Nudity has always been an important part of cinema. Filmmakers over the years have had to battle censorship issues concerning nudity and graphic depiction of violence. In my humble opinion, nudity is an essential aspect of cinema and there shouldn’t be any limit to it if the content demands so. A film with bold, provocative subjects will use nudity to a greater extent and more often than not, it works well. A lot, however, depends on the filmmaker. A filmmaker should always try and ensure that there’s a certain visual, emotional and psychological base to whatever he/she depicts onscreen. So, if you are looking for 50 Shades of Grey nude scenes, this might not be the right place. This list comprises of nude movies scenes with an underlying intention. So with all that said, let’s take a look at this list of top nude movie scenes ever.
20. Bad Lieutenant (1992) – The Lieutenant’s Breakdown
Abel Ferrara’s brutal neo-noir flick is one of the most psychologically damaging, emotionally harrowing films ever made. At the helm of it all is Harvey Keitel who may have just delivered his greatest performance here. Keitel gives it all in this film and there’s a very powerful scene where his character just bursts into tears, standing naked with arms wide open. It’s a very disturbingly painful scene as his character is disgusted with himself and is desperate to wash all his sins away. The camera just stares at Keitel’s body and we could neither look at it nor look away because such is the impact of this nude scene.
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19. Barbarella (1968) – The Opening Striptease
It may very well be the truth when I say that this cult classic wouldn’t have achieved half the popularity it has now had it not included Jane Fonda as the title character. The scene that first comes to everyone’s minds when they think of ‘Barbarella’ is the slow sci-fi-inspired strip sequence with the opening credits hovering above and below. Known today for how it teases the audience, this moment begins with Fonda floating around in her zero gravity spaceship, slowly taking off her suit including a helmet, leggings, gloves, etc. Though we do not see anything explicit (there are a few quick shots here and there that display her fully nude), the scene is still memorable because of the way it plays around with the audience – even having credit titles cover up parts of Fonda’s body at a couple points of time.
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18. The Holy Mountain (1973) – The Cleansing of the Body
I consider ‘The Holy Mountain’ to be one of the greatest films of all time. Its spiritual nature and surreal elements are very attractive, and this nude scene is one of my personal favorite moments in the entire film. It is the scene early on when the protagonist of the film (known as either The Thief or The Tarot) meets an alchemist high above a tower, who agrees to take him under his wing. What then occurs is a step-by-step effort to purify the man. Taking help from the alchemist’s silent assistant, The Thief is washed all over and everything is shown in explicit detail. There’s something about the whole ordeal that makes it poetic, captivating, and of course, ritualistic. This is followed up by a moment wherein the newly-converted disciple defecates into a container and his bodily waste is converted into gold. As the alchemist puts it, “You are excrement.”
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17. Monster’s Ball (2001) – Leticia’s Catharsis
In this incredibly powerful scene, sex works almost like a painkiller as the two main characters soak themselves in each other’s pain, misery and loneliness. Halle Berry is clearly the star performer here as she delivers a performance of astounding strength and honesty, deservedly winning the Oscar that year. But she also had to film this really intimate scene where she goes completely nude for the lovemaking act. She’s beautiful in the scene and seemingly comfortable with her body being exposed and sets the tone for one of the most beautiful lovemaking scenes ever filmed.
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16. Last Tango in Paris (1972) – Apartment Scene
The great Marlon Brando fearlessly shows it off in this shocking scene in Bernardo Bertolucci’s controversial masterpiece, ‘Last Tango in Paris’. Infamous for its shockingly brutal and visually explicit sex scenes, the film triggered significant controversy and polarized critics and viewers due to its bold and provocative content. This particular scene where the couple have sex on the floor of an apartment is so brutal, emotionally painful, raw and yet deeply passionate. It’s more shocking because of its visual explicitness and staggering emotional intensity.
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15. Boogie Nights (1997) – Audition
Remember the scene where Heather Graham’s Roller Girl strips off and has sex with Dirk Diggler as part of an “audition”? Mark Wahlberg sits there in front the great Burt Reynolds like a humble student and in order to test his skills, Reynolds asks Roller Girl, a wildly eccentric girl who always wears skates to have sex with Diggler right in front of him so that he can cast him for his next film. Matching the tone of the entire film, the scene has such vibrant energy and charm and the scene is just an indication of what more is to come.
