The Sexiest Movies of 2021
C’mon everybody, let’s say it together: sex is normal. Everyone thinks about it. Most people do it. It’s not a dirty word!
The universal appeal of sex makes it perfect fodder for film, too. For decades, the topic has been pervasive in the medium, in ways that are subtle, overt, or otherwise, resulting in an entire canon of films that defy era or genre. Like clockwork, each year a few new entities clear the bar and join the upper echelons of “sexy movie” fame—and 2021 is no exception. Will all of these sexiest films of 2021 be remembered in the “sexiest movies of all time” category? Probably not! But that’s the fun of the new contenders.
2021’s sexiest movies sometimes require a bit of imagination: take the absurd sex scene in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Not a traditional vignette, but important in the rundown of this very bizarre year of film. But, more often, it’s classic steam, like Malcolm & Marie, which offers a sensual black and white aesthetic while its two leads share an electric chemistry on screen. Sexy is all in how you define it, baby.
Below are our seven choices for sexiest films of the year (so far).
The Last Letter From Your Lover
Sometimes the best kind of sexy comes in the form of a schmaltzy, soapy love story. This one stars Shailene Woodley and Felicity Jones. Jones stars as a 21st century journalist on a search to put together the long-hidden affair of Woodley’s character, whose letters date back to the 60s. Of course, as one woman unfolds the love story of her subject, she begins to stumble into a love story of her own.
In The Heights
This is a family-friendly musical, but c’mon. It’s hard to ignore that this is also a musical about gorgeous young New Yorkers, set in the heat of the summer. It has romance. A pool scene. Dream-like dance sequences. This all goes to prove that “sexy” is a state of mind, and pairing Corey Hawkins alongside Leslie Grace results in fireworks (literally) and sexual tension to beat the band.
So. This film first blasted onto the radar when (checks notes) Marion Cotillard talked about Adam Driver singing while going down on her character. Classic film motif. The outlandish rock musical is definitely in its own category, but its sensuality makes it one of the most intimate and touching films of 2021 thus far. Keep singing, kids.
Malcolm & Marie
There’s something about the black and white of it all that really elevates how sensual Malcolm & Marie is. Directed by Sam Levinson and starring John David Washington and Zendaya, the film is about one couple’s night after getting home, chronicling their love, disagreements, and sensuality.
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Listen, it’s a particular vibe, but a vibe nonetheless. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar has all the makings of a sexy film. The beach. Swim suits. Sex. A scantily clad Jamie Dornan. More sex. And no, it may not look exactly like the sexy films you’re accustomed to, but damn if it doesn’t do the job.
Hard bodies fighting to the death? I mean, it’s kind of brutal, but also, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a film with more insanely fit people who have a skill set as intricate and impressive as this crew. And bonus: it will premiere on HBO Max, so you can take it all in from home.
You might have thought that Black Widow was down for the count (sorry, spoilers), but the ever-alluring Natasha Romanova has one more story in her before she goes. In a final origin story, Black Widow returns home, reuniting with her KGB roots where we’ll be introduced to a whole cast of new, hulking Russian assets: Florence Pugh and David Harbour being two of them.
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture.
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