Movie List

25 Mainstream Movies That Are Almost Porn

February 28, 2019
17 min read

Today we are going to list down mainstream movies that are almost porn. These movies — some of them made by great directors like Stanley Kubrick and Lars von Trier — feature multiple explicit sex scenes. And to be honest, there is nothing wrong in that as long as filmmakers achieve the vision they are after. In the end, whether it be sex or violence, everything is just a tool in the hands of directors. It is just how they choose to use it that matters. You will also find many famous actors and actresses on the list, including Chloe Sevigny, who performed oral sex on her real-life boyfriend in the movie Brown Bunny.

Some of you may feel the choice of having explicit sex scenes in the films as artistic, whereas other may feel these movies are pornographic. Ultimately, what matters is whether these so-called near porn films delivered the message home. Here is the list of top mainstream movies that are almost porn. You can watch some of these mainstream movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

25. Elles (2011)

‘Elles’ is a shocking film that could have easily fallen under the class of a soft-core porn feature had it been more explicit. Following a female journalist played by Juliette Binoche, who, as part of her assignment, enters a prostitution ring run by college students, much of the sleazy activities that warrant this film a place on this list happen while she is there. Though nothing is too graphic, several key sex acts are implied and performed on screen. These include blowjobs, masturbation, and pleasurable lovemaking. Being a witness to such events, there is a scene where the journalist herself gets intrigued well enough to try out the sex acts for herself. It isn’t just the sex that makes this film eligible, though. There are a lot of brash conversations about the act too (with pretty much nothing else in between), slightly deviating away from the actual narrative even, at several times in the film.

24. Henry & June (1990)

In the novel from which this film is adapted, Anais Nin’s character is intrigued by the titular couple, who helps decorate her erotic writing style. Charmed by the way they go about their sexual lives, she takes inspiration to spice up her own back home, with her husband Hugo. Not really constrained by means of a structured plot, the film sees Anais going about and exploring the different layers to human seduction by making love with several other people, including Henry himself at a point in the tale. Primarily, I would say that this looseness to the film’s storyline is what makes it resemble a pornographic feature the most, since even with all that nudity, it is this specific aspect that makes Philip Kaufman’s directorial venture stand out from the crowd. Personally, I adore the way this film ends, because there is this sense of completeness provided, which isn’t easy to communicate given how hazy the narrative is.

23. The Canterbury Tales (1972)

Pier Paolo Pasolini is a dangerous filmmaker, and by that I mean to say that his works may be characterized as brash, unafraid, and extreme. Adapting eight of the famous Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, the film has its base set amongst a couple of pilgrims traveling to Canterbury, in a journey that is absolutely mundane and boring, forcing them to tell stories to excite themselves. These stories are excessively erotic in nature, and translating that to film Pasolini-style easily makes a lot of the visuals seemingly pornographic in nature. Of course, the difference here is the coherent structure and the unwillingness to exhilarate the audience sensually (a trait in even the sexiest of the director’s films), but since the tales are particularly sexy themselves, there are little setbacks and corner-cuts thrown in, to communicate the essence of these short retellings in their full. This is one of Pasolini’s more simple watches, which isn’t saying much, because he never made easy films.

22. Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman (1975)

I could have picked any of the Emmanuelle films to write about on here, because they are all soft-core wonders that made it big at the box office, appealing to a wide range of mainstream audiences at the time of their respective releases. I pick the second installment, known by the title ‘The Joys of a Woman’, because I think it is a film where pretty much all the elements of cinema that can be manipulated to attract the senses of the audience in a sensual manner have been effectively executed. Let it be Francis Lai’s seductive music, or the soft portrait-like lighting set-up making each scene resemble a painting of some sort, or the abundant lovemaking that comes as a result of an admittedly poor script, or simply lead Sylvia Kristel’s eyes – everything about this film is erotica at its absolute best. This cinematic push given to the genre through artistic elements make it more exciting than the standard sex film.

21. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

If you’ve ever subjected yourself to the sleazy cinematic glory found in vintage low-budget erotica, then I’m sure you know that Russ Meyer’s someone to look out for. his films are nonchalant, unstructured, openly critical about anything it wishes to criticize, and extremely campy in nature. A lot of the pornographic films of today owe their tropes to Meyer’s early works like this one, which is covered from top to bottom in busty women who crave for nothing but sex. Following the story of three pop singers who wish to make it big after coming to Hollywood, the film attempts a rather weak parody at celebrity culture, that is funny in the way a B movie would tickle your ribs. There’s some good nudity here and there, but the connection to be made here with pornography is in the characters themselves. Though I don’t consider Meyer to be a good director, I know he’s an interesting one, since his films never really bore me.

20. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)

Though the classic ‘The Devil in Miss Jones’ (1973) garnered a huge collection at the box office when it came out, I didn’t think including it on a list like this would be fair, since it is basically pornography, albeit aesthetically, it fairs better than most of its competitors. Therefore, I decided to go a different route and include this film in its place, which has a couple of pivotal nude scenes that resemble, in some ways at least, a handful of moments from the aforementioned Golden Era of Porn masterwork. ‘Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!’ is directed by Pedro Almodovar, and I don’t think it is as black and white as a major segment of its viewers seem to think. Following the lives of an ex-convict porn star, and a mentally slanted man who lures her in with his charm, the film talks about their odd, highly violent and misogynistic relationship, which I feel springs out of a lack of understanding on both their parts on the question of how to carry forth an intimate romantic venture.

