Thursday, June 21, 2012

50 Favorite Romances: The Sexy Ones

Let's all be honest, ladies and gentlebuddies, sometimes we watch romances because sexy people doing sexy things onscreen can be pretty sexy. Whether you prefer crackling sexual tension or just really well-written softcore, here's a list of some of my favorite sexy romances:

Se also numbers 1-10 of my 50 favorite romances: The Sweet Ones

**NOTE: This post ain't for everybody, only the sexy people.**

11. Coming Home (1978)
Well, at least your tongue still works!
Jane Fonda's boring husband Bruce Dern is being deployed to Vietnam and I'm too lazy to look up which branch of the military he's in because who cares? While he's out of the country, she'd like to get a job or something, but he doesn't want her to work because patriarchy. So anyway, to fill her time, she starts volunteering at the VA hospital. The other officers' wives think this is kind of icky, but it leads to Jane meeting a shockingly handsome young and bearded Jon Voight. Voight's character was wounded in Vietnam and left paralyzed from the waist down, and frankly is a little put out about the whole thing (this is an understatement, guys: SARCASM). In a shocking turn of events, Jane Fonda is able to inspire him to start getting up and around in a wheelchair and telling everyone how stupid and terrible the Vietnam War is and then later they totally fall in love of course. And just because someone's penis doesn't work doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of fun things you can do together in bed! It's some pretty hot stuff. Take that, patriarchy! But what will happen when Bruce "never even thought about helping my wife orgasm" Dern comes back from the war? YOU WILL HAVE TO WATCH AND SEE.

12. The English Patient (1996)
This torrid affair's definitely going to work out, right?
World War II is a thing that's starting, but rich Britons hanging out in North Africa like making maps and having adventures and pretending it's still the nineteenth century. Incredibly sexy pre-Voldemort Ralph Fiennes is the titular character, who in the "present" is recounting his love affair with the wife of one of his geography buddies or whatever. They sneak around in Egypt and spend a lot of time naked and get into adventures together and it all ends tragically or whatever. But let's talk about this:
Naveen Andrews is some sort of bomb tech with the British Army and Juliette Binoche is a nurse who watches over the now severely disfigured Ralph Fiennes and they're all hanging out at some abandoned Italian villa or something after the conclusion of the war I guess. Anyway, she sees Naveen being all sexy as shown above and things eventually get interesting. THE PLOT IS COMPLEX, SO JUST GO WATCH IT.

13. Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)
For the record, RDJ's sexiness is not really hindered by the fur suit and I was kind of disappointed when he shaved his whole body (with her help) before they fucked.
Along with Coming Home above, I watched this movie for a class on representations of love, sex, and disability. I don't really know (or care) that much about Diane Arbus, but this fictional tale posits that she began photographing people considered "deviant" or "freakish" in some way because she met a very, very hairy man and his gaggle of eccentric friends. At the beginning of the film, Arbus (Nicole Kidman) is just your regular everyday 1950s housewife who helps her husband with his photography business and has very few aspirations of her own. BUT then a mysterious man moves in upstairs. It is sexy, sexy Robert Downey, Jr. who happens to be covered in lots of hair--like in a genetic disorder kind of way, not a Teen Wolf kind of way.* He basically lures Arbus into seeking him out and she starts ignoring her family and hanging out with him and taking pictures of his odd friends and they fall in love and it is wonderful and sad and wonderful.

14. Lady Chatterley (2006)
Why don't I teach you how to orgasm on the floor of this hut, mmkay?
There are many incarnations of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley, but this 2006 French one is based on the first version of the story, John Thomas and Lady Jane, a novel published in 1927. Lawrence published the more famous Lady Chatterley's Lover soon after. I've never read either or seen any other film adaptations, so I don't really know how they are different but do know they are both full of sexy sexy times! Anyway, the rich English Lady's husband has come back from WWI as a paraplegic, and apparently this means the Chatterleys can never, ever fool around again or something and he basically is depressed and ignores her all the time. She is also--surprisingly--depressed and told to start spending time outdoors to get over it, so she runs around the estate and strikes up an affair with the gruff gamekeeper. There is a lot of having sex in cabins and outside and whatnot, basically. But they are both technically married and it's like 1919 or whatever, so things can't really work out, can they? Also, Jean-Louis Coullo'ch does not seem hot at first, but then he takes his shirt off and then he starts fucking Lady Chatterley all over the woods. Good stuff.

15. Little Children (2006)
Let's pretend Kate Winslet is frumpy in this movie!
There is a lot going on in this film adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel (also very good), some of which is pretty fucked up (the whole B plot about the neighborhood's registered sex offender, for example). But anyway, some generically hot blond guy who has a little boy and Kate Winslet who has a little girl are both stay-at-home parents who meet in the park one day. The other moms don't dare approach him, but Kate's character doesn't really fit in with them anyway and somehow they end up striking up a friendship. Both are in somewhat unhappy marriages (esp. her) and they often find themselves bored and resentful. They start going to the public pool with their kids everyday and eventually end up fucking. And then they keep fucking each other for awhile and they start to plan to run away together. And they do and they live happily ever after! Haha just kidding, some fucked up shit happens at the end.

