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The Best Sex Scenes of the 21st Century Ranked, From ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ to ‘Call Me by Your Name’

You'll want to have a peach handy for this one.

Best Sex Scenes

15. “Love” (2015)

Love

“Love”

Gaspar Noé’s “Love” has some of the most graphic sex scenes ever filmed, and they were all designed to be shown in 3D no less, but none are as erotically stimulating as the initial threesome that rattles the world of the film’s central couple. Filmed with a pulsating energy that captures the carnal attraction between the characters, Noé crafts a sex scene that actually feels like it will be a relationship game-changer for his characters. Much of the movie takes place in the threesome’s aftermath as the characters aspire to reach that level of connection again. By expertly making the audience feel what that connection is, Noé lays the groundwork for an effective relationship saga. —Zack Sharf

14. “Anomalisa” (2015)

Anomalisa

“Anomalisa”

The 21st century has given cinema two sex classic scenes involving puppet characters, but where “Team America” goes bombastically over-the-top, “Anomalisa” goes piercingly intimate. Charlie Kaufman’s characters are deeply insecure and imperfect in a way every human can relate to, which makes the sight of puppets performing oral sex on each other feel necessarily awkward, sweet, and, ultimately hopeful. You don’t expect the “Anomalisa” sex scene to move you the way it does, but that’s what happens when you have two damaged souls finally realizing they have a chance at deep human connection. —ZS

13. “Gone Girl” (2014)

Gone Girl

“Gone Girl”

With her Best Actress–nominated performance, Rosamund Pike also delivered a diabolical sex scene in which she was the sole survivor. To punish her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) — who not only cheated on her, but also uprooted their union from Manhattan to Missouri — sadistic Amy Dunne (Pike) first frames him for her murder, then decides to return home after witnessing his talk-show mea culpa. To justify her disappearance, the cinematic sister of Alex Forrest and Catherine Trammel pretends like she was raped: While having sex with her ex-boyfriend, Desi (American sweetheart Neil Patrick Harris), Amy retrieves a boxcutter hidden underneath a pillow and slashes his throat as he climaxes. Doused with Desi’s blood, Amy cooly gets on top for a few final thrusts. She immediately drives home to dramatically collapse into Nick’s arms, flanked by a yard-full of paparazzi. —Jenna Marotta

12. “Carol” (2015)

Carol

“Carol”

One the beautiful aspects of “Carol” is how much weight and emotion is held in a single glance between Carol and Therese, and these moments hold just as much tension and release as the film’s eventual sex scene between the women. The attraction between Carol and Therese is undeniable and it upends everything Therese thought she knew about herself, sending her on her own journey of self-discovery both intertwined and apart from Carol. While staying in a dingy motel in Iowa, Carol stands behind Therese and watches her in the mirror before leaning forward and sharing a passionate kiss. She lays Therese down in bed, running her hands and mouth across Therese’s body, both exploring and initiating Therese. The scene is packed with passion, as the women simply cannot get enough of each other, their bodies and hair are entangled, their mouths pressed against each other exhaling pure ecstasy. It is both beautiful and erotic but also tinged with heartache as both we and Carol know that finally giving in also means the end. When the women see each other again at the end of the film, Therese is a different woman, more secure and sure of who she is, thanks in part to Carol. It isn’t their final words but Carol’s hand on Therese’s shoulder than sends another surge of emotion (and a wave of tears) once more. —Jamie Righetti

11. “Call Me by Your Name” (2017)

Luca Guadagnino’s lushly told story of first love is brimming with eroticism and romance at every turn, thanks to both its stunning Italian setting (what doesn’t seem sensual during a Mediterranean summer?) and the rippling chemistry between leads Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. While contractual agreements keep the film from going all-in on more traditional sex scenes (shout out to that well-placed tree), Chalamet and Hammer do manage to pull off one banger, involving a literally ripe piece of fruit. As Elio, Chalamet is all hormones and nerves and wants, and that eventually leads him to experiment on an innocent peach this sounds weird, but it’s not, it’s actually quite charming — ratcheting up to a decidedly piercing encounter between the two. Alone, it’s a keen insight into the way desire drives us to do insane things, but it’s bolstered by a late appearance from Hammer as Elio’s newly minted lover Oliver, who delights in both the peach and Elio’s actions in a way that’s raw and  tender. Overcome by sharing this level of intimacy with someone he already loves so much, Elio crumbles: “I’m sick!” Oliver has the perfect, pervy response: “I wish everyone was sick like you,” and takes a big old bite of the pilfered peach, letting it become a part of him, too. It’s a perfect profession, the kind that only “CMBYN” could ever pull off. —KE

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