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The greatest sex scenes in cinema history

February 15,2018 13:24

The sex in that film (co-starring William H. Macy) was invigorating. less. Maria Bello of the film ''The Cooler" poses for a portrait at the Hotel Intercontinental during the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2003 in Toronto ...



Photo: AP

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Click ahead to see Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle's picks for the greatest sex scenes in cinema history.
Click ahead to see Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle's picks for the greatest sex scenes in cinema history.
Photo: AP

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FIFTY SHADES OF GREY -- the first sex scene enters the pantheon.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY -- the first sex scene enters the pantheon.

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Convict John Cusack, during a prison visit, talks dirty to Nicole Kidman, with marked results. It's the only thing to see in THE PAPERBOY.
Convict John Cusack, during a prison visit, talks dirty to Nicole Kidman, with marked results. It's the only thing to see in THE PAPERBOY.

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Madonna in a scene from the film "Body of Evidence" notable for its memorably bad sex scenes.
Madonna in a scene from the film "Body of Evidence" notable for its memorably bad sex scenes.
Photo: Hulton Archive, Getty Images
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A History of Violence, with Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello -- always lucky with her lovers.
A History of Violence, with Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello -- always lucky with her lovers.
Photo: New Line Cinema

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Naked Killer -- Carrie Ng and Madoka Sugawawa in the second of two classic sex scenes in "Naked Killer"
Naked Killer -- Carrie Ng and Madoka Sugawawa in the second of two classic sex scenes in "Naked Killer"

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NINE 1/2 WEEKS, with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger.
NINE 1/2 WEEKS, with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger.
Photo: MGM

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Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in a scene from "Brokeback Mountain."
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in a scene from "Brokeback Mountain."
Photo: Kimberly French, ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Gerard Darmon, Beatrice Dalle and Jean-Jacques Beineix at 37.2 Le Matin (Betty Blue) premiere in 1986.
Gerard Darmon, Beatrice Dalle and Jean-Jacques Beineix at 37.2 Le Matin (Betty Blue) premiere in 1986.
Photo: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff, Getty Images

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Y Tu Mama Tambien: At the time of its release, Carla Meyer wrote, "To call "Y Tu Mama Tambien" sexually explicit doesn't do it justice. The Mexican movie is sexually obsessed, just like its teenage protagonists." less
Y Tu Mama Tambien: At the time of its release, Carla Meyer wrote, "To call "Y Tu Mama Tambien" sexually explicit doesn't do it justice. The Mexican movie is sexually obsessed, just like its teenage ... more

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Last Tango in Paris -- with Brando and Maria Schneider.
Last Tango in Paris -- with Brando and Maria Schneider.
Photo: United Artists, Getty Images

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Linda Fiorentino, photographed in 1994, at the time of her most well-known film, THE LAST SEDUCTION.
Linda Fiorentino, photographed in 1994, at the time of her most well-known film, THE LAST SEDUCTION.
Photo: Time & Life Pictures, The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett
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Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels were a great union of opposites in SOMETHING WILD.
Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels were a great union of opposites in SOMETHING WILD.
Photo: Time & Life Pictures, The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

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Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly were a erotic duo in BOUND.
Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly were a erotic duo in BOUND.
Photo: Time & Life Pictures, The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

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Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo during "In The Cut" Los Angeles Premiere.
Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo during "In The Cut" Los Angeles Premiere.
Photo: Gregg DeGuire, WireImage

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UNITED Elisabeth Shue (and her mirror image) in her hotel room, at the time of LEAVING LAS VEGAS, co-starring Nicolas Cage.
UNITED Elisabeth Shue (and her mirror image) in her hotel room, at the time of LEAVING LAS VEGAS, co-starring Nicolas Cage.
Photo: NY Daily News Via Getty Images
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"The Dreamers," with Eva Green and some other people, but definitely Eva Green. Directed by Bertolucci.
"The Dreamers," with Eva Green and some other people, but definitely Eva Green. Directed by Bertolucci.
Photo: Legacy Photo, San Francisco Chronicle

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The spectacle of people having sex while standing up is a movie cliche, but Eminem and the late Brittany Murphy made it work in "8 Mile."
The spectacle of people having sex while standing up is a movie cliche, but Eminem and the late Brittany Murphy made it work in "8 Mile."
Photo: Archive Photos, Getty Images