16. Out of Africa (1985)
Personal shampoo service by Robert Redford? Hard to go wrong there.
Colonialism hasn't been this sexy since that time I watched the English Patient. Anyway, Meryl Streep is a Danish lady who marries a rich acquaintance out of convenience and they end up moving to Kenya since he is "rich" as in "has a title" not as in "having actual money or property at his disposal." She and her husband have an "arrangement," and he is often not around and she basically runs their coffee plantation. One of the white people they meet is Robert Redford (who cares about character names?), who is a big game hunter, pilot, and general adventurer. Meryl and Robert become friends and then eventually lovers. Meryl is kind of pissed at her husband for giving her syphilis and being a general douchebag, and makes him move out and then lets Robert move in. But you can't tame the R-Dog, he's not into "marriage" or "permanent residences" and Meryl is sad and the landscape is pretty. The end.

17. Plan B (2009)
So I'm going to pretend to like you but then maybe I really will but anyway let's strip down to our underwear and sleep next to each other like bros do.
I ended up seeing this movie because Netflix is always like, "Did you say foreign gay/forbidden romance?" and I am powerless to say no. In this quirky Argentinean film, curly hair above gets dumped by his girlfriend. Said ex-girlfriend starts dating straight hair above. Curly hair wants his woman back, and though she continues to fool around with him on the side, won't get back together with him. So curly hair OBVIOUSLY comes up with a devious plan to befriend straight hair and seduce him away from the girlfriend so then SHE'LL get dumped and possibly come back to him. Neither dude has ever had any gay experiences as far as we know, but as curly hair begins to enact his plan, something strange happens in that he starts to actually like the straight-haired dude. WHAT WILL HAPPEN? It is a very likable movie and involves a lot of sexual tension and scruffy beards and scenes where they are only wearing underwear, which I'm kind of okay with.

18. Strangers (2007)
Soccer: resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis since, like, always.
Two strangers accidentally switch bags on a train in Germany during the 2006 World Cup. One is an Israeli soldier and the other Palestinian woman living (illegally) in France. After switching them back, they decide to try to find a place to stay together while they enjoy the festive atmosphere and go watch some soccer games on big screens in public places. Can you guess what happens next? Sexiness, chain-smoking, political tension. They spend a couple of days together in Berlin before she's called back to France because her son is ill (he doesn't know she has a kid yet!). When he disobeys her wishes and follows her to Paris and then Israel invades Lebanon, things get COMPLICATED. The acting is pretty impeccable (and I'm not just talking about Liron Levo's occasional shirtlessness), especially considering that the dialogue was apparently mostly improvised and the second part of the movie (in Paris) was added after the Lebanese War broke out during the original shooting. An ambiguous conclusion keeps viewers debating between what feels good and what feels real.

19. A Walk in the Clouds (1992)
Who know being covered in grape juice could be so sexy? (Also: sticky.)
My sister included this one on her favorite romance list because it is great. This is another movie I own on VHS because I'm too cheap/embarrassed to go out of my way to buy it on DVD, and yet I have to re-watch it every once in awhile. Keanu Reeves is a GI who comes back from WWII to find his hastily-married bride (Debra Messing) hasn't read any of his letters and expects him to go back to his old job selling chocolates door-to-door. So Keanu goes on the road and meets beautiful and mysterious Victoria, who charms him by getting sexually harassed by rednecks and barfing on his uniform. Mostly he ends up posing as her husband so her strict Catholic Mexican-American father won't shoot her for being pregnant. He plans to "abandon" her after the first day at her family's vineyard, but it doesn't work out quite that easily! We all know what happens when you pretend to be a couple, you have to become one in real life, duh. But he's married! There's tension! Victoria's father is imperious and the grandpa is awesome and adorable and Keanu's wooden performance is mostly easy to ignore since the scenery is so beautiful and his chemistry with the leading lady is pretty believable. This movie is a lot tamer than many of the others in this category, but I DARE you not to get into the grape-smashing sequence. HOT.

20. The Young Victoria (2009)
Your ludicrous facial hair is really going to help me with my empire-building. 
Based on real historical events enhanced by implausibly attractive actors, the story of Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt)'s accession to the British throne at the age of eighteen and her marriage to Prince Albert of Somethingorrather (Rupert Friend) is filled with both old-timey political intrigue and romance. Though Victoria knows that her uncle has chosen Albert to woo her for political reasons, the two form a bond largely through correspondence. There is a lot of not touching when people want to touch, meaningful glances and silences and the like as a real attraction grows between the two. What I find most attractive of all perhaps (besides Rupert Friend in period costume, despite his sketchy mustache) is their mutual respect and his ultimate deference to her position as queen, even as she has trouble sorting out her political role in the early years. Equality is sexy, people.

*Fact: I have a special place in my heart for a) Michael J. Fox and b) Teen Wolf (1985, obvs) and was horrified to watch ten minutes of some terrible MTV dramatic series reboot recently that was no doubt inspired by that atrocity known as the Twilight series.

1 comment:

  1. I kind of hate The English Patient (besides Naveen Andrews and Juliet Binoche, obvs), but I'm so glad you put Young Victoria on your list. I forgot how adorable/sexy that movie is.