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Top 21 Sexy Films Streaming: Erotic Dramas to Watch

The erotic drama is back with the release of “Deep Water,” the Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas-starring thriller that marks the long-awaited directorial return of Adrian Lyne. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker is a master of the erotic thriller, having directed some of the most acclaimed and/or profitable erotic dramas of all time with the likes of “9½ Weeks,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Indecent Proposal” and “Unfaithful.” Lyne was nominated for best director at the Oscars thanks to “Fatal Attraction,” while “Unfaithful” earned Diane Lane an Oscar nomination for best actress.

With “Deep Water” now streaming, Variety is rounding up the other erotic dramas now available on Hulu, Prime Video, Netflix and more platforms. Many of the films listed below are some of the sexiest films ever made, while nearly all of them are guaranteed to provoke and shock the viewer with their frank depictions of sex and intimacy.

1- Deep Water (Hulu)

“Deep Water,” based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, stars Ben Affleck and Ana De Armas as a married couple who are constantly testing each other psychologically. Hulu’s official synopsis says the film “takes us inside the marriage of picture-perfect Vic (Affleck) and Melinda (de Armas) Van Allen to discover the dangerous mind games they play and what happens to the people that get caught up in them.” The supporting cast includes Tracy Letts, Lil Rel Howery, Dash Mihok, Finn Wittrock, Jacob Elordi, Rachel Blanchard and Michael Braun. The movie marks a directorial return for Adrian Lyne as it’s his first feature directorial effort since “Unfaithful.” Read the review here.

2- Unfaithful (Hulu, Tubi for Free)

Diane Lane was Oscar nominated for best actress thanks to her performance in Adrian Lyne’s erotic thriller “Unfaithful.” Co-starring Richard Gere and Olivier Martinez, the movie centers on a couple whose marriage dangerously falls apart after the wife has an affair with a mysterious stranger she encounters by chance. From the review: “Adrian Lyne takes an uncharacteristically cool approach to adultery in ‘Unfaithful,’ a precision-tooled, moody study in the wages of betrayal. This refitting of Claude Chabrol’s 1968 classic ‘La Femme Infidele’ is less concerned with suspense and dramatic fireworks than is the usual American erotic thriller and is much more devoted to nuances and the minutiae of how men and women behave, pretend and lie in duplicitous situations.”

3- The Handmaiden (Amazon Prime Video)

Park Chan-wook’s erotic psychological thriller “The Handmaiden” stars Kim Tae-ri as a woman whose hired to be the housemaid for a Japanese heiress (Kim Min-hee) in a plot to defraud the woman, but the plan goes awry when the maid falls in love with her target. From the review: “Boasting more tangled plots and bodies than an octopus has tentacles, South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook’s ‘The Handmaiden’ is a bodice-ripper about a pickpocket who poses as a maid to swindle a sequestered heiress. His first Korean-language fiction feature since 2009’s ‘Thirst,’ it’s sybaritic, cruel and luridly mesmerizing.”

4- Basic Instinct (HBO Max)

Paul Verhoeven’s “Basic Instinct” is one of the most iconic erotic thrillers thanks to Sharon Stone’s performance as Catherine Tramell, a seductive writer who becomes the prime suspect in the brutal murder of a rock star. Heading the investigation is San Francisco police detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), who becomes entangled in a torrid romance with Catherine. Magazine gave the movie a rave review, writing, “‘Basic Instinct’ is grade-A pulp fiction. This erotically charged thriller about the search for an ice-pick murderer in San Francisco rivets attention through its sleek style, attractive cast doing and thinking kinky things, and story, which is as weirdly implausible as it is intensely visceral… Stone has a career-making role here as a beautiful, smart manipulator who is always several steps ahead of everyone else.”