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Maria Bello of the film ''The Cooler" poses for a portrait at the Hotel Intercontinental during the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2003 in Toronto, Canada. The sex in that film (co-starring William H. Macy) was invigorating. less
Maria Bello of the film ''The Cooler" poses for a portrait at the Hotel Intercontinental during the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2003 in Toronto, Canada. The sex in that film ... more
Photo: Carlo Allegri, Getty Images

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Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams made a big impression in "The Notebook" -- and even became a couple for a while after.
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams made a big impression in "The Notebook" -- and even became a couple for a while after.
Photo: Ray Mickshaw, WireImage For New Line Cinema
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Great movie sex scenes are not necessarily scenes depicting great sex. Sometimes the scene is great because the sex seems horrible, or just ridiculous, as was the case in the pool scene of SHOWGIRLS, with Kyle Maclachlan and Elizabeth Berkley (depicted above, at the film's premiere.) less
Great movie sex scenes are not necessarily scenes depicting great sex. Sometimes the scene is great because the sex seems horrible, or just ridiculous, as was the case in the pool scene of SHOWGIRLS, with Kyle ... more
Photo: James Aylott, Getty Images

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Desire: A French erotic drama from 2011, starring Deborah Revy (above). Wow.
Desire: A French erotic drama from 2011, starring Deborah Revy (above). Wow.

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Rachel Weisz & Ralph Fiennes Attend The Bfi London Film Festival 2005 Opening Gala Screening Of 'The Constant Gardener." Their love scene was memorable for at least one reader.
Rachel Weisz & Ralph Fiennes Attend The Bfi London Film Festival 2005 Opening Gala Screening Of 'The Constant Gardener." Their love scene was memorable for at least one reader.
Photo: UK Press Via Getty Images

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Director Catherine Corsini (L) and actress Kristin Scott Thomas attend "Partir" Premiere at the Winter Garden Theater during 2009 Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2009 in Toronto, Canada. Thomas's extra-marital love scene with Sergi Lopez was intense. less
Director Catherine Corsini (L) and actress Kristin Scott Thomas attend "Partir" Premiere at the Winter Garden Theater during 2009 Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2009 in Toronto, Canada. ... more
Photo: Daniel Novisedlak, WireImage
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George Clooney and Violante Placido in THE AMERICAN. The second love scene was particularly good.
George Clooney and Violante Placido in THE AMERICAN. The second love scene was particularly good.

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Rooney Mara attends the 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' premiere in Berlin. A reader suggestion.
Rooney Mara attends the 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' premiere in Berlin. A reader suggestion.
Photo: Anita Bugge, WireImage

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Eva Green and Sullivan Stapleton had a ridiculous but noteworthy violent sexual interlude in "300: Rise of an Empire" last year.
Eva Green and Sullivan Stapleton had a ridiculous but noteworthy violent sexual interlude in "300: Rise of an Empire" last year.
Photo: Handout, Getty Images

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MA MERE: A bad sex extravaganza starring Isabelle Huppert, in which she has sex with her own son -- and commits suicide at the same time. Talk about screwing up a guy for life.
MA MERE: A bad sex extravaganza starring Isabelle Huppert, in which she has sex with her own son -- and commits suicide at the same time. Talk about screwing up a guy for life.

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Rachel Weisz and Jude Law in "Enemy at the Gates," about the battle of Stalingrad.
Rachel Weisz and Jude Law in "Enemy at the Gates," about the battle of Stalingrad.
Photo: Alex Bailey, 2000 - MP Film Mgmt. & DOS Prods.

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En La Cama -- the whole movie, from Chile, is one extended sex scene, with breaks for conversation.
En La Cama -- the whole movie, from Chile, is one extended sex scene, with breaks for conversation.

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This one is painful -- the "make me feel good" scene from MONSTER'S BALL. This is the sex scene that got her an Oscar.
This one is painful -- the "make me feel good" scene from MONSTER'S BALL. This is the sex scene that got her an Oscar.
Photo: Time & Life Pictures, The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

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The Sessions -- Helen Hunt played a sex therapist working with a man in an iron lung.
The Sessions -- Helen Hunt played a sex therapist working with a man in an iron lung.