19. Sex and Lucia (2001)

I do not think I can explain the kind of film ‘Sex and Lucia’ is, but I can tell you that it is borderline fantasy. Sure, some of it’s real, and some of it is believable, but the story-less plot adds in way too many fantastical elements for its audience to understand how much it distances itself from the reality it wishes to depict, at times. Narrated from the perspective of a possibly eccentric writer, who happens to be the boyfriend of the titular Lucia, it really is he who leads the tales that are told. It is only the images that he conjures up in his imagination that we see unfold on film, all of which may perhaps be a confused recollection or a poetic interpretation of his past, and all the things that led him to where he is now. This film is extremely explicit with its content, featuring some of the boldest scenes ever put to screen, but they all aid the sedated atmosphere in some way or the other, making for a worthwhile cinematic experience.

18. Tokyo Decadence (1992)

Going by Ryu Murakami’s written work, I have reason to believe his directorial venture here is nothing short of an assessment of the world around us, the people residing here, and their brutality, coldness, and lack of empathy, traced along the outlines of its presentation of a sexually charged little locality in Japan, lit by neon lights and populated by introverted people. The calmness we see outside is a façade, hiding the derivation of sensual pleasures through sadomasochistic methods that people (both of respectable occupations and otherwise) partake in within the walls of their residences. We follow a naïve, young call-girl who walks around these parts as she is used, battered, and torn up by her clients, though she bears it all and stays submissive throughout. Murakami’s film cuts no corners in its depiction of human violence in connection to sexual excitement, and that is where it finds a connection close to several of the BDSM work churned out in pornography.

17. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989)

Sporting one of the greatest and most descriptive titles to ever find themselves attached to a feature film, ‘The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover’ signifies a pattern of infidelity and colorful characters. Of course, when I use the word ‘colorful’, I also mean to describe the visual appeal of this fine work of art. Singular colors give walls of specific rooms within the restaurant in which this film takes place certain human traits, making for an unnerving, claustrophobic experience, only heightened by the showcase of violence here. The nudity is something of saving grace in that sense, since it is plentiful, and though not always erotic, its presence guides the story about a woman who finds comfort in a male guest who frequently resides in her husband’s restaurant. Throwing filmic niceties out of the window, this picture is uncaring and unconcerned about anything to do with morality, which is frankly what makes it so great.

16. Je Tu Il Elle (1974)

For the most part, ‘Je Tu Il Elle’ feels like your standard unconventional art-house masterpiece. It is in the last ten minutes or so of the picture that it totally flips out and becomes something resembling a porn film, although it doesn’t compromise much on the aesthetic side. Directed by Chantal Akerman, one of my favorite filmmakers of all time, she appears as one of the women who take part in the final, stretched-out, woman-on-woman lesbian sex scene, which is so miserably passionate I can only think of so other films that can even come close to it, let alone match the intimacy. In the fragmented and confusing storyline, it’s tough to really explain how the scene fits in, and therefore I will not be able to provide much context with my words here. What I know for certain is that this is a film that’s in a class of its own, and whether you find the concluding lovemaking bit to be exciting or not, you’ll still be able to see a different, innovative, and intriguing film, which is a satisfactory experience on its own.

15. Caligula (1979)

An erotic historical drama film that focuses on the rise and fall of the Roman Emperor Caligula and stars famous names like Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren and Peter O’Toole. Caligula was infamous for sleeping with his own sister and organising elaborate orgies. The film saw its fair share of controversies when the producer decided to film explicit unstimulated sex scenes that the director had refused to film.

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14. Intimacy (2001)

The film despite featuring some explicit sex scenes has a beautiful emotional core to it. It is the story of Jay, a failed musician, who is visited by a woman every Wednesday afternoon at his house where they have graphic, almost wordless, sex. One day Jay follows her and finds out about the rest of her life. That changes their relationship. The film divided the critics, some thought it to be a masterpiece whereas others felt it was another exercise in eroticism.

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13. Il Futuro (2013)

A story of two orphans, Bianca and Tomas, who develop a scheme to rob an aging movie star and one-time Mr. Universe. The plan is to have Bianca seduce the now blind star so they can get access to his hidden fortune. Part psychological thriller and part erotic drama, the film has several sexually charged scenes.

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12. The Dreamers (2003)

‘The Dreamers’ has some of the most memorably beautiful and provocative sex scenes ever filmed. Actress Eva Green was pretty nervous about taking up the project because of the film’s graphic depiction of sex and her parents almost begged her to not take the lead role as they did not want her life to be destroyed the way Maria Schneider’s life had been after the hugely controversial ‘Last Tango in Paris’. However ‘The Dreamers’ is another cinematic gem that deepens the distinguished oeuvre of one of the most controversial filmmakers of all time.

