The 8 Sexiest Movies From The Early 2000s, From 'The Notebook' To 'Unfaithful'

The 2000s gave us so many heartthrobs, from Orlando Bloom to Ryan Gosling to Scarlett Johansson. Of course, along with those beloved actors came a string of sexy movies. Before there was Fifty Shades of Grey , there was Secretary. Before The Lucky One, there was The Notebook. If the 2000s taught us anything, it's that sex, whether it be violent, romantic, or somewhere in-between, sells. And with the rise of HBO and cable television, movies have had to step up their game to be considered really daring and sexy. With the arrival of Fifty Shades and the popularity of Game of Thrones, explicit sex on-screen has become expected, but that doesn't mean it's always sexy. In fact, there are one or two things about being sexy that both Fifty Shades and GoT could learn from the movies of yesterday, as evidenced by the sexiest films of the early 2000s, eight of which I've listed below.

Sexy films walk a tricky line between being either too exploitative or too tame and commercial. It's also worth noting that just because a movie features a lot of nudity doesn't mean it's actually sexy. These eight movies from the early 2000s, though, knew where to draw the line.

1. The Notebook (2004)

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The Notebook made Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams instant movie stars, while also teaching a whole generation of tweens about love and romance. The movie that started the Nicholas Sparks craze is rated PG-13, so don't expect too much explicit sex or nudity — it's the chemistry between the two leads that really makes this movie sexy. (Bonus: the DVD features extended sequences of both love scenes in the film, and, let me tell you, they are fire.)

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2. Unfaithful (2002)

Unfaithful, about a woman (Diane Lane) who has a sexual awakening during an extramarital affair (with Olivier Martinez), is a sexy movie if there ever was one.

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3. Secretary (2002)

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Considered by many to be the better, darker Fifty Shades of Grey, Secretary similarly explored the dynamics of a dom/sub sexual relationship.

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4. Closer (2004)

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Mike Nichols' Closer made headlines for starring Natalie Portman as a stripper, but it's really about two couples who become intertwined through deceit and sex.

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5. Troy (2004)

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Take it from someone who doesn't even like Brad Pitt that much — Troy owes its place on this list to Pitt, particularly his sex scene with Rose Byrne.

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6. Match Point (2005)

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Match Point, aka Woody Allen's first film starring Scarlett Johansson, may not be the sexiest movie as a whole, but Johansson's steamy romance with the protagonist, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, certainly turns up the heat. (Plus, it's Scarlett Johansson.)

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7. O (2001)

O re-imagined Shakespeare's Othello, modernizing the play and setting it at a boarding school. The love triangle at the center of it all was played by Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles and Josh Hartnett. Need I say more?

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8. Love & Basketball (2000)

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Love & Basketball is both an epic love story and a basketball movie, making it pretty timeless. The movie might not be too explicit, but the restrained and tasteful love scenes between stars Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps make the movie just sexy enough.

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Oh, yes, the early 2000s were good to us... very good.

Images: 20th Century Fox; Giphy (6); dianelaneheaven/tumblr; in-love-with-movies/tumblr