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"An Affair of Love" -- with Nathalie Baye (above).
"An Affair of Love" -- with Nathalie Baye (above).
Photo: Getty Images

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Aitana Sanchez Gijon (and Javier Bardem) in MOUTH TO MOUTH. This film was supposed to open (many years ago) in San Francisco -- and never did. But it does have five good minutes.
Aitana Sanchez Gijon (and Javier Bardem) in MOUTH TO MOUTH. This film was supposed to open (many years ago) in San Francisco -- and never did. But it does have five good minutes.

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The Piano Teacher -- features great depictions of really, really bad sex.
The Piano Teacher -- features great depictions of really, really bad sex.

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Victoria Abril (above) appeared in "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down" by Almodovar.
Victoria Abril (above) appeared in "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down" by Almodovar.

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Juliette Binoche (above) in DAMAGE. Personally, I think the scene in which Binoche and Jeremy Irons have sex and he starts squawking like a duck is comical, but whether you find it erotic or ridiculous, you won't forget it. less
Juliette Binoche (above) in DAMAGE. Personally, I think the scene in which Binoche and Jeremy Irons have sex and he starts squawking like a duck is comical, but whether you find it erotic or ridiculous, you ... more

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Charlotte Rampling and Mickey Rourke in the film Angel Heart in 1987. (AP Photo)
Charlotte Rampling and Mickey Rourke in the film Angel Heart in 1987. (AP Photo)
Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Al Pacino & Ellen Barkin on the set of "Sea Of Love," a good reader suggestion.
Al Pacino & Ellen Barkin on the set of "Sea Of Love," a good reader suggestion.
Photo: Vinnie Zuffante, Getty Images

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ATONEMENT -- with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in the library.
ATONEMENT -- with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in the library.

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The Hunger (with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon). For the lesbian love scene, rare for the early 1980s.
The Hunger (with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon). For the lesbian love scene, rare for the early 1980s.

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Greta Gerwig (above) and Ben Stiller in "Greenberg": Another example of really bad movie sex.
Greta Gerwig (above) and Ben Stiller in "Greenberg": Another example of really bad movie sex.

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The Cooler: Maria Bello always finds attentive lovers in her films, as in this one, co-starring William H. Macy.
The Cooler: Maria Bello always finds attentive lovers in her films, as in this one, co-starring William H. Macy.

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Secretary: James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a good example of BAD sex in the movies.
Secretary: James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a good example of BAD sex in the movies.

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Paz Vega in SEX AND LUCIA.
Paz Vega in SEX AND LUCIA.

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FROM HERE TO ETERNITY -- Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster. Not exactly sex, but we get the idea.
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY -- Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster. Not exactly sex, but we get the idea.

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French actresses Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos have a series of unforgettable sex scenes in BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR.
French actresses Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos have a series of unforgettable sex scenes in BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR.
Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT, AFP/Getty Images

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Sophie Marceau and Jacques Dutronc in MY NIGHTS ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOUR DAYS. And they may be right.
Sophie Marceau and Jacques Dutronc in MY NIGHTS ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOUR DAYS. And they may be right.
Photo: Saris
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"Erotique": An erotic gem from the 1990s, barely known today.
"Erotique": An erotic gem from the 1990s, barely known today.
Photo: Legacy Photo, San Francisco Chronicle

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Antares: In Gotz Spielmann's films, sex scenes are not just about sex. They provide pivotal moments of character revelation.
Antares: In Gotz Spielmann's films, sex scenes are not just about sex. They provide pivotal moments of character revelation.
Photo: EMI, ONLINE_YES

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Michael Fassbender in "Shame."
Michael Fassbender in "Shame."

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Friday Night, with Valerie Lemercier and Vincent Lindon. There was no Saturday . . .
Friday Night, with Valerie Lemercier and Vincent Lindon. There was no Saturday . . .
Photo: Legacy Photo, San Francisco Chronicle
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Mulholland Drive" by David Lynch featured a scene between Laura Elena Harring and Naomi Watts that no one has ever forgotten.
Mulholland Drive" by David Lynch featured a scene between Laura Elena Harring and Naomi Watts that no one has ever forgotten.
Photo: Pool BENAINOUS/DUCLOS, Gamma-Rapho Via Getty Images

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Jonathan Rhys Meyers had a passionate interlude in a field in MATCH POINT.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers had a passionate interlude in a field in MATCH POINT.
Photo: Pool BENAINOUS/CATARINA/LEGRAND, Gamma-Rapho Via Getty Images

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GONE GIRL -- Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harrison had an erotic interlude that ended abruptly.
GONE GIRL -- Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harrison had an erotic interlude that ended abruptly.

