The Sexiest 2016 Movies, So Far

Sex is a basic but complicated part of the human experience, and its role in pop culture serves as a symbol for larger cultural attitudes. Film is no exception, and while there are movies that create feelings of sensuality without any actual bumpin' or grindin', I'm a big believer in the classic sex scene. Visualizing sexuality is a powerful, influential act, and it's up to feminists to enter and change these conversations for the better. Some of the sexy movies 2016 has offered so far have shown fresh portrayals of sex and sensuality, with many of these moments coming from international cinema.

Since there is no one definition of "sexy," it's fascinating to see how different filmmakers understand this concept and let it inform their work. Many of the sexiest films of 2016 thus far deal with youth and nostalgia, but there are also flicks on this list that explore the tangled web of sexuality and gender. I think that the sexiest movies of the year's first few months offer a variety of experiences, with no two films exploring intimate relationships the same way.

1. In The Shadow Of Women

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French filmmaker Philippe Garrel paints a black and white picture of an artistic couple involved in secret affairs. Pierre and Manon are documentarians who share both creative and married lives. Pierre meets a younger woman named Elisabeth; sexytime ensues, but he isn’t about to leave Manon. So, what happens when the obsessed Elisabeth discovers that Manon is sleeping with another man? As the trailer suggests, the film is stuffed with heady make-out sessions and very human performances. While Shadow’s European release took place during the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, U.S. audiences greeted the movie with acclaim and felt some steam.

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2. Deadpool

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Sure, the image of Ryan Reynolds running around in a glorified leotard might be enough to send some folks over the edge, but Deadpool offers something new in terms of superhero sexuality. In the comics series, Deadpool is a sardonic, pansexual hero, and his presence on-screen invites the possibility of sexual exploration and expansion. Upon the movie’s release earlier this year, film critics speculated about how Deadpool would change the superhero genre. My two cents? While the movie has its issues, I’m pretty psyched that Reynolds is down with taking on a queer narrative in the sequel. A variety of sexualities on the superhero screen sure sounds hot to me.

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3. My Golden Days

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Another French addition to last year's Cannes, My Golden Days came to the U.S. in March 2016. The film follows Paul through three different sections of his young life, ending with a third chapter about his brush with a young woman named Esther. It's a truly gorgeous love story, and shows some realistic depictions of teenage sexuality.

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4. A Bigger Splash

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If you're a huge fan of 2009's I Am Love like me, the trailer for A Bigger Splash probably made you swoon, too. The two films share a director in Luca Guadagnino and star in Tilda Swinton. Emulating Love's sensual style, Splash focuses on a female rock star, her husband, her ex, and his daughter as they vacation around Sicily. Come to this movie for its Mediterranean heat, but stay for Swinton's stunning, androgynous costumes.

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5. Neon Bull

This gem from Brazilian filmmaker Gabriel Mascaro has received high praise. NPR Fresh Air 's John Powers noted how the film deftly tells the story of hidden creative (and sexy) lives around Brazil's version of the rodeo, writing that Mascaro captured "the nitty-gritty of their existence." My body is ready.

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6. I Saw The Light

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I mean, it's Tom Hiddleston playing guitar and singing, often while shirtless. Need I say more?

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7. Love And Friendship

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Amazon's upcoming film, which premiered in January at Sundance, is about the most notorious and plotting flirt in all of England. It looks like a jolly good time and should be full of fluffy, romantic scandal, with Chloe Sevigny in the lead.

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8. Frank And Lola

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Purchased from last year's Sundance, Frank and Lola brings classic noir sexuality into present-day vegas, using food and suspicion to create a mood. Check, please!

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9. How To Tell If You're A Douchebag

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Tahir Jetter's gift to Sundance 2016 tells the story of a misogynist who falls in love. "Not funny enough to call a rom-com, though it borrows many of that genre's tropes," The Holllywood Reporter writes, "the movie plays like a technically proficient, very expensive substitute for going into therapy after a painful breakup." A dramedy about coming to terms with anti-woman sexuality? Sign me up.

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While the year isn't even halfway over, cinema has already witnessed some inventive depictions of sexuality, transgression, and romance. Here's hoping the rest of the year reaches a similar climax.

Image: Sony Pictures Classics