Hollywood films of late have seemed to shy away from sex, but in the past there have been plenty of movies with sex as a central theme and a big part of the movie. Movies with sex at the center tend to garner controversy, but that controversy results in a curious audience. These movies with sex are for adventurous movie fans who want to see the steamier side of cinema.

  1. "Mulholland Dr." David Lynch's dreamlike ode to the strange nature of the city of Los Angeles is one of the steamiest films of recent memory. The story of an innocent young blonde (Naomi Watts) coming to L.A. to become a star and meeting a mysterious brunette who cannot remember her past evolves from a straightforward mystery into something altogether different, more sensual and scary at the same time. Unlike some movies with sex at the center, the steamy tryst between the two women is not there only to titillate, but to advance the film's themes. That doesn't mean it isn't one of the sexiest love scenes in film history.

  2. "Basic Instinct" This erotic thriller is seen by many as the sexiest film of the 1990s. Sharon Stone stars as a bisexual femme fatale who may or may not have killed her latest lover and Michael Douglas is the cop investigating the murder while falling under her spell. Few movies with sex at their center have been this explicit, with numerous sex scenes and full frontal nudity from the female star (demonstrating to her interrogators she doesn't wear underwear under her dress), while remaining successful at the box office. Naked Sharon Stone was quite a draw.

  3. "Shortbus" John Cameron Mitchell's experimental, explicit indie film is about sex as therapy in post-9/11 New York. It has explicit encounters between men, women and everything in between and culminates in a giant, celebratory orgy. Unlike many movies with sex at the center of the film, it is about how happy sex can make people, rather than the usual temptation into misery films often portray.

  4. "Caligula" One of the first mainstream films to include hardcore sex was this story of the insane Roman emperor, portrayed by Malcolm McDowell. Its orgy scenes made movies with sex like "Shortbus" possible. Even though "Caligula" isn't much of a film, it was an important stepping stone for movies with sex.

  5. "Closer" This frank depiction of how sex can affect relationships is not explicit, but it is important among movies with sex as a main theme. It is unflinching in its portrayal of the decaying bonds between two couples who swap partners with no one ending up happy. Clive Owen is particularly good as a sexist doctor who gets what he wants by being as boorish as possible in this final film on our list of movies with sex as a main theme.