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14. Eastern Promises – The Bathhouse Scene
Viggo Mortensen stole the show in the famous bathhouse fight scene in David Cronenberg’s disturbing gangster flick ‘Eastern Promises’. In a case of mistaken identity, Mortensen is cornered by mob members inside a bathhouse and as he sits there completely naked, a man bursts out of nowhere and cuts him off using a sharp blade. He fights for life all alone, totally naked and Cronenberg doesn’t shy away from depicting Mortensen’s private parts as he turns the scene into one of the most brutal, realistic depiction of violence ever captured in cinema.
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13. Original Sin (2001) – Luis and Julia Make Love
Imagine the most gorgeous woman on earth going naked! ‘Original Sin’ has a ton of erotic scenes involving both Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas who stripped themselves off onscreen for the sex scenes. The first time Luis and Julia make love is a gorgeously erotic moment elevated by the raw sensuality Jolie exudes on-screen. It’s a deeply passionate moment where we see the characters completely giving themselves into the moment, feeling the warmth and tenderness of each other. It’s beautifully invigorating and so endearingly passionate.
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12. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – The Orgy
In Stanley Kubrick’s final masterpiece, Tom Cruise plays a doctor who sets out on a nightmarish journey which reflects upon the strange, mysterious fantasies warped inside his own psyche. A secret society ushers him to an orgy as he walks around witnessing a bunch of people having sex. It’s a visually explicit scene featuring a number of actors with no clothes, engaging in various sexual activities and is a defining moment in the film.
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11. Short Cuts (1993) – The Argument
Nudity can never get more hilarious and awkward than this. Julianne Moor has a long heated debate with her husband here about her affair with another man and why this scene becomes so hilarious is because Moore simply walks around without her panties as her husband shouts at her. She begins to dry off her clothes and continues the debate as she admits sleeping with another man. It’s a incredibly funny scene that was made special by Moore’s cool, nonchalant approach and the way she handles the moment.
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10. The Reader (2008) – Hanna and Michael Make Love
‘The Reader’ has been trashed by many for being nothing more than a mere Oscar-baity skinshow. I happen to see this movie in a different light. It’s a gorgeously dark portrait of the devastating realities of human relationships and Winslet is heartbreakingly vulnerable in a role that was both emotionally physically demanding. The scene where Michael comes to meet her in her apartment several months after they first met is incredibly beautiful and profoundly seductive. Winslet stripes off, seduces Michael and the two kiss each other before a session of passionate lovemaking.
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9. Blue Velvet (1986) – Jeffrey and Dorothy Make Love
With David Lynch things only get weird and weirder. His 1986 masterpiece wasn’t surreal as some of his other films but nevertheless it’s as provocative and frightening and bizarre as he’s always been. The scene where Jeffrey and Dorothy make love is full of passion and intimacy and yet Lynch turns it into one of the most brutally painful scenes of all time. Dorothy has succumbed to the pain and torture of Frank and now pain has become such an inseparable part of her life that she can’t live without it. So she asks Jeffrey to hit her in the midst of a very warm lovemaking session. He is terrified and does not want to hurt her but he does and she is turned on by it and they make more love.
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8. Titanic (1997) – The Drawing Scene
A scene that would remain etched in our memories forever. A scene that defined sensuality and love for a generation. One would anticipate a sex scene coming right after it but it never happened and that’s the beauty of the scene. It just made it a lot more special. The tension Winslet brings on to the atmosphere is raw and DiCaprio brilliantly manages to capture the hesitation and fear of a first timer as she calmly lets things sink in and asks her to lie down on the couch and begins to paint. The gorgeous score by James Horner beautifully paints the emotions of the moment as it went on to become one of the most iconic movie moments of all time.
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7. Basic Instinct (1992) – The Interrogation Scene
Oh, boy! How could one ever forget this scene? Sharon Stone’s iconic pose in ‘Basic Instinct’ made us all go weak at the knees and we can’t help but relate to the feelings of those fumbling cops she was being interrogated by. As cops try to get the better of her, Tramell just so calmly sits there, smoking a ciggarrette and begins to cross and uncross her legs frequently as she toys with the men in the room. Sharon is dazzlingly hot here and dominates the scene with her flamboyance and seductive power as she turns it into one of the most sensual movie scenes of all time.
