Don’t laugh. Movies seem to have forgotten how to turn us on. So to follow up on my awards that Oscar never thinks of — thanks for your responses last week to Hot Movie Lines (“I drink your milkshake — I drink it up” won in a walk) — let’s add Hot Movie Sex. I’m not counting lap dances, like the one in Grindhouse. Also out is chick-flick torture, like P.S. I Love You or No Reservations. Nudity isn’t the point either, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s real contact, body and mind, I’m after. Juno provides a view of Michael Cera’s skinny legs and a chair.
In a year of violent cinema — no way there’s any flesh and desire in No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood — filmmakers aren’t exactly worried about giving us a hot Valentine’s Day. It’s a sexual desert out there. Even in Lars and the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling orders a sex doll and then just talks to her. What’s up with that? So here are my nominees for the year’s best movie sex. Feel free to argue or name your own sizzle.
— It’s the scene in the library where Keira Knightley and James McAvoy decide not to hold out anymore. He backs her against the bookshelves, lifts her green evening dress above her knees, unzips the pants of his tux and goes for penetration. No hard-ons. We intuit what’s going on from their facial expressions. It’s furtive sex, what with dinner party just outside the door and a twelve-year-old girl (Saorise Ronan) interrupting them at the point of orgasm. You breathe with these characters. Woody Allen was once asked if sex was dirty. His answer: “It is if you’re doing it right.” Knightley and McAvoy do it right.
— Rated NC-17 by the reliably idiotic ratings board, Ang Lee’s film goes deeper than counting pelvic thrusts. As a Japanese collaborator during World War II. Tony Leung approaches sex with the sadistic relish he’d use to torture a suspect, while Tang Wei acts the role of subservient vessel. When they both drop the masks and yield to grander passions, the effect is devastating.
WE OWN THE NIGHT
— You’d have to go some lengths to find hotter than Eva Mendes steaming it up with Joaquin Phoenix, as her nightclub manager lover, in James Gray’s underrated crime thriller.
— Remember Carice van Houten as a Jewish spy who dyes her pubic hair blonde to seduce a Nazi officer (Sebastian Koch)? See the movie and you’ll remember it for a good long time.
— Pregnant Keri Russell getting it on with her OB/GYN Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion) in his office. It’s a bout of acrobatic lovemaking that damn near makes up for years of frustration with her deadbeat husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto). You feel the need in it.
— Sweetness props go to Dublin musician Glen Hansard (of the Irish rock band the Frames) and Markéta Irglová as the young Czech immigrant he loves. They connected off screen as well. Their musical chemistry is palpable, but light on sexual heat.
Come on, help me here. Who do you think brought the heat?