968 and the brother and sister—who have a, shall we say, unusal relationship—he meets there. The sister is played by a young Eva Green, who did a ton of full-frontal nudity for the film.
'9 Songs' (2004)
This art drama, screened at the Cannes Film Festival, featured unsimulated sex acts performed by its leads, Kieran O'Brien and Margo Stilley, who play lovers that attend a lot of rock concerts and have a lot of intercourse.
While some other movies on this list feature unsimulated sex, most don't show the real thing. Not Shortbus. This ensemble about gay and straight couples who all converge at an underground salon/sex club in Brooklyn featured plenty of nudity and unsimulated sex performed by the lead actors.
'Lust, Caution' (2007)
Directed by Ang Lee, this erotic thriller follows a group of young Chinese women who use seduction to trap an ally of the Imperial Japanese Army so they can try to assassinate him. The movie actually received some criticism for its excessive nudity and graphic sex scenes, but Lee (and many critics) found both integral to the plot. Lust, Caution earned an NC-17 rating in the United States.
Lars von Trier is infamous for pushing the envelope, sexually, in his films. In Antichrist, viewers witness a couple have unsimulated sex while their toddler falls out of a window to his death. The unsimulated sex was filmed using body doubles, not the film's mainstream stars, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
'Sleeping Beauty' (2011)
Don't confuse this very sexy 2011 indie film with the Disney cartoon of the same name. *This* Sleeping Beauty stars Emily Browning as a college student who takes a part-time job working with a company that connects wealthy men with women willing to be voluntary sedated so said men can sleep next to them. And yes, it lives up to the weirdness of the premise.
Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac, the third film in his "depression trilogy," features way more nudity than Antichrist and a lot of mainstream stars, including Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, and Uma Thurman.
'Blue Is The Warmest Color' (2013)
This movie won the hearts of critics and audiences alike, as well as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Blue Is The Warmest Color follows the romance between two women and features several realistic love scenes in which the stars are fully nude.
'The Wolf of Wall Street' (2013)
This Oscar-nominated (for Best Picture, amongst nominations) three-hour movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio (who won a Golden Globe for his performance) is based on the true story of stock broker Jordan Belfort and jam-packed with debauchery of all kinds—drugs, drinking, and a whole lot of nudity, including a prosthetic version of Jonah Hill's penis, if you're into that.
Kayleigh Roberts is the weekend editor at Marie Claire, covering celebrity and entertainment news, from actual royals like Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle to Hollywood royalty, like Katie Holmes and Chrissy Teigen. She’s a Ravenclaw who would do great things in Slytherin. To learn more about her, google “Leslie Knope eating salad GIF.
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