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11. 9½ Weeks (1986)

The title refers to the duration of the relationship between self-absorbed Wall Street banker John (Mickey Rourke) and divorced art gallery owner Elizabeth (Kim Basinger). An arresting, sexy, provocative, and compelling erotic drama about relationships, dark sides to human beings, and exploring new sexual pleasures. It’s everything that Fifty Shades of Grey could have been. Even though ‘9½ Weeks’ flopped when it first released, since then it has acquired a cult following.

10. Secretary (2002)

A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a twisted sexual relationship: a sadomasochistic one. Sadomasochism provides the backdrop for a very unusual erotic romantic drama. The film isn’t for everyone but it does have some funny and weird moments in equal measure. Maggie Gyllenhaal shines in a bold performance.

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9. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

Adele Exarchopoulos Lea Seydoux

Blue Is The Warmest Colour’ is a coming-of-age tale of Adele, an introverted high-school girl who discovers and explores her sexuality through Emma, an aspiring artist whose hair is the warmest shade of blue. But this film takes a more tender yet raw, passionate but not-too schmaltzy approach at telling its story. But it isn’t an indulgent film bringing only a unique gay relationship to light nor is it an ode to “coming out” with stockpiled clichés of “being different.” It shows how an interaction with a person, any person. can have a truly provocative impact. ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’ is a touching ode to blossoming love, fiery passion and same-sex relationships.

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8. Basic Instinct (1992)

A violent, suspended police detective investigates a brutal murder, in which a manipulative and seductive woman could be involved. ‘Basic Instinct’ is famous for Sharon Stone‘s leg-crossing scene, but that doesn’t mean that the film itself is not good. Without going too overboard, let’s just say that the film keeps you hooked till its climax (that’s masterfully left open-ended). And yes it is still regarded as one of the iconic sex movies.

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7. Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Paul (Marlon Brando), a middle-aged American, comes to Paris when his estranged wife commits suicide. Chancing to meet young Frenchwoman Jeanne (Maria Schneider), Paul enters into a sadomasochistic, carnal relationship with her. The sexual content in ‘Last Tango in Paris’ is uncomfortably explicit (the infamous “butter scene” is unforgettable). The combination of Brando’s acting, Bertolucci’s direction, Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography, and Gato Barbieri’s music create an exquisitely erotic piece of art.

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6. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Perhaps there can’t be a more sickening and disturbing movie on misanthropy than ‘Salò’, which even surpasses the greatest extreme pornographic acts of sodomy, coprophagia and orgies combined.  While flaying, leashing, anal intercourses, fondling, victimisation and objectification of men and women is ubiquitous in the movie, what is extremely disturbing is the questionable sanity of the filmmakers or the conjurers of ‘Salò’. How could a rational person even think of this? Nevertheless, watching a group of nine young men and women sodomised, mutilated, forced-fed with faeces, humiliated, tortured and killed is next to impossible. A film that is as much controversial as it is a memorable piece of cinematic art.

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5. Love (2015)

Image result for love film

This is the only photo I could find of the three protagonists wearing clothes. Gasper Noe‘s erotic 3D venture follows the lives of three eligible bachelors with a perennial penchant for adventures. The titillating drama opens up with a racy and sensual threesome amongst a pair of experienced ex-lovers, Murphy and Electra, and a fledgling novice exchange student from Denmark, Omi. The film ruffled feathers when it was premiered at Cannes.

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4. The Brown Bunny (2003)

The infamy that environed the lead actress of the movie was baffling. An A-list star at the time, Chloe Sevigny had her imminent acting career ruined because of some really controversial scenes in the movie ‘The Brown Bunny’. An uncensored and undiluted scene of Chloe performing fellatio on Vincent Gallo, the writer, producer, and director of the movie, who also starred in it, sent shockwaves through the industry. What made the issue more disturbing, was Gallo’s open confession of his obsession with Chloe, and his subsequent statement that he wouldn’t have done the movie if Chloe wouldn’t have been a part of it.

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3. 9 Songs (2004)

A passion for live music unites two longing souls to embark on a journey of simulated intercourse and oral sex. Sounds weird right? Well, because it purely is. Coming from the land of vestigial traditions and the Royal Queen, ‘9 Songs’ is a film that expectedly landed itself into controversies when it released. The visceral representation of the physical expression of love between the leads is refreshing and distinctive.

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2. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

There is no denying that ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ has a fair amount of eroticism in it. While the film surely has themes that are complex in nature, it has a thrilling element of surprise where as audiences we don’t know what to expect next. It’s dream-like narrative fueled by stunning visual detail, a bravura performance from Nicole Kidman and a masterful use of Ligeti’s music, lend the film the ability to compel the audience to get lost in it, and believe me is it hard to recover. Cinema never remained the same.

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1. Nymphomaniac (2013)

Image result for nymphomaniacLars von Trier furthered his vague and alluring body of work with this European art-film. The two-part, five-hour long film is a vivid exploration of self-discovery, capitalistic greed, and the addicted nymphomaniacs. The embellished venture of the film’s interchanging leads into uncharted territory of sex addiction and subsequent finding of love is a treat to watch. The film has several explicit and unstimulated sex scenes that takes the film dangerously close to being a porn.

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