5- The Voyeurs (Amazon Prime Video)

Michael Mohan’s “The Voyeurs” puts an erotically-charged spin on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.” “Euphoria” favorite Sydney Sweeney and Justice Smith play a young couple who become obsessed with spying on their neighbors’ sex life (Ben Hardy and Natasha Liu Bordizzo play the couple across the way). A shocking discovery leads Sweeney’s character to insert herself into her neighbors’ lives, which has unintended consequences. Variety was not a fan of the film, calling it a “training-wheels mashup of ‘Rear Window’ and any number of ’90s erotic thrillers…Mohan’s film plays like rehashed leftovers cooked up for young viewers who’ve never seen any of its superior inspirations.”

6- Bound (Showtime Anytime, Hulu with Showtime)

Before the Wachowski siblings changed Hollywood for good with “The Matrix,” they directed the 1996 neo-noir crime thriller “Bound,” starring Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon as two women in an affair who set out to scheme a conniving mafioso (Joe Pantoliano) out of $2 million. “Bound” is one of the definitive works of 1990s queer cinema and has an erotic tension between Tilly and Gershon that sizzles off the screen. The movie has emerged as a cult classic over the years after initially dividing critics. review reads: “From the grandiose opening onward, it is clear the Wachowskis are determined to announce their arrival as major stylists, as they lay on the elaborate camera moves, overhead shots, deep shadows and portentous music.”

7- Lust, Caution (Rent on Apple Movies)

Ang Lee’s erotic espionage epic “Lust, Caution” is based on the 1979 novella by Eileen Chang and stars Tang Wei as a woman who gets swept up in a game of sexual intrigue with a powerful political figure (Tony Leung). Lee won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival with this film, which was released in the U.S. with an NC-17 rating due to its many graphic sex scenes. Noted in its review: “Both Leung and newcomer Tang — whose characters are far more charismatic and attractive than in Chang’s original short story — do strike some sparks, especially in the sex scenes, which are very bold by Chinese standards.

8- In the Cut (Netflix)

Jane Campion directed Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo in the 2003 psychological thriller “In the Cut,” which tells the story of an English teacher in New York City who becomes entangled in the life of a detective investigating a series of gruesome murders. Campion takes the often male-directed erotic thriller and subverts it with a female gaze. From the review: “An intensely sexual exploration of the nature of a woman’s desire in the guise of a murder mystery, this high-strung adaptation of Susanna Moore’s bestselling novel is beautifully crafted and is highlighted by an arresting change-of-pace performance by Meg Ryan as an English teacher erotically awakened by a homicide detective.”

9- Body Heat (Rent on Amazon Prime Video)

Often cited as one of the sexiest movies ever made, Lawrence Kasdan’s “Body Heat” stars Kathleen Turner as a woman who convinces her lover (the late William Hurt) to murder her rich husband in the midst of a sweltering Florida heat wave. The setting alone is hot enough, but Turner and Hurt’s magnetic chemistry is downright scorching. From the review: “‘Body Heat’ is an engrossing, mightily stylish movie in which sex and crime walk hand in hand down the path to tragedy, just like in the old days…Hurt successfully mixes both laconicism and innocence. In her film debut, Turner registers strongly as a hard gal with a past. Her deep-voiced delivery instantly recalls that of young Lauren Bacall without seeming like an imitation.”

10- Blue Is the Warmest Color (IFC Films Unlimited, AMC Plus)

Abdellatif Kechiche’s Cannes winner “Blue Is the Warmest Color” features a star-making performance from Adèle Exarchopoulos as a high school student who comes into her sexual identity after meeting an art student (Lea Seydoux). The film made history at Cannes when the Palme d’Or was given not only to Kechiche but to Exarchopoulos and Seydoux as well. From the review: “A searingly intimate character study marked by the most explosively graphic lesbian sex scenes in recent memory… it would be reductive to slap an exclusive gay-interest label on “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” a bildungsroman and first-love story whose deep and abiding fascination with life’s great shared pleasures — food, sex, art, literature, music, conversation — encourages the viewer to consider the commonality as well as the vast complexity of human experience.”