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6. Shame (2011) – Opening Scene
Steve McQueen’s ‘Shame’ is one of the most disturbing movies ever made in recent times. The great thing about this film is that it isn’t provocative at all. The scenes have an unsettling, naturalistic aura and it plays out as a reflection of your own dark self. Fassbender is brilliant in the lead role and there’s a scene in the beginning where he invites a prostitute to his home and has sex with her. Fassbender stripped off completely for the scene and it truly is a brilliant moment in the film. It’s our introduction to his character and McQueen shows us his world and tells a lot about his character; his obsessions, fears, frustrations and rage. It’s just a raw, unflinching look at the painful realities of the human psyche.
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5. Antichrist (2009) – Sex Under the Tree
Lars Von Trier’s experimental horror drama has a bunch of nude scenes involving Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. In fact, the film’s famous opening scene where the couple have sex in the bathroom could well have made the list too but this is one takes the spot for being a bit more visually explicit and brutal. The woman has lost her mind after her son’s tragic death and out of guilt, she begins to punish her and asks her husband to hit her whilst making love under a tree. The two actors are completely nude and the scene has such raw devastating power that you won’t dare to look at it. That’s the power of Lars Von Trier, my friends!
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4. Emmanuelle II (1975) – A Hot Day At the Bath-house
I don’t think there’s another film in existence that celebrates sex and passion the way ‘Emmanuelle II’ does. Something of the sort is expected, though, from a film as wild as this. Being the second installment in the immensely popular French soft-core series that had its peak during the ’70s, this film follows a couple in a marriage that is as open as can be, and doesn’t have much of a plot per se. What it succeeds in is its marvelous depictions of the act, be it with the lighting, music, color, or the people involved themselves. There are a couple of sex scenes in this film, and they’re all worth praising. Sylvia Kristel, who plays the title character, involves herself in many moments of passion with both men and women, and the hypnotic, almost mesmerizing style present in all of them is unlike anything else. If I had to pick a favorite nude scene from this film, it would be the lengthy, meditative one that occurs in the bath-house.
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3. La Bella Noiseuse (1991) – Modelling For An Artist
‘La Bella Noiseuse’ is a film about the very creation of art and the strains that come off of it. It trails the life of an aging artist who wishes to finish what would be his magnum opus (titled ‘The Beautiful Troublemaker’). After attaining a model without her direct consent, the film follows both characters as they become completely involved in the building of this supposed masterwork as well as in each others’ lives. The model, played by Emmanuelle Beart, is seen nude throughout the majority of the film, and each one of the scenes involving her is worth mentioning. If I were to pick a favorite though, it would be the moment halfway into this 4 hour film wherein the two joke around with each other, abandoning if for only a moment, the artwork at bay. The segments of nudity here are not looked at from a sexual point of view – at least, that’s what the artist hopes to achieve – and so there’s this strange sense of innocence that buds out of their conversations.
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2. Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982) – Daydream
This one famous nude scene may just hold the record for the most paused movie moment, as well as one of the most infamous scenes of all time. There’s something about this fantasy dream sequence showcasing a popular sex symbols of the 1980s (Phoebe Cates) dropping off her red bikini to get in the hands of the daydreamer that caught people’s attention like nothing else before it. It isn’t the wildest of moments, but it did end up becoming iconic in the world of cinema. Phoebe Cates has had a career that is yet to be matched up to the astounding successes of films like this and ‘Paradise’, both of which profited off of Cates’ sex appeal. There’s no doubting the legacy left by this one scene that makes it – though devoid of much artistic merit, unless you can call the slow motion used here a brilliant cinematic step – stand the test of time, maybe even better than the film surrounding the whole thing.
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1. The Double Life of Veronique (1991) – Vernique Makes Love
When has feminine beauty ever been depicted in cinema with such artistic elegance and profound tenderness? Krzyzstof Kieslowski masterfully paints the gorgeous enigma, sensuality of the female psyche using the otherworldly beauty of Irene Jacob. In this incredibly delicate, passionate lovemaking scene, Irene Jacob goes completely naked for the act. The atmosphere Kieslowski builds for the moment is truly astounding. It’s so soaked in raw sensuality and a melancholic tenderness that just melts you with intimacy.
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