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Henry and June -- which got an NC-17 rating.
Henry and June -- which got an NC-17 rating.
Photo: Legacy Photo, San Francisco Chronicle
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English actress Julie Christie with Donald Sutherland in Venice by night -- a photo from the time of DON'T LOOK NOW. The rumors were that the two weren't faking it.
English actress Julie Christie with Donald Sutherland in Venice by night -- a photo from the time of DON'T LOOK NOW. The rumors were that the two weren't faking it.
Photo: Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche

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THE LAST MISTRESS with Asia Argento and Fu'ad Aït Aattou. The love scene feels so intermittent you feel like you're eavesdropping.
THE LAST MISTRESS with Asia Argento and Fu'ad Aït Aattou. The love scene feels so intermittent you feel like you're eavesdropping.

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LUST, CAUTION: I found these scenes un-erotic -- so graphic they made me feel uncomfortable for the actors. But others saw it differently.
LUST, CAUTION: I found these scenes un-erotic -- so graphic they made me feel uncomfortable for the actors. But others saw it differently.
Photo: Legacy Photo, San Francisco Chronicle

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Joanna Pacula (with William Hurt) in GORKY PARK.
Joanna Pacula (with William Hurt) in GORKY PARK.
Photo: (c) Orion Pictures.
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Chingmy Yau (with Simon Yam) in "Naked Killer."
Chingmy Yau (with Simon Yam) in "Naked Killer."

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WILD THINGS -- of course -- with Denise Richards and Neve Campbell.
WILD THINGS -- of course -- with Denise Richards and Neve Campbell.

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Casino Royale -- Eva Green and Daniel Craig.
Casino Royale -- Eva Green and Daniel Craig.
Photo: Jay Maidment, 2006 Danjaq, LLC And United Artists Corporation

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"Out of Sight" -- the scene between Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney.
"Out of Sight" -- the scene between Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney.
Photo: Legacy Photo, San Francisco Chronicle
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ECSTASY -- Hedy Lamarr in a groundbreaking sex scene from 1933.
ECSTASY -- Hedy Lamarr in a groundbreaking sex scene from 1933.
Photo: Warner Bros. 1966, ONLINE_YES

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Vera Farmiga and Paul Walker in "Running Scared": Happily married.
Vera Farmiga and Paul Walker in "Running Scared": Happily married.
Photo: New Line Productions/ Larry Horricks, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Revanche -- incidentally one of the best films of the last ten years, from Austrian director Gotz Spielmann.
Revanche -- incidentally one of the best films of the last ten years, from Austrian director Gotz Spielmann.
Photo: Sophie Muller, Sony

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sex, lies and videotape, with Andie McDowell. Here she is, at the 20th anniversary screening of the film.
sex, lies and videotape, with Andie McDowell. Here she is, at the 20th anniversary screening of the film.

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THE BIG EASY: 25 years later, the ONLY thing anybody remembers from this movie, with Ellen Barkin and Dennis Quaid, is the bedroom scene.
THE BIG EASY: 25 years later, the ONLY thing anybody remembers from this movie, with Ellen Barkin and Dennis Quaid, is the bedroom scene.

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Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson wrecking the house in their big scene from THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE.
Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson wrecking the house in their big scene from THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE.
Photo: Paramount Pictures

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Jane March (above) in THE LOVER (with Tony Leung).
Jane March (above) in THE LOVER (with Tony Leung).

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"Thelma and Louise" -- for the scene with Brad Pitt.
"Thelma and Louise" -- for the scene with Brad Pitt.

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Sophie Marceau in "Firelight."
Sophie Marceau in "Firelight."
Photo: HANDOUT, SFC

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Diane Lane holds Olivier Martinez in a scene from the film 'Unfaithful', 2002. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
Diane Lane holds Olivier Martinez in a scene from the film 'Unfaithful', 2002. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
Photo: Archive Photos, Getty Images

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Walk On the Moon -- with Diane Lane.
Walk On the Moon -- with Diane Lane.
Photo: Legacy Photo, San Francisco Chronicle

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Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson -- their laundry room interlude in LITTLE CHILDREN was memorable.
Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson -- their laundry room interlude in LITTLE CHILDREN was memorable.
Photo: John Shearer, WireImage
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