11- The Duke of Burgundy (IFC Films Unlimited, AMC Plus)

Peter Strickland’s “The Duke of Burgundy” centers on the twisted erotic relationship between a maid and her employer. The maid, Evelyn (Sidse Babett Knudsen), is subjected to strict behavioral expectations in her employer’s home and is punished if she does not meet her employer’s expectations. Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen burns down the screen playing the employer, a seductive and controlling woman named Cynthia. From the review: “An act of cinephilic homage that transcends pastiche to become its own uniquely sensuous cinematic object, Strickland’s densely layered, slyly funny portrayal of the sadomasochistic affair between two lesbian entomologists tips its hats to such masters of costumed erotica as Jess Franco, Tinto Brass and Jean Rollin, without ever cheapening its strange but affecting love story.”

12- Fatal Attraction (HBO Max)

Adrian Lyne’s “Fatal Attraction” is one of the most successful erotic dramas of all time, grossing $320 million at the worldwide box office and earning six Oscar nominations (including picture, director and actress for Glenn Close). Michael Douglas plays a married man who begins an illicit affair with a woman who becomes obsessed with him and refuses to let their fling end. From the review: “The screws are tightened expertly in this suspenseful thriller about a flipped-out femme who makes life hell for the married man who scorns her…Close throws herself into the physical abandon of the early reels with surprising relish, and become genuinely frightening when it comes clear she is capable of anything.”

13- Stranger by the Lake (Amazon Prime Video with Strand Releasing)

Alain Guiraudie’s “Stranger by the Lake” won the Queer Palme at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Set on a remote beach where gay men cruise for sex, the film stars Pierre Deladonchamps as a man who witnesses a murder in the lake and then becomes passionately attracted to the killer. From the review: “Though it contains explicit scenes of gay sex, this is essentially an absorbing and intelligent exploration of queer desire spiced up with thriller elements after one of the studly nudists goes missing. Shot in lush, deceptively serene widescreen tableaux, this improbable cocktail makes for entrancing viewing, though the sight of ejaculating members will make it an extremely hard sell theatrically.”

14- Below Her Mouth (Rent on Apple Movies)

April Mullen’s queer erotic drama “Below Her Mouth” stars Natalie Krill and Erika Linder as two women in Toronto who meet and begin a passionate love affair. A lesbian romance told on sexually frank terms, the film earned strong buzz out of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Variety had considerable praise for Linder, writing, “Casting agents of independent cinema, take note: If Kristen Stewart is too busy or expensive for your project, Swedish newcomer Erika Linder is more than happy to step in. Evoking the new arthouse queen’s balance of sullen and sultry with a fluency that borders on outright imitation, the 26-year-old model’s big-screen debut carries more charge than everything around her in ‘Below Her Mouth.’”

15- 9½ Weeks (Rent on Amazon Prime Video)

Another staple of Adrian Lyne’s erotic filmography is “9½ Weeks,” starring Kim Basinger as a New York City art gallery worker who begins an intense affair with a mysterious Wall Street broker (played by Mickey Rourke). Basinger’s character, Elizabeth McGraw, spirals into an emotional breakdown as Rourke’s John Gray carries out psychosexual control of her. The film’s release hit speedbumps because of its erotic nature, and it ultimately opened with an edited cut in the U.S. that bombed at the box office. The director’s cut found greater success at the international box office, where “9½ Weeks” managed to make it to the $100 million mark.

16- Indecent Proposal (Showtime Anytime, Amazon or Hulu With Showtime)

Adrian Lyne directed Robert Redford, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson in his 1993 erotic drama “Indecent Proposal,” which focuses on a married couple whose relationship is disrupted by a stranger’s $1 million offer for the wife to spend an evening with him. While a box office success with $266 million, the movie tanked with film critics. From the review: “This is one of those high-concept pictures with a big windup and weak delivery. On paper, a film in which billionaire Robert Redford offers down-on-their-luck married couple Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore a cool million in exchange for one night with Demi sounds surefire. Onscreen, the result has little sex, goes nowhere interesting or believable in the second long hour, and sports an idiotic conclusion that looks like Test Marketing Ending No. 6.”

