Romance is in the air as February and Valentines Day approaches. This is sure to be a memorable Valentines, though, with the film adaptation of E.L. James’ epic hit novel Fifty Shades of Grey hitting theaters. Love it or hate it, Fifty Shades is poised to be one of the most sexy films in movie history.  Destination Luxury is counting down the twelve movies that set the bar for sexy cinema. Fair warning, though: This list is NOT safe for work!



14: 9 1/2 WEEKS

Starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke, the film was directed by Adrian Lyne and although the film was a box office disappointment in the United States, making less than $7 million at the box office when it cost $17 mil to make, worldwide it was a huge success with a take of over $100 million thanks to the steaminess between its two characters that has created a cult following to still survives to this day.


Sadomasochism provides the tone of this film and the story unfolds of a very unusual business relationship between a boss and his innocent secretary. In this very offbeat romantic drama from filmmaker Steven Shainberg, James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal have a sexual and deviantly twisted love affair that caught the public by surprise. Secretary won a special award for “Originality” at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.



While known mostly for a young Tom Cruise sliding around his living room in Ray Bans and underwear, Risky Business is about growing up and the exploration that comes with sexuality blossoming. Oh, and running a bordello out of your parent’s house. A memorable moment comes in the aptly titled the “Metro Sexual” scene. Well, we’ll just let you make your own decision on that.


Romantic and beautiful, this Academy award winning imagining of The Bard’s love-life is one part saccharine, one part sensual, and one part wildly inaccurate comedy. Regardless, taking cues from many of Shakespeare’s own work and infusing them with a romantic and sensual energy.


Yes, the James Cameron Oscar winning,often celebrated billion dollar cash cow might mostly be known for how big and grand it is, but Leonardo DiCaprio drawing Kate Winslet, or perhaps the scene with the two of them going at it in a Model-T in the ship’s storeroom, clearly made this romance stand out on the sexiness scale.


Also known by the equally fitting title “Sex Crimes”, this 1998 erotic thriller produced by star actor Kevin Bacon featured one of the first group-sex scenes ever recorded in mainstream cinema when three of the protagonist enjoy a rather steamy three way. While the interplay between sex and violence is a bit over-wrought (anyone else remember that scene in the pool?) the film clearly played a hand in getting something like Fifty Shades of Gray into theaters.


While David Lynch and “Sexy” rarely intersect, this sensual thriller starred Isabella Rossellini and Kyle MacLachlan in a 1950’s Americana in a Neo-Noir style. Or in non-geeky terms: David Lynch made a sexy as hell mystery drama that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat, and possibly more than a little disturbed. Who said Christian Grey was the only one who got to blur the lines of acceptable behavior?


The last film of prolific director Stanley Kubrick, this erotic thriller follows a husband and wife (played by Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, (who makes a second appearance on our list) as they fall down a rabbit hole of sex, depravity, and some genuinely relatable questions about relationships and commitment. One of the more artful films on the list, the film was heavily censored upon it’s initial release.


Glenn Close straddles the line between sexy and scary in this 1987 Arian Lyne production. After Michael Douglas has a weekend affair with a strange woman, he finds his life consumed with her obsession, his guilt, and their undeniable chemistry. An instant classic and receiving six Academy Award nominations, the first act of this film manages to be steamy and provactive almost effortlessly. As for the other two acts… Rabbit soup, anyone?

5: GIA

This 1988 biographical film is about the life of the first supermodel: Gia Marie Carangi, portrayedexpertly here by Angelina Jolie, and her tragic life that was cut short from the AIDS epidemic. While that part is far from sexy, Gia’s romantic life with a makeup artist Linda (played by Elizabeth Mitchell) is undoubtedly beautiful, heart-wrenching, and sexy as all get out.


Probably the only NC-17 film your parents have seen, this French-Italian production by Bernardo Bertolucci portrays Marlon Brando as a tortured soul looking for reprieve after the death of his wife. He does this by having sex. Hot, steamy, rough, graphic sex with the always stunning Maria Schneider. You can find a really beautiful film here about the desperation people feel when they feel anonymous and alone, and the shocking ending will reinforce it, but good lord is it a ride that will get you hot under the collar.


A place where everybody knows your name, the 2006 erotic dramady Shortbus set out to make a film about love and sex that refused to censor itself in anyway. It accomplished that. In spades. About a “salon for the gifted and challenged,” it explores love, life, and sex (lots and lots of sex) in a way that’s unexpectedly sweet and romantic. While such frank depictions of sexual acts (ranging from heterosexual to homosexual to vanilla to…) might leave you scandalized, it might also leave you in the mood for exploration.


Black and white and sexy all over. This 1940s classic oozes subtle sensuality among it’s twisting and turning film Noir narrative about a woman’s affair with a common drifter. During this time frame, when studios were banned from showing sexually blatant themes, wthis film pushed the boundaries of propriety to the limit.


If you don’t know what Emanuelle is, you must be new to the erotic works section of the bookstore. An adaptation of the 1967 novel Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman, the story is about the titular Emanuelle who travels through Bangkok to meet with her husband, and has a series of romantic trysts that she believes will awaken her both spiritually and sexually. While dated and sometimes problematically sexist, the themes of consent, sexuality, and identity seem almost perpendicular to the tale of Anastasia and Christian.

Got another sexy film you think we forgot? Let us know below.

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