Sexy movies are about more than Sharon Stone flashing her cooter or Demi Moore covering herself in clay. They're about the romance at the center of the story that drives it. If all you want is a pile of writhing flesh, watch a porn flick. Those people are pros and know what they're doing. We'll take a movie that burns its sexy a little more subtly any day. Except for those days when we're horny and alone.
Eternal Sunshine of the
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play a couple who literally erase all memories of their relationship and of each other after they break up. But they still manage to find one another and fall in love all over again in Michel Gondry's 2004 mind-blower. True love is being with the exact person you should be with — even if that person drives you nuts most of the time.
Kate Winslet again, and this time she hooks up with Leonardo DiCaprio for a love that was doomed from the start. Of course it didn't help any that they were on a big-ass boat that was about ready to smash into an even bigger-ass iceberg. James Cameron's three-hour-plus Oscar hogger is filmmaking at its most epic. We still get chills watching DiCaprio's final sacrifice for his love.
Ang Lee's understated love story proves that even cowboys get the blues and need to be held by another cowboy from time to time. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal don't know how to quit each other, and their secret relationship leads to one of the most devastating movie endings of the past decade. This is love at its most raw, tragic, and unforgiving.
Back before William Hurt looked like a grumpy old man and before Kathleen Turner sounded like a grumpy old man, the pair fired up the screen as lovers who have more than sex on their minds. Well, actually, sex is on their minds a lot. But when it isn't, they're plotting to kill Turner's rich husband. Double-crosses, Mickey Rourke, and plenty of body fluids share the screen.
A love story without sex? Without even a kiss? What kind of love story is this? It's a great one, about two musicians (played by real-life singer-songwriters and later couple Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová of the Swell Season) who make beautiful music together. And that's all they make, because she's married and has a kid. Hansard is a gentleman throughout.
Say Anything ...
What kid growing up in the '80s and '90s didn't think Lloyd Dobler's boombox-hoisting move was the most romantic thing in the world? Try listening to Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" without thinking of Dobler's tuneful declaration of love. It's a typical loser-boy-loves-pretty-rich-girl story, but star John Cusack and Cameron Crowe's smart script pull it off.
Yeah, it's Ethan Hawke and some French chick talking about shit for an hour and 45 minutes. In Europe, no less. But writer/director Richard Linklater perfectly captures the first whiffs of love, when probing conversations and secret glances are the ultimate turn-ons. Before Sunset — the sequel, which came out nine years later in 2004 — is pretty good too.
In the Mood for Love
Set in Hong Kong in the early 1960s, two neighbors (he's a newspaper editor, she's a secretary) bond over their shared love of noodles and martial arts. It's a purely platonic relationship ... until they find out their spouses are having an affair. Even though they promise not to head down the same path of infidelity, love and passion kinda get in the way of things. Quietly sexy.
This 1967 classic is a cultural milestone on so many levels, and it still resonates today. College grad Dustin Hoffman hooks up with his girlfriend's mom, forging a torrid and often comical affair that causes major headaches for everyone involved. It winks at sex, the suburbs, and late-'60s principles. Best of all, Oscar nominee Anne Bancroft unveils the original MILF here.
Y Tu Mamá También
It's a combination road-trip movie and coming-of-age story about two horny teenage boys and an older woman. You can guess what happens. But this ain't no Porky's-style romp. Director Alfonso Cuarón (who also made the excellent Children of Men and one of the best Harry Potter movies) gives Y Tu Mamá También a big heart, strong relationships, and, yes, plenty of sex.