17- 365 Days (Netflix)

Barbara Białowąs and Tomasz Mandes’ erotic romance “365 Days” became a Netflix word-of-mouth sensation in 2020 due to its graphic sex scenes between stars Anna-Maria Sieklucka and Michele Morrone. Sieklucka plays a young woman from Poland who falls for a man who imprisons her and imposes on her a period of 365 days in which to fall in love with him. “365 Days” became known as Netflix’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but in its review: “The popularity of the unequivocally not-good ‘365 Days’ is possibly more explicable than that of E.L. James’ publishing phenomenon, merely proving the old adage that no one ever went broke overestimating the horniness of a global population slowly emerging from pandemic-mandated isolation.”

18- The Canyons (Showtime Anytime, Amazon or Hulu With Showtime)

Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis’s 2013 erotic thriller “The Canyons” made headlines for casting Lindsey Lohan opposite real-life porn star James Deen in the story of a film director who plays mind games with his girlfriend after discovering she’s sleeping with the leading actor of his new horror movie. From the review: “Lindsay Lohan brings a raw conviction to Paul Schrader’s ultra-low-budget but handsomely made study of hungry young things clawing at the good life…The signature psychosexual perversity of director Paul Schrader finds its nearly perfect match in novelist Bret Easton Ellis, whose screenplay for Schrader’s ‘The Canyons’ might just as soon have been called ‘Psycho American Gigolo’ or ‘The Hardcore Rules of Attraction.’”

19- Secretary (Free on Tubi)

Steven Shainberg’s erotic black comedy “Secretary” made a bonafide star out of Maggie Gyllenhaal. The actor and James Spader play a submissive secretary and her dominant lawyer, who engage in various acts of erotic BDSM. from the review: “A very tricky sort of love story is put across with some skillful high-wire walking in ‘Secretary.’ In this considerable expansion of Mary Gaitskill’s short yarn about a boss-secretary relationship that evolves into a mutually satisfying S&M matchup, the filmmakers are deeply interested in getting to the psychological roots of the characters, and the picture’s relative success in doing so makes the outre goings-on here not only dramatically palatable but emotionally plausible.”

20- Nymphomaniac (Pluto TV, Amazon Prime Video With Magnolia Selects)

Lars von Trier’s two-part erotic epic “Nymphomaniac” centers on a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stacy Martin at various ages), who recounts her erotic experiences with a handful of men. The cast memorably includes Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman, Jean-Marc Barr, Willem Dafoe and Connie Nielsen. For all the shocking sex acts on display, no scene is more shocking than Uma Thurman having a meltdown after discovering her husband’s affair with the protagonist. Some fans called the film “a sexually explicit, four-hour magnum opus” in which Lars von Trier delivers a “dense, career-encompassing work designed to shock, provoke and ultimately enlighten a public he considers altogether too prudish. Racy subject aside, the film provides a good-humored yet serious-minded look at sexual self-liberation.”

21- O Fantasma (Amazon Prime Video With Strand Releasing)

Portuguese film director João Pedro Rodrigues’ erotic drama “O Fantasma” stars Ricardo Meneses in a fearless performance as Sergio, a trash collector in Lisbon who spends his nights cruising the streets of the city in a black rubber suit. Sergio eventually becomes obsessed with a man who doesn’t reciprocate his desire, resulting in Sergio giving into dark and depraved sexual desires. The film marked Rodrigues’ directorial debut and shocked audiences at the 2000 Venice Film Festival. “O Fantasma” won the prize for best feature film at the